The annual naked bike ride in London took place yesterday, starting as usual from Hyde Park Corner, but this time at 3.30pm. It was one week later than events elsewhere in the World Naked Bike Ride.
The day was partly cloudy, and slightly nippy. Consequently, the turnout was probably a bit less than last year.
I wonder if countries like Saudi Arabia, Singapore, India, China, and Kenya will ever have naked bike rides? In London, spectators are still amazed by the spectacle, and those who are appalled are more appalled at the spectacle of body honesty than nakedness. Ask anybody about the Naked Bike Ride, and their response will be, oh yes, they like it when an attractive young person of their sexual preference sails past. Their cameras are clicking away either for this reason, or because they want to prove to their mates that they saw all these loopy nutters riding their bikes without any clothes on. Even in post-liberal, totally-internetted England, nudity is still a major engine of sexual stimulation. This probably makes sense, since in cold countries, clothes are for most of the year a physical necessity for keeping warm, so seeing a naked person outdoors will always be a seasonal novelty.
I would like to hand a cheer to all the non-porn-stars who participated in the London naked bike ride. For they once again injected a forgotten humanity into a society that gloats about its own humanitarianism. This is the humanity of the human animal body, the one which many people deny until they are humbled by a nurse or a doctor while lying in a hospital bed.
Back in 1983 when I was a new adult, I paid my first ever visit to a naturist beach. It was in the south of France. My companion was brave and determined to strip off. I followed suitless. As we lay there, in the glorious sunshine by the Mediterranean, watching crowds of nude naturist French families having their picnics and swimming, one particular group caught my eye.
The young woman was a stunning beauty, with a body that all women would crave to have, and all men crave to touch. She was with her infant daughter and her mother. Her daughter would be a beautiful woman one day. Her mother was no longer the subject of any man's attentions, and in fact appeared to have made no attempt to fight the gravity and wear of ageing, but she was unashamed and "bien dans sa peau", she was with her family, and they were all together, having their day out on the beach.
I looked at them and thought how the young woman must be so much wiser than many in Anglo-Saxon lands. Here she could have no delusions that one day she will sport her mother's body, but she learns not to fear the day. She learns to live today, to love today, and already has accomplished her birthright of passing her genetic blessings to her daughter. No neurotic reluctant motherhood here.
Three generations of the family females, naked together on the beach, living on a sunny warm day. How natural, how lovely. With no commentary by David Attenborough, either. It is sad that only in such places may we learn what we are, and why we exist. It is sadder yet that even in 2008, a naked bike ride in London can never approach the beauty and education of such a scene. A naked bike ride in London makes less of a dent on the population's behaviour than does the rising price of that substance abuse - oil.