BE A NA­TUR­IST

What it feels like to ...

The Herald Magazine - - FIRST UP - BRIAN CRAIGIE, COM­PUTER RE­PAIR SPE­CIAL­IST MARK SMITH

IFIRST be­came aware of na­tur­ism when I was 10 and saw Carry on Camp­ing. There were peo­ple play­ing ten­nis naked and the Carry On team were feel­ing sick about it and I thought, “That’s a very strange re­ac­tion to a naked body.” I was still shy get­ting changed in front of peo­ple but I was quite happy to jump naked into the river in the mid­dle of nowhere.

Em­bar­rass­ment starts to kick in about 13 or 14 years of age. I never saw my par­ents naked and yet if you go back 100 years, peo­ple would have a bath in front of the kids so nu­dity was not un­usual.

As I got older, I used to go walk­ing or cy­cling and look for places that were quiet so I could strip off. But there were pres­sures of time and in Scot­land the weather’s not al­ways good.

It wasn’t un­til I was 42 – I’m 52 now – that I thought I’m go­ing to ex­plore this fur­ther and went on the web­site of Bri­tish Na­tur­ism and found out where my lo­cal swim­ming club was, which was in Hadding­ton.

The first time was a bit scary and, as most men are, I was wor­ried about get­ting an erec­tion, but it didn’t hap­pen. Most peo­ple were mid­dle aged and there was one woman in her 80s and I thought, “I don’t want to of­fend her,” but she was ob­vi­ously not both­ered. Ev­ery­body was friendly and wel­com­ing and I started to re­search it a bit more and found other places to go. I was happy I’d man­aged to pluck up the courage to go along and thought: “Why did I leave it so long? I could have done this 20 years ago.” For me, it’s a feel­ing of warm­ness – that we are all the same; there are none of the dif­fer­ences of some peo­ple wear­ing suits and some wear­ing jeans and all of that.

I then went to a camp in Carlisle which was my first ex­pe­ri­ence of na­tur­ism in the open air; there was a sense of com­mu­nity there that you don’t get at an or­di­nary camp site. My younger daugh­ter, who’s 24 now, was also a na­tur­ist for a time – she was quite with­drawn when she was younger, but I took her along to one of the swims. Na­tur­ism boosted her con­fi­dence and I’m a much hap­pier per­son too – com­ing out as a na­tur­ist also gave me the courage to come out as gay. It was eas­ier hav­ing done the one to do the other.

Weather is an is­sue for na­tur­ism in Scot­land – just like any­one else, we put on clothes when it’s cold, al­though some­times you can find if

you’re naked and it’s rain­ing, it’s not as bad to walk about naked as it is to walk about with clothes on. Go­ing abroad is good – my boyfriend, who’s also a na­tur­ist, and I go to Lan­zarote. Most of the Span­ish ter­ri­to­ries have the right to be naked en­shrined in their hu­man rights.

Bri­tish Na­tur­ism did a sur­vey 10 years ago which sug­gested there were a mil­lion na­tur­ists in the UK and an­other one two years ago sug­gested that had in­creased to five mil­lion. I think na­tur­ism is def­i­nitely grow­ing. Visit bn.org.uk and naked­scot­land.org.uk

PHO­TO­GRAPH: GOR­DON TERRIS

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