I suffer from FFA: Form-Filling Anxiety. OK, it's a made-up syndrome, but it feels real to me. Even something as innocuous as a prize draw ticket stub has the potential to cause chaos in my alimentary canal. Three dotted lines goading me to misspell my name, forget where I live or write down an ex-lover's mobile by accident.
So if you're one of the new year statistics casting around for a bigger challenge, better partner or debt consolidation, then I feel your pain. Frankly, I'd give a kidney to skip the part where you scour the house for JUST ONE BLOODY BLACK BIRO in order to complete the boxes.
The scariest part, really, is coming face to face with what you don't know or haven't achieved. I once got a question: "Who are Tinky-Winky, Dipsy, Laa Laa and Po?"*. I panicked and wrote down Paula Yates's children. I'd have googled it, but it was in an exam setting for a broadcast journalism course.
DOB? Am I that old? Could I lie? But a face-to-face interview would scupper that. Wrinkles aren't interested in settling down on the under thirties – they prefer to creep up on unsuspecting forty-somethings mid-bolognese, then make themselves at home with your drifting waistline.
And National Insurance number? Really? Who knows theirs off by heart? Absolutely not me, no way, not never. No need when it's safely filed on the back of an envelope in the 'stuff' drawer. Of course I can read it through the unidentified oily covering. Ah, that's where my warming mitt went...
I can't decide which are worse – paper or online applications. At least with t'internet you can spell check but how do you know prospective employers/husbands/debt-collectors can't see the unfinished draft? What if they're all sat round a computer, howling with laughter at your transferable skills/love of dining out/inability to add up?
Received wisdom dictates you let someone clever cast an eye over your application before posting or clicking. Here though, there's the very real chance of a 'helpful tip' being offered - which could involve having to start over. Then delivery panic sets in. What if the postman dropped it in the rain? Or it's caught up in a random cyber attack?
Oh, the agonizing wait for a response. Hoodwinking your id into believing whatever happens, it's fate. Fully braced for '..due to the enormous amount of applications for jobs/men/people who can use a calculator...'
Of course, we could avoid the whole wretched rigmarole and reach for a beer and box set instead. But you've got to be in it to win it, right? Which brings me to the if-all-else-fails option – The National Lottery.
But do you register online or fill out the boxes in-store?
At least they provide pens at the Off Licence.
*They're The Teletubbies, apparently.