More Public Nudity

Summer in Canberra this year has produced its fair share of hot days and nights. Living without air conditioning, sensible people wear as little clothing as possible. When at home alone, or with just your partner present, one goes as naked as a vicar and it can then be reasonably comfortable, even in the long hot afternoons.

On the streets at night, groups of young women flit from pub to club, clad in less material fully dressed than would have constituted a set of underwear when I was a boy. The warmer weather must be quite a relief for them because they wear such clothing in the midst of Canberra’s frigid winters, their commitment to finding a mating partner overcoming any other instinct.

Sometimes even people like me have to go out of the house in summer and it can seem quite an unreasonable imposition to have to put on just the minimum of clothing required for decency. The body rebels, shuddering at its smothering in claustrophobic cotton contraptions.

I was lying naked in bed at about 10 PM on a recent hot night, mentally preparing to don clothes and head out to a gig, when the phone rang. ‘There’s a naked man making a phone call outside my house’ croaked Chiffon. Not content with insisting on my publishing her writing here, Chiffon abuses the special relationship we have by pestering me continually with her mad rantings.

Below Chiffon’s apartment there stands a telephone booth. She frequently relates to me details of conversations, or half thereof, that drift unbidden in her window, strange little vignettes from the unsavoury lives of the denizens of her somewhat less than salubrious neighbourhood.

‘Alright’ said I, promising to swing by on my way into town. On with nasty stifling clothes, out into the night on bike goes I and, sure enough, still engaged in deep conversation, the naked man was there. Here was a man, thought I, after my own heart, someone with the sense to listen to his inner voice which said, one supposes, that if it was hot enough to walk around naked, then why put on clothes? I took the following photographs as discretely as possible.

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