I am always reluctant admitting I have a swimming pool. The decadence it suggests is outweighed by the fact that it costs an enormous sum to maintain which we can barely afford, can only operate with the application of such strong chemicals that I am sure it will catch fire one day, is dark green with algae at certain times of year and has to be regularly cleared of dirt and the corpses of short-sighted, absent-minded small furry creatures which have taken a wrong turning ending up with their premature demise.
If you can put all of that to one side, swimming in the Pickwick pool can be blissful especially when the house is empty. And the planting of Leylandi trees around the garden by a previous owner has had the effect that we have almost complete privacy by the pool meaning there is the capacity for clothing to be optional for its users.
It was for this reason that in the humid sultry twilight of Friday night as thunder rumbled on the horizon, I cast aside everything and leapt into the crystal clear depths as nature intended (aside from massive concentrations of chloride chemicals and poisonous powder which could turn my hair green within seconds) knowing that there were no horses to scare, small children to revolt and no-one coming around that evening. It was just me and the dog. And we were both naked.
My first venture into public skinny dipping was brief and in the daylight. My wife and I "sans enfants" discovered a secluded part of a Devon beach where clothing was optional. A feeling of "what the heck" caused me to dispense with all clothing and go for a swim. My wife, a woman who has always had trouble maintaining her core body temperature reacted differently pulling on her coat to protect herself from the mild summer breeze that was caressing her body whilst I avoided the soft embrace of the gentle gusts by immersing myself in the English Channel.
After a short period of time, a cloud cast a shadow across the secluded part of the beach causing my wife to conclude that winter had set in. The survival instinct kicked in, leading to her to find strategies to protect herself from creeping hypothermia. She packed up all our things and moved to the far side of the beach where the sun was always shining, small children were in abundance and wobbly bits were buckled down by brightly coloured loosely fitting clothing so they could not misbehave.
I had started my swim with a sense of total abandonment with plankton around the privates and salt water engendering a feeling of unrivalled brine-y freshness. My abandonment abandoned me quickly as I saw my wife heading into the land of clothed people at the other side of the breach.
I waved at her. She waved back. This went on for a while.
Not just waving, but drowning at the wave of embarrassment that was about to hit me.
My emergence from the waves was the most dramatic entrance of my life. I was like Ursula Andress in "Dr No" except I did not have to give my dagger back at the end.
I strode calmly through crowds of people on the beach knowing in my case that if the phrase "if you've got it, flaunt it" was true, they would shortly know more about haemorrhoids than they thought humanly possible.
On arriving at the spot on the beach where my wife had encamped for warmth and now resembled Nanook of the North such was the number of layers she was wearing,my anger was quickly overwhelmed by her laughter. Indeed, it was the longest, most sustained period of laughter she has ever produced continuing well into the night and for the entirety of our marriage. Recalling the incident now provides her with natural buoyancy should her mood ever threaten to dip. My nudity has provided her with Nature's own life raft from despondency. It is amazing how something so small can have such a big impact.
I vowed from that day that my manly charms would remain hidden from public view unless I retained the image rights or the price of unveiling would get both my children through university. Later public unveilings were under cover of darkness so that I was at least covered by something.
When we moved to this house, my wife and I took to casting off our clothes and leaping into the pool when we could knowing that we could not be seen. Her core body temperature was assured as the pool was kept nicely warm by a gas heater keeping the goose pimples at bay but causing polar bears to drown in their thousands such was its carbon footprint.
This came to an end when our youngest became so upset of the sight of her parents in the water au naturelle that she collapsed on a deck chair, rocking from side to side with a scream coming from her mouth of "you're such an embarrassment". This is pivotal moment in any child's life when they recognise the true function of parents.
Which brings me back to the Curious tale of me and the dog in the night.
I cast my body off effortlessly into the enveloping warmth of the pool with a considerable splash causing the dog to start barking uncontrollably. The delicate exothermic warmth of dangerous chemicals bleaching my pubic hair was interrupted as I tried to calm the dog down with a hug. He reacted in the only way he knew how by trying to lick me dry. Concerned that the poisons in the water may cause his internal organs to shut down, the two of us tussled energetically as if we were in a cross species gay porn film as I tried to keep his tongue away from me in my nakedness. To make matters worse, the thunder on the horizon had turned into full blown forked lightning across the sky illuminating our bodies and making it seem we were moving in slow motion.
This to me was a sign which could be interpreted in a religious or non-religious manner.
While there was no question of an abomination taking place, God appeared to have lost his glasses and was clearly not sure. There was a thunderbolt on the way unless sense prevailed.
The non-believer side of me viewed this situation as a case where if the options available to me were to win the lottery or be struck by lightning, I would be struck by lightning. Aware that Mrs Pickwick would have strong words with me if I was struck by lightning, I chose life emerging from the pool to the relief of the dog who led me back into the house.
This has not deterred me although made me slightly more risk aware for future unveilings. Going forward, I will never skinny dip in a thunderstorm and always ensure my Spaniel is safely secure before embarkation.