Sunday, 28 July 2013

The fear factor

I know we’re all getting older and there’s not much we can actually do to stop the passage of time however I’m not entirely happy with that as a fact. I should explain.  Phil is 12 years older than me and recently, in March, he turned 50.  50!!! Not 40 or even 45 but 50.  I am married to a 50 year old!  My husband is in his 50’s.


  • Book 5 day coach trips to the lakes with Saga. Stay in a hotel called the ‘Balmoral’ on the banks of Windermere, enjoy a two course meal every evening (soft foods/dentures) then retire to the lounge where Brenda Hetherington from Carlisle plays a medley of ‘songs from the shows’ on her 37 year old Bontempi organ. Go to bed at 9.30 because your 2 halves of stout have tired you out. ·       
  • Browse garden centres looking at rose bushes with names like ‘Diana’s delight’, ‘tender Marion’ and ‘syphilitic Geoff’.  Take two hours to decide which shade of peach will match your orthopaedic sun lounger. Go home because you are ‘gasping’ for a cup of tea.
  • Admire the Royal family.  Feel unable to catch a ‘glimpse’ of the Queen on the news without saying ‘Isn’t she marvellous’ or see a photo of William and Harry without thinking ‘such handsome young gentlemen’ ·       
  • Buy things from the ‘innovations’ catalogue which promise to make life easy now you are 50.  Who’s life wouldn’t be enhanced by the motorised tie holder, some glamour suspender tights (sensual and hygienic apparently!), a combined cigarette lighter and nasal hair remover or a ‘luxury’ wolf fleece.
So I’m already freaking out!  I decide to tell Phil I’m freaking out, because he’s bound to be freaking out too seeing as how he’s the one who has actually turned 50.

Me: (arranging face to look sympathetic, as if talking to a terminally ill labrador) Phil. I need to talk to you. It’s important.

Phil: (hardly able to contain the excitement in his voice) Right.

Me: I know recently you’ve reached a milestone in your life.

Phil: Have I?

Me: Yes, you know (lowers voice so as not to shock him just in case age related memory issues are preventing him from remembering his actual age) that you recently turned 50……..

Phil: Yep

Me: How are you, you know handling it?

Phil:  Handling what? What are you on about?

Me:  Handling being (whispers) 50

Phil: Fine, its no different to being 40!

Me: (getting slightly high pitched and hysterical) Oh but it is, you’re 50 Phil, 50!!! (shout the last 50 to shock him into realisation) IT'S BOUND TO HAVE HIT YOU HARD!

Phil: (walking off) I have no idea what you’re talking about! Have you been electrocuted again.?


 A few years ago the knob that changes the time dropped off our oven coincidentally the same week the clocks were due to change.  I attempted to reset the time by shoving a screwdriver into the hole where the button was (in the way you used to reset a casio watch with the nib of a biro). Apparently poking a screwdriver into the hole wasn’t the most sensible thing to do (apparently I should have remembered it was plugged into the mains) 240v threw me backwards across the kitchen.  I was obviously ok but for days afterwards I was a bit 'twitchy' and odd.  Because Phil is genuinely BLOODY hilarious if I behave in a way he believes to be bizarre he makes a point of checking I haven't given myself another electric shock.  I know! I told you he was BLOODY HILARIOUS!

Anyway back to the 50 thing.  There are two possibilities open to me here. Either:

a)     Phil is in complete and utter denial about the fact he is 50 in which case I need to tread carefully, once he realises, the shock could kill him (especially at his age) Or 

b)    He’s actually alright with it. He actually DOES NOT CARE that he is 50.

I realise I'm going to face the fact that it is probably the second one   I decide I will  join him in his carefree world and decide if he can face 50 head on with no fears I will try to conquer some of my fears. 

Now I know everyone has a couple of things they’re scared of wasps or heights maybe, but I literally have about 2000 fears, some of which are so severe they’re more like crippling phobias than fears.

  • Heights  (Vertigo)  - inability to move a muscle/overwhelming urge to lie on the floor
  • Milk (lactaphobia) - makes me both simultaneously shake/retch (a very attractive look) Have to hold breath and wear big/thick oven gloves to handle bottle.
  • Windfarms (Anemomenophobia)  - Big, silent, threatening/almost certainly going to come to life and take over the earth
  • Motorways/Dual carriageways (Amaxophobia) - Panic attack/bizarre nervous twitch which makes me throw myself backwards in the passenger seat while whimpering and clawing at my throat (yes I'm a dream passenger -7 hours to get to the Peak District because I refused to travel on any motorway or duel carriageway)
  • Bin juice (surprisingly no name) - Compulsion to put my finger in the inexplicable water that gathers at the bottom of the bin and taste it (What in the name of God is wrong with me?) 
I decide that we will have a day out to Redcar. In terms of my phobias it has it all.  Dual carriageway driving.  A massive Windfarm (in the sea of all places) Plus they have a sort of ugly vertical pier thing which is tall and high up and I was going to go up it! Plus as it was Redcar there was a real risk of getting stabbed or carjacked (not currently phobia’s of mine but I could consider adding them to the list)

We set off and everything was fine.  It was sunny, we had the music blaring (uplifting 80s pop). We stopped for lunch.  I was actually feeling quite calm and I hadn't even taken one of my special tablets that make me drool and my eyes roll about in my head like marbles (very much like the special tablets!)

