I spend an inordinate amount of time contemplating spiders. This is largely because I am terrified of them, and have an unjustified paranoia of coming across one of the larger, hairier varieties of arachnid at any moment. I was not always scared of spiders, and in fact I can very nearly pinpoint the moment at which the fear began to creep insidiously into my life. One day I was carrying eight-leggged hairy things around on sticks to frighten my classmates; the next our emergency teacher told us the story of a lady who was bitten by a particularly nasty breed and whose hand subsequently rotted away. Bingo, there it is, the source of my phobia. Mr Falkner, a primary school replacement teacher. Of course, follow that up with years of hearing that Australia is home to most of the world's deadliest snakes and spiders, and the result was inevitable. I now worry if there will be a spider in the letterbox when I check the mail. If I step into the backyard, the knowledge that it is full of hidden arachnids is in the forefront of my mind. Even the smallest, least offensive spiders are a source of concern to me. The only ones I don't mind are the daddy-long-legs, because I can blow them away or wash them down a plughole. Although I still find it unnerving if they walk straight towards me. Shudder.
So there it is. My confession. What are you afraid of?