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Last Updated: Thursday, 30 March 2006, 09:52 GMT 10:52 UK
Your 20 worst fears
Last week, in response to an article about phobias, readers were invited to send in their own fears. Here are some of things that leave you shaken and stirred.

PEAS RELEASE ME
Peas

As the Magazine reported last Friday, the list of officially-recognised phobias is long and often bizarre, and it is estimated that 13 percent of the adult population will develop a phobia at some point.

In response, you weren't slow to share your own fears. Many were so pungently described as to be almost contagious; some were intended to amuse. Here, we present a selection of 20 of your fears - look away now if the mere mention of buttons, animal costumes or takeaway forks send you into a cold sweat.

20. Haircuts: People think my hair is long because of my indie dress sense, but to be honest it is because I am scared to death of the chair and the scissors. I am shaking typing this. My last haircut was 12 months ago, when my flatmate took kitchen scissors to my head when I was asleep. I feel ridiculous but even therapy just won't work.
Chris McCall, Edinburgh

19. Birds, wings, feathers: Walking around town squares is frightening and hellish for me - the thousands of pigeons seem like brainless assassins after my life.
Ju-Lee Sandhu, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

18. Gravy: My big brother has a phobia of gravy. The mere mention of gravy sends him into a frenzy.
Jo Traynor, Liverpool

17. Boats: I have an incredible fear of boats. It's silly and irrational and I realise that, but the bigger the ship, the more terrified I am of the thought of it floating on water or even going out to sea. .
Roddy Fraser, London

16. Mould/cheese: I have a phobia of mould. I know how irrational it is - until I see some mould, then I run from the room shaking. I also get shaky at blue cheese. I agree about the stress aspect - when I'm under pressure my panic is far greater. I'm not mad. Honest.
Katherine, London

15. Computers: I'd like to comment, but I'm scared of computers.
Tony Gallagher, Oamaru, New Zealand

14. Scarecrows: "I am terrified of scarecrows and I have no idea why. I just find them truly hideous to behold."
Matt, Kent

13. Flamingos: "If one comes on the television I normally retch. Luckily there aren't many that I come in contact with day to day. I think it might have started with the ones in Alice in Wonderland when I was a child."
Nadia, Brighton

12. Carrots: "I've feared carrots since a very young age. I put it down to them being orange with what appears to be green hair and those teeth like fangs."
Nathan Walsh, Sheffield

11. Pen-lids: "I have two very odd phobias. I cannot look or go anywhere near sheep, and the other is pen lids. I cannot have a pen lid on my desk in front of me. If I see one at work I have to get a colleague to come and pick it up for me. I cannot even touch it myself."
Andrea Ward, Essex

10. Coleslaw: "I can't have it in the house, let alone in my fridge. When I'm out to eat I have to check with the waiter before ordering that there will be no coleslaw on my plate and avoid looking at other peoples plates, just in case."
Daniel Windrim, Belfast

9. Cats: "I have extreme phobia for cats. Hence I always check before visiting anyone whether they have cats. I would not go near or be near to a cat. It can cause a lot of anxiety in me, weeks of sleepless nights or even fall ill. Some people do not take the phobia seriously. Therefore it add further stress to me when joke about it."
Christina Spybey, London

8. Wind farms: "I am terrified of wind farms. As a regular visitor to Devon and Cornwall, where there are quite a few, I have to insist all the car doors are locked. Over-exposure to the original War of the Worlds may be the cause."
Sarah, Bristol

7. Animal costumes: "I have an intense fear of people in those big animal costumes. Football mascots for example. The thought of going to Disneyland and meeting Mickey Mouse frightens the life out of me. I think it's the constant smile and their inability to speak. Plus you don't know who is inside the costume. If I see one in the street I run the other way and find a new way to my destination."
Sarah, Derby

6. Takeaway forks/ice lolly sticks: "I have a fear of the wooden forks you get when you buy fish and chips, does it get any odder than that?"
Steve, London
"I was in my teens when this started. I remember being a child and chewing the stick afterwards and being scolded for it. Now, even touching a stick, such as the wooden forks that come with fish and chips or a kebab skewer makes me physically sick. Even writing this mail has me bringing up water in my mouth. Even curiouser I can touch bare wood (my job usually involves wooden pallets) so I think it's just wood that food's on."
Lee Dixon, Sunderland

5. The letter Y: "M phobia is all about the letter . Ever time I tr to press it on the ke board, it makes me want to cr . I know it seems sill to ever one else, but it all started when I was a bab , and I swallowed a magnetic letter. At least that's what My mumm and dadd told me an wa ."
Paul Davies, Swindon, UK

4. Tomatoes: " Not just any tomatoes - big, juicy beef tomatoes with glistening red skins. If I am served one, sliced or unsliced, it turns my stomach and I cannot touch any food that has been in contact with it. It stems from my childhood. I was 11 and went to play with a friend one afternoon. I remember the kitchen being gloomy and filled with the most disgusting smell of tripe cooking on the range for the dogs in big steaming iron pots. His father, a tall booming man with no hair, served us up some sandwiches while we sat bare-legged on cold wooden stools. They were filled with thick slices of ham (I am now vegetarian) and pieces of roughly-cut tomato. I remember the clear goo dripping from the edges of the bread and the smell of tripe filling the room and his father loudly telling us to eat up and me choking on a piece of tomato."
Antony Davis, London

3 Baked beans: "Just typing and thinking about it makes me want to vomit. I can't be in the same house as anyone eating them, the smell alone brings me out in a sweat."
Elaine Green, Littlehampton
"As a child I was completely terrified of baked beans. I couldn't sit on the same table as someone who was eating them and I used to feel physically sick at the sight of them. I used to inspect the soles of my shoes every time I left the school refectory to ensure that I hadn't stepped on a bean. Horror of horrors, my worst nightmare was realised, when one day I stepped on a bean. It sounds incredulous but my mum had to buy me another pair of shoes as I refused to wear shoes that had been contaminated."
Sarah Jones, Cardiff

2. Balloons: "I have severe globophobia - a fear of balloons. It makes shopping difficult when stores are giving away balloons to children, and it is practically impossible for me to go to a party without first checking if balloons will be part of the decoration."
Clair, Southampton
"I once had to leave my office because it had been decorated for a big launch with hundreds of balloons and I just freaked out. Walking through town is a nightmare with the balloons that get handed out to children in restaurants and shops. Funnily enough though, it's only the latex ones I'm afraid of - it's not just the bang factor, it's the squeaking and the smell. But maybe even more unusual is a friend of mine who has a pathological fear... of jam."
Wyvern, Plymouth UK

1. Buttons: "My button phobia started when I was about 10, after the most awful experience with a demon - oops, I mean dentist. As he was tearing my mouth to bits all I can remember is crying and the four buttons on his white tunic. I've been married for 25 years and my wife still has to carefully choose what clothes she buys as not to upset me. And God help me if I ever see a pearly King or Queen."
Danny, Sidcup, Kent
"Even as a small child I hated being dressed in any items with buttons on them. I am getting better as I get older and can wear certain items of clothing but still seeing small white plastic buttons makes my stomach turn (even writing this made me feel a bit odd.)"
Yvonne, Wilton
"Since I was little I have always had a fear of buttons - not buttons on clothes but loose ones that are either on the floor or if I am rummaging around in a drawer and come across one I freak out and can't even touch it. I have since met two other people that have the same phobia - at least I am not the only one."
Kirsty Turner, Brighton



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