Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Skinnydipping Day

It's skinnydipping day, and we start with some guys an a rocky riverbank.
Varying degrees of modesty here.



  1. This reminds me of the skinny dipping trips we used to take from school on our bikes to Heaven's Gate where there were secluded fresh water ponds fed by a natural bore. Heaven's Gate, in Wiltshire, is on the Longleat estate, belonging to the Thynn family and Longleat House is the home of the Marquess of Bath, whose ancestor was one of the founders of my school. The Marquess in my day - then styled Viscount Weymouth, a subsidiary title - was an eccentric of no small proportions once described by his housemaster at Eton as a "moron beyond reach" who could hardly speak without affected stuttering. In adulthood, he acquired 50 "wifelets" and painted his orangery with pornographic murals while turning the estate into a safari park.

    One Sunday in beautiful sunny weather, we cycled out to Heaven's Gate and were enjoying the water when we realized we were being spied on through the foliage by two middle-aged women in headscarves and sensible shoes. "Have you seen these boys? They're NAKED! How DISGUSTING!" So, off they went in their timbered Morris Minor to complain. The administrative block was at the rear of Longleat House and it just so happened that the Marquess was there talking to the Estate Manager. Off these two prurient busybodies went at the summit of their dudgeon, to which the Marquess replied, "Y-Y-Y-es. What, what. G-G-G-Go there m-m-m-meself. S-S-S-Swim n-n-n-naked there all the t-t-t-time. M-M-M-My b-b-b-boys, what, what, don't ya kn-kn-kn-know." Infuriated, they drove off. A while later, the Estate Manager appeared and said, "Don't worry lads, the Old Boy saw them off."

    Alexander George Thynn, 7th Marquess of Bath, born 1932, died in 2020 of Covid-19 and is succeeded by his son, after a long life during which he proved that if you are stark, raving mad, do it with style.

    1. I visited there are several times, and I never knew there was a place you could go skinny dipping. We went to a dinner party once in Frome, and one topic of conversation was the eccentric gentleman you mentioned

    2. He was deservedly the subject of continual, salacious and titillating gossip - but as Oscar Wilde once wrote (The Picture of Dorian Gray), There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about. The story we loved at school was the occasion on which he was said to have absentmindedly rolled a joint in front of the Chief Constable of the Wiltshire Police and then remembering his manners, offered it to him.

      To give him his due, by turning the Longleat Estate into a going, financially viable business, he employed over the years hundreds upon hundreds of local people from the surrounding market towns and villages. Despite a state-guaranteed grant for tertiary education, I know a number of university educated people from modest backgrounds who would never have succeeded but for the opportunity of work there in the holidays. It might have been paternalistic - even patriarchal - and semi-feudal in attitude, but the rural economy in Wiltshire in the 1960s and '70s was very poor and such was his sense of noblesse oblige, he helped to put bread on any number of tables. He did all he could by way of personal enterprise, influence and social clout. And if his private life was that of the self-indulgent libertine, he contributed more than those ghastly, self-appointed, busybodying frumps who thought themselves the guardians of public morality. He had my respect. RIP.

    3. Calorman, I'm sure I am not alone in appreciation of your comments on this blog. So much so, I call you COLORman because you create a vivid picture when you "paint" us a background -- often with an amusing anecdote. Thank you for those images using only your words. I often read them with a smile!

      BTW. The phrase "moron beyond reach" is going to stick with me. 😀

    4. Thank you, Gentlemen, for your kind words.

      Yes, it is an absolutely fabulous expression, isn't it. I have used it on several occasions over the years, and only recently, in fact, in a letter to a global Christian welfare organization with bogus militaristic pretensions, with a reputation for institutionalized antisemitism and homophobia, a senior member of which a few years ago on live radio Down Under stated that "all homosexuals should be stoned to death" and with which I am in an increasingly acrimonious dispute. In my latest missive to their head cook and bottle washer, I wrote the following:

      "Dear Field Marshall:

      "Thank you for your letter.

      "I do so hope I am not confused when it comes to your military rank but I am of the persuasion that red roses ought best to stick out of the barrel of a Bible - when they are not already sticking out of anything else. As I am sure you will agree, my mistaking you for a Field Marshall is small beer compared with you mistaking yourself for God.

      "In any event, it was very kind of you to take the time to write when there are 15 million Jews in world to convert and 10 per cent of the world's population to stone to death. The content of your letter gives me every assurance that only a moron beyond reach could possibly mistake you for a Christian."

      So on, and so forth...

    5. By marriages, the 7th Marquess of Bath is my 8th cousin,