I was browsing through a bookshop the other day and came across a book about guardian angels which I found intriguing. I didn’t buy the book because although I have no trouble believing in guardian angels, ghosts or even two headed pixies I do have trouble in believing that someone would write this kind of a book without making up at least some the stories. If there are guardian angels there is no doubt that they are not all created equal and judging by my survival rate below it looks like mine has been doing a pretty good job.

1. Italian Food
Anyone who has ever visited Italian relatives is aware of the danger of death by eating. You are given the biggest lunch you have ever seen which includes two starters, one of which is a big plate of pasta. Around 5 p.m. someone presents you with a neatly wrapped package of pastries they bought especially in honour of your visit. A couple of hours later,  just as you feel you might survive they present you with the biggest pizza you have ever seen and are offended when you turn down the tiramisu.

2. My Tricycle
This was my pride and joy when I was six but I had great difficulty accepting it was not a Formula One racing car. Had I not lived next to two steeps hill it might not have been such a big problem. It took me several serious crashes before I discovered you can’t take a sharp bend at high speeds and lampposts don’t move out of the way no matter how much you shout at them.

3.The Pink Panther
The series of films starring Peter Sellers. During the scene where he is using the parallel bars and jumps off into the stairwell I actually thought I was going to die laughing.

4. The Champ
A great with Jon Voight and Faye Dunaway. I love a good tear jerker but refuse to cry in front of others so for a while I was genuinely scared I would explode.

5. Chicken Vindaloo
I have never eaten hot curries so I have no idea why I accepted a bet to finish off a plate of Vindaloo, especially when I spent more on toilet paper than I won on the bet.

6. Skiing
I was working in Gstaad in Switzerland when my friend Paolo and I thought we’d have a go at skiing. We edged our way 50 metres up the mountain, turned to face downhill and let go sliding nervously downhill until we reached the flat bit at the bottom where we came to a stop. Wondering why anyone should waste money on lessons when it was so easy we jumped on a T Bar and after falling off half way up I received a scar on my leg that I still have to this day. We pointed downhill the same as before only this time when I reached 200 miles an hour I realised even if I did manage to stay on my feet, by the time I reached the flat ground I would be travelling so fast I would end up skiing through the middle of a restaurant and two chalets before firmly entrenching myself head first up a cow’s arse. I crashed badly and continued to crash at least 100 times before limping back to my room.

7. My Cooking
It is legendary in some circles although it has got better since someone advised me to replace my smoke alarm with a kitchen timer.

8. The Birdy Song
Also known in the USA as The Chicken Song. Ok you might think it is fun but for serious musicians, playing it is like having an exploding stake driven through your heart before being thrown in front of a moving train.

9. School
I was eleven when I first heard the phrase “dying of boredom” and thought for a while it was an actual cause of death. I was scared to go to school until I discovered it was just an expression and there was no real danger in attending a geography lesson.

10. Y2K
Something we all survived. The real danger of this was not the widespread chaos predicted to occur when the new millennium started but the cost. What other industry could get away with charging us a fortune to fix a problem that didn’t exist and even if it did,  it was one they created in the first place. Computers are God’s gift to the unscrupulous.

11. Parsnips
In my childhood I was convinced that parsnips were the work of the devil and if I accidentally swallowed one I would die and go straight to hell. The problem was my mother used to hide them amongst the roast potatoes so Sunday roast dinners were an obstacle course of dangerous vegetables.

12. Rugby
I have done a lot of contact sports including boxing, karate and squash and if you think squash is not a contact sport try having a racquet smashed in your face or stopping a ball travelling at 100 mph with your bum. Despite all this the only sport that really scared me was rugby. Unlike a scrum, at least in karate and boxing you know where the punches are coming from.

13. Rejection
I claim to have the biggest and most varied collection of rejection letters in history or I would have if I had kept them all. Most of them I just shrugged off but there were some that seemed to transform themselves into a boxing glove and punch me in the nuts. These days I don’t give a shit. It took me years to learn that rejections are like school bullies. Look them in the eye, tell them you’re not scared of them and they never bothers you again. These days I am more concerned about the effect on my heart if I ever received an acceptance letter.

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