The naked rambler
On Thursday 22nd of January 2004, a dreach winter day, I was attending a writing class at DACE run by Donny O’Rourke, and as I was about to leave, it occurred to me, for no apparent reason, to ask if there had been any news of Naked Rambler (Stephen Gough), who set out from Land’s End early in the summer, but had fallen foul of The Law on more than one occasion, each offence resulting in a prison term. Nobody there had any news of him, but half an hour later, his arrival in John O’ Groats was announced on the National News. I presume that this was a case of subliminal perception, that I must have heard or seen his name without conscious attention. This apparent coincidence boosted my interest in the man, his aims and his reception. In view of the fact that Burn’s night was three days off, the Scottish Nation might have been expected to revel in his achievement, but if they did there was no public sign of it.
His exploits and punishments continue to occupy the National Press, and at the time of writing he has apparently served the equivalent of six years at Her Majesty’s Pleasure. It would be of some interest to know whether a National referendum would support or condemn such a use for public funds.
A man for all seasons
Here’s to the man who walked alone
without a stitch of clothing on
to show that each can hold his own
in any weather
and does not need the mobile phone’s
The only one who ever planned
to go the length of this raw land
with nothing on, but in his hand
his gnarled staff
when some contend he should be banned,
while others laugh.
He’s crossed The Wall and coming to
the place, if all he’s heard is true,
where hospitality shines through
and folk all say,
‘ye’ll stop for a wee dram or two’,
then on your way.
So armed with powerful expectation,
we cannot guess his desperation
when greeted by the Scottish Nation
and cries of righteous indignation
from each backyard.
For, like so many past marauders,
he had barely reached the borders,
when he received his marching orders
‘Pull on your pants
or wilt beneath the weary warder’s
You know that walking in the nude
is not desired by Holyrood,
your motives could be misconstrued
and will not please
unless they’re legally approved
The Journalists, who like to think
they know how low a man can sink,
thought they had found the ‘missing link’,
but showed no shot
(although they had been tickled pink)
of what he’d got.
Now officers, the thin blue line,
said, ‘Here’s a very heinous crime’
and one we are inclined to find
much worse than thieving.
If we can see him doing time,
we’ll not be grieving.
So he was banged up in the nick
with bars of iron and walls of brick,
but oh his skin was much too thick,
when he came forth
with only boots and hat and pack,
he marched on north.
They said, whatever way you view it,
there’s no way we can let him do it,
because the Tourist Board could sue.
It’s clear as day
there’s no commercial angle to it
for the SDA.
Before he walks another mile,
incarcerate him without trial
and keep him there in durance vile.
Then at New Year
release him with a twisted smile
in winter gear.
But all this did not do the trick.
He walked from Dingwall on to Wick,
though January’s snow was thick
and it was sleeting,
but all the folk who were not sick,
were there to greet him,
saying there cannot be a reason
to come to Caithness out of season
unless he finds it rather pleasing
to rape and pillage
and that is why he has no clothes on
in town and village.
But then! He looks so full of beans,
he is the answer to our dreams
to bring some cold-
to John o’Groats;
so let us show him what it means
to be good hosts.
They said, no effort should be spared;
he’s here to celebrate the bard
and now we’ve seen his calling card
we know that he has earned the right
to reap his very just reward
and toast the lassies day and night.
For sure he is the very one
prepared to go that extra yard,
to use his gift and pass it on.
And so, with every grievance mending
the story has a happy ending,
for all the folk, there’s no pretending,
were quite delighted
to learn the PM was intending
to see him knighted.
Was six years at the Queen’s own pleasure
unjustified by any measure?
But now she’s severed this long tether;
and, glancing down with regal eyes,
has dubbed the nation’s latest treasure,
‘ Bold Sir Rambelar Arise!’
and all the guests were heard to say,
He is the man who leads the way
to teach us how it is to stand
bare at the throne on Judgement Day.
The Naked Rambler