We’ve just enjoyed a marvellous weekend at Spielplatz and many thanks to Mark and Tina Yates for their wonderful hospitality.
Over the last two days we had separate meetings with different organisations, discussions that were very welcome and promises much. What also came out of those meetings was that naturism as a whole could profit from such talks and that it should be repeated either next year or the year after. Hopefully with many more organisations in attendance, regardless of what form they should take; club, forum, holiday organiser… whatever!
Obviously, with naturism already highly fractured, I don’t think we have any taste for yet another organisation but I think the feelings of the meetings we held was that some mechanism should be found to enable the opportunity for face-to-face communication to occur.
If you are part of a naturist organisation, why not raise it and find out what others think?
It is just three days to the Spielplatz get-together on Saturday afternoon. I know the weather isn’t promising (its forecast to be mostly sunny, but just 19C), but we would really like to see you there.
Chairman, Naturist Action Group.
Since my last foray naturism has been in the news much more than usual, particularly in Scotland, with Steve Gough taking much of the limelight and possibly burying other news a little bit in the process. For instance, the announcement that Daryl Jones has resigned as BN Youth Officer. I don’t know the full story, and to tell you the truth, I’m not sure if any of us needs to know, but according to BN’s website, he left after a complaint was made against him, even though it was later found to have no substance. I am not normally in favour of lying to anyone, but in this instance I don’t think the allegation should have been mentioned and some other diplomatic excuse for Daryl’s departure given. As it stands, people being what they are, they will now speculate on what had been alleged and undoubtedly get it completely wrong, but within their own little circles it will become hard fact. I hope in time a new role can be found for Daryl as it would be a shame if naturism as a whole, and BN in particular, lost his energy.
Daryl’s departure however is counter-balanced by the arrival of Kimberley Craigie from Scotland. Possibly because she is young (18) and a photogenic red head Kimberley received a lot of attention. As the youth officer for Scotland and North of England, which also takes in Northern Ireland, Kimberly is taking on a tough ask, as she tries to encourage other young people in her region to try naturism and join BN.
It doesn’t help Kimberley however, if the media is allowed to get away with sloppy journalism. Just taking two articles resulting from the Great British Skinny-dip event shows what I mean. The Westmoreland Gazette thought British Naturism had around 1.5 million members. Yeah, right. And The Sun – who else – reported that the ‘British Naturist Club’ is 120-years old and that 60 per cent of its members are over 60? That Scotland can boast of two colonies and came out with the glorious line of: “I know what you’re thinking… naturists, they’re all weirdos, right?”
One of the better lines out of the naturist film, Act Naturally, was “Naturist Resort, colonies are for leapers.”
I know what you’re thinking… journalists; they’re all weirdoes’ right!
But maybe it isn’t just the journalists at fault here. When the British press announced Kimberley Craigie’s appointment many of them got her job title wrong. The Sun – yes them again – said she was BN’s new youth officer, as did BBC Radio Scotland’s Sunday Morning with… programme. The Herald Scotland got it almost right, incorrectly using the word ‘Northern’ as did Scotland on Sunday. Getting things right is a matter of pride to many journalists and most newspapers and magazines are happy to publish corrections, The Guardian famously so. The point is, if all these media outlets are consistently getting things wrong and the same things then the fault must be elsewhere.
The role of public relations is not an easy one, being at someone else’s beck and call, trying to resolve queries and questions that affect the organisation being represented means very long hours for someone. But PR is not just one way; information needs to be distributed to a surprising number of outlets, all on speculation with no guarantee that a lot of hard work will pay off. Something unique would make this easier of course, and once such a goldmine is found it needs to be mined for all its worth.
Quite uniquely British Naturism has something that would interest the media and most emphatically promote naturism at the same time: the IPSOS-Mori survey. It was a struggle to even get this survey past the EC, so it seems strange they would not exploit it to within an inch of its life. Yet, the full results and in-depth analysis are still to be published. A reaction report has been posted via
In the latest series of articles about The London Question for H&E Naturist, John Paine explains that London isn’t as bereft of naturists and naturist events as we first thought. More can still be done however and now that the small matters of the Queen’s jubilee celebrations, the Olympics and Paralympics are almost over, NAG is looking to resuming its investigation. Read John’s article Naturism is happening in London prior to publication.
