Well, this was going to be a light-hearted little number about how I scare the living Bejeezus out of tourists visiting our happy little town by driving round the place blasting unexpected genres of music and singing along with exaggerated mouth movements.

It’s quite true – I was doing it only this morning, bopping along the main street happily trilling along to ‘Go Home’ by Eliza Doolittle and causing seismic tremors in the pacemakers of several out-of-towners in the Market Square with my impassioned, not to say vehement, rendition of the finale: “I just wanna go home in my dancin’ shoes/Put my dancin’ shoes on/Gonna cha-cha-cha, I’ll cha-cha-cha my way home/I won’t stop till I’m/Goin’ through my front doo-ooo-OOORR!” …and so on. They seemed to be in fear of their lives for some reason.

And so it is by this wacky and roundabout route that we come to today’s real theme: fear. After almost a year of planning and daydreaming, the Highland Games become a really real reality of the real kind this coming Saturday. And I have to say, I am pretty scared.


I just project apprehension, don’t I? But honestly, all kinds of stupid little fears are jumping at me like yappy toy dogs going for my ankles: what if I can’t even lift the stupid weights when it comes to it? I’m 47, for goodness’ sake, and I spend most of every day sitting on my arse in front of a computer screen – what if I’m kidding myself and I really am too old and saggy and wobbly to make a credible athlete? Is my throwing kilt too short? Are my kick-arse motorbike boots too extreme? Am I actually a self-deluded idiot that everyone will be glad to see the back of at the end of the season? Will I ever be able to turn a caber? I have hearing problems – what if I can’t understand what’s being said over the tannoy (seriously, can ANYBODY understand those things?) and miss my throw, how pathetic would that be? And so on… and on.

Fear eats you alive if you let it. Sometimes it does it in dramatic, bone-crunching fashion, but more usually it hollows out your resolve and character from the inside, saps your motivation and drive, paralyses you, a cancer in your spirit. You try to avoid it, flinch away from it, and it warps your path. Choice by tiny choice, you end up in a place you don’t even recognise, let alone want to be. Something I’ve learned: those toy dogs grow into Dobermans if you feed them.

In the pilot episode of ‘Lost’, the hero, Jack Shepherd, is talking to the heroine, Kate, about fear. He says he coped with it by making the decision to let the fear in, let it do its thing – but only for five seconds. That was all he’d give it. And he started to count: one. Two. Three. Four. Five. And the fear was gone. It’s a great scene, a great TV moment. It also happens to be true. This post is my five seconds, if you like – my way of dragging my fears into the light and letting them do their worst, showing them to myself for the yappy toy dogs they really are.


Take that, yappy toy dogs!


And that.

Counted to five. Committed my spirit to the Almighty. And oh, look.

No more fear.

Thank you and goodnight, all you Dobermans.



  1. I hate fear. I am the one that fear talks to all night long so that I can’t sleep. Well, Fear, its friend, Apprehension, and it’s other friend, Worry. I like this post because it reminded me that I can acknowledge the Fear, but then I need to just let it go. Take that, Fear. 🙂

  2. Actually, I think the most likely thing that’s going to happen is that you’re going to have a tremendous brassiere mishap just as you hit the second turn in the 12 pound weight throw. It will be something about clips and elastic, or other dreadful who-konws-what. The truly sad part about this, is that I’m not going to be there to witness it, and put you all back together properly for the next go-’round with the weight. LOL

    My antidote to fear is laughter. Honest.

    By the way, those boots,. Woman….tsk, tsk. What will people say?

    Go. Throw. Let the little yappers yap for five seconds or five minutes or whatever.. When throw time comes, drop a rock on the little bastards and just do what you know how to do. ‘Cause you know how to do it. You’ve been practicing. All those hours on the hill top are going to pay off. Do you remember how you watched the two women doing their thing at that first Games? You and your friend stood there in the freezing rain, and hell no, you weren’t leaving. You were witnessing AWESOME, right there in the flesh. I bet they didn’t throw that weight 100 feet, either. But they threw it. They DID it.

    And so will you. There will be women, just like you, standing there by the ropes, gawking at you. But girlfriend, now it’s YOU on the “action” side of those ropes. You earned it, by daring to try, and working hard to do better.

    You go, girl.

    • “Drop a rock on the little bastards” …. Bahahaha! Precisely. And ooh, I hadn’t thought about brassiere mishaps… *starts looking hunted*

  3. Seriously… I think, sometimes to change the world, any of us need only do two things.

    1. Dare to try.
    2. Bust your arse to do your best.

    You have done both.

    Now go have some fun, dammit.

  4. Alan H. speaks wise words. Plus that photo of you on the beach is a masterpiece. Fear is totally normal, and natural. Embrace it, own it, and use it to kick some major arse.

    Good luck and have fun!

    • He does, doesn’t he? I particularly like the ones about dropping a rock on the little… darlings. And I love that photo – taken by a friend of a friend, a professional photographer called Thomas D Slack, from Edinburgh. He took the one of me clutching the stone as well. Seriously nice pictures.

  5. My hat is completely off. Once you are out there and doing it, you are going to feel completely at home and probably wonder why it’s taken you so long to find yourself. Alan is also right in that what you are doing is pretty ground-breaking. Amazing, really amazing.

  6. I like that theory! I used to let fear eat me alive but I’m getting so much better at just getting pissed when I notice what it’s doing, and me in a pissed off mood is a force to be reckoned with. I grin and snarl and dig my heels in and plow the fuck through whatever it is I’m afraid of. I think the best thing I ever learned was that the fear may be inside me, but it isn’t me. Makes it much easier to fight when it comes time to.

  7. I am so sorry – I am now unable to let my imagination go any further than Alan’s brassiere-mishap. Now I am “definitely” going to have to come to Harpenden. Do you get disqualified for using a catapult?
    Seriously, I am just so impressed. I mean, I KNOW just how athletic you’ve always been and am so inspired by your mid-life crisis that I’m half tempted to have one myself…. when I’ve just finished this mountain of chocolate.
    Go. Sue. Cheering you on every inch… foot… yard.. mile of the way.

    • Why thank you, dear heart! Your vote of confidence, as one who has witnessed my last 40-odd years of couch-potatery, really means something. I’m not sure what that is, but I promise to call as soon as inspiration strikes.
      You can make it through the chocolate mountain! One square at a time, that’s all it takes. Remember: no pain, no weight gain. Or was it: no chockee, no workee? Yes, that sounds more plausible!

  8. I have hardly read any of your posts, and just by reading two, I already love how your personality is so apparent in your writing! It makes it for fun, easy reading. lol Great job here!

    And thanks for following my blog too! I’ll be back to visit yours again soon. 🙂 Until then…


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