" Sunscreen? Wassat?! "
Me on the 'monkey island' of the M.V.Taupo, circa 1977, somewhere
in the South Pacific. My next stop, the bar in 'Aggie Grey's' Hotel, Western Samoa - and the sooner I get there, the
Apia I'll be. (Sorry about that one. Couldn't resist it!)
What do you think of my detachable balls?
I wasn't long at sea before I acquired an all-over suntan, and maintained
it for years by this nude sunbathing and the incomparable primordial pleasure of 'skinny-dipping' in the oceans of five continents
as often as I could. (Believe me, if you haven't swum naked in the Indian Ocean, you haven't lived!).
A favourite spot of mine was the nudist beach at Swanbourne, near
Perth/Fremantle in Western Australia, although you had to keep an eye out for the sharks there just in case they tried to
bite your 'winkle' off! (And if you think I've just made that up for a cheap laugh, Swanbourne beach is right next to
Cottisloe beach, where, around 1999 - you may recall it - a guy got his leg bit off by a shark, and bled to
death there on the beach.) Swimming with dolphins is for wimps. Real men swim with sharks!
By this time, my nude sunbathing on board ship had become notorious
throughout P&O General Cargo Division, which led to this photo being taken. So there I was, in me birthday suit,
soaking up the South Pacific sun, innocently contemplating the fifteen roots of unity (as yer do), when I hears this
" Hey, Ray! "
I turns to the sound just in time to see the electrician with a
camera perched precariously on the outside of the 'monkey island' between the outside railings. Before I could say two
words (one of them being " ... off! "), he 'snaps' me, and shouts,
" Gotcha! "
before disappearing again below. Three months later, the postman
drops this photo through my door in an envelope. I kept it ever since. I can't believe now that this photo was
shot half my lifetime ago.
I hate to say this, but if you click on the picture, you can get
an enlargement of it!
Mind you, all this nude sunbathing of mine was before the hole appeared
in the ozone layer and before two of my uncles got skin cancer. One of them subsequently died from it. A real
nice guy, only in his early fifties. He was an office worker and his total yearly exposure to the sun was confined to
his annual two week holiday in Spain. My other uncle had almost all the skin from his back surgically removed, although
he should have known better, living in Queensland. Nasty! So let that be a lesson to us all.
It was Mr Ivor Jones (spelt B.A.S.T.A.R.D.) - my games master at
Cardiff High School (and surely the inspiration for the sadistic games master in the film 'KES', played by the late Brian
Glover) - who introduced the then 12-year-old me to the joys of naturism (I don't think that earlier naturist afternoon in
my front garden when I was four counts) by making me, very reluctant though I was at first, get all my
'kit' off and have a shower, completely starkers, with the thirty or so other naked boys showering with me that made
up the rest of Form 2B of 64/65, after our first gym lesson with him.
Under his watchful eye to make sure no shy little boys (e.g. me!)
escaped this ordeal, Ivor made us all strip stark bollock naked and then queue up single file, one bare bottom jammed
behind another, at the entrance to the showers, before flagging us all in, one by one, through the long line of
streaming jets of warm water we had to slowly walk under and then out the other end. As we were all 'parading'
in the nude in front of him in this way, he appeared to be looking at and secretly counting our genitals rather
than our heads, as it was not unknown for a bashful and optimistic boy to try to sneak in wearing swimming trunks, his
modesty preserved! (But not for long! Ivor would never allow it.)
Our 'short-arm inspection' soon completed, (and perfectly innocent
I'm sure it was too!) Ivor then left us for his customary morning fag and cup of tea while we all chatted together as
we dried ourselves and got dressed.
I'd been absolutely dreading this prospect of having to do my own
personal 'dance of the seven veils' - my desperate earlier pleas to my mum at breakfast that morning for a note excusing me
from the showers falling on deaf ears - and I feared all the other boys would laugh at my little 'acorn' when they saw it
this first time. But after I'd taken my gym shorts off and very self-consciously joined all the rest
of my companions in the queue for the showers, all of us now as naked as the day we were born, it turned out none of them
did. I was thankful for that, and to my great surprise I quickly found myself quite comfortable with my new
publicly naked state (rather enjoying it in fact!) although I did have a short anxious moment at one stage when I noticed
Alan Jenkins looking down and absolutely staring at me 'dick', somewhat puzzled, as I stood naked
in front of him drying my back afterwards. But it turned out OK. He was just a little curious and uncertain as to which 'club'
I belonged to, that's all, eventually looking back up at me and asking me to clarify the matter by confirming his
suspicions. Which I did!
