Hypnotherapy is a funny thing. I always thought it meant being in an unconscious trance and waking up later not knowing where you’d been or what was going on. I was really disappointed the first time I tried it and nothing really happened. I just lay down for an hour, feeling relaxed and a bit sleepy while the man talked to me. But afterwards, I didn’t feel scared standing at the top of the stairs looking down anymore, or crossing the bridge, or looking up at the Shard. Heights don’t bother me now.
I’m terrified of children’s toys. I didn’t mind them so much when I actually was a child, but adulthood has imbued them with horrors. Is there anything more sinister than a doll with glass eyes, staring blankly at you out of its human face, looking as though it has murder on its tiny mind? Would it kill the manufacturers to give them smiles? Or would that be worse? Hmmm. Jack-in-the-boxes, the brothers of the sinister wife-beater and serial killer Mr Punch, are designed to frighten, leaping out of the box with their leering faces. Weebles wobble but – and here’s the thing – they don’t fall down! They defy gravity! And don’t get me started on the brides of Chucky, the Cabbage Patch Dolls.
Sometimes, it’s hard to tell if hypnotherapy’s worked at first so you have to give yourself a little test. I know what mine will be. It’s the massive toy bear in the Build-A-Bear shop on the high street. Terrifying. He looms up in the window like the big fat baddie at the end of the level in a computer game. The one you can’t get past. He’s my nemesis. When I can walk past Build-A-Bear…no, when I can go into Build-A-Bear and stand among all those limp carcasses of bears waiting to be stuffed with innards by gleeful, tiny people – that’s when I’ll know I’m cured.
But maybe it’s not the toys I’m scared of.