Shortly, Steve Gough will be returning to Kirkcaldy Sherriff Court following his Breach of the Peace conviction and another assessment his mental health.
On 26 August 2012, Bernard Boase – a long-time naturist and a campaigner for Gough’s release – had an article published in The Daily Express, which argued that his continued incarceration would be against his human rights. Regardless of whether you think Gough is a hero or a villain, we believe his re-imprisonment amounts to a cruel and extraordinary punishment and it shows the distance between society and the Scottish judiciary when it comes to simple, non-sexual public nudity.
With the author’s permission, we reproduce the article HERE.
Every few months, the directors of the Naturist Action Group get together to talk over the issues we are confronting and as our Autumn meeting is going to be held at Spielplatz, St Albans, Hertfordshire, we thought it would be a good opportunity for our supporters to meet us, and we to meet you, on Saturday 15th September!
During the informal meeting, which will take place from 2pm until roughly 4pm, we shall be happy to answer any of your questions about the different projects we have on the go and to hear your suggestions for how these, and NAG, could develop in the future. The rest of the day you can enjoy the sunshine (if there is any), a pint, or whatever is your tipple is, from the licensed bar or use their other facilities, including a heated swimming pool. Later in the evening, there will be entertainment for club members and visitors alike, a collection of naturist films.
If you are a part of a web group, club or any other naturist organisation then this Spielplatz weekend could be the ideal opportunity for you to gather and discuss “The Future of Naturism in the UK” and any other common issues, and perhaps find ways of working together. We have scheduled Sunday 16th September for that, but as neither NAG nor Spielplatz will necessarily be involved in these discussions then they can just as well take place on Saturday too.
So you could make a weekend of it and to make it all go down better with the pocket, we have negotiated a 20% discount for our supporters from Spielplatz’s usual prices. These are (non-member’s prices), £12 per night for caravans or campervans, or £5 per night for tents plus in either case £10 per person, per day. Please give the reception prior warning of your arrival and present this voucher (new window) when you pay.
Oh! One more thing, despite what it says on the voucher, we are pretty sure that meals will be available between 10am and 4pm.
Hope to see you there!
Chairman, Naturist Action Group.
It has been pointed out to me that in my enthusiasm for taking The London Question beyond the naturist community that I have been clumsy with my words. The use of the phrase “flash-mob type” has given the wrong impression to people for which I apologise.
This year, London has already played a major part in the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations and, of course, we are currently enjoying the Olympics. For both events the Metropolitan Police Service has – is – mounting large security operations and we saw no strategic advantage for naturism in adding to their woes. This summer we shall be conducting a “proof of concept” and quieter demonstration at a time and date yet to be determined, with just a few selected participants. Next year, well that’s another matter entirely and NAG will not rule out civil disobedience as a means to gain publicity for issues that effect UK naturists.
Chairman, Naturist Action Group
Last May and June saw the World Naked Bike Ride being staged in the UK. As I write, they should be putting the finishing touches to the London ride, which hasn’t been easy to organise this year because of one or two other “smaller” events occurring. If the past is anything to go by, however, it should be well attended, and for many naturists it has now become a fixture in their calendar, while others will participate in as many rides around the country as possible.
Officially though, the WNBR is not a demonstration in favour of naturism but against car use and, with its slogan of ‘as bare as you dare’ it attempts to draw the public’s attention to the dangers encountered by cyclists on today’s roads. True, body image issues somehow crept into the mix during its formative years in California but even then it was, and still is, a side issue. Perhaps this is why British Naturism’s EC was originally reluctant to give its blessing. Whatever the reason, a fair few of them have now participated in London or at a ride more local to them. It is still nevertheless true that the WNBR has nothing to do with naturism or its promotion as a lifestyle to the general public.
