As Halloween swoops upon us, we've already covered London's haunted pubs, pumpkins around town, and parties on a theme of 'argggghhh!'. There are other ways to scare yourself silly in the capital though — by facing up to your mortal fears, or leaping out of your comfort zone. Here are a few ways you might go about it.
1. Climb up/abseil down/jump off a tall thing
Acrophobic? Londonist showed its mettle last week, when we (well, one of us, but the rest of us are counting it as a team effort) abseiled down the side of the Orbit — an adventure now open to anyone who dares. Charity abseils down well-known buildings including Broadgate Tower and the BT Tower are also fairly regular. Otherwise, put that fear of heights to bed by hacking your way up the inside of the Vertical Chill, scaling the O2, or rap jumping ("an extreme version of forward abseiling") at the Castle Climbing Centre in Stoke Newington.
2. Hang out with spiders
Most of us have a creature we're none too fond of — for many, that creature is a spider. London Zoo has latched onto the widespread effects of arachnophobia, and launched a Spider Friendly Programme. Discuss phobias with a hypnotherapist, before braving that most unnerving of tasks: catching a British house spider with your bare hands. You can also meet its cousin — the Mexican red-knee. London Zoo claims an 80% success rate. It's a while until the next one though — April 2015.
3. Descend into the darkness
Still sleep with the light on? It's time to embrace the darkness. One particularly delicious way to do so is by having dinner at Dans le Noir? in Clerkenwell. Choose from one of four surprise menus and be led through a pitch black culinary experience by a blind guide. Or you could go all out, and descend into Chislehurst Caves, where, when the lights are out, your eyes never adjust, because it's THAT dark. For many years, there was a '£5 challenge': anyone who could stay down there the entire night scooped the humble prize money. It's thought no one ever lasted (no they didn't DIE, they just had to surface before daybreak). It'd be unfair to do the challenge these days anyway, as entrance to the caves is £6.
4. Speak in front of people
Glossophobia is the fear of public speaking, and our old friend Wikipedia informs us that 75% of ALL PEOPLE suffer from it to some degree. London has a number of courses aimed at those who wish to conquer the phobia, including one at City Lit and another courtesy of Ginger Public Speaking (when you're ready for it, they also do a 'Speak like a TED talker' seminar). To be more creative while banishing those public speaking jitters, enrol on an improv course with Imprology, or an evening acting class at RADA (who knows, you might emerge as the new Brian Blessed).
5. Get naked in front of people
We've all had that dream/nightmare where we're suddenly naked in front of a crowd of people. Make it come true, with a spot of public skinny dipping in the Energybase pool at University of London Union. The good nudes — sorry, news — is that everyone else is naked too, during this weekly two-hour Sunday afternoon sesh. Another opportunity to bare all is by volunteering as a model at one of London's life drawing classes.
Alternatively, if you suffer from koumpounophobia, visit The Button Queen in Marylebone, if you have nomophobia, dive down the nearest tube entrance, and if you've got ombrophobia... just continue to live in London. Happy fear fighting.
Disclaimer: All the activities we've mentioned here may grossly enhance your fears rather than vanquish them.