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British Expat Newsletter:
9 March 2005

Hello, and welcome to those who have joined up since our last newsletter.

In this issue

  • This week: Phobias
  • Please help – postgrad research into British e-commerce websites
  • Virtual Snacks
  • Sponsor
  • Bizarre Searches
  • Joke and quotation

This week

This week we’re looking at irrational fears and phobias.

“They say it’s as big as four cats… it’s got a retractable leg so it can leap up at your belly… it lights up at night and it’s got four ears – two of them are for listening and the other two are kind of back-up ears. Its claws are as big as cups…”

If you’re a “Father Ted” fan, you may recognise this quotation as Father Dougal McGuire’s description of the (entirely imaginary) sheep-killing Beast. As kids many of us imagined monsters under the bed, bogeymen in the wardrobe or unspeakable terrors lurking in lofts, cellars or outhouses. Sooner or later most of us grow out of them as our reason asserts control over our imagination.

But there are other fears, the sort that attach themselves to everyday objects and activities. Creepy-crawlies – insects, spiders, worms, you know the sort of thing I’m talking about – provoke no more than mild distaste in most of us. (Just as well – living in Thailand would reduce people to gibbering wrecks otherwise.) Familiarity breeds contempt, I suppose. And it’s as well that we do have this warning mechanism that makes us flinch a little when we see something scuttling in the corner of our eye. After all, one day it might just be the poisonous scorpion rather than the harmless (if not exactly well toilet-trained) tik-tiki lizard that catches the mosquitoes.

For others, though, the mechanism’s more powerful than it should be. In the bar next door to one of our regular hang-outs they’ve recently acquired a dog, which they’ve called Tiger. They couldn’t have chosen a more inappropriate name if they’d tried – it’s a cute little bundle of fluff, very affectionate, and wouldn’t harm a fly. It loves attention and frequently comes next door to “our” bar for a pat and a stroke. Unfortunately the cashier is scared stiff of dogs, no matter how harmless or sweet-tempered – she draws her legs onto her chair and won’t emerge from safety as long as the dog’s around.

Discussion of fears and phobias crops up on the Forum from time to time. A number of our members suffer from some of the more commonplace ones – flying, spiders, heights. But there are some more unusual ones too. Ever been scared of man-made structures sticking out of water (rusty pipes, wreckage, that sort of thing)?

I was curious, so I did a bit of digging around to find some more unusual phobias, even bizarre ones. There were some real humdingers:

– sesquipedalophobia: fear of long words. (Imagine – you’d never be able to use the technical term for your own phobia.)

– autovoxophobia: fear of one’s own voice. (Again, how do you tell someone you’ve got it?)

But I was amazed to find that Alfred Hitchcock (who once famously said that he was afraid of policemen) was apparently also afraid of… eggs, according to his biographer Donald Spoto. And one country music star is afraid of cows!

Perhaps it’s comforting to know that everyone’s got their own vulnerability – even those with the least to fear. Back to Father Dougal’s description of the Beast for the last word:

“…and for some reason it’s got a tremendous fear of stamps.”

Do you have a phobia or fear? Why not share it with some sympathetic listeners (or readers) on the forum?

Please help! Postgraduate research into British e-commerce websites

[Update: I completed the degree in 2005, but you are still welcome to look at my dissertation.]

If you are the manager or company director of a British e-commerce venture which is an SME, and/or its web designer or webmaster, please give a little of your time to complete an online questionnaire.

For more information about the research, and links to the questionnaire, please visit:

Please help. It’ll take less than 10 minutes, probably nearer five. Thank you.

[The DTI defines SMEs as having fewer than 250 employees, turnover below €50m (£35m), balance sheet total below €43m (£30m).]

Virtual Snacks

Just a couple of suggestions if you have a little time to spare:

Loads of stuff about phobias on large list of phobias and what they are.  Did you know that arachibutyrophobia is fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of the mouth? Take this site with a pinch of salt as several of their definitions may well be made up – as Wikipedia says, many of them were created just to show knowledge of Greek rather than to describe a genuine psychological condition.  But worth a look anyway for some of their stuff on celebrity phobias.

There’s a massive list of phobias here:

Bizarre Searches

Some strange search terms which have led people to visit British Expat recently:

  • people say i m so attractive and both men and ladies (3)
  • goats head and obnoxious weeds (2)
  • cringe factor is enough to make (2)
  • tuning el burgo (2)
  • nightmares and brain (2)
    [OK, not so very bizarre, but it goes well with this week’s theme]
  • spindly tomatoes (2)
  • physical security cartoon (2)
  • shown here are four men buried up to their necks in the ground (1)
  • flabber sleeping (1)
  • horse riding topless (1)
  • exceptional sadistic woman and slave (1)
  • british mps who have been caught in adultery (1)

Till next time…
Happy surfing!

British Expat Magazine


“The only way to get rid of my fears is to make films about them.”

– Alfred Hitchcock (1899-1980)


Joe has been seeing a psychoanalyst for four years for treatment of his fear of monsters under his bed. It’s been years since he’s had a good night’s sleep. Furthermore, he’s made virtually no progress, and he knows it. So one day he decides to stop seeing the psychoanalyst and try something different.

A few weeks later, Joe’s former psychoanalyst meets his old client in the supermarket, and is surprised to find him looking well-rested, energetic, and cheerful. “Doc!” Joe says, “It’s amazing! I’m cured!”

“That’s great news!” the psychoanalyst says. “You seem to be doing much better. How come?”

“I went to see another doctor,” Joe says enthusiastically, “and he cured me in just ONE session!”

“One?!” the psychoanalyst asks incredulously.

“Yeah,” continues Joe, “my new doctor is a behaviourist.”

“A behaviourist?” the psychoanalyst asks. “How did he cure you in one session?”

“Oh, easy,” says Joe. “He told me to cut the legs off my bed.”

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