Phobias hold no fears for me

I M afraid to say that there s not much which scares me. Spiders are not a worry – I m the chief clearer-upper of creepy-crawlies in my house. I m not a great lover of heights but I ve swung along aerial walkways on an outdoor adventure course with not a

I'M afraid to say that there's not much which scares me.

Spiders are not a worry - I'm the chief clearer-upper of creepy-crawlies in my house.

I'm not a great lover of heights but I've swung along aerial walkways on an outdoor adventure course with not a care in the world.

I love wide open spaces and crowds are no problem. I will happily walk under ladders. And I love flying in anything, from a biplane to a jet aircraft.

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All in all, I can't think of a phobia which could be attached to me, and that is a letdown because there are some very interesting ones out there. There are so many of them to choose from.

This week I came across one new to me and was mightily impressed. Just imagine if you could truthfully say that you suffered from paraskavedekatriaphobia.

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Unsurprisingly, most people will be completely in the dark - something else I'm not scared of - over the meaning of the word.

But for a tiny number, tomorrow is one of the days when their phobia pops its head above the horizon with the sunrise.

Para...well, you know how to say it now, is an irrational fear of Friday the 13th.

It is not to be confused with triskaidekaphobia which is, of course, a fear of the number 13 itself.

Who first suggested that Friday the 13th was an unlucky day is lost in the mists of time. But the earliest known reference in English can be found in an 1869 biography of Gioachino Rossini.

This relates that the great composer was on his deathbed surrounded by friends "and if it be true that, like so many other Italians, he regarded Friday as an unlucky day, and 13 as an unlucky number, it is remarkable that on Friday the 13th of November he died."

I would put Rossini's death date down to simple coincidence, after all you've got to die some time and the odds are not huge that it won't be on a Friday and the 13th of the month, but I don't mean to rubbish the whole idea.

After all, there are a host of people in English, French and Portuguese-speaking countries around the world, as well as others in Europe, Scandinavia, Iceland and even the Philippines who consider Friday the 13th is a day of bad luck.

But in Greece, Romania and Spanish-speaking countries it is Tuesday the 13th that is considered unlucky and in Italy it is Friday the 17th.

I'm thinking of creating a new worry, itsnotuagainaphobia, which will apply every Wednesday and Saturday because that's when I never win the jackpot on the Lottery. I suspect there are a lot of people who will identify with that one.

Don't forget, I thought of it first. I have a real fear that my literary creations will not be remembered by future generations.

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