I am newly returned from two weeks vacation in the U.S. I stayed with my son and his family at their home situated alongside the Hudson River, a house with a pool and some extensive grounds.
Aside from the obvious highlights – time with my family plus taking full advantage of the terrific food and drink on offer – the major delight for me was the opportunity to lie around soaking up the sun totally naked.
There’s something weirdly special for me about this, something deeply rooted, like it adds a layer to my sense of being a guy, a creature free from the chilling restrictions of coverings, a guy newly down from the trees.
Meanwhile at the other end of the cultural spectrum, I was sitting there scratching my nuts from time to time (as you do) reading a book I’d taken down from his shelves, a tome which covered a period in very early history, which featured the Titans. I’d heard about these guys at some point in my dim and distant past but only the name – absolutely nothing of substance.
The author, Carl Kerenyi, describes them “celestial gods of very long ago, still savage, knowing no laws, no order, no limits” – my kind of guys.
If I’d been around at the same time, I’d have been desperate to be one of their gang.
As for the Time element, the book was pretty vague but hazarded the suggestion that the Titans were “sandwiched between the primitive and civilized man.”
That explains why I’d be at home with these guys cos’ I’m a sucker for primitive. If those advertising wallahs were really on top of the job, if say, they advertised sun lotion “as used by the primitives” (sun screen factor zero), I’d buy a ton of the stuff.
As it is, stuck with being classified as “a civilized man” I buy one as close to zero as I can find. Very fortunately, my “white” skin is already a dusky light brown so I tan easily.
My brother, who prides himself on being something of an expert genealogist of our family informs me that my skin covering is as it is because our forebears spring from a noble Spanish guy who was on the wrong side of the 1588 Armada crisis and was ultimately washed up on the west coast of Ireland where he undoubtedly lost no time in ravishing the local virgins.
Until recently this darkish skin has always been a big “plus” for me as, after having been born a rather chubby baby, I became a scrawny kid who eventually matured to become a scrawny adult. However, this undesirable scrawn was somewhat disguised and mitigated by the presence of my outer covering.
Unfortunately, one of the guys I work with, blessed with the body of a natural warrior, strong and muscular, has a skin that doesn’t tan easily. If I’m flashing too much flesh, especially like around now, when I’ve been newly burnished by the friendly sun, I can sometimes catch him throwing malevolent glances in my direction—he’s very competitive – which I usually try to appease by asking if he’d like another coffee. It could be disastrous for our working relationship if my greater beauty were to come between us.
Sitting bollock naked by my son’s swimming pool, fantasizing about being a mate of the Titans – Kerenyi goes on to describe Titanism as “excess, unboundedness, lawlessness, chaos, barbarism” – don’t they sound terrific? – I was suddenly reminded of the early months when I first lived in London.
Close by our flat – it was near Essex Road tube station – there was an old Victorian swimming pool, which had a “Men Only hour”, one to two o’clock I think it was. I used to swim there most weekdays unfettered with a covering,
my “unboundedeness” taking advantage of the fast fading freedom of the times.
The odd thing about this was that I’d never been a particularly keen swimmer. Nor was it some kinky angle of my make-up that made me keen to flash my mighty cock. (If only.)
It was all about being free, about being unbounded.