This Week’s Theme: Pick an unusual phobia and explain why a character has it.

That dream remains stamped on my memory now as the day I first dreamt it some twenty years ago. We were all dreaming rugby. It was normal. Not only were the Welsh school trials coming up, but the inaugural Rugby World Cup was in full swing and Wales were leading the way. They had qualified with few problems from the group stages and a resounding quarter final victory against old rivals England put us up against favourites New Zealand in the semis. Glory beckoned and we all wanted to be part of it. And if the trials went as planned, then one day we might well be pulling on that red shirt and walking out onto the hallowed turf of Cardiff Arms Park to represent our country.

The Semi-Final was to take early Sunday morning UK time. I'd have to get up before 4 a.m. to see the game broadcast live from Brisbane, not a good move with the trials taking place on the Monday. But there was no way I was going to miss this event and I was further comforted by the thought that all my rivals at the trials would be doing the same thing.

I retired early on Saturday but sleep was hard to find. I tossed and turned in my sheets as if trying to escape marauding New Zealand forwards. Then with five minutes to go and Wales only two points down, Jonathan Davies broke through the All Blacks defence with a stunning run. The ball came down the line and I latched onto the pass with just 5 metres to go and just one player in front of me. A neat side-step put pay to him and just as I dived for the line the ball slipped out of my hands and my brother was standing over me asking what was wrong.

Well, after that nightmare sleep became as scarce as the number of points Wales actually managed to notch up in the match. They were thrashed 49-6. And I never made it to the trials either. In training that morning, I deliberately botched, fumbled and messed up every ball that came my way. The trainer sent me home disappointed. He would never understand the relief I felt at his decision, nor my subsequent fear of catching balls. Because if I started catching them again, then maybe one day there would be that one vital miss that would ruin everything.

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an on purpose type phobia... that i think is my personal specialty!!!!

21 September 2007 at 13:07  

Someone once told me that a fear of failure and a fear of success were one and the same thing, and I think that's on display here - if you succeed, there's a greater chance you will fail, whereas if you don't even try, you can never fail. But even that's a failure.

Good lesson to all of us.

21 September 2007 at 13:08  

As one who also shares a horror of failure, I relate.

21 September 2007 at 14:38  

How do we know if we don't try? Great post. Food for thought!

21 September 2007 at 16:41  

I'm afraid you struck a nerve with this one Paul. When I was a young man, I hated being seperated from the crowd for either praise or critisism, so I set out to walk down the centre line fearing the edges. I became a great success at being invisible.

21 September 2007 at 18:21  

I actually have no fear of failure. It's the one thing I do really, really well.

I like the reminiscing aspect of this writing, though I would be inclined to think of his response as less of a phobia and more of a cowardice.

22 September 2007 at 00:18  

I liked how clearly this was written... my mind always goes a bit blank when sport and other blokey things are presented, so I appreciate how well ordered this is.

22 September 2007 at 04:47  

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