The Third Leader: Taking a natural break

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The Independent Online

Cue much mention of cheeky, bottom-line, raw figures, and unsupported, visible and stripped assets: the ownership of Britain's largest naturist tour operator, it has been revealed, is changing hands. We hope they've been warmed. And more: Britons, we are told, are at the forefront of a growing naturist holiday market,

with up to one million of us enjoying breaks as nature intended.

Such stuff is, of course, a little insensitive and unmannerly towards naturists, who have fought long and brave for the freedom to wear what they like. And while one could argue that the rest of us have a right to roam safe from the shock of coming upon the naked rambler, the reaction aroused by Eden uniform in private and designated areas is harder to understand.

Perhaps, as we are told God intended, it reminds us of the fall and our lost innocence. Or perhaps it's because there has been an earnestness about the naturist movement which, when combined with the rich ridiculousness of most aspects of the human body, makes a smile - at least - inevitable. Well, that's my story, anyway.

Joad, Shaw, Julian Huxley, Vera Brittain and Beverly Nichols as supporters; the first club being founded by an English judge in Bombay with two sons of a missionary as his only fellow members; Captain Vincent, cashiered in 1918, proposing a march through Hyde Park by 200 naked men and women; its popularity with the Germans: all this has been far too much for the British, who, whether you approve or not, from G Chaucer to B Hill, have always loved a nudge, a smirk and a snigger.

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