James May

James May

James’s fizzy logic

I'm sure many of you would admit to feeling a tingling sensation in the spine when, say, trampolining. Nothing unusual in that, and certainly nothing shameful about it. It will be to do with the release of something like endorphins, and perfectly natural.

And I'm certain that all of you will have experienced a lump in the throat during some moving memorial ceremony or when listening to the crowd singing Abide with me before the FA Cup Final; or maybe a prickling of those tiny neck-hairs when looking at a fabulous sunrise. I know a woman who says her gums ache if she watches a soppy film, and personally I am overcome with a sense of slight nausea if Richard Hammond appears on my television.

This is all nature's way of telling you that something is good for you, or bad for you, or simply to turn it off. Millions of years of evolution have provided us with a useful visceral guide to the world, and it can be exploited recreationally, like putting your finger in your ear. Nature tells us this is safe, because your finger won't go far enough in to do any damage. It's also quite pleasant.

This brings me to my ‘fizzing penis root', as the other two have dubbed it. This is a bit misleading, because I made it quite clear, just before Pinky and Perky reduced the whole discussion to a series of fatuous knob gags, that the sensation I experienced in certain cars was in fact behind my penis, and not in any way sexual.

It's quite difficult to explain, or even locate accurately. In some cases, such as my Boxster, it can be attributed to pure mechanical feedback. There is a point in the rev range, at about 4,500rpm, where a literal buzz passes through the seat and thence to the coccyx, and that is merely pleasing. But I also feel it in the Ferrari F430 even when it's stationary, and the Twingo 133 gives it to me when I just think about it. When the Maserati Quattroporte came out I felt the fizz looking at the pictures, and knew I would connect with it regardless of how it actually drove.

"The existence of the fizz gland explains why certain cars possess us in an inexplicable way"

Physicians may be able to explain this, although I'm not that interested. I simply enjoy it. I don't believe it is a purely emotional response, I believe there is a gland or a node fitted somewhere that responds to these stimuli, and that the whole thing is largely physiological. I'm surprised Dr Clarkson hasn't come up with a more convincing diagnosis, since he's a doctor.

It follows from this that I can't be alone. I cannot be the only person on earth endowed with this marvellous gift, as free and precious as the smell of apples or the taste of sea air on your lips. I just think that people don't like to admit to it, because it seems a bit weird or dysfunctional in some way, like having a train set.

One or two girls I've spoken to have admitted to experiencing something similar, and have suggested that it could be a sort of spiritual G-spot, but I don't think it is. Obviously I've never had one of those so I can't be sure, but again I stress that the fizz is not actually sexual in any way. It is a pleasure zone activated only by certain manufactured goods, especially ones with engines but also by artefacts as diverse as a nice wristwatch or a shotgun.

At least the existence of the fizz gland explains exactly why, to some people at least, many cars are admirable, but one or two possess us in an inexplicable way. I could explain my enthusiasm for the F430 by pointing to its shape, the noise of its exhaust, its smell, the satisfying snick of its gearchange, the weighting of its steering wheel, and so on. These are reasons why I also admire the Audi R8, but there's the difference. I do simply admire the R8, whereas the F430 brings it on. How can this be? It's the gland, and the gods will it.

The great news is that it doesn't necessarily take a supercar to press the magic button. As I said, the Twingo 133 does it for me as well, as does my old 911 and as did that knackered Cadillac I bought for our American special. Other people obviously get it from Subarus and the Focus RS. I think my missus gets it from the Fiat Panda, but is too shy to mention it.

I suspect some of you get it too. Drive your car now, relax, enjoy it, and then ask yourself: do you feel the fizz? I hope you do.

And if you don't, bad luck. Really bad.

 

James May, Column

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