What Scares You?


 Tonight we have blogger-extraordinaire Jim Mcleod revealing his deep, dark fear…Nuns.

What scares me?  As the product of a long line of no-nonsense, stoic Scottish farmers, I like to think that nothing scares.  Deep dark water? That’s only scary if you go in, and I’m not that stupid.  It’s the same with heights; “your ball’s stuck up a tree, oh well son looks like we will have to buy you another one”.  Spiders, scorpions etc,?  That’s why I never take my shoes off.  You can’t be scared of something that can be defeated by a can of bug spray or a well placed stomp of a heavy soled shoe.  As being afraid of things such as zombies, vampires and werewolves, well we all know those things aren’t real, despite what we try and tell our kids.

However, as much as I try and fool myself, there is one thing I am scared of, and this isn’t just a little fear.   This thing will and has turned me into a shivering, quivering, wreck.   Thankfully, there has only ever been one occasion where I actually came face to face with one of these things, there have been a lot of near misses, and one instance where I came face to face with a fake one,  but even that was enough to the fear of God into me.

Before I reveal exactly what scares me, I must stress that I am not in any way being flip, this fear really is an all encompassing crippling phobia.  The tone of this article may be light hearted but my fear is real.

I am scared of NUNS!  That’s right, those nice ladies who like to run around hills signing songs, and who have kept Catholic school kids in line since the time began.   I know exactly the time and place this fear was implanted in my head, and the nun in question wasn’t even real.

It was 1978, I was only seven years old, my parents had gone out for drink, something they rarely did, and left me at home with a baby sitter.  I don’t know if the baby sitter had had a hard day, or if it was being made to read my dinosaur book to over and over that tired her out, but tired she was as she fell asleep on sofa.  Wanting something to drink I came downstairs to find her asleep with the TV on. My luck was in.  Here I was, essentially alone in the house,  with the joyous wonder of a whole three channels of television programming to explore.  Don’t ask me why I settled on ITV, it may have been my exhaustion of having to push those huge buttons on the TV; you kids don’t know how lucky you are with your fancy remote controls, but ITV it was.

So there I sat, engrossed in a crime drama about some thieves hiding out in a convent  There may have been some language I wasn’t meant to hear,  compared to what is shown on British soaps today before the watershed, it was tamer than a pet goldfish.  Then it all changed, not just the content on show, but my life as well, even now 33 years later my life is still ruled by this fear.

You see the criminal gang had been using a local legend of a faceless nun that had been walled up in the convent, as a means to stop people snooping about where they had hidden their stash.  And now a plucky investigator is snooping into their business.  There was snooping about, and she spies a ladder leading up to the attic, up she climbs, the scene then cuts to a nun rocking on a chair, she climbs a bit further, then suddenly the nun jumps up and kicks her down the stairs.  To this day I still don’t know what happened next, as all hell had broken out in my house, brought on by my screaming like a banshee.

To those of you blessed with a strong disposition go and check “Quiet As A Nun” You Tube has the offending scene, I still can’t watch it to the end.


To this day, whenever I see a Nun in the street I’ll cross over to the other side or dart into a shop, but sometimes this isn’t enough to stop an encounter with the hooded ones.

Almost ten years ago, my wife and I sold our flat, and since we wanted to wait until we could find the perfect house, we decided to move into her mother’s house.  A house that I had completely forgotten was across the road from a convent.  Thankfully the convent was in the process of being closed down.  So all I had to do was not look out of the front windows, and keep my eyes to the ground every time I left the house.  I also made a point of walking two bus stops down the road just in case there was one waiting for the number 31 bus.

After six weeks the convent closed down and there was much rejoicing.  Safe in the knowledge that my chances of seeing a nun had dropped to manageable levels my life continued as normal.  Well for two weeks it did.  It was a Saturday afternoon and there was a knock at the door, so off I went to answer it, and there, on my doorstep was two nuns.  I don’t remember much of what happened, just what Amanda has told me, they were apparently very concerned about me.  What with me standing there mouth open and physically shaking like a leaf in a hurricane.  Amanda had to physically break visual contact with them by putting a newspaper in front of my face, after which she quietly led me away.  It took me a good hour to come out of my “fit”.  Needless to say we purchased a new house very quickly after that day.

As for my encounter with a fake nun, that was Amanda’s fault, she had arranged to go to Sing Along A Sound Of Music.  Where you go along dressed as a character and sing along to the songs.  She had decided as a Nun, as one of her friends had a nun costume.   I wasn’t going so I didn’t really care.  It was a late showing, and I was tired from a hard day at work, so I decided to go to bed.  Just before Amanda left, our son Campbell decided to wake for nappy change.  Not realising Amanda was still up I got still half asleep, to go and change him.  Only to be confronted with Amanda in full Nun costume at the top of the stairs.  You’ve never heard a grown man scream until you’ve heard me scream.  And considering how big I am it was really easy hiding underneath the bed.

So there you have it folks that’s what scares me.  A lot of people think I’m joking  when I say A Sound of Music is the scariest horror film ever made, to me it is and always will be.