Tuesday, June 02, 2015


My daughter is coulrophobic. I know this because she once ran away from Ronald McDonald. And frankly, who isn't scared of clowns and their head-eating ways - I'd run away from Ronald McDonald if push came to shove. Fear of clowns is a perfectly logical phobia, as is fear of spiders, fear of crowds, and fear of walking into a shop where they are playing commercial local radio.

I've actually got a really weird phobia. Loose buttons. No, you shut up.

She's not alone in the world. One of my blog friends is so coulrophobic that when she was tapped on the shoulder by a random clown in a shopping centre, she boxed him to the ground. And not a jury in the land would dare convict.

So, winding the clock back a dozen years or so to a family holiday on the dubiously-named Devon Riviera. Our daily trips from Brixham through Paignton and on to the tourist fleshpots of Torquay where made all the more terrifying for the younglings in the back of the car by the presence of a circus big top on the sward at Paignton. There be clowns.

It was on one of these trips that we had the misfortune to be caught by the traffic lights dead opposite the Circus of Death. A van pulls out, and the darling daughter asks, in her fear, "Dad, what's in that van?"

I do not get to answer, for my son hit the jackpot with "Clowns. Head-eating clowns."

Armageddon in the back seat.

Mocking phobias is neither big nor clever, but this is a family episode that has become lore. Every bus, lorry or van after that day is carrying clowns somewhere to do their evil work. Disguised supermarket lorries - like that scene in Close Encounters of the Third Kind - is their favoured mode of mass transport. Head-eating clowns. Everywhere, and I am sorry for my part in messing up my children's heads.

Back to the present, and stuck in a traffic jam while The Man makes it impossible to drive through Reading in the morning. And this is my view.

I send it to my daughter, now pushing twenty-one years old, with the hashtag to see if she is over the clown thing.

The expected reaction. She is not.

I placate her with the knowledge that I followed the curs back to their devilish headquarters and razed it to the ground. She is happy.

All is well, no heads will be eaten today. Not until the next truckload arrive from the depot.


Paul Whelan said...

Really? Me too... the closest I ever get to having a phobia is loose buttons.
I can't explain it, I just.... don't like them.
A lot.

Mr Larrington said...

My glasses case contains not one, not two, but three loose buttons!

Awaiting the delivery of some sturdy baling wire, that they might be reunited with the trousers off which they came, and not to traumatise Messrs Duck and Whelan, oh no...

HugeBadWolf said...

I hate that van.
Keep seeing it around town.
The only thing worse than a clown is an unexpected clown.

HugeBadWolf said...

I hate that van.
Keep seeing it around town.
The only thing worse than a clown is an unexpected clown.

All together now said...

I hate that van
Keep seeing it 'round town
The only thing that is worse than that van
Is an unexpected clow wown

Richard Wintle said...

I'm not keen on that van either, shoop-boop-ba-doop.

Spent many enjoyable vacations in Paignton and Torquay and didn't have my head chewed off by a clown even once. The peacocks at the Paignton Zoo though... terrifying.