The top 10 list of things British people are afraid of is disconcertingly predictable. We are, as a nation, a bunch of wusses. The list goes like this:
Acrophobia — Fear of heights
Ophidiophobia — Fear of snakes
Glossophobia — Fear of public speaking
Arachnophobia — Fear of spiders
Claustrophobia — Fear of small spaces
Musophobia — Fear of mice
Trypanophobia — Fear of needles
Pteromerhanophobia — Fear of flying
Agoraphobia — Fear of crowds
Coulrophobia — Fear of clowns
Spadge ‘Sarah’ Whittaker, a fellow writer, Instagram queen and all-round lovely person, decided she was going to take all of these fears on. Within a year. If she could conquer them all, she’d technically be Braver Than Britain. Which is also mostly the name of her book about the whole experience, ‘Braver Than Britain, Occasionally’.
I was sort of scared to read this book. I’m certainly not afraid to tell you all that I REALLY don’t like spiders or snakes. Public speaking makes me extremely nervous. Trying to get through the whole thing was going to be an ordeal in itself.
Y’see, Spadge isn’t all that scared of many of the things on this list (that’s technically cheating, right?). Which meant having to up the ante and make the challenges even more scary.
For the chapter on needles, this bonkers lady went and got both her nipples pierced. One would have sufficed, but no. The description of the piercing itself made me wince so hard that I had to put the book down and take some deep breaths. When Mum came upstairs to find out why I’d just shouted “Auuuuggghhhh”, I read that section out to her and she doubled over.
But to be fair, my hesitant turning of pages is nothing compared to what Spadge has actually done here. This is a woman who is unafraid to hold more than three live animals at once. She willingly spent time in a dark and enclosed space with clowns. I have so much respect for her for taking on such a demanding project for a book’s sake.
And the book’s written with enough humour to keep the squeamish relatively calm. I sometimes found myself giggling even while my face was contorted in abject horror. That’s not an easy balance to achieve.
If I were to write a book, I’d conduct all of my research from the relative safety of a home office. Maybe I’ll make it about cake – the research for that’s going to be SO HARD.