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<your background>
1.Q Tell me about the first time you can remember being thrilled.
1.A I was 8, The Italian Job had just been released, a friend of the family had bought a mini clubman, he took me on a bare-knuckle ride.

2.Q What's been your most frightening thrill ever?
2.A I was climbing up the steep side of a mountain in Wales. The cliff face started to jut out at more than 90 degrees but I couldn't go backwards, it was too late. The rock was crumbling & I had to climb by pulling myself up using the heather. It couldn't take my weight & kept breaking off - I only just made it.

3.Q What's the smallest or slightest thing to have thrilled you?
3.A Receiving a static electric shock when touching someone.

4.Q Tell me why you're not a sensible person.
4.A My perverse nature. I enjoy inflicting unpleasant experiences on myself. I defy you to find anyone who is sensible; beware the ones who say they are.

5.Q What were you doing the last time you were really bored?
5.A Watching Channel 5 baseball at 2am

6.Q What's the most uninhibited thing you've ever done?
6.A Dance

7.Q What things have you considered doing for thrill, but were too concerned about the risks?
7.A Jumping across a crevasse or between the roofs of tall buildings. Using my real name for this questionnaire,

8.Q I always dreamt about being a paramedic, driving an ambulance and saving lives; what about you?
8.A I've always fantasised about having sex with a paramedic in the back of the ambulance. Perhaps we should get together?

<your thrill>
To answer these next 14 questions, you should think about a particular time you were thrilled.

9.Q Describe this thrill in a nutshell, in one sentence. (there's time to expand later)
9.A A 3-mile run through a leafy suburb, naked, in the dead of night.

10.Q Where and when did it take place?
10.A I was 14. Around my home.

11.Q Tell me a bit about yourself around this time.
11.A A typical teenager in many ways. Intense, angsty, my brother & sister are older than me. Most of my friends were at my boarding school. At home I was a loner.

12.Q How did the moment arise? Was it planned?
12.A Over several weeks. It began with naked trips into the garden, then outside the front of the house, then onto the street. The illicit thrill of it was bound up with the possibility of being caught - the potential shame of it.

13.Q List the sequence of events leading up to your thrill, and how you felt at each stage. The smallest detail could be important (this is your chance to expand).
13.A I remember not being able to sleep. Tossing & turning. Then I decide I'll go outside. Waiting, until all the lights are out, until I'm sure that everyone's asleep. The floorboards creak, every sound is magnified, I have to get outside without being discovered. Checking no one's around, looking along the road. I begin to run. In fits and starts at first: from hiding place to hiding place. Then more continuously, the fluency increases, I begin to relish the air in my lungs and on my skin. Soon there's no going back, the only way home is to carry on doing what I'm doing. It makes me laugh as I pass all the houses overlooking the street, all those people who have no idea that I'm there. My scaredness at being spotted gradually falls away and is replaced by excitement at the prospect. Recklessness takes over, I am running now in the lighter areas, selecting the more populous routes. I am invisible, powerful and free.

14.Q At the exact moment of thrill, how did your mind and body feel?
14.A This was an extended thrill. At any moment a car headlight could have caught me, but I wasn't skulking in the shadows. Instead, I was, wearing just my running shoes, running full tilt in the centre of the road. I was exultant, no doubt full of endorphins. My senses were highly attuned, my body felt powerful and responsive (I was extremely fit at the time). Most of all I felt free.

15.Q What thoughts were going through your head?
15.A It's not the thoughts I recall, although I'm sure there was a lot of problem solving going on in my head - egs where do I hide if a car appears now? Is route A or route B the one to take? My memories are all sensory - I remember the smell of pine cones, the fresh autumn air, the wind on my skin, the silence, the stars.

16.Q What did you do immediately afterwards?
16.A I washed myself down and wiped the blood from my forehead (at one point during the run I had heard a car approaching and dived off the road to take cover in a verge. I jumped straight into a barbed wire fence and cut myself above my eye). Then I went to bed.

17.Q What were the most likely things that could have put you off going through with it?
17.A Being caught at an early stage. Cold weather.

18.Q How were other people important to your thrill?
18.A Not so much other people as their absence and possibility ... the thought of the intense embarrassment of being caught was key to its transgressive flavour. It wouldn't have been thrilling without that transgression. .

19.Q What do you imagine other people were thinking throughout your thrilling episode?
Asleep or awake I imagined they were still living their lives and oblivious to me. This was despite the fact that I had somehow touched on their lives by my proximity.

20.Q Some people probably don't understand how such a thing can thrill you; explain it to them.
20.A War veterans often talk about their experiences as being vivid, a time when they felt completely alive, totally in the moment. A major reason, they often say, is that all the time they are carrying around the idea that they may die at any moment.

21.Q Why were certain objects or equipment important to your thrill?
21.A They weren't, unless you count my running shoes.

22.Q If you've done something like this before, how does the last time compare to the first time you did it?
22.A I never repeated the full experience. In the cold light of day the fact that I'd nearly put my eye out made me feel that I'd been foolish. There have been other moments of 'closet exhibitionism', but they never had the same intensity. Apart from anything else as I got older I realised that being caught naked was hardly likely to be an earth-shattering event. Once I knew that the urge to commit this transgression dissipated.

23.Q If you did it again, what things could be added or changed to make it even better?
23.A I think it would need to be more intensely humiliating than merely being naked. It would require a more intimate confession than merely revealing my own nakedness. Possibly, flirting with the risk of being exposed by the media has a similar edge Of course I would need to be in the public eye (perhaps I am) for the potential exposure to be truly damaging.

Is there anything you want to add?
Writing this, I'm struck by one similarity between the naked run and the mountain episode.... In each case there was no way back.

The fact of being totally committed - maybe that even goes for dancing. How often are we truly, undeniably, unalterably ourselves?




what do you find thrilling?