Firstly, sorry but this is not a blog about erotic stories or sexy things – I admire writers of erotica, they’ve got a skill I don’t possess, and I leave it to the experts; besides I’d need a workshop manual before I had the requisite knowledge to even begin!
What I’m talking about are the things that kick up your heartbeat, make you feel alive, and which fire your imagination and help you to live your life just that little bit more to the full.
Building materials excite me. I love timber, beautiful timber with a swirling grain, a splendid shiny waxed floor of maple or oak, or a lovely carved newel of a staircase. Even the smell of sawdust and wood chips excites my imagination. Old brass is exciting: to run your hand along the warm pinky-hued metal, and fine old cast iron to me, is just like an interesting but bad-tempered old man with a hewed, lived in face: craggy, chunky and solid, easy to snap, but full of life. And to me there’s nothing more exciting than building work that is in progress, wet concrete that’s growing harder by the second and walls with ‘green’ (unset) mortar and brick or block work that’s becoming rock hard as you watch, or masses of soldered-together copper pipes. And have you ever seen a roof being constructed? The timber beams trimmed to amazing angles to fit snugly together, the metal fixings that grip the new sweet smelling yellow wood? I also think bricks are remarkably beautiful, with their craggy surfaces and fine mellow colours and there’s a definite thrill about seeing old stone walls, even if they’re falling down. I’m not so keen on engineering workshops or car factories (I worked in one once), but a blacksmith’s shop is an Aladdin’s cave, with all kinds of exciting pieces of metal, especially when steel is being heated to boiling redness and beaten into shape.
And in the supermarket car park the other day something else very exciting happened to me. A 1960s Austin Cambridge estate car drove by – absolute magic! The wonderful curved wings, the nice round headlights, the boxy squareness that takes me back to the days when cars were sedate and lovely rounded and squared, not streamlined and squashed, as they are today. And the sight of a 1960s or 70s American Cadillac reminds me of a fine cruising ship, it’s so massive and marvellous to see. Classic Car magazines are a delight when they take you through the joys of stripping down an old engine or rebuilding brakes or welding an ancient chassis up to perfection.
An old castle, most of its walls fallen away I find exciting in a different way, because you can imagine it as it once was – the idea of stepping back in time also excites me.
Sport, to me, is a blank area. But to others when their football team wins there’s an obvious and palpable surge of excitement and delight that’s hard to replicate, same goes for cricket, tennis, indeed any competitive sport. Extreme sports, yes I can categorically empathise with the thrills of racing driving, sailing, or flying an aeroplane, or white water rafting, not that I’ve done any of these. What else? Bungee jumping, mountaineering, BASE jumping. It seems that the more dangerous an extreme sport is, the more thrilling, even to the extent that people are literally willing to risk their life. But maybe risking their life is what makes it so exciting?
How about jobs? A policeman or woman or a fire-fighter probably has to spend much of their working life waiting around, but what a thrill when a ‘shout’ goes out to rush to break up a fight or attend a catastrophe, how must it feel to tear around in a speeding vehicle and leap into action to save lives and use your wits and bravery to tackle a massive situation? And a doctor I was seeing once arrived late for the appointment, breathless with excitement, still kitted out in a high viz yellow ‘doctor’ jacket. “I’ve just saved a boy’s life,” he said excitedly. “He’d gone into cardiac arrest and I happened to be in the right place at the right time and I got him back, he’ll be fine now – I saved his life, that’s why I always wanted to be a doctor – that’s what this job is really all about!”
Here’s another quickie: when you’re writing a story the moment when you work out how it’s going to go on, or a character you’ve created actually comes alive. Now that’s exciting too.
There are thousands of other things that thrill and excite people. For instance I have a friend who absolutely adores buses, for some people it’s trains – trains can be a definite obsession. And have you ever been at a party, where two men (it’s usually men) will wax lyrical about what route to take to get to some town, which road goes where, where you turn off, where you go left or right? Bird watchers will wait for hours to spot a rare species. And I would imagine there can be very little in the world that is more exciting than giving birth to a baby. Or an actor taking a leading role, or a pop star taking to the stage in a massive auditorium. The list goes on and on.
There are all kinds of mini excitements around too, and I’d like to end on one. I was stuck in traffic and happened to notice two people seated on a pavement bench. An old lady and a little girl of around 3 or 4. And they had the same face. Clearly, grandmother or great grandmother and her descendant, smiling and gazing into each other’s eyes with the same smile, indeed the exact same expression, illustrating the amazing continuity of life, the little girl perhaps not realising that she was seeing exactly what she would look like in 70 or 80 years time, still with the spark of liveliness and happiness undiminished.
So I’ve listed mine. Can you add anything of yours? I’d be prepared to bet that I haven’t even started to mention a tiny fraction of the things that get people excited all over the world – and that doesn’t even include sex.