Trevor Laffan: A dip in the nip? Er, I’d rather keep my trunks on, thanks...

From fashion to naturism... read Trevor Laffan's weekly column here
Trevor Laffan: A dip in the nip? Er, I’d rather keep my trunks on, thanks...

Diners at a nudist restaurant in Paris. Naturists claim there are mental and physical benefits to going au naturale.

A JOURNALIST for a Sunday newspaper recently wrote an article that attracted a lot of criticism. In it, she launched an attack on what she claimed was a lack of dress sense exhibited by some Fianna Fáil politicians attending their recent think-in.

She described the party as “failing to keep up appearances” and mainly focused on female representatives. The journalist suggested that a senator should have “run an iron” over her dress, and a TD looked like she had been “tango-ed” dressed in orange, adding that, “a circus tent is a more appropriate place for that orange suit.”

Offaly TD, Barry Cowen, came in for a bashing too. It was strong stuff, and the journalist and newspaper later apologised.

I’m glad that journalist didn’t live near me in the 1960s. Back then most of us dressed the same; white shirts, black or grey trousers, and black or brown leather shoes, no matter what the occasion was. There was no such thing as casual wear, at least not where I lived.

Mothers had it tough trying to keep us young lads in clean clothes and decent shoes. Fashion was the least of their worries. 

Between growth spurts, climbing trees and playing football on the road, everything wore out quickly. 

Heels on socks and elbows on jumpers were patched regularly to extend their life, and nobody commented on the state of the clothes. Until the Yanks arrived.

The family next door had relatives who visited from America occasionally, including two boys around my own age who were a constant source of wonder. They didn’t dress like the rest of us. They were tanned, and they wore jeans, sneakers, and brightly coloured t-shirts, while the only colour we sported was a green shade of envy.

When that style eventually made its way across the pond, we soon learned how to dress casually in clothes that were comfortable and colourful. 

I adapted to it very quickly and the thought of wearing any kind of formal clothing today makes me wince.

These days, I escape to Cyprus as often as possible and as soon as I land, it’s shorts, t-shirts, and flip- flops for the duration of the stay. I don’t need a large supply either because I can rinse them out in the washing machine, throw them out on the balcony, and they’re ready for use again the following day. It’s an easy, uncomplicated lifestyle... until the topless men arrive.

There is a time and a place for men to go bare-chested, but going to the supermarket without a shirt is neither the time nor the place.

There is only one thing worse than standing next to a semi-naked sweaty man at the check-out, and that’s sitting next to him while trying to eat lunch. It’s an assault on the senses and shouldn’t be allowed, but others take a different view.

The Irish Naturist Association is the home of naturism in this country, and they are celebrating more than 50 years of naturist activities. They say naturism is a wholesome family activity which promotes body confidence and harmony with nature through social nudity in a non-sexual environment.

According to them, it has proven mental and physical benefits, such as body acceptance regardless of size, shape, or age.

The volunteer organisation, whose 500 members range in age from teenagers to octogenarians, aims to promote body positivity through activities such as naked cycling, swimming, yoga, and hiking. Weekly events take place usually in remote parts of the country. Naked sea swimming is particularly popular with new recruits.

Not everyone is happy with the naturists though. Some people in the UK have been complaining about them running around Sherwood Forest, making a nuisance of themselves. The forest is a well-known tourist spot, having been made famous by Robin Hood and his band of Merry Men who, legend has it, robbed from the rich and gave to the poor.

I imagine Mr Hood wouldn’t have been too keen on nudists either. Ordering them to hand over their jewels could have been misinterpreted.

OK, so some people feel the need to run around naked in public. I can understand how that might be pleasant in the heat of the Mediterranean sun, but even on a good day here, goose pimples would never be far away from someone going around in the nip. And the cold isn’t the only enemy.

I can’t cut the grass fully dressed without being attacked by blood-thirsty insects who usually leave a reminder of their assault in the form of an itchy lump somewhere on my body. I shudder to think where those lumps might be if I was naked.

If you are brave enough to risk it and would like to experience naturism, Echo readers won’t have to travel far. The Irish Naturist Blog suggests Clonakilty Bay might be a good place to start.

They have identified some quiet and secluded coves around Clonakilty Bay, which they say are suitable for naturism. Who knew?

The group says there are no officially approved naturist beaches or sites in Ireland so nude swimming or sunbathing in a public place is illegal. However, provided you use discretion and common sense, they say you should have no problems.

There was none of that carry on in the ’60s. Men on the beach dressed fashionably. The legs of the trousers were rolled up to the knees, the sleeves of the white shirt were rolled up to the elbows, and a white hankie sat on top of the head with a knot in each corner.

Now, that was style.

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