Spare a thought today for Stephen Gough, also known as the Naked Hiker or the Naked Rambler. He’s the English ex-marine who has turned his whole life into a legal campaign about being allowed to walk naked in public. I’m sure there are places where this wouldn’t create much of a stir but for one reason or another quite a bit of Gough’s naked walking, and far more of his legal troubles, have occurred in Scotland where the old Puritan tradition remains strong.
And there’s no denying that things have got a little out of hand. In the last few years Gough has spent more time in prison than he has walking. He now refuses to wear clothes at any time, so he’s been naked in court – leading to contempt charges, and has refused to wear clothes in prison, leading to him being kept separate from other prisoners (which is certainly the way I’d want to do my time in prison), but the objection is that he’s cost the tax payer an arm and a leg. Also, in the past he’s started walking naked the moment he leaves jail, leading to his re-arrest and a further waltz round the legal ballroom.
Anyway, if the BBC is to be believed, he was today allowed to walk naked out of Perth jail and wasn’t immediately rearrested, which sounds like a step in the right direction, though I assume it’s only a matter of time. Gough also used to have a rather winsome girlfriend who walked naked with him, at which time he got a good deal more sympathetic press coverage. No mention of her in the recent reports. Now, it seems, Stephen Gough walks alone, and it seems that he smiles rather less than he used to.