A NAKED SUBURBAN RUN
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.
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
the smallest or slightest thing to have thrilled you?
3.A Receiving a static electric shock
when touching someone.
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.
were you doing the last time you were really bored?
Watching Channel 5 baseball at 2am
the most uninhibited thing you've ever done?
things have you considered doing for thrill, but were too concerned about
7.A Jumping across a crevasse or between
the roofs of tall buildings. Using my real name for this questionnaire,
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?
To answer these next 14 questions, you should
think about a particular time you were thrilled.
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.
and when did it take place?
I was 14. Around my home.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
were the most likely things that could have put you off going through
caught at an early stage. Cold weather.
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. .
do you imagine other people were thinking throughout your thrilling episode?
19.A 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.
people probably don't understand how such a thing can thrill you; explain
it to them.
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.
were certain objects or equipment important to your thrill?
21.A They weren't,
unless you count my running shoes.
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
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