I’ve developed a fear of birds.
As a child I’d be taken to Trafalgar Square; bought threepennys’ worth of bird seed and put in the middle of Sir Edwin Landseer’s lions to be savaged by more birds than Burt Lancaster.
No fear – just a higher-than-normal dry-cleaning bill.
Years later, I’d cross over roads like the people who’d walked past before the Good Samaritan to avoid any pigeons; such was my avian terror.
In the ‘60s and ‘70s I’d play football on Wandsworth Common and call for a mate en route. He owned a budgie (he‘d actually owned several, except his myopic dad would invariably tread on them, although he would secretly replace them with ones with totally different colouring).
If my mate wasn’t ready, I’d have to wait and sit in the kitchen, where the family did 99% of their activities – and where the budgie was caged. Because the family’s favourite film was Born Free, the budgie was encouraged to fly around.
Budgies sense pathological fear (and hate).
In my mind’s eye this budgie was as threatening as a pterodactyl and would make a beeline (or budgieline in this case) for me as if I were a giant cuttlefish or had Trill in my hair.
Such is my fear these days that, if I ever visit anyone, I have to ask: “are there any small mirrors with tiny bells in this house?”. I’ve also stopped watching any TV series involving Adam Faith.