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Irish Eyes

By Mattie Lennon

Fork Off

Have a look at the picture. What does it convey to you? No, I’m not going to bore you with the old chestnut about Sir William Wilde building his reputation with the knife and losing it with the fork. Neither am I going to tell you that when I was young we were so poor that the first time I saw two forks on a table I thought somebody was after getting a puncture.

Yes, maybe, as you say, the image has a subtle or subliminal message of erotica. All I know is that it has won a number of prizes in Photographic Competitions.

However, that is not why I’m showing it to you. I first saw the picture at the IPH National Photographic League Finals in Tallagh. Actually my wife saw it first and drew my attention with her shrieks. You see she has a phobia about “two forks”. On the odd occasion when a pair of forks gets entangled in the kitchen drawer at home it leads to grimacing and “teeth-watering.” (Much the same affect, I presume, as the scraping of fingernail on a blackboard has on other people.) But seeing the object of her aversion in black-and-white (or in this case colour) it prompted me to make some enquiries.

For some time I had been planning to do a bit of research on this phobia, which is not life-threatening, and causes very little disruption in anyone’s life. So here was pictorial assistance and it got me into gear.

First I tracked down the photographer, Howard Swaine, who, as it happens, lives quite close to me. When I phoned and convinced him that I wasn’t calling from the comfort of a padded cell or the constrictions of a straitjacket, he offered to copy the print for me and gave me permission to use it.

I enquired as to the inspiration behind his prize-winning pic and he told me, “ I was just flutin’ around with two forks in the kitchen.”

When I relayed this information to the spouse the predictable reply was, ”By &*$~% he wouldn’t flute around with them in my #/%!* kitchen.”

As to the Freudian explanation for such an irrational reaction to the aforementioned tangle of cutlery, your guess is as good as mine.

I asked a professional in the relevant field and he told me,

“Phobias and other strong reactions can form around just about any stimulus. It works in the mind just like all the others do. While it may or may not be a phobia, it is certainly a strong negative reaction to a particular stimulus (similar to a fear of snakes for instance)”.

I have tried to research the above aversion but without much success. Seemingly a male, in some part of the world, rang in to a radio station saying he had such a phobia but that’s all the info I could get.

I keep asking workmates et al if they can through any light on it but the either think I’m joking or tell me to fork off.


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