I am, by and large, a fairly placid sort of a bloke. My life to date has been mostly fairly boring, even my army service was free of any danger or excitement. And yet ... and yet ... there lurks inside of me several psychological fears which I take care not to test. One, which I have mentioned before, is a fear of heights which I recognised around the age of six or seven when I tried to emulate my pals by climbing a tree. I had to be rescued from the first and lowest branch where I froze! Yes, I know, I was a member of the Parachute Regiment but the odd thing is that you get very little sense of height from a moving aircraft. Mind you, the balloon jumps were another thing!
The other fear I have which seems to have developed late in life is claustrophobia. I once travelled through the Channel Tunnel which was fine just so long as the train kept moving. If it had ever stopped for any reason midway across I would have attempted to dig my way out using my finger nails! Similarly with tube trains. Also, I am now exceedingly reluctant to enter lifts and should I ever be locked up for any reason they might have to add the charge of murder to my sheet because I would probably kill the gaoler!
All of which brings me to Major Tim Peake, the British astronaut who has just returned from six months spent inside a sort of airtight tin can in space. Setting aside the hazard of actually getting up there, to say nothing of the even more terrifying descent, I simply cannot contemplate living inside a capsule for six minutes let alone six months. Oddly enough, the risks inherent in all the ultra high tech systems needed to ping you up there and bring you down again would not worry me because, simpleton that I am, I have huge unthinking trust and faith in them which is why flying gives me no worries.
But the second they slam the door on the titchy little capsule in which you are strapped for the journey would be the signal for me to panic and vacate my bowels - not necessarily in that order! Thus, my admiration for Maj. Peake and all those astronauts is simply immense.