Friday, 19 October 2007

The Fear Factor

It seems that most blogs I land on at the moment are filled with the forthcoming Hallowe'en festivities: black cats, pumpkins, witches, ghouls and freaks - it's like a family gathering at my ex's folks, to be honest...Hallowe'en is not one of my favourite times of the year. I'm a real 'Bah Humbug' about it (wrong festivity, I know) as if there is one thing I object to, it's the little pukes round here threatening to egg my windows if I don't cough up some sweeties for them. This year, my Haribo might just be laced with arsenic...

Now, it actually takes a fair bit to scare me. Apart from The Exorcist, no horror film has ever induced anything but gales of laughter from me. When we go to haunted castles, houses etc. when the poorly paid Saturday worker jumps out at me, I turn to him and mildly explain that he 'must try harder' if he wishes to make me leap out of my skin.

However, I can recall a few real life events which have left me a shaking wreck.

The first was when I inadvertently set a farmer's field alight at the tender age of ten. In the 70s, children were allowed to buy matches from the newsagents and being a budding pyromaniac at the time, I would scour the roads for two pence pieces and purchase a few boxes of matches for later use. My mother's cupboards would then be raided as I stole food to cook on the campfires. Raw, charcoaled potato has a certain appeal, but I am still unable to quite put my finger on what it is...

Anyway, to cut a long story short, the cardboard box atop this particular campfire rolled off its precarious base, down the banks of the stream, and Whooomph! the place went up in flames. Seeing the fire licking across a golden field of barley was pretty awesome, but not quite as awesome as the belting my backside would have got had my father found out. So I did what any normal child would have done - I legged it, hid in the sanctuary of my father's greenhouse pretending to be interested in his tomatoes and came out when the fire brigade had finished and strutted around exclaiming Scooby Dooisms: 'pesky kids', 'meddlesome kids' etc. I was so frightened I couldn't cry the tears out. The thought of the damage I could have caused left me terrified, guilt-ridden and vowing never to touch matches again. That was my first taste of fear.


My second was a long time coming. I was heavily pregnant at the time and living in the middle of nowhere in Yorkshire. The rear of our attached garage was open to the elements and backed onto open fields - a great hiding place for foxes, badgers...and escaped prisoners. Hearing a lot of thumping about going on in the garage, and then seeing the police helicopter hovering over my house made me reach immediately for the shotgun, as there was no way any prisoner was going to take me without a fight. Particularly as all I had on was a thick pair of socks and a towelling dressing gown. I certainly had a look of Granny Clampett about me that night.

I was utterly petrified - especially when I remembered that I had forgotten to lock the back door and wasn't 100% certain if I was holding the gun properly. Thankfully, the police only took about 30 minutes to arrive (having got lost three times), found the gun on the settee as I lumbered out of the house to greet them, reprimanded me for leaving a loaded weapon unattended, and checked around the property, ascertaining that aforesaid escapee had done another runner and left me alone. The bobby returned the shot to me and told me to use it if I had to - which was quite thrilling in itself. The ex, upon his return from college, was quite astounded to be met by a wild-eyed pregnant woman brandishing his shotgun and realised that his story of Linda's daughter twisting her ankle in the town wasn't going to be quite as exciting as my tale that night...

So, in all, my life hasn't been filled with fear. That is, until last Wednesday, when we all got taken out for a 'team bonding day' - otherwise understood to be a chance to get completely trollied and enjoy oneself. Those of us driving, watched on. Actually, none of us really had to drive as rooms had been booked in Bed & Breakfasts, but as I had a major meeting the following day and wanted lots of relaxed preparation time, I decided to return to the comfort of my castle that night...


The Bonding Day took place at Alton Towers which, for the uninitiated amongst you, is a theme park with lots of 'thrilling' rides, designed to make you leave your stomach 5m behind you, or worse still, on the floor at your feet. I must confess that I despise rollercoasters and their ilk. I cannot glean any pleasure from being so frightened that my heart is banging out of my ribcage, my whole body is shaking, my jaw aches from gritting my teeth so hard or from screaming so loudly I am terrified my lungs will burst from my body. So, I decided I would not go on any rides...

My work colleagues had different ideas...

Of the nine of us, eight were speed demons. Rollercoasters and scary rides were their bread and butter and they ran to each ride. I followed more sedately until they realised I meant it when I said that I didn't want to go on anything So I got physically dragged by two of the tougher members of crew into the queue. I think the colour must have started draining from my face.

I really was utterly petrified. I watched carts spinning, wheeling, whooping and whizzing (I'm getting quite good at this alliterative stuff now, aren't I?) and I felt very, very small, sad and scared.

Our first ride was The Pinpall. Dear June linked my arm and gave me a pep talk. She confessed how scared she was about these rides and how sick they made her feel, and that she just had to do it to overcome her fear. I stared her in the eyes and said, June, you are talking shite, aren't you? She roared laughing and blurted, Yes!

