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Max Mallowan in the Valley of the Kings, the gas board outside your front door or the neighbours in their back garden … when there's someone else digging a hole, it's always worth looking into.

Christopher Vance, a truly enterprising entrepreneur, manages to establish a large and successful builder's without ever touching a spade himself. His son Joseph, taken along to swell numbers at the start of an early project, falls under the spell of Miss Lossie and gives an idea of how the thought of seeing her was more enticing even than the prospect of watching Bill the labourer.

… a force that could make a small boy of eight glad to forsake the intoxicating delights of the taking out of ground without a regret. For Excavation, whether it be for sewers, for treasure, or for papyri and mummies, is an absorbing and thrilling interest almost without a parallel. It is usually also harmless, and this cannot be said of Vivisection or War, or Gambling on the Stock Exchange.

Inspector French has more somber recollections, but when the workmen are taking up the brick floor of the builder's yard in Redliffe Lane

… could hardly contain himself as he watched these operations. There was something exciting about an excavation, an excavation, that is, which was expected to reveal hidden mysteries. […] He remembered that awful night of rain and storm on the slopes of Cave Hill above Belfast, when he and the Belfast police had watched four suspects digging for the black box they so much wanted. And that excavation in the filling of the new Guildford – Godalming By-pass, with the ghastly finds that were there unearthed! […] For French, work with pick and shovel had grim and sinister memories.

Either way, Jerome K. Jerome is clearly not the only person who would say "I love work: it fascinates me. I can sit and look at it for hours."

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