Saturday, 3 May 2014

His Hair Stood on End

     We've all heard the expression, "his hair stood on end", but has it ever happened to you? Has it ever happened to anyone you know? In our safe, civilized environment few of us ever get scared enough to put it to the test. However, we may have been scared enough to get "goosebumps", which is a minor version of the phenomenon, for every one of our hairs possesses a little muscle which allows it to be erected. Let me quote a story by Michael Andrews, from his 1976 book, The Life That Lives on Man, p 15 of the 1978 Arrow edition.
A cameraman friend of mine had been filming a fully grown tiger at the BBC studios at Ealing for a children's programme. The lights were hot and during the tea-break both tiger and cameraman had a snooze. The tiger was clipped by a chain lead to a metal post and the cameraman sat on a pile of chairs beside it, careful to keep just beyond range of the claws. On to this unusual but tranquil scene came an electrician who had not been working on the set, and seeing the cameraman and tiger together, with a shout of "Yah, Jim, you can't fool me, it's stuffed!" strode up to the tiger and jabbed it hard in the ribs with two fingers. With a roar the tiger leaped into the air and the chain fell from its neck. It then tore in a streak of yellow and orange round the studio before bursting through the doors into the passage where it had a noisy encounter with the laden tea-trolley. Meanwhile, the short black curly hair on the electrician's scalp stood on end, appearing to uncurl itself like a paper party-whistle. The same cool cameraman later cornered the tiger and it was returned to its cage without injury to life or limb. 
     Now, if I can just find an example of someone's blood running cold.

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