"she suffered from a phobia about birds"
Sometimes, just sometimes, it seems as though our wonderful language lets us down. Words assume a life of their own, sometimes accidentally, but sometimes with the help of latter-day Frankensteins in lab coats who connect the circuits, tighten the bolts, and then pull the giant lever to bring a new expression to an uncontrollable and frightening life. Take, for example, 'phobia'. With scores of prefixes, it is used to denote an irrational fear of something - spiders, open spaces, homosexuals, foreigners - mostly things which are, realistically, not particularly threatening.
Arachnophobia is a fairly common affliction, and in Britain it is less based on real threat than in some other parts of the world. Here, they may be loathsome, scuttling, bulbous, darting horrors that live in the dark recesses of our imagination (and the garden shed), but they are unlikely to inflict physical harm. In Australia, Iraq, Brazil, America and Africa there are frightful creatures that will bite you as soon as look at you, and if they cannot get their fangs into you, they will spray you with poisonous body hair.
The online dictionary entry for phobia included a small thesaurus of expressions which might line up alongside phobia. I am not so sure. Be patient, and follow me down a few pathways. Here are some synonyms - dread, horror, terror, dislike, hatred, loathing, detestation, distaste, aversion, antipathy, revulsion.
I dread the day when self appointed gangs of Muslim men patrol Britain's streets with impunity, attacking and vilifying fellow Britons who may not be behaving wisely, but are certainly not breaking any civil law.
The idea that a major British retailer gives carte blanche to its Muslim employees to pick and choose who they serve, depending on the contents of the shopping basket fills me with horror.
When a bully loses a rational argument, when his ideas are refuted by rational discussion, when his assertions are disproved by the facts, he has two choices. He can concede defeat and accept that his stance is unsustainable, or he can lash out violently and unpredictably, causing terror and suffering to those who disagree with him.
I despair of the sheer gut hatred that Islamic organisations display when someone in the West - their adopted country - chooses to poke fun of their religion with a joke, a drawing or a book. The death threats and incantations are barbaric, and redolent of a primitive society.
My loathing knows no bounds for those who hijacked civilian airliners on 11 September 2001, and caused thousands of innocent civilians to die terrible deaths. Crushed, burned, suffocated, vaporised, dismembered. All in the name of Islam
Gangs of Pakistani Muslims across our busiest towns and cities - Rochdale, Rotherham, Oxford, Telford - ply vulnerable white teenage girls with drugs, alcohol, flattery - and if that doesn't work - extreme violence. These children are gang raped, pimped, abused beyond your imagination, and then discarded because they do not fit in with Islamic ideals of womanhood. Detestation does not come close to describing my feelings on this issue.
That a handful of Muslims felt that it was appropriate to board buses and underground trains on 7 July 2005 and detonate bombs which destroyed innocent lives, took away futures and shattered bodies fills me with a certain amount of distaste, to put it mildly
I have to confess that I have a slight but nagging aversion to the chorus of feeble denials and condemnations from official Muslim bodies when they are confronted with the vile excesses of their co-religionists across the land. Disapprove? Then close down the mosques, sack the hate-preachers and give their names to our security forces.
It could be said that I have a certain amount of antipathy towards Muslim extremists who dance about on British streets burning poppies - an enduring symbol of loss, bravery and sacrifice, and a potent national symbol borne of poetry, death and heroism. The men that did this were metaphorically urinating on one thing that most British people hold dear in their hearts.
When I read that most Islamic terrorists imprisoned in Britain reject any form of reconciliation, therapy and re-education, I am almost overwhelmed with revulsion as I witness the depths to which some human beings - flesh and blood like me - can sink.
So, there you have it. I have been through the thesaurus of synonyms, and I have to accept the verdict that I have a definite fear of Islam. An irrational fear? I leave you to judge.