Stupid things were frightening when I was a kid. Growing up in the West Country we heard constant stories of ghosts and eerie goings on, which, in retrospect, I realised that no-one except me took seriously.
I was terrified of ghosts and would sleep in bed at night time with the blanket pulled up over my head so that if a ghost came into the room it might not notice I was there.
I was terrified by stories of UFOs, particularly because our neighbouring county of Wiltshire seemed to be the UFO capital of Britain, if not of the world (Google UFO and Wiltshire and see how many hits you get!) I was convinced that if the aliens arrived they would come in from the West and would therefore have to fly over Somerset to get to Wiltshire. I was so frightened by aliens that I would not watch programmes like Doctor Who and even when I was 13 shied away from watching The War of the Worlds.
I was terrified by stories of the supernatural and if you live eight miles from Glastonbury in the late-1960s, the stories were everywhere.Everything got muddled up in my childhood mind. Stories of a musical called Hair where people ran around with nothing on became associated with stories of séances and occult happenings and with strange lights seen in the sky at night
Even the sky at night was threatening. Patrick Moore’s astronomy programme The Sky at Night should have been filled with wonder for a young boy living in what was being called the Space Age, but it was frightening because the night meant darkness and the darkness meant all the things that so much frightened me.
Sitting looking across at the Dublin mountains on a fine June evening with the darkness still an hour away and the dawn only a few hours later, I know why the turn in the days on Friday is a depressing prospect, it spells a return of the night with its spectres and ghouls; I know also why the picture of Jesus drawn by Saint John is of the Light shining in the darkness, a Light that the darkness cannot overcome.