And I don’t mean a sunburnt penguin!
I’ve recently tracked down the correct term for my strange lifelong affliction. Papyrophobia – fear of paper – is apparently as rare as Dead Sea Scrolls, so what does that make my specific phobia – newspaper? I can’t find any references to other sufferers like me, repulsed by its touch, nervous about proximity to it, and as for the nauseating pong which I can detect from metres away in a dark room…
I got through school by a general avoidance of all projects Papier Mache, and by telling bemused teachers I was allergic. However in adult life, I can’t sit on a bus seat where there’s an abandoned ‘monstrosity’, or next to anyone reading one. Once, a chap thrust his cast-off Sun onto the empty place next to me. Instead of me shrieking ‘Remove that offensive item, I’m Papyrophobic!’, which would have been embarrassing, I glared at him, nervously nudging said item onto the floor, kicking it so it slid down the aisle.
Ironically, I’ve been immortalised on the abhorrent surface since far-distant days in Brownies onwards. As a thirteen year-old, dressed up for Marsden carnival, my auntie and me were asked by a photographer from the Huddersfield Examiner if one of us could lean to the right while the other leaned left, and both give massive smiles and jazz hands. My aunt cheerfully obliged, the photo shows her doing just that. Her sulky niece however, a stubborn clown in a home-made lampshade hat, just folded her arms.
Similarly, on a photo with my dad and some barrel rollers one New Year in the mid-80’s, I’m lurking at the back, in large hoop earrings and newly permed hair. Underneath are everyone’s names, including those of my dad and ‘his son Jim.’
And I didn’t even realise I’d been snapped with David Essex till someone asked if I’d read Tuesday’s paper!
Is it that odd, really?
Although Papyrophobia, or my unique branch of it, makes me something of an oddity, it’s also made me miss out on loads of interesting articles, and look a bit daft on public transport. It’s really no different than being afraid of spiders, and folk find that normal enough, don’t they?