I’m still shaking my head. Chiefly in bemused bafflement. Why?
Last night I watched a BBC programme entitled The Naked Village. The title says it all. The documentary dealt with a 12 acre Village called Spiel Platz . I watched – drop-jawed, initially, I must admit, but it was amazing how soon I got over my initial – what? astonishment? shock? distaste? Believe me, elderly wrinkled genitalia are much better of hidden behind clothing!
The tone of the programme was matter-of-fact and not a hint of innuendo, humour, bias, or anything whatsoever other than straightforward reporting on a small group of villagers going about their daily round – painting fascia boards, gardening, sunbathing, swimming, working in their kitchens, reading the paper over a pint in the pub. Except that everybody is stark naked.
Spiel Platz village in Hertfordshire is the home of Britain’s oldest naturist colony. Situated a few miles outside St Albans, and is a permanent home to the owners of 34 of the little bungalows. There are another 24 houses available to rent to summer visitors.
The mainly two-bed bungalows come with all mod cons, including mains electricity, water and sewage.
Splashing in the swimming pool, mowing the lawn, even enjoying a pint in the local, its inhabitants are always stripped for action. The village was founded by Charles Macaskie, who bought the leafy 12-acre site for £500 in 1929.
The heart of the village is its club house where the residents get together in the altogether for discos, karaoke sessions, quiz nights and pool tournaments.
Firstly I’m amazed that the famously changeable British climate hasn’t put off the naturists. They all had nice tans, and the documentary showed gorgeously sunny scenes – all well and good in summer, but what about the remainder of the year, I wondered? Visitors to the village may remain clothed, and the villagers refer to them as ‘Textiles’. However, when the Villagers venture into the outside world which they do periodically (shopping, dentists’ visits and the like) they turn into Textiles, like the rest of us. Mercifully. Imagine geriatric shoppers in their birthday suits in Tesco?
Secondly, Spiel Platz needs to recruit new members. The current community in middled-aged to very elderly. As part of their recruitment drive they hosted a Naked Yoga Day and about half the participants appeared to be in the 20 – 40 age group, but whether any of them signed up as residents, wasn’t revealed. One of the residents was of the opinion that today’s youngsters were so influenced by peer pressure that they were not inclined to even give Naturism a try.
When Spiel Platz was started way back in the late 1920s, Naturism was seen as a fad, or a daring declaration of rebellion. But nowadays? I think its time has passed, what with the proliferation of Nudist Beaches, topless beaches, and scanty revealing clothing. Not to mention the relaxed attitude to nudity in Art, cinema and so on. I remember back in the 1960s a gentleman called Beau Brummel started a Naturist resort in South Africa, which was (mainly) seen as sinful, sexual and/or disgusting at the time. The apartheid government closed it down, but it resurfaced years later. Definitely under the heading of nudge-nudge, wink-wink, har-har.
Times have changed, and it seems Naturism is alive and well in our country : http://www.timeslive.co.za/lifestyle/2014/03/03/south-africas-five-favourite-naturist-hangouts .
While I’ve enjoyed skinny dipping on the odd occasion (swimming nude is a delicious sensation) but going about your household chores, or gardening, or DIY, well, I can see practical difficulties arising.
So: to each his own, but on this topic, not for me.