Anyway we'd been on the A66 for approximately 19 seconds and I was secretly congratulating myself for being so calm whilst travelling on a dual carriageway....... I WAS ON A DUAL CARRIAGEWAY!!!!!!!!! The rest of the journey is what could only be described as hell on earth. I squirmed, panicked, flung myself about like a rag doll. While Phil shouted at me and threatened to leave me on the side of the road.  

We managed to eventually make it to Redcar an hour and a half after we had set off.  I was so preoccupied by the hysterics in the car that I forgot to panic about the windfarm.  We came round the corner onto the beach road and there they were in front of me, hundreds of wind turbines, in the sea.  I was going to have another panic but quite honestly I was fairly exhausted from thrasing about in the car for an hour, ,so I just looked at them.  Actually they were beautiful, not at all evil.  This was a break through.  I was standing here staring at them and I hadn't felt the urge to run away or fall over once.  Shored up by this triumph I decided it was time to face the tower of terror. 

We walked along the seafront with me taking the odd reassuring glance at the windfarm  towards the tower.  I’d already googled the details and learned it was 80 ft high and had 7 floors. I know to most of you that would be nothing but this is the person who freaks out at the top of a step ladder so for me 80ft was a really big deal, however I was determined to do it.  

There was a security man standing at the foot of the stairs so I stopped for a quick chat and to ask him some questions, nothing out of the ordinary I'm sure he gets asked them everyday of his life.

'Since this tower has been built how many people have fallen off the top'

'Whats the likehood of the glass barrier around the top shattering because a disorientated seagull has flown into it at the same time there is a particularly strong gust of wind'

'How sure are you that the screws holding this entire thing together are up to the job'

The security guard had a good laugh at my 'joke' questions. I was about to press him for actual answers when the lift doors opened and I had no choice but to get in.  Phil and Syd were first out of the lift into a small enclosed area, I followed them.  There was a door in front of us and to be honest I actually felt really calm.  As Phil pushed open the door I thought to myself 'this is easy this is! I can do this' before stepping outside onto the viewing platform.


I was too high up! Too, too high up!  And I was falling! I needed to lie down! On the floor! NOW!

Phil and Syd had walked to the barrier to look at the view.  I needed to tell them to get back from the edge it wasn't safe but when I opened my mouth all that came out was a strange strangled noise.

I still needed to lie down but I had now manoeuvered myself so I was facing the wall and sort of hugging it, so lying down was proving difficult.  I tried to shout Phil again but what came out sounded like someone had just punched an ostrich in the throat (I'd imagine).

There was an indian family close by who had actually stopped looking at the view and started looking at me.  I couldn't understand what they were saying but judging by the laughter I can only assume they were finding my predicament in some way amusing.

By this point I had sort of turned myself sideways, I still had my hands on the wall but I was now bent double at the waist as I knew I needed to get on the floor.  I was also trying to shuffle towards the door to get back inside while making 'that' sound.

I was in this position when I felt an arm go round my back.  Phil, come to rescue me, thank god!  I twisted my head round (no mean feat as my head was quite near the floor by now) and came face to face with AN OLD LADY.

'Come on pet' she said, 'Are you alright?

She managed to prise one of my hands off the wall, which she started to rub.

'Come on, try to stand up, it's alright!. I was frightened of heights when I lived in Leicester'
 (Nope No idea either!)

Using my hand she then started to drag me away from the wall whilst loudly pointing out local landmarks (look! The chemical works/Redcar Racecourse etc). I was still bent double and clinging to her cardigan for dear life, as she led me past Phil and Syd, who were clearly finding this highly amusing.

I have no idea what this woman was up to.  She must have been able to see how terrified I was, yet here she was parading me about, like some kind of demented hunch back, 80 foot in the air. But.......and this was the truly inexplicable bit, I WAS LETTING HER!!!

Right enough was enough. As we passed the door to go back inside I just stopped dead and made a grab for it.  I was back inside and Phil and Syd had followed me. I literally couldn't get back in the lift fast enough.

All in all I think it was a success!

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