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Stephen Slominski: What’s your end goal, what are you working towards?
Stephen Gough: I don’t think I’ve got an end goal. My goal is to be me and I can do that right now so actually I’ve not got a goal.
If you are being true to yourself then that has repercussions (on you obviously) and those around you and that’s where the goal comes in.
I’m not working towards a goal, what I’ve got to do is concentrate on being me and being true to myself and as long as I do that then what happens as a result of that I believe will be good.
SS: You said you wanted to appear before a jury naked in order to present your case. How do you think you will do that? At the moment what they’re saying is that if you are naked, then you can’t do that.
SG: To be free, you’ve got to follow your truth.
Freedom is what I’m about really. For a jury to acquit me they’ve got to be free. They’ve got to stand back from their own prejudices, their own preconceptions and see me.
To see the wood beyond the trees, so they have got to stand back, they’ve got to be free.
Freedom will expand from that, so all I’ve got to worry about is for me to be free by being true to myself. So that’s what I want to happen in court and that should resonate in other human beings because that’s what we all want, we all want to be free.
We all want to be true to ourselves, it feels good to do that so that’s it really, it is pretty simple.
How that would look in court is that I get acquitted then I’ll walk out of court and then the authorities will stand back a bit and the media would get hold of it and people will think; “what’s going on here then? He is naked – that can’t happen but then again he just got acquitted. What’s happening here?”
It would just start people asking questions. It would be great because we have been brought up in society where most of us have been taught to be naked in public is bad or wrong or dirty or indecent so it will just put a spanner in the works.
It’s good to start asking questions of ourselves and of our society and I think the answers we are going to get are good. They are the best answers we can [get] because what it means is that what we are essentially, is good.
There is nothing impure or bad or indecent about what we essentially are.
SS: How important was Judge Cutler’s ruling to that goal when he said,
“enough is enough” while sentencing you to just 200 days?
SG: I don’t know his mind but my feeling is that he felt that things aren’t right and he wanted to put a strong message out which he did by the sentencing.
He only gave me 200 days before that I got for breach of the Asbo 190 days – or something like that. Then next time I got 16 months then next time I got 30 months and it’s going up, up, up then suddenly he gives me 200 days, woo!
It’s down again, what’s going on?
He’s a senior judge and the sentencing gave a big message out I believe and also he’s hinting about me challenging the Asbo itself, putting a request in to have it lifted. He said that several times.
SS: Are you going to do that?
SG: I’m doing it.
I don’t know much about laws but what I’m getting from him is that a senior judge is saying; “something’s not right here, let’s look into it”.
Of course I believe something’s right because I think I am totally innocent in what I’m doing – in fact -
What’s going on?
Either I’m wrong or society’s wrong, we can’t both be right.
SS: You keep getting locked up. You’ve spent a long time in prison. A lot of the time you have been segregated. What does that feel like?
SG: You’ve got to keep a watch on your mind, it’s your mind that can drive you crazy. So I’ve got to keep a watch on what my thinking is.
What I do practically is whenever I feel stressed I write down my thoughts. If I am stressed there is a thought behind it, so I write it down. I keep a watch on my thinking really.
SS: Do you think you are being treated unfairly by the prison by being segregated?
Yeah it is. They say I’m contravening an indecency policy. What am I doing that’s indecent? Is the human body indecent? No. Am I doing anything other than going about my business? No.
SS: Do you have any other interaction with prisoners at all?
SG: Yeah I do. They come to my door and they chat, on the whole people tend to not come to my door. While I’m locked up in my cell they have what’s called association, so they are out there chatting to each other and milling around and occasionally someone comes to my door but very rarely does anyone want to know any more than “have you got any spare tea bags mate?”.
SS: Do any of them sympathize with you?
SG: Yeