Personal reflections on urbanism, urban life and sustainable urban design in Wellington, New Zealand.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Face your fears

While walking along the waterfront this lunchtime, I spied a happy group of people having a picnic on the pontoon. But something seemed a little odd. The hammocks were a nice touch, though it seemed like a lot of work to go to for an impromptu picnic. The wooden stumps and "stepping stones" looked decidely eccentric. But it was the rat that took the cake (not literally).

Yes, a rat. A giant furry toy rat. With a long pink tail. A giant furry pink-tailed radio-controlled rat. At a picnic! You can just see its head and tail, as it's being cuddled by the guy with the number 3 on his shirt.

Then I noticed this nearby poster, according to which this event was a free desensitisation service to help people overcome their phobias. Specifically: doraphobia (fur), sciophobia (shadows), herpetophobia (reptiles) and muso- or muriphobia (rats & mice). I can see how most of those apply, but I didn't see any snakes or lizards: perhaps the picnic baskets contained more than just sandwiches.

Somehow I doubt that this was a serious therapeutic exercise. It's more likely to have been some kind of performance art, or perhaps just students taking the piss (I know, it's sometimes hard to tell the difference). Does anyone know any of the particpants?

P.S. If you think that the list of phobias is amusing, take a look at the philias. Warning: possibly not safe for work, and definitely not recommended while eating.


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