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The Jaws That Bite, The Claws That catch.

I was thinking today about fears, phobias and why we're all scared of something to a greater or lesser digree at sometime or other in our lives. From the monster that came out from under the bed and terrified us when we were tiny through fears of buzzing insects, rats, mice, cats and dogs to serious phobias that make an impact on one's daily life like the fear of open spaces, a fear of crowds or being shut in so one can't get into a car or go in an elevator. I wonder what it is that makes us afraid and whether strength of will could ever make us stop?

I'd be the first to admit that I've suffered from being scared of some irrational things at different times in my life, but I was educated at a school for visually impaired people so I know I wasn't alone. A fear of broken toys, feathers, birds, slowed down or speeded up records, talking dolls, the feel of a hairbrush, the sound of a floor polisher, I've known all these and they were very real to the people who experienced them. As for me, I can't bear cold air from an electrical source.

Once, when I was very small, I dislocated a finger and it had to be set. Nobody explained what was going to happen to me. I was laid on a table and a heavy rubber mask was put over my face. There was a hissing sound and some weird smelling air began to blow hard on to my face. This was, in fact, Nitrus Oxide, laughing gas, which would put me to sleep in a minute or two, but in the meantime I nearly died of fright! Ever since then that sound effect you hear for howling wind gives me the shivers and I can't go near anything blowing cold air. When I lived in America we had to have the air conditioning on because the heat and humidity were appalling in the summer but I was terrified of that rattling, crashing old unit that blew freezing cold air out of its front! Burhrhrhr, I'm shivering just thinking about it.

The other thing I really hate, and this is really silly, is anything I can't stop. I hate games or devices that don't have an off switch, they just switch off if you don't touch them. I can just feel myself getting all freaked out and panicky when that happens, I suppose I must be the ultimate control freak! I remember buying a thing called "Say What". It just wouldn't quit bellowing at us for ages when we'd finished with it, I nearly went mad! Giggling here.

Then there's the phenomenon of the song or piece of music that scares us silly. Brian once told me he used to scream the place down when "Ernie, the fastest milkman in the west" came on. There was one particular note in it that frightened him. You might smile, so did I, but I know exactly what he meant. When I was tiny I always used to hide when the theme tune for "Live and Let Die" came on. I hated the rocky bit in the middle, it scared me rigid.
Another scary one is the War of the Worlds double album by Justin Haywood and Jeff Wayne. The sound of the fighting machines used to absolutely terrify me, well, to be quite honest I wouldn't cry if I never heard that again. It's a brilliantly made album, but it gives me nightmares.

Talking of giving me nightmares, the song which takes the prize for that is an old piece from something called the Threpenny Opera, though i didnt' know that when I first heard it. I was about seventeen, it was a Sunday early evening, I was at school and surfing round the radio dial as I often did. I came across old Lee Marvin doing his Wandering Star thing. That song has cool memories for me so I stopped surfing and listened till he came to the end. A voice I didn't know began speaking, it was cultured, elderly, heavily German accented. It was telling me interesting things. It said the song she was about to play was one of the most haunting she had ever heard. Well, that kind of intro gets you interested, so I thought I'd stay listening, just to see. A scratchy old record started playing and then the song began.

I sat there, getting more and more petrified. It's the story of a downtrodden servant girl, dreaming of her bloody revenge on those who are exploiting her and it raised the hair on my head. If you want to hear it you can find it here.

Haunting? I should coco! That song gave me nightmares on and off for the next twenty years, maybe more. I think I'd still be having them now if I hadn't, one night a couple of years back, sat down here, got on Google and looked it up, found out about it, and, thanks to Youtube, found the very old record I'd heard way back then. Sitting through that again took some bottle, let me tell you, and it's not something I'm anxious to repeat, but it broke the jinx at least.

So, what happens to the boogie men in the end? I guess sometimes we grow up and they decently creep away. The monster under the bed turns out to be just a toy box after all. Sometimes we square our shoulders, tell ourselves not to be idiotic and get on with it. There's a fan that sits on Brian's desk. WE have to have it, he suffers in the heat. i hate the damn thing but it has to be here and that's that. When a buzzer flies into the room I still get scared but I don't run away, I get out the raid instead.

But, when it comes down to it, I think everyone lives with something that worries or scares them. No one is free from the jaws that bite, the claws that catch. It might be something small like spiders, or something bigger, like being afraid of getting old or losing one's job. I read somewhere once that being afraid in a fearful situation is normal, Doing one's best in spite of fear is courage. I'll try and remember that the next time something scares me.

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