05/01/2012 10:18 GMT | Updated 05/03/2012 05:12 GMT

Sneezing - the Public Enemy

It's amazing what goes into your head, and won't come out.

As a teenager, I read an article about sneezing. There was a picture of a person sneezing, and a huge cloud of germs around them. Ever since, if someone sneezes near me, my mind sees the huge cloud of germs.

I hold my breath, I move away, I wind down the car window, I cover my face, I exhale as much as I physically can. These germs, of course, are microscopic, I am nearly certain that none of the things that I do protect me in any way. I don't even buy First Defense anymore - after a very bad experience of squirting it into my nostrils and then breathing in through them - a fiercely unpleasant experience.

I'm not exactly sure of the reason behind this extreme reaction, the worst possible thing that could happen is that I'm going to get a cold, which is inconvenient and unpleasant, but obviously nothing to be afraid of.

One of my friends gets allergies. She is allergic to everything, suffers terribly with hayfever, and sneezes all the time. Because I know what is making her sneeze, and that it's not infectious, I barely even notice.

I actually get extremely annoyed if I'm on a train, or a plane, or in a public place, and someone sneezes near me. My rational mind is telling me that they cannot help it. But something extremely irrational makes me feel that they are the most inconciderate person possible.

I was talking to a lady, I very much admire at a party. She will remain nameless as this isn't the most elegant of stories. She was talking to me very closely, at length, in her exceptionally deep voice. After several minutes, she growled the words that I haven't as yet forgotten, whilst wiping her upper lip on her sleeve, "Sorry I'm sweating babe, I've got terrible flu".

My fear, which according to google is not scientifically named - and yet 'a fear of a duck watching you' is - wasn't a fear at all before I read that article. Very strange indeed. It was only last week, I was laughing at an actor I am working with, who said he had a fear of chickens - I wonder what had happened to him?

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