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We do ourselves harm by supporting the myth that EVERYONE is against us!

December 1998

And now for a letter from Ron Kermode in South Wales. After taking us to task for not asking enough for copies of the full legal advice, Ron puts his money where his mouth is by enclosing 1 for a copy (thanks Ron!) and then goes on:

Dear SUN,

I would be willing to take part in a protest walk but firstly I live so far away - I haven't even been to Studland but support you on principle; second, I'm in the throes of moving house; and thirdly, my arthritis is so bad I must use a stick and can no longer walk over soft sand, which means my own beach recreation is stymied as all the local nuddy beaches demand this ability - as I believe do most others.

I'm no closet nudist though, all my neighbours know - even the bin men have seen my picture in the local paper writing about nearby Cefn Sidan, which has not been 'approved' but 'left as things are' which I prefer as without 'warning' (= attraction?) signs we are not bothered by voyeurs and if anything says anything we can quote the Council's decision that "the present (long-standing) position (that we use the beach) continue". Barry Freeman will be happy to hear that I not only declare my way of life 'if the topic comes up', I take opportunities to bring it up.

Although Wales has no official beaches there are at least two more I know of on the Gower and one some 25-30 miles down the coast, all well known locally and ACCEPTED by all except the bigots. Certainly I get no odd looks from my neighbours. So much for the crap talked by closet nudists! (And also for Barry's statement that picnicking textiles would 'flee in hysterics' if a wandering nudist stumbled on them!)

To be fair to Barry, I think that was his worst-case scenario. Perhaps textile beach-users in Wales are more tolerant or phlegmatic that their English counterparts? Certainly I've had verbal abuse on English beaches - most recently at Camber, where I was sunbathing on the top of the dune at the eastern end, miles from any textile concentration. On the other hand, several years ago I had a brief spell of detached duty at Cardiff and managed to find a nice little sunbathing spot down on the coast not far from the city where I spent several evenings sunbathing nude on the rocks. Although many people saw me making my way out of their sight, no-one bothered to follow or harass me - Ed. 

Ron goes on:

I have walked in Yorkshire with Coast & Country where we stood around chatting with a farmer whose field we were crossing, and passed the time of day with an elderly couple having a rest. Climbing in the Lakes we found ourselves passing and being passed by a group of textile girls, with a 'leader', who when they saw us splashing happily in a pool, did the same nearby - but wearing clothes, with the inevitable pornographic appearance to which they seemed oblivious! Folks ARE weird. When I inadvertently wandered naked round a campsite before the time we nuddies were due to take over I couldn't find anyone to accept apologies - they just smiled or laughed 'that must be why the dog was barking at you' or 'each to his taste', and a woman with young daughters was happy to accept help in loading her car.

We really do ourselves harm by supporting the myth that EVERYONE is against us! Barry's right of course that the English and Welsh (I don't know about the Scots and Irish) are the great hypocrites and interfering busybodies, but WE should stop being shrinking violets.

Looking at the abridged legal advice, I wonder whether sitting next to you and saying nasty things or giving nasty looks in such a way as possibly to cause you alarm and distress may be an offence under the Public Order Act 1986? Could this not also be viewed as conduct likely to cause a breach of the peace? (Worth a try, I should think! -Ed.)

So vice squad officers visit the beach for plain clothes surveillance? I would seriously suggest that they might be more effective carrying out NO clothes surveillance! Of course, this suggestion is unlikely to be taken seriously by them; of they insist on wasting police resources this way (as seems to be the case in this so-called 'free country' where sticking a prick into someone is apparently far worse than sticking a knife into them) it might be a feather in OUR cap if some thoughtful investigator took my suggestion to heart, thereby undermining any argument that nudity per se is objectionable.

Maybe SUN members who are not members of CCBN (I currently am as a requirement for membership of SOC) might donate the equivalent of the CCBN subscription each year to Coast & Country or SUN to help things along? If I leave CCBN - which I might well do as I now have problems with club membership - I shall do just that.

How we are being overtaken! When I was in Majorca in the 1950s women had to sit FACING THE SEA if they had swimsuits on, and men weren't allowed in town in shorts! (Don't tell the National Trust or East Yorkshire DC - they'll love the suggestion, and think of all the extra wardens they can have roaring up and down on quad bikes enforcing it! - Ed.)

I don't see Mary Smith's letter as being all that controversial, just advocating what we all (I hope) believe: if someone does something to harm you, like breathing smoke all over you or disturbing your peace with a radio, then you have reason to complain - you can't AVOID the problem. But if what they do only reaches you by your own actions in looking at it, or going specially close so you can hear it, then you've no more right to complain than have the textiles who choose to walk in nudist areas when they have EXCLUSIVE right to most of the beach.

SUNny side up!

Ron Kermode

Thanks to Ron for a long and interesting letter. That's an unusual and attention-grabbing suggestion about the CCBN subscription. Of course, it could be argued that SUN and C&C members already give their subscriptions of 3 and 15 respectively, so why should they give more? Well, if you can afford it how about this point of view: you're not a CCBN member so you're not giving 30 a year (or whatever it currently is) TO CCBN but on the other hand, apart from the SUN/C&C subs you're not giving anything AGAINST CCBN. I can see that this would be particularly useful at the moment to C&C to whom every donation equal to a CCBN sub can be argued effectively to neutralise a CCBN sub, thereby weakening CCBN's power base. This could be an interesting debate - what does everyone else think? 

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