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This is a question Irrational Fears

My mate Dan is afraid of turning his back on a flushing toilet. "It'll suck me in", he says. Can you beat him with your own true story of an irrational fear?

(, Tue 27 Jan 2004, 13:24)
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Firey nuclear destruction, as it happens
I grew up in the 70s and 80s, living in fear of the four minute warning, literally a few miles from the UK’s nuclear weapons factories at Burghfield and Aldermaston and the cruise missiles at Greenham. Reagan was president. We were doomed.

I could just about live with this, if it weren’t for the fact that I’d seen a TV programme about witches. One of the stories featured a mad old hag who lived in a cave in the North of England several hundred years ago. She had made several uncannily accurate predictions, the last of which before they threw her on a great big bonfire was that the world would end in 1981. Bloody great. You know what that means: I’m going to die a virgin.

My brother’s best mate Giles had seen this programme too, and claimed to have read in Mad Old Bastard’s Almanack that Armageddon was due on September 12th. A Saturday. The world doesn’t even have the decency to end on a school day. Giles was so confident in his boast, that he actually bet us money that he was right.

As the End of the World approached, was I worried? Was I terrified at the thought of facing destruction on Biblical proportions with my cherry still intact? Too blummin’ right I was. For starters, my attempts to leave this mortal coil without my virginity were foiled by two simple factors: a) none of the girls I approached believed a word that I said, leaving me with a post 12/9 reputation for being “off my head” and b) I was a teenage geek of huge never-gonna-lose-that-cherry proportions. And I was blissfully unaware of point b).

Come the big day, I was a bag of nerves. It was actually Battle of Britain weekend, commemorating the one time in the twentieth century where we managed to save the known world without American assistance, and we went on a day trip with the Air Cadets up to RAF Abingdon for the airshow. The cream of NATO’s airbourne fighting forces screamed overhead in close formation, when they really should have been preparing to face the Red Menace that was pouring over the German border as we spoke.

I watched planes.

I went home.

I went to bed.

I woke up on Sunday 13th September 1981.

I was still alive. The world had not ended. Presidents Reagan and Brezhnev had both stubbornly kept their fingers off the button. It was, I remember, a rather pleasant sunny day. It felt good to be alive.

I felt cheated. Somebody was going to pay.

And the next day, at school, it was Giles. To be honest, he paid up his bet with remarkably good grace for someone who’d been nailed in his first lesson for not doing his homework. He was rather proud of the fact that Mr Wallace had told him “That’s the worst excuse I’ve ever heard, boy”.

And as for the end of the world: “Give it a couple a days. These things take time.”

I found out only last year that Old Mother Shipton had said the world would end in EIGHTEEN eighty-one. A whole youth wasted digging a fallout shelter in the garden, when I was one hundred years out.

I'm still waiting.
(, Tue 27 Jan 2004, 13:41, Reply)

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