The naked bike ride is not the only occasion when nudity is used in protest to either a greater or lesser effect. Spencer Tunick famously uses the naked body to show planet Earth as a vulnerable place, and the other week, an email popped into my inbox from PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) telling me about the “Run Bare to spare Bears” they were organising for July. It is a protest against the Household Guards’ use of real fur in their Bearskins. Why I should be so honoured is anybody’s guess but PETA has form with the naked protest, with their long-term campaign “I’d Rather Go Naked Than Wear Fur” that see celebrities and super-models appear (coyly) naked. Anyway, this particular protest is a five-kilometre run (that’s three miles in old money) around central London, naked. The idea is, like WNBR, runners bare as much as they dare, or wear flesh coloured garments to give the impression of nudity. I don’t know if naturists also participate in protests organised by PETA but logically, if they see the WNBR as an opportunity to chip away at public perceptions of social nudity then these campaigns should be thought of in a similar light. Again though, any naturism is just an unintended consequence.
I am not making any judgement about these protests but maybe naturism has something to learn here? These protest groups are gaining public awareness for their respective causes, through the naked body, which always draws the public’s attention because it is a rarity for our streets. If enough of the public begin to share their concerns then those who can effect the desired change in government policy or law become interested, although there is a counter argument that too many naked protests will reduce its effectiveness. This, however, is what naturism needs to learn; the occasional need for civil disobedience; for direct action, to achieve indirectly, a goal. I accept that what is being proposed here will not please everyone, some will undoubtedly take the view that protests do not necessarily achieve anything (it didn’t prevent the first Gulf War for instance) but NAG exists to give UK naturism a higher profile and a sense of equality under the law; to argue for more and better facilities for naturists, and it can bring these goals to the public’s attention by such actions. The question is; will naturists come out to protest naked on their own account? If they are prepared to do so for causes not connected with naturism then logic says they should.
The Naturist Action Group is trying to find an answer to the London Question; why the capital of roughly 7 million people has so few facilities for naturists. Part of the answer is to encourage – persuade – local councils or institutions with leisure facilities that social nudity will not bring it into conflict with the very vocal moral minority. BN did just that at University of London but we also need to look at the potential for outdoor facilities. NAG’s latest progress report for the London Question shows that some parks have the capacity to accommodate a multitude of activities enjoyed by Londoners, including naturism. We are aware that it already occurs – hidden away – in some of the larger parks but there are inherent dangers with this that we’d rather avoid. This is why NAG believes that park naturism should be discrete, but out in the open, just like in Germany, with the public enjoying the facilities and not worrying what the family in plain sight are wearing… or not wearing… as the case maybe. To achieve that aim, however, we need to demonstrate to the relevant authorities that naturism can be conducted without harm or alarm to the park’s other users, and this is why we are planning a kind of flash mob-type event that will take place at short notice in a central London park. We cannot give any details yet because it will be weather dependent, but we do need to have contact details of as many naturists in the London area as possible, willing to demonstrate park naturism’s viability. If you are prepared to do something for naturism then please contact John Paine (email@example.com). [The email printed in HEN was incorrect; sorry.]
A SLIGHT CHANGE OF SUBJECT
While out on their fact-finding mission to Munich on behalf of The London Question, John Paine and Peter Knight learned of a ‘Naturist Parade’, apparently similar to Gay Pride, which took place in the good old days of the DDR (East Germany). Their informant could tell them very little beyond that and a Google search has failed to turn up anything. Have you heard of this parade? Can you tell us about it! If so, we would be pleased to hear from you by emailing: nag AT naturistactiongroup DOT org
An edited version of this is blog will appear in the August issue of H&E Naturist.
After the publication of the article on Steve Gough in April a few comments were made here, which were broadly supportive. Oddly enough, not long afterwards – and purely by coincidence – Gough came up as a topic of conversation on the Yahoo group forum, naturists UK that confirmed my opinion on how divisive he is among naturists and I don’t suppose it will end any time soon.
I have no intention to go over old ground, however I would like to pursue an idea that was put forward (by Peter Knight, as it happens) among the comments; that we should use Gough’s plight in Scotland to gain publicity about the wider problems naturists have when they encounter the justice system. We could, and I believe we should.
Gough is held under the common law offence of breach of the (monarch’s) peace, which the Court of Appeal in R v Howell, has defined as: ‘an act done or threatened to be done which either actually harms a person, or in his presence, his property, or is likely to cause such harm being done.’  However, following Bibby v Chief
The latest report about progress with The London Question, following a meeting in central London last March has been released and can be read HERE.
If you are interested in helping the Naturist Action Group to answer The London Question, contact John Paine, our project co-ordinator who is waiting for your email!
Issued on behalf of John Paine.