I LOVE surveys for the daft preferences and prejudices they reveal.
A study of phobias, by Thorpe Park amusement centre in Surrey found that almost a third of us are afraid of the dark and 38% believe in ghosts (presumably more so when it’s dark). Then there are 25% of us who believe in UFOs, a third who are scared of loud noises, and 42% scared of confined spaces.
Of course, this is a populist survey designed to attract publicity, and doesn’t tackle the full gamut of phobias, that stretch in their hundreds from ablutophobia (fear of washing or bathing) to zoophobia (fear of animals).
In between are ranidaphobia (fear of frogs), pteronophobia (fear of being tickled by feathers), genuphobia (fear of knees) and the wonderful Walloonphobia (fear of the Walloons).
Fear of long words is hippopotomonstroses-quipedaliophobia, which is, appropriately, the longest name on the list, and I trust no reader of mine suffers from pogonophobia, which is a fear of beards.
The Thorpe Park survey found that Katie Price is the person we least want to be trapped with in a small space, and one in five said Gary Barlow was the person they would pick to be groped by in the dark.
These two answers throw up two crucial points: were these questions only posed to ladies? And, is being groped in the dark a suitable question?
I shall hold a survey to find out.