I spend the first summer day in England, April 2 (a singularly warm day for the season), with Laula and Laurie Jeffery (whose images of her we'll see soon) trekking around a public park, draping Laula's diminutive but shapely frame around the landscape in between the robins and the weekend guests. (The robins tended to hide from us, and we tended to hide Laula from the guests. Not for shame, but because England still has laws against public nudity.) Seldom was a warm day spent better. I hope you like the work (if you are a member.)
Letters to Domai
Many years ago during the 'Troubles' in Northern Ireland, I lived for a while near Enniskillen, which sits at the juncture of two large lakes in Co Fermanagh. I kept a motor cruiser for pleasure and occasional fishing outings, and used to potter about on summer days, enjoying the sunshine. One of my favourite spots on the western lake was a small island. It was uninhabited except by cattle that a local farmer would ferry there to graze and fatten up for sale. The shore line was ringed by trees and shrubs, leaving the centre of the island screened from sight by any passing boat. There was a small jetty, but it was not often used.
One early summer morning, with the lake a flat calm and the sun already promising to make it a glorious day, I set out for a day's cruising. As I approached the island, I noted a sailing dinghy tied up at the jetty, but no sign of its owner. I cruised onward, aiming for the southern side of the lake, where there was often good fishing for brown trout, the lake's speciality. I struck lucky that morning and caught two good-sized trout. There was no point in further fishing and I decided to have these for lunch.
I turned the cruiser back towards 'my' island, hoping that the dinghy might by now have gone, but it was still there. I thought that, if I organised myself some lunch before going onto the island itself, I might find I had it to myself. Soon the trout were cleaned and frying in butter on the cruiser's stove. By this time it was decidedly hot outside and I was down to a pair of shorts. I'd have been naked if it hadn't been for that dinghy and I was muttering to myself about the lack of consideration of its owner.
I was consequently startled by a delightful Irish voice calling out cheerfully from the jetty, "Hi, anybody aboard? That smells wonderful!"
I turned around quickly, banging my head on the cabin door but getting an instant shock from the sight that met my eyes. A beautiful girl stood alongside my cruiser, wearing a lovely smile and nothing else. She was about twenty years old, with long black, curly hair and deep blue eyes - a true Irish colleen. Her skin was perfection, with not a blemish to mar the light, even tan that showed her preference for sunbathing nude. She was quite tall, with long slim legs, a tiny waist and full round breasts with perky nipples. She cocked her head on one side, waiting for me to speak.
I stammered out some sort of greeting, feeling entirely inadequate, and then remembered my manners and invited her aboard. "I'm cooking brown trout - would you like some?"
She grinned and said, "Sounds lovely - thank you!" She introduced herself as Bernadette and sat gracefully on the bench seat in the cockpit, tucking her legs up alongside. She was so natural about her nudity that I couldn't say anything about it, so I just got on with getting the fish ready. I had already prepared a plate of bread and butter and a small salad, which I passed out to her. The cockpit had a collapsible table, which was quickly erected and onto which went the food, a couple of glasses and a bottle of white wine.
"Are you going to sit there in those shorts?" Bernadette asked. "Why don't you take them off?"
"I was going to," I muttered, "but I wasn't expecting to find anyone else here." She grinned again and watched pointedly as I slipped the shorts off, laughing as I tried to hide an erection that came suddenly. "Don't be silly," she said. "It's only natural."
The fish was good and we ate in companionable silence, mopping up the juices with the bread. Relaxing with the wine, we began to chat about the island, fishing, sailing, the weather - anything but the questions uppermost in my mind! Who was she, why was she there on her own, why did she wander around in the nude? Eventually, I plucked up the courage to ask her.
"I love this island," she replied. "Whenever I'm visiting my cousins in the North, I come here for the peace and quiet, to sunbathe without the problems of clothing, I enjoy being Eve in the Garden of Eden!"
I told her I enjoyed it for much the same reasons, but that I had the advantage of being in the area all the year round. When we had finished the bottle, we went for a walk on the island. She took my hand as though we had known one another for years, and it felt perfectly natural. Laughing and chatting animatedly, Bernadette led me on a circuit of the island and, after a while, to a patch of grass on the south side, where we sat enjoying the afternoon sunshine. However, lunch and the wine had made me drowsy and eventually I lay back, slipping into sleep.
I awoke an hour or so later, to find myself alone. Alarmed, I got hastily to my feet and set off in search of Bernadette. She had gone in her dinghy, and I could just make it out close to the northern shore. In the cockpit, held down by the empty bottle, was a note. It said, "Thank you for lunch and a lovely afternoon. I had to get home, but I'll be here again tomorrow....?"
Sadly, for business reasons, I could not return the following day, so I left a message for her in the bottle, tied to the jetty. But when I went back, she wasn't there and I've never seen her again. However, in my mind's eye, I still see that glorious face and figure and she appears often in my dreams. One day, perhaps........ after all, she might be a glamorous Granny!