I am bloke, hear me roar. Not inclined to panic or concern, am I. 'Flighty' is not a word typically used in conjunction with me - I'm typically unphased by most things. In short, it takes a lot to cause me to be unsettled.
But get me near a spider (or more likely, get a spider near me - it's the normal way for these things to happen) and I'll revert to my default factory setting of Gibbering Infant Mode. In fact, I tend to de-evolve to some primitive state.
I can't begin to explain it. Logic tells me that there are no poisonous spiders in this country. Logic tells me that I'm several thousand times the size of the spider that emerges from a dark corner. Logic tells me to stop being such a baby.
Logic can go hang as far as I'm concerned.
People tell me that I could go for immersion therapy - where they throw you in the deep end, with loads of close-up images and even contact with the little critters. "But why would I want to do that," I'll ask, genuinely puzzled, "if it means being close to spiders?" I think I'm probably missing the point.
A story to illustrate just how hopeless I am.
Many years ago I was clearing my back garden and had filled my little Ford Ka with chopped-up bits of tree and bush to take to the municipal tip. (You can see where this is going already, can't you). I drove to the tip. This consists of a concrete platform surrounded by several dozen huge steel containers and a bloke in a cabin who dispenses directions in a guru-like manner, telling everyone which container to use after moments of deep thought.
It was when I was halfway to the tip when the thought struck me that I might have been carrying extra passengers in what was a tiny hatchback car with the rear seats down. I bit my lip and carried on. After all, I was going to the tip - Blokesville Central - so the wearing of brave trousers was mandatory.
(Those of you who saw where this was going - stand by.)
I swear it was the size of a Labrador puppy. It was licking its lips and grinning at me. A great fat hairy body, black with virulent red blotches, thick legs. The whole shebang. And I was standing at the tip, hyperventilating beside my little car, surrounded by hairy-arsed blokes unloading building rubble from transit vans. I had the presence of mind to consider that asking for help wasn't exactly going to go well.
I have never been so alone.
With a barely-suppressed whimper I dived in and in one smooth move, the branch and it's attendant horror moved from car boot to container. It was almost balletic. Other denizens of the tip stopped to watch this madman unloading garden refuse at hypersonic speeds.
Over the next few weeks the spider's little friends came out of the car's nooks and crannies to say hi. I was particularly enamoured by the one that dropped into my lap as I was doing 70 on the motorway. "Little bastard - you'll get me killed. But I'll take you with me, see if I don't." I was seriously considering selling the car.
There is no hope.