Thursday, July 10, 2008

Let me tell you a story...

The phobia

I haven't got a phobia. Well, not as such. A phobia is "an irrational fear or loathing" and my ... aversion ... is not irrational at all. Anyone in their right mind would feel the same way if they knew what I know.

It all started out so innocently. It was me and my boyfriend and my kid brother, all going off to the park together. It wasn't exactly ideal, I really wanted to be on my own with Jeff, but Mum said I had to take Sam with me. I didn't want to argue because it was my birthday the next week and I wanted to keep in Mum's good books for a special present I had in mind.

Anyway, there we were, Jeff, Sam, me and a picnic on our way to the park. The sun was shining as we walked across the grass and through the trees. It's quite a big park, with a pond in the middle of it. There are boats on the water in the summer and ... other things. No, I'm going to be brave. I'm going to write the words. Or maybe Jeff will add them in for me after I've finished. There were ducks on the water. It was the main reason we'd come to the park. We were going to have a little picnic - just sandwiches and fizzy drinks - and then give any leftovers to the ducks.

We hadn't brought a blanket to sit on, we just found a bit of grass near the pond and plonked ourselves down. I got out the sandwiches and it was then that the trouble started.
"Egg!" Sam said. "Mum knows I don't eat egg!"
"Well, have one of the cheese ones." I held out a cheese sandwich but Sam knocked it out of my hand.
Jeff looked at Sam but he didn't say anything.
I did though. "Now look what you've done. We'll have to give that one to the ducks." I put it on the grass to one side. Then I scrabbled in the carrier bag to see if there were any sandwiches that didn't have egg or cheese in them. I was so focussed on the inside of the bag that I didn't see the ducks that had come over looking for food. One of them got near Sam's foot and he kicked it away.

I looked up then, and saw what he was doing. "Don't do that Sam. It only wants some bread."
"I don't like them."
Jeff and I were looking at Sam and the duck when suddenly a pain shot through my hand and I dropped the carrier bag. A large goose had come up behind me and had grabbed the food bag, and my hand with it. Have you seen the size of those things? It was enormous. Its head must have come up to my chest at least. Jeff waved at it to frighten it off and it attacked with beak and wings. Jeff must have looked scary because it wasn't him that it attacked, it was me! It was all snapping beak and flapping wings and huge webbed ... Oh, it was horrible, I get the shivers even thinking about it.

I turned and fled and ran all the way home, leaving Jeff to bring Sam with him. That goose followed me all the way, I swear it did. I could hear its hissing and the clacking of its beak and the wooshing sound of its feathers as it flapped its huge wings. I've never run so fast in my life. I hammered on the front door and Mum let me in and I threw myself into her arms.
"Whatever's up?" she asked.
I was sobbing as I said, "It's the goose, it's after me,"
"What goose?" Mum asked.
"That one!" I turned and pointed.
But by that time the goose had gone. I don't think Mum really believed me, you know. She wouldn't forgive me, either, for rushing off and leaving Sam like that.

The point is, that geese really are dangerous after all and it isn't a phobia to be wary of them. And of course ducks were involved too, so you can't trust them either. Or any bird, for that matter. Never trust anything with feathers.

It was when I screamed at the first snowfall last winter because it reminded me of feathers falling out of the sky that Mum said I had to go and see a therapist. But now you've heard my story, you can see I'm telling the truth. It isn't really a phobia, is it?

~~~ END ~~~

Well, that was easy. My computer crashed recently and I've got a new hard drive so I needed to install drivers for my webcam. Of course, the disk has vanished but all I had to do was to google for drivers and download them. Then record a quick video and I'd be done.

Except I found that I can't get a decent sound level unless the camera is so close to my mouth that you're examining my nostrils. Not my best feature, in my opinion. So I used the microphone on the webcam to record audio instead. Sadly, Blogger didn't like the audio file format; it will only accept videos.

No worries, I went to Podbean because that likes audio files. It didn't like mine though, so I downloaded a program called Free Mp3WmaOGG Converter - a really catchy title - and converted the file to mp3. By the way, I recommend that free software; it's very easy to use.

Then I just had to work out how to upload to Podbean, which worked on the second attempt, and change browsers so that I could get hold of the code I needed to embed in this post, because Podbean doesn't like Firefox.

Easy peasy. Well, it will be next time, anyway. I wonder if it was really worth it.


Whirlochre said...

Geese top my list of Unwanted Visitors At A Picnic — way more dangerous than wasps. They're fine as they paddle on the water, meandering in and out of camera focus, but the moment you get the Walker's crisps out, they transform into menacing Satans Of Peck, capable of biting the heads off any and all previously happy infants and blinding hapless grandparents with a swish of their hamper-bound feathers. On the nightmare battleground of our post-apocalyptic future, the fate of mankind will not be decided by batallions of armoured robots. It'll be geese — flocks of the bastards, pumped up on steroids and trained, Pavlov-like, to kill at the first scent of tupperware softened vol-au-vent.

It was a miserable rainy day in England till I heard this. The sun's come out now — but I'm going nowhere.

Natalie Whipple said...

Oh those geese are awful, and this had me smiling the whole time. Great story. Your voice it so easy to listen to.

Kiersten White said...

I love, love, love your voice. Really, if/when I get published, you and Whirl will have to trade off doing my book-on-tape.

And the story was so fun, too. Geese are horrible.

PJD said...

Will you narrate my life for me? I would enjoy my life so much more if I could experience it by listening to a voice-over by you.

And no, it's not a phobia, it's what I call "wisdom."

fairyhedgehog said...

WO: you are just too funny!

Natalie, kiersten: thank you for your kind comments.

Pjd: I'm available to do voice-overs but you'll have to talk to my agent at

JaneyV said...

I agree - disliking geese can never be counted as a phobia. In fact it's incredibly sensible. I loathe, loathe, loathe geese. You are sooo right - dangerous, mean, vicious, hissy things. I like ducks though - they don't try to take the bread out of your hands!

I love your voice FH - you'll be doing Jackanory one of these days!

fairyhedgehog said...

Thanks, JaneyV. You guys are going to turn my head.

Stacy said...

Ah, I love this! I must confess I have an American love for English accents. And your reading was so expressive and humorous.

And the bird thing? Not a phobia. I actually know a woman who is terrified of birds, but for good reason. They attack her quite frequently. Just a few years ago a hawk attacked her in her garage in Texas. It's bizarre. She's been crapped on my more pigeons than anyone else I know. And geese just sound scary.

You do voiceovers? Seriously? I fantasize about doing voiceover work.

Sophie in the Moonlight said...

Ok, I'm with Freddie. I'm a Yank in love with your accent, your cadence, and the way you say "Mum". These delights are only surpassed by your story of the terrifying geese. I've always thought those feathered freaks were bastards and given them wide berth.

My animal phobia is for goats. I got knocked on my face many times by a goat butting my behind when I was a little girl. I do not know why they found my particular behind intimidating enough to challenge to a duel, but I lost 3 or 4 behind v. horns duels. I even got knocked over by a goat at Santa's workshop. I told Santa I was NOT very happy about that and I thought he should bring me an extra present that Christmas.

So perhaps we should simply avoid all animals starting with the letter G. I'll bet even giraffes have a pissy streak. =)

Robin S. said...

Oh, FH, this is great- from your beautiful, melodic voice to your narrative style to the 'moral' of your narrator's story ...

Never trust anything with feathers.

You had me smiling and happily, joyfully entranced, honey!

McKoala said...

Clearly a Zombie Goose.

Beautifully read.

ril said...

Wonderful story and exceedingly well read; brought back memories of hot tea and Jackanory.

I agree, there's nothing worse than a goose when you're trying to enjoy a picnic.

fairyhedgehog said...

Freddie: I love it that I only have to sound British and all my American friends think it's cool. No effort required!

The woman that birds attack is a very strange phenomenon.

By the way, I think you missed the "Don't I Just Wish" part of the agents email address.

Sophie: "So perhaps we should simply avoid all animals starting with the letter G." That was so funny!

I wonder what it is with the goat thing? And I'm very puzzled why Santa came equipped with a goat. Over here he's satisfied to stick with reindeer.

Robin: Thank you for your very kind comments.

Mckoala: A zombie goose! Yes, of course, why didn't I realise that?

Ril: I'm all set up for when I get grandchildren and I can read them their bedtime stories.

Stacy said...

Right. Gotcha.

Julie Weathers said...

Oh. My. Gosh. This is absolutely wonderful.

Such delightful delivery.

Don't tell me, you're an actress as well as a writer.

Sarah Laurenson said...

Wow! What fun to get such a great story told with such a wonderful voice. Thanks!

fairyhedgehog said...

Thanks, Sarah and Julie.

I'd love to get involved in amateur dramatics, it looks great fun! If only it wasn't so time consuming. I did scene-shifting once, dressed as a lackey, and later I helped out with another undergraduate who had to direct a French play. My main lines involved repeatedly saying "tout prit feu" (everything caught fire). I found a reference to it online here:

Sylvia said...

I loved this, it's great! And I really like the words on paper/spoken voice - and where you diverged to fit the medium. I'm immune (well, somewhat) to English accents and I still like your voice!

I borrowed my boyfriend's son microphone that he uses for webcam chatting to his girlfriend to do my recording and it was awful. Hisssssing s's and just all wrong. In the end I used the webcam and built-in microphone of our laptop which ended up much better (except for the somewhat bizarre visuals of the local lighthouse but I couldn't work out how to get it to audio only - I'll try podbean next time!)

Geese make me nervous but goats are MUCH worse. Definitely.

WO made me laugh. I'm staying in, too.

fairyhedgehog said...

Thanks, Sylvia.

Getting audio up on blog is a lot harder than I would have expected.

Whirlochre was on form here but he always makes me laugh.

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