The alternative title for today’s tome was “Tender moments”, but I went with the option which I felt provided better “click bait” (well, it’s a competitive market for readers’ eyes out there).
So far as I can recall (and my parents may correct me here), I have never felt any pressing need to spend any more time in my birthday suit than is strictly necessary. When required – usually in a medical or changing room context (nothing to do with Carol Smillie) – I am not shy about removing my kit: I see no benefit faffing around with a towel in an attempt at concealment (or increased titillation). Indeed, as made clear in an earlier post, I can be quite brazen about the whole process – especially for comic effect. I work on the principle that on such occasions everyone else in the room should be familiar with the male physiognomy in its entirety. I am also reasonably confident that I have the standard set of equipment issued to the adult Y-chromosome holder with no obvious deficiencies or unexpected extras. In an attempt to keep the sauce levels in the post up, I could point out that I have a big nose and large hands and leave readers to draw their own conclusions about the rest of my anatomy.
I am aware that some people do like to divest themselves of their clothing for extended periods and to do so outdoors: one supposed benefit is the increased feeling of freedom. I am willing to concede that, if practised over the long term there could be a degree of freedom from laundry, but I’d take the physical protection provided by my clothes and shoes any day (it’s not as though I have to take my washing down to the river and beat it with sticks). Still, it takes all sorts (if you want a bag of liquorice-based bon-bons) and I have no objection to this life choice – as long as they can cope with my childish tendency to snigger.
One chap, famously, is an incorrigibly nude rambler and is constantly arrested and jailed – at huge public expense. I fail to see who the involvement of the criminal justice system benefits. Some might say “think of the children”, but in my experience children would either point and ask tactless questions of a nearby parent/guardian or take my own approach and giggle. Either way, the rambler seems to suffer far more potential harm than the child. (I should perhaps remind readers that I am not a parent, though was recently allowed to be in charge of a pram and baby for a little while). This tendency to refer everything which we don’t like (or our xenophobic, misogynistic, reactionary, soon-to-be chip wrapping of choice tells us we shouldn’t like) to be handled via the creation of a criminal offence seems to be out of control. On this week’s Thinking Allowed I discovered to (even my cynical) shock that in the last year for which data exists, 42(forty-two!) new criminal offences were added to the statute book (and this was not an unusual number – just ask Douglas Adams). No wonder the police and courts are collapsing under the strain. We really need to find a better – and cheaper – way of expressing our disapproval of other people’s lifestyles (or better yet, in many cases, mind our own business). How about tutting? Or an extra hard stare?
Anyway, as I set out yestere’en (like a low rent Laurie Lee) to see Tiernan Douieb and Bec Hill “make with the funny” (to use a ghastly modern phrase) at the Arthouse Cafe, I sighted a gaggle of cyclists riding up the road towards me (I was afoot at the time, much like the game). Nothing unusual you might think, but the entire gaggle of cyclists were naked (OK, not entirely, one was missing a bike but wearing trainers). Obviously, I found this rather amusing – though resisted the urge, which overtook almost all my fellow pedestrians, to capture this moment for posterity using my mobile phone. However, I could not help but wince: of all the activities which I might consider doing in the buff, cycling is pretty low on the list, especially in the Southampton area.
The previous evening, I had cycled over to Eastleigh (a town with the misfortune, or perhaps destiny, to rhyme with “beastly”) to see Alex Horne build a mouse (sorry, squirrel) trap. Previously, I would have made this journey by train, but the planned rail strike made me investigate alternative options and cycling seemed eminently viable. The train strike was called off, but they had already lost my business (a warning there, perhaps) and I took myself the roughly six miles to Eastleigh en vélo. A twelve mile round trip, with a couple of hours rest and a reasonably-priced ice-cream in the middle, should be as nothing to an athlete such as myself. Indeed, the physical endeavour was not a major issue – but the appalling state of the road surfaces in and around Southampton caused a problem. The following morning, when once again I mounted my titanium steed, I discovered that my nether regions were decidedly tender. This was even with the not insubstantial protection offered by my trousers and under-crackers – I’d rather not imagine the state of my undercarriage had I undertaken the trip in the nude. I would strongly suggest, even to the most committed of naturists, that naked cycling – unless on the most glassily smooth of road surfaces in the absence of any other traffic – is really not a great idea: unless the desire to be naked is strongly correlated with masochism (which isn’t impossible, I guess).
The moral of my tale, if such there be, is that perhaps our ancestors knew what they were doing when they invented clothing and it wasn’t entirely down to the munching on the fruit of the tree of knowledge or pressure from “the man” to cover up.