So, I’m partial to a bit of swimming; it’s specifically the indoor type though, you won’t catch me doing it outdoors. This is primarily due to my aversion to pond-life: well, aquatic creatures in general, but particularly frogs. It’s more like a phobia really. At the sight of a frog, I elicit a strange reaction: I go tense, my heart races and I break out in a sweat. I don’t think this behaviour is normal, and I would probably benefit from some kind of therapy. However, that would probably be costly, and as I don’t encounter many frogs these days it doesn’t really impinge on my life in any way. One time, a few years ago, I returned home to find a frog loitering by my back door. I must have conveyed some kind of alarm as the frog promptly squeezed under the door and entered my house. Needless to say, there was no way I was going in while that amphibian was on the premises. I asked my neighbour if she would kindly mind going in and removing it. She had a small pond in her garden which attracted all kinds of wildlife. I’d seen her pick up frogs before: she’d stroke and talk to them - perhaps she was hoping that one would turn into a charming prince and usurp her ageing husband. She found my predicament quite amusing, and gently mocked me: ‘you silly girl, it won’t hurt you. It’s more scared of you…etc. etc.’ I silently cursed her. It was her fault. Her garden was a veritable breeding ground for my worst nightmares. I was secretly glad that I’d tidied up that morning, and fervently hoped that she would just get rid of the bloody thing so I could get on with my life. Thankfully, she eventually obliged and removed the offending creature.
Then there was the time my grandad decided to build an ornamental fish pond in his back garden. He made his own coloured concrete paving slabs and decorative blocks: quite an impressive achievement, since he was a miner by trade and not a builder. However, the attraction of the fish pond soon wore off as it seemed to visibly devolve into some kind of primordial soup, which attracted all manner of nature’s monstrosities. The fish, never to be seen again, took sanctuary among the weeds, and I, henceforth, stayed away from the back garden for quite a while.
There usually lies some kind of logical explanation behind phobias and strange behaviour. I put mine down to the time when, as a child, my ‘mates’ tried to throw me into an empty grave that was full of frogs. This came about because at the end of our road there was a cemetery, and when we were children we used to play there. Between the many lines and rows of graves there were narrow footpaths, which made terrific race tracks for our bicycles. We were respectful though, we never touched the actual graves, and we figured the dead wouldn’t begrudge us having a bit of fun in their company. At the edge of the occupied grave plot, there was a piece of land where the very recently deceased were to be laid to rest: a row of open, empty, newly dug graves which collected rain water and provided a play ground for a community of frogs. What a fun place to deposit one of your playmates! On this occasion it turned out to be me. ‘Absolute terror’ is the phrase which best describes what I felt at that moment in time. There was a lot of screaming and struggling, before I managed to break free and somehow safely make it home in a blur of hysteria.
To cut a long story short: