I find the Jeremy Vine show on Radio 2 extremely frustrating. He frequently chooses the most interesting of topics to discuss then, it seems to me anyway, allows members of the public with extreme single-minded opinions to have their ‘5 minutes of fame’ without doing the decent thing and hanging up on them!
Despite the above reservations, today I found myself once again listening to his program. Just after the 1 pm news bulletin Jeremy introduced two guest who were certainly not random callers. One was the Mayor of Leighton Buzzard and the other was John Lawson who apparently owns a circus that’s due to perform in the vicinity of Leighton Buzzard in the near future. What followed reminded me of 1970s Monty Python sketches and had me checking my diary to ensure it wasn’t April Fools’ Day.
Lawson’s circus picked this poster to advertise their presence in Leighton Buzzard:
Not an unreasonable image to promote a circus, one would think, given that they presumably have clowns as part of their show. Apparently not everyone thinks that….
A lady had emailed the council asking for the posters on the route between her house and her doctor’s surgery to be taken down as “she could not physically walk or drive passed them” presumably because she suffered from severe ‘coulrophobia’ (fear of clowns). The council had agreed to her request and had ordered the circus to remove the posters. The discussion between the Mayor and circus owner was measured and very cordial. The Mayor tried hard to steer the debate towards what a ‘caring council’ they were for having reacted to the lady’s complaint while the circus owner tried to argue that the decision to order the poster to be taken down was wrong. I’d have been a little less polite if I’d been him but according to some media reports the council have now said that the circus would only be allowed to go ahead in future years if it agreed not to use the posters and I assume Mr Lawson wanted permission to set up his big tent in Leighton Buzzard again next year!
I personally think the council’s decision is ridiculous bordering on absurd. Thankfully I don’t have any phobias but supposing I had an irrational fear (and it’s worth noting here that a phobia is ‘an irrational fear’) of say fairgrounds. Would I be entitled to ask for posters advertising fairgrounds on my route to work or the doctor’s to be taken down? Of course I wouldn’t. In fact if, like the lady who complained about the clowns, I couldn’t drive passed them surely I’d be too ill to hold a driving licence. Has that lady handed in her driving licence to the DVLA? Of course she hasn’t. Let’s hope she doesn’t see a poster of a clown next time she’s on a dual carriageway doing 70 mph.
Dealing with a phobia is, I’m sure, a horrible thing. I’m also sure that getting posters of the things you fear taken down is not a way to get over it. That’s merely controlling your environment to pander to the phobia.