Are you Braver Than Britain?

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.

Buy ‘Braver Than Britain, Occasionally‘ online now, and follow Spadge on Twitter.

Lynne Parker
Lynne Parker
Lynne Parker is the founder and chief executive of Funny Women. She is also a performance coach, facilitator and speaker and writes for leading newspapers, magazines and trade journals including Huffington Post and The Guardian.  Visit to find out more.

Check these out

From the Funny Women Team

Angela Barnes Reports on ADHD for The One Show

Angela Barnes featured on BBC’s The One Show last night reporting on women and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). The comedian received her own diagnosis in May last year at the age of 44 and is keen to raise awareness and acceptance about the condition.

Read More »

The Gynae, the Kegel & the Cabbages

Until recently, I hated visits to the gynaecologist. That is, until I moved to Prague last summer, and found Dr. Hanka. A very funny fanny examiner. “I’m not a fan of this exam”, my voice quivering, I took in my surroundings…

Read More »

In Praise of Going Solo

There are plenty of things we can agree are best done alone, reading, writing, and practicing the violin are all activities I strongly believe are solo activities. However, when we talk about loneness we are usually referring to pursuits that require privacy. We rarely discuss the joy of doing things by yourself and when it comes to live entertainment, especially live comedy…

Read More »

In Pursuit of the Poultry Prize

This is the time of year when we are all cosy indoors with the fire blazing and our favourite Christmas tunes playing, as we wrap presents and tuck into the mince pies and prosecco. So why, you might ask, would anyone consider freezing off their giblets to go for a dip in the Atlantic ocean every weekend?

Read More »