Comedian Mark Watson is considering having hypnotherapy to cure an unusual phobia – he’s terrified of lightning.
He’s had a lifelong fear of being struck and is desperate to find a remedy, especially now he’s become a father to Kit, aged seven months.
“I’m hoping that it will toughen me up,” confides the comic.
“It wouldn’t be good for my son to see me shaking with fear, but unfortunately that’s exactly what happens during a storm. I am terrified.
“I once had to perform an open-air gig at a summer festival in a lightning storm and I could hardly speak. Afterwards I was drenched in sweat and couldn’t stop shaking.
“I get very anxious and anti-social in a storm. Ideally I’d go underground and not come out until it’s over. In fact I have gone into Tube stations in London to avoid storms.
“I know the danger of being struck by lightning is really small and there’s an intrinsic stupidity and comedy to my fear, but it’s not something I can rationalise.
“It’s not an easy fear to conquer, as I can’t get much practice at facing my phobia. I am prepared to go to a hypnotherapist, though.”
When Kit was born, just ten days after he hit 30, Mark decided to add to his writing – he’s just published his third novel, Eleven – by starting an online blog.
And vowing to write something every day for the next decade.
“I respond well to these stupid challenges,” he says. “It’s like exercise. Unless you force yourself to do it, you won’t bother. And I’m not a person for half-measures.
“I haven’t missed a day yet, although several times I’ve come close. Not out of laziness but because I’ve had trouble getting online using my mobile, or I’ve not finished a gig until a quarter to midnight.”
Another of Mark’s “stupid challenges” was doing a stand-up comedy show for 24 hours straight, or even 36 hours one year.
He’s performed seven of these marathon events but the last was in 2009.
“I think that chapter of my career is over. I didn’t want it to become a tired gimmick, I wanted it to be a special occasion.
“Plus there’s the consideration that I might die if I carry on! It does take a physical toll on you.”
* Mark Watson plays Birmingham’s Alexandra Theatre on Friday (ring 0844 847 2302 or go to www.alexandratheatre.org.uk) and Wolverhampton Civic on December 1.