I suffer from enochlophobia. What the hell is enochlophobia you ask? Well, I’ve only just found out myself and I quite like it. Especially as it applies to me – and labels my irrational fear of large crowds.
Funnily enough, it is only since I moved to Zurich that I have realised this fear. It began when I first attended Sechseläuten. This very exciting event is held in April and involves the burning of a giant Snowman (the Böögg) whose head explodes in the centre of the city, letting people know what kind of summer is in store (depending on how long it takes – the quicker, the better - for the head to go BOOM)
A giant snowman’s head exploding, surrounding by galloping horses – this I must see, I thought. Except - despite being in the right place at the right time with my 6-year-old and 8-year-old daughters, I didn’t. That was because literally thousands of people were standing in front of me (and around me) to see the same spectacle.
We had actually got there half an hour before the event to bag a great view of the Böögg. But as the minutes ticked by, more and more and more – and more - people arrived around us. And then it began. Not the burning of the Böögg, but an extreme fear I have not experienced before. With 5 minutes to go, I was suddenly aware that we were tightly packed in among hundreds of other people and I panicked. Big time. As thoughts of ‘I can’t move,’ ‘we can’t possibly get out of here’ and My daughters will be trampled to death,’ I started to sweat, my breath got short and I began palpitating. I grabbed the hands of my daughters and just managed to say’ ‘we’re going’ before charging head long through the crowds, quite rudely at times I’m ashamed to say - and kept my head down until I could breathe again. It actually took the entire time for the Böögg’s head burning and exploding – and the sound almost finished me off – to escape the crowd (about 20 minutes I think but to be honest I really didn’t care by then)
But face your fears, I have been told many times. And face my fears I did yesterday, heading into Zurich for the Street Parade. We arrived at Zurich HB just before the parade was due to start. It was so hot – Zurich HB was enschrouded with a blanket of oppressive heat. And bodies. Were. Eveywhere 'Oooo, why is the train station so busy mummy?' asked my 8-year-old.
'Because of Street Parade! Let's go!' I lisped through gritted teeth, fixing my face in a phoney smile and ploughing through the very loud, and in some cases, very drunk (it was lunchtime!) groups of youths and heading up Bahnhofstrasse. It was very exciting. My girls loved the outfits they saw. There was a lot of flesh on show – boobs, bums, giant inflatable willies... The buzz was tremendous.
But with every yell from the tidal wave of people we were swept along with, I flinched. As we passed Globus (yes, I had already started to lose my nerve and sidestepped into a parallel street) there was a humungous crash at the doorway as the glass protection to the gold feather sculpture smashed (I don’t know how but a sheepish looking group moved quickly away) Then there was another crash. Then a firework. And my nerves had had it.
We reached Manor , bought wigs at the street stall outside…and went home. Mega fail. But we were there! And my poor children you ask? Disappointed again? Well, nothing that a little pack of fizzy sweets and a cool off in our local amazing outdoor pool couldn't dissolve.
Next year I will try again. At least until Coop anyway.