Actually, I noticed I wasn't the only member of that 'club' in the
showers that time. There were two others, but unlike them, I was very much a junior member, and was to remain
so, and in their shadow, for another two years! Talking of which...
It wasn't just Alan Jenkins that learnt something new about
the male human body from our enforced communal nakedness that day. So did I! You have to remember here that this was
the early 1960s, and in most British schools then there was no sex education at all, neither in primary nor secondary school,
and if you got any sex education at home - and most boys didn't - it was usually delayed until you were somewhat into your
teens, and although I shared a bedroom (and sometimes my bath!) with my brother, he was younger than me, so at twelve years
old, I knew nothing yet about puberty and had never seen a naked man full frontal, so was blissfully unaware of ...until...
Well... there were twenty-nine naked little boys in the gym showers
that morning, including me. But also present amongst us, as I just mentioned, were these two rather 'large'
naked young 'men', even though they were both only twelve years old like the rest of us. When I saw what they were both 'carrying'
...well... it was quite a suprise! I had no idea until then that male genitals would end up looking like that, and what
a funny place to grow a beard too!
As I looked at them, I remembered something Ivor Jones had
said to us the previous week during an introductory talk he gave us before we started gym proper:
"...and it would be a good idea if the 'bigger boys'
amongst you wore a pair of swimming trunks or a jock strap under your gym shorts."
At the time, I didn't have a clue what Ivor was talking about. I
did now though! The penny had finally 'dropped' so to speak. I also twigged that when he mentioned the 'bigger boys', he certainly
wasn't referring to me!
When I got home from school that day, my mum had to face some (for
her!) embarrassing questions from me, I can tell you, my questioning of her on this matter resuming the next time she
bathed me a couple of days later! (Well, serves her right for not giving me that note I asked her for). And I don't
think she ever said, " And what did you learn in school today, dear? " to me ever again!
Naturism and me.
As I've already intimated, despite my earlier apprehensions,
I took an instant liking to this public nudity business, which has never left me, as you can see. Strange how things turned
out. The day before I took that first nude shower at school with my mates, I was the shyest boy in the world who would have
given almost anything to have been somewhere else that fateful Monday morning. But as soon as I had it, I just couldn't wait
for the next gym lesson to come around so I could do the whole thing all over again - which I did, and on many an occasion
following over the next three years. It was fun!
Ivor Jones certainly has a lot to answer for, making me strip that
day. It's the only thing I'll ever thank him for, which will probably be the only time any pupil of his has ever
thanked him for anything!
And that, m'lud, rests the case for the defence!
I recently splashed out on a few weeks holiday in Perth,
Western Australia (incidentally, the first occasion I've ever had to pay for my own air-fare. OUCH!). I visited
some of my old haunts, including... Well, no prizes for guessing which beach I ended up on most of the
time, and what I did while I was there. I hadn't had the opportunity to do anything like that for over
twenty years. I really missed it. And while I was there, I saw it all this time. Shades of 'Eurotrash'! A bunch of naked Germans
- playing cricket in the sand. Now while there was quite a large choice of sports at Cardiff High School, nude cricket
wasn't one of them. Even Ivor Jones would have baulked at that!
I don't go sunbathing anymore, nude or otherwise, due to the risk
of skin cancer I mentioned earlier. But I'd love to do some more skinny-dipping. Any of my former schoolmates 'out there'
made a few 'bob' and got a swimming pool I can borrow for the afternoon? Not quite Swanbourne beach or the Indian Ocean
admittedly, but better than nothing. You can join me if you like. I won't make fun of your 'winkle' - honest! You can get
re-acquainted with the sight of my bare bum, and find out if the saying "Big oaks from little acorns grow" really
is true! (Now, don't all rush!)
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