One of the great tragedies of growing up is that we lose our sense of wonder. Don't get me wrong, I'm not spouting some pseudo-hippy, bull poopy about retaining a sense of wonder that is so popular with silly New Age flakes who think being as gullible as a toddler will bring them serenity.
No, the childlike sense of wonder I miss is that visceral, existential terror you used to get from a good horror movie – ideally one you should never have been watching in the first place.
That feeling of lying in bed, holding the covers tightly up against your chin as you listen in the dark for the sound of the wardrobe door opening, or that truly hair-raising moment when you think you've just seen a shadow creep closer to your bed is why the horror industry is worth billions – because so many of us spend the rest of our lives trying to replicate that feeling of pure, concentrated dread.
I lost that capacity to be terrified when I was about eight or nine and was caught watching Salem's Lot.
Obviously noticing that I had turned white, lost the power to speak and was reduced to simply pointing at the vampire kid floating outside the window and making strange squeaky noises, my father reassured me that there would have been a dozen people behind the camera and rather than being terrified, all they wanted to do was finish work and go home.
That's an undeniably effective way of stopping a child from hyperventilating, in fairness.
So, by the time the old man had finished telling me tall tales of how everybody behind the cameras was bored and how the vampire kid at the window only looked scary because he had lost a football match, I was laughing and... was never scared by a movie again.
A slick piece of emergency parenting had permanently robbed me of my capacity to be freaked out by a horror movie.
In fact, since that rather rational description of what goes on behind the scenes of a horror movie, I've been chasing that sense of terror like a junkie trying to recreate that elusive first time high. As a result, I've only ever been genuinely unsettled by one movie since then – a rather obscure TV movie called Alien Abduction: The McPherson Tapes which predates Blair Witch and has some delicious moments of pure dread. I highly recommend it.
That awareness of the rational also meant that I was the kid who wanted to go into any haunted house, and was always up for getting my friends to sneak into Mount Jerome cemetery at night to see what we could see.
In other words, I've always felt strangely jealous of people who still believe in things that go boo in the night – after all, we live in an age of reason and people don't still believe in that class of hocus pocus, do they?
Well, an episode of Cogar on TG4 would certainly suggest otherwise, as it reported that some Irish priests are still performing exorcisms and, by all accounts, business is booming.
Apparently, there are priests from Galway, Killaloe and Carlow who are adept at dealing with demonic possession and have become the go-to guys when Pizuzu decides to start squatting in your body.
Now, let me say this – if you think you have been approached, canvassed or otherwise possessed by a demon, please get in touch with this column. After all, I've interviewed numerous Irish people down the years who claim to have seen demons and they were either scam merchants or needed to see a shrink.
Of course, the Church officially disapproves of such activities, saying it usually just exploits the gullible, the credulous and the weak minded.
And that, as we know, is their gig.
Still, the offer stands – if there's anyone out there with what they think is a genuine case of unreconstructed spookiness, please do get in touch.
Just scrawl your name and address in blood on my bathroom mirror, or whatever mode the modern demon uses to make contact.
WELL, THAT DIDN'T TAKE LONG
When the whole Love/Hate cat scandal broke, most reasonable people laughed it off.
Now the show has been dragged into a fuss after a bunch of eight-year-old kids in Drogheda apparently killed a cat with a banger.
So let's blame Love/Hate, eh?
After all, that's so much easier than having a pop at the kind of parents who let an eight-year-old watch a grown-up drama or have bangers. But as the likes of the Animals Rights Action Network tries to draw a link, allow me to ask their spokesman a question he couldn't answer on radio last week – should we just ban Love/Hate?
If it really is responsible for cases like this, why aren't there pickets outside Montrose every Sunday night when the show goes out?
After all, that's the logical conclusion to blaming any show for someone's actions...
DAMNED IF YOU DO...
She is in the UAE at the moment and posted a picture of herself wearing an hijab. This prompted angry criticism from some local Muslim leaders, with one saying: "The hijab is for modesty, not fashion. This woman has shown a complete lack of respect to Muslims."
So, a row between the appalling Rihanna on the one side and a bunch of Muslims who are feeling offence where none was meant on the other?
Honestly? It's impossible to pick a side in that scrap.
A fatwah on all their houses...