Friday, 7 October 2011
There's Nowt so Queer as Folk
Since my spider phobia is now (to the point of screaming boredom) well documented, I feel it is time to admit - after all it is Friday - to another curious phobia/foible.
I have a fear of heights. I know, so what? Not just that simple though.
This fear, quite common in its can't climb anything and look down form, is accompanied by an equally overwhelming fear of high buildings.
This is really very weird and has been a part of my life since childhood. Since which time I've tried many times to rationalise and overcome what I assume is part of the same phobia.
The last serious attempt to break the mould was when I persuaded John to take me up the Dome of St Paul's Cathedral to the 'whispering gallery'. Drastic, but I thought probably as good a way as any to kill it off once and for all.
John, who was not all that keen on enclosed spaces, agreed reluctantly to tackle the spiral stairs with its several billion steps, I following closely behind him and hanging on to his jacket. This apart from being pretty exhausting - we were then in our early sixties - was ok up to the point where the steps narrowed and we were able to look down as well as up.
My heart started to hammer, I was cold and clammy and felt as though I might die.
John seeing the state I was in said, "we're almost at the top, only a few more steps".
I couldn't answer and as we reached the last step, gasped "you go out there, I'll wait here for you to come and get me", and clung to the wall, back pressed against it and eyes tight shut.
A minute or two later, it seemed like hours, back he came, grabbed me firmly and we began the descent.
It was infinitely worse going down than the ascent and when we reached the bottom my legs gave way and I sat on the floor and cried.
John nearly died of embarrassment and declared there and then that this was the last time I was ever to attempt to beat this fear.
That however, is only one facet of this malady, the other, being the fear, absolute horror of tall buildings.
We spent a lot of our time in the Netherlands on short holidays over a period of years, and the last one we ever did was to Utrecht, which has the tallest Cathedral tower in the country.
There was a song recital we wanted to attend on one of the days and we duly arrived about 10 minutes before it began.
I cannot even begin to describe the affect the sight of this immense dark tower had on me, and in the end the only way we could get into the building in time was for me to hold on to John shut my eyes and let him lead me in.
When we left after the concert he wanted to photograph the building so I just turned my back and waited until he could once again collect me. I didn't look back until we were about a quarter of a mile away when it had retreated to a more 'normal' size.
Yes, I do know I'm weird. What's your excuse?