Sometimes I dream of clowns. Strange creatures with painted faces and claws and too many feet, wittering and chittering and eating from garbage bins, snarling at me when I try to talk to them. One of them tries to do a headstand, and I laugh nervously, and they all look at me. Slowly they close in, howling and baying to be let loose at me.

And then I wake up, and I always have a horrible day. While I’m getting my morning coffee, I remind myself of what my mother said, that it was an accident. Just this one clown who had dressed his dog up as a clown as well. I’d been tiny back then, smaller than the dog, when it had attacked me.

But the fear never left. It’s my daughter’s birthday tomorrow, and every year she asks me for clowns and I say no. What do I tell her? That mummy’s scared of them? Or do I get my mother to call the clown with the dog so I don’t have to deal with it again. Decisions, decisions.