There is a song— more of a hymn really, although it doesn’t actually address the Almighty by name — much loved by the English, yet probably almost unknown to the rest of the world.
It’s a rousing, inspirational piece, which soars and dips through a series of peaks and troughs and crescendos, and it never fails to bring a lump to my throat whenever I sing it. It’s a favourite at English weddings and funerals, it’s sung in schools and churches throughout the land, it closes the annual conferences of all three main British political parties, and is the theme tune of the national Women’s Institute.
It’s called ‘Jerusalem’, and many English people—including yours truly— would like to adopt it for those occasions when we need a purely English, as opposed to British, national anthem.
Apparently, it’s also the anthem of the British nudist movement, which was news to me. This was revealed in a television programme I saw a few weeks ago. Actually the programme was first shown on BBC 4 years ago, but I came across it on a dusty old videotape in an aged relative’s house which I was helping to clear.
The programme, called, I think, An Anthem For England discussed the use and history of the song and suggested its adoption as the national anthem of England. There were contributions from many of the great and good of the time, and also from assorted groups and cliques including politicians of all persuasions, trade unionists, football supporters, public school types, churchmen, historians, the Women’s Institute, various choirs, a band called Fat Les and, importantly for our purposes, a group of naturists.
Naturist? Why naturists? Because, according to this programme it seems that this song is, or was, also the anthem of British Naturism. As I said, this was news to me, but to prove it the programme showed a gaggle of naturists standing nude in a field, singing the song in that sheepish, dispirited way that English people have when they are asked to sing in front of an audience, especially if they happen to be mother-naked and freezing to death at the time.
Now, just what is going on here?
As a born and bred English girl, I too love the song, and at every opportunity will croak it out with as much gusto as this ageing old larynx can manage.
But a nudist anthem? Since when? And anyway, why choose a uniquely English song to represent British Naturism. What would our friends in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland think? No, I don’t think so. I think someone got that wrong. For one thing, do we even need an anthem? I mean, when would we sing it?
Every time we get naked? Hmmm. Not really practical is it?
Down at he club? Come on now—we don’t want to frighten the wildlife or annoy the neighbours.
At sauna / swim nights? Have you heard the acoustics at most municipal swimming baths? Try singing the high bits and see what I mean.
OK then. How about a rendition at the end of the British Naturism AGM? Now that’s a much more sensible idea. The only problem is that besides being English rather than British, the song itself doesn’t really lend itself to the nudist ethos, which espouses peace, equality, and harmony with nature. Whilst we would have no problems with ‘In England’s green and pleasant land’, lyrics such as ‘bring me my chariot of fire’ and ‘nor shall my sword sleep in my hand’ and even those ‘dark satanic mills’ are surely a trifle too stern, edgy and combative to represent a gentle organization like ours.
The Women’s Institute, yes, without a doubt. But the nudist movement, definitely not.
So, if we were to have an anthem, and I’m not convinced that we need one, we would have to look elsewhere. With this in mind, and with nothing much else to do on this miserable cold winter’s day, I set myself the task of finding a suitable national nudist song.
It wasn’t easy. Nothing quite ticks all the boxes, and there wasn’t one stand-out candidate. The trouble is that although there are many that seem at first glance to be contenders, closer investigations reveals that, just as with Jerusalem, the words are not really suitable—usually because they are steamy enough to peel paint off the wall. So in the end I simply settled for a selection based upon the title (or a mangled version of the title) alone.
Here then, in no particular order, is my short-list:
Naked by Avril Lavigne
Totally Nude by Talking Heads
I’ll Be Seeing You In All The Old Familiar Places with apologies to Bing Crosby
I’m in the Nude for Love with apologies toFrank Sinatra
Nobody Does It Barer with apologies to Carly Simon
I like you so much better when you’re naked by Ida Maria
Buck Nekkid by ZZ Top
Desnudate (Get Naked) by Christina Aguilera
Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Barer! written by Irving Berlin and sung by many.
Now this is, of course, just a short personal selection, chosen by me before a guilty conscience compelled me to go and do something useful. You may have other, better ideas, or even have written an original piece. I’d love to hear your suggestions, but please keep them clean; I’m still hyperventilating from the Christina Aguilera song.
One last thing. Don’t look to me if you want any nudist anthem recorded. For one thing I have a voice that is beautifully suited to silent movies, but apart from that there is the question of the nude promotion video which will inevitably accompany its release. This could be a big publicity opportunity for the nudist movement, and you’d want only the best performers, in terms of singing ability, show business experience, and, let’s face it, nude appeal. Their references would need to be impeccable. I may have had my moments in the past, but now I just don’t think my testimonials are good enough.
Any volunteers please?