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Home > People

You've got to admire his balls

"The vital thing is not to make them think that you're a pervert on the loose or that you intend them some harm."

- Tony Baldwin, avid naturist and Chairman of the Singles' Outdoor Club

22 August 2003

There's nothing a naturist likes more than the wind in his hair and the sun on his cock. The tickle of grass on ankle, the gentle bite of horsefly on buttock, and then, perhaps, a quiet nap in a tranquil meadow - dozing off beneath the shade of an oak, and letting the forest creatures creep up and nestle in his downy pubes. Heaven on earth.

But not in Inverness.

Steve Gough, nude-rambler extraordinaire is currently languishing in Inverness jail. Steve is on a mission: to ramble from Land's End to John o' Groats in just a hat and boots to promote naturism.

Says Gough: "I want people to become conscious that we are ashamed of our bodies. We have such a problem with our bodies." Certainly a problem is being had with Steve's body: he has been arrested 11 times since setting off. His swinging nads have been breaching the peace the length and breadth of the land. He's even been beaten up by two objectors: "They pushed me down and kicked me in the face. There was blood everywhere."

So what is Steve Gough? A peace-breacher? A flasher? A pervert? A lunatic? And what about his back pack? Doesn't it chafe? But Steve accepts the chaffing, the beatings and the ridicule; and he refuses to be written off: "I don't want to be labeled a nut," he said the other day, as he left a mental hospital near Selkirk.

And the thing is, Steve is obviously right. The problem is ours. Steve's genitals, in the act of rambling, are totally desexualized. He doesn't stroll along tugging at his dangler, it swings free and innocent between his legs, no more or less a sexual object than the straps of his rucksack. It is we who deem his rambling a breach of our peace who are sexualizing his nether bits. It is the thugs who thrash him about the head with branches who are seeing his cock and balls as rude and wrong.

Steve's whole point is that what he is doing is (by his estimation) not rude. The rudeness is an act of judgement made by us. Rudeness is not intrinsic to the flesh and sinew of Steve's knackers. We see his knackers as rude because we are so trained to see people's bits as naughty. The British, in general, do not share the simple, singular, untroubled vision of the naturist (the vision which, when it sees a fanny, just *sees a fanny* and does not *see it as naughty*). The British have double vision: the vision of double entendre.

We arrest Steve Gough because he's a bit thin and weird, and because his nudity is a political act, whereas we embrace the 'Calendar Girls' because they're merely "naughty" - and naughtiness is containable, not political. If Robin Askwith catches sight of some boobies when he's sponging a lady's window, it's not going to rupture the fabric of our society - it is not a challenge to our moral vision, it reaffirms it.

Steve Gough's challenge is vast and furious. His swinging cock is a sword which threatens to cut a swathe not just through British values, but the values of the world. It is no exaggeration to say that the inability to embrace Steve Gough's testicles represents what is wrongest about all of human society. The inability to see a fanny as a fanny, and not as a threat; the inability to have a nude man stroll past you on a country lane without wanting to throw him in jail; the tyranny of the burka; the giggling of Graham Norton - it's all the same. We're living in a world where the Texas police can look at a mural of Eve and threaten criminal charges unless her bits are covered up:


It can't go on forever. One day, with Steve's help, we will be free. We will stop bothering about cocks and balls and bottoms front and rear, stop bothering what we do with them and where we put them. But until such time we remain truly and absolutely fucked in the head.

Comment on this article: letters@thefridaything.co.uk

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