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Quit your jibba jabba fool and get on that plane

Copperfield now knows there is a god of comedy after a patient the spitting image of The A-Team’s BA Baracus walked in and confessed to a fear of flying.

Copperfield now knows there is a god of comedy after a patient the spitting image of The A-Team's BA Baracus walked in and confessed to a fear of flying.

There was no way he couldn't have known.

Every morning when this patient looked in the bathroom mirror he must have seen the spitting image of Mr T as The A-Team's BA Baracus. That would be, I imagine, without the Olympic-sized medallion and heavy-duty 18-carat-gold chain.

It's at times like this that a smartarse like me has to weigh up the pros and cons of attempting to lighten the mood.

On the one hand, the opportunity to slip a perfectly timed ‘Quit your jibba jabba!' into a consultation might never arise again. On the other, there was the racing certainty that this guy could pound me into semolina if I pissed him off.

For those have somehow managed to miss The A-Team, BA's catchphrase was: ‘I ain't getting on no plane, fool!'

At least five minutes of every episode was devoted to a humorous vignette involving surreptitious hypnosis or sedation and an outraged awakening at 30,000 feet a few minutes later.

As if to prove that there really is a comedy god, the history of the presenting complaint ran as follows: a career as a successful IT consultant, a recent well-earned promotion, the subsequent requirement for regular transatlantic travel to the company's US headquarters and – yee hah! – a lifelong and profound fear of flying.

Fear of flying is one thing that I don't really understand, probably because I've never experienced it. For me, the smell of aviation fuel is right up there with melted Belgian chocolate sauce and Angel perfume by Thierry Mugler.

‘So,' I began. ‘You're a creature of logic and reason. You work in IT and you have probably forgotten more about physics, electronics and duplicated failsafe back-up systems than I ever knew. You cannot fail to grasp the concept that a wing going forward through the air generates enough lift to get an aircraft off the ground.

‘You know that statistics show that you would have to fly every day for 6,000 years before you were involved in an air crash and you also know that that wouldn't happen because you would already have been killed in seven fatal car accidents during your journeys to and from the airport.'

‘Yeah.' He knew these things. But there is a difference between knowing and really knowing.

He weighed 130kg, was three feet wide, and an angry grizzly bear would have paused for a while to consider his alternative options before taking him on.

There was no way he could possibly take an implied suggestion of cowardice on his part seriously. I summoned up the image of Mr T in his recent advertising campaign for Snickers and went for the gag.

‘You could always ask for an upgrade to business class. You never know, you might even "get some nuts".'

In exchange for 14 diazepam tablets and a referral for some cognitive behaviour therapy as soon as he returned from his trip, he let me live.

Mister T

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