Rita, Queen of Speed was next up. I don't know how fast this thing goes, but I did feel that, had I not had my eyelids shut so tightly, my eyeballs might have gone whizzing out the back of my head. At this ride, I was seated next to the Boss who became quite perturbed at the unholy language and blood-curdling screams emanating from my mouth. He christened me The Exorcist after that - what goes around comes around, eh?


It didn't get any better. Oblivion, Air, Ripsaw - all these nasty rides with equally nasty names. By the end of the day I was a nervous wreck, sickly, disoriented and weary. The only ride I managed to escape from was Nemesis. As the others trotted gaily off, almost complacent in the thought that dear old Agnes had been such a sport on the other rides, she was bound to follow on. Not a chance. As soon as they had turned the corner, I turned on my heel and ran - to the safety of the exit, where I watched the carriages from Hell twisting, whizzing and whooshing across the night sky carrying my mental work colleagues.

Getting back on terra firma was one of the sweetest moments of the day for me. I was lauded 'A Good Sport' and many slapped me (hard) on the back, telling me how proud they were of me. I was more concerned that my hands were shaking so hard I couldn't quite bring my cigarette up to my lips for a well-needed drag without the fear of setting my hair alight.


Tonight, I take the girls to Spooky World. This appears to be a farm which becomes undead at night and the local yokels jump out on us brandishing pickaxes, severed rubber hands, shovels and wreaths of flowers. I can handle this. I shall tell Apple Jack where to shove his shovel if he breathes too hard on me and stalk around, growling at anyone who tries to make me jump. There are no rollercoasters at Spooky World, no out-of-control fires and no escaped prisoners.

What have I got to be scared of?

14 comments:

Linda and her Surroundings said...

You were a rather naughty girl weren't you... At age 6 I set fire to my neighbour's letterbox and my dad found the her mail in the shed months later. Pregnant, shotgun and thick socks - sure you don't have a photo for me to laugh at??? Please, you are spoiling my Enid Blyton thoughts of England. I love scarey rides - but no spooky things for me. At age 43 I still get terrible nightmares if I watch anything along the line of any Vincent Price movie..

Emmy said...

I love a naughty girl ;)

Keli said...

I feel exactly the same about roller coasters and spinning rides. My sis coaxed me into riding "Tower of Terror" at Disneyland. She claimed the drop from the 56th floor was so gentle, one could easily read a newspaper during the downfall. It took me two weeks to recover. I vowed never again.

fishwithoutbicycle said...

I usually hate Rollercoasters too, but for some reason I love Oblivion at Alton Towers, but all that swirling mist they have really messes up your hair - can you tell I have a high maintenance streak ;-)

Enjoy spooky world!! Fish

Agnes Mildew said...

Linda: I really didn't mean to be naughty, honest. I don't think the farmer saw it that way when I nicked his hay bails, set fire to the ricks and smoked out the rats, but it was all innocent fun, truly...ahem!

Emmy: See above!

Keli: When someone tells you 'it's fine, much easier than the last one...' you KNOW they are lying...

Fish: I honestly don't know how the words 'love' and 'Oblivion' can be used in the same sentence. I still quaver at the memory of it all...

Stealth said...

This post was totally worth the wait. Do you feel "bonded" with your team yet? It sounds like they bonded with you. And you were a very good sport.

Mark Dykeman said...

Amusement parks, particularly those things that make you leave terra firma... ::shudders::

thewishfulwriter said...

um, i can't believe you can actually laugh in haunted houses. Seriously. As a teenager, I got so frightened in one, they had to turn the lights on and walk me out of it. I was a basket case.

Other than that, the only thing that frightens me is a fridge with no diet coke in it....

i love me a roller coaster!!!!

Agnes Mildew said...

Stealth: Glad you enjoyed the read while I didn't enjoy the ride! Do I feel bonded? Sort of - I certainly get on better with the women now, but the male boss is a tough nut to crack...

Mark: My sentiments exactly - unless it is an aeroplane taking me off on an exotic holiday somewhere...

Heather: You would have been petrified by Spooky World last night, then - blokes jumping out on you with chainsaws buzzing (health & safety would have a field day!) and lots of rattling corrugated rooftops...rather alarming, but hilarious!

Emmy said...

that ride looks awesome, I am a ride junkie.

alcoment said...

I'm not great with rollercoasters and so on myself, but Spooky World sounds great!

Amel's Realm said...

Hi, Agnes!

I had a jolly good time reading this post he he he...;-D

Maybe you should try watching The Ring trilogy (Japanese version). Those movies sure scared the shit out of me he he he he...

I also can't stand theme parks and rides. I have bad motion sickness. :-((((

Raven said...

Love your blog, I'll be back!!

Raven

Agnes Mildew said...

Raven: Thanks for dropping by, and thanks for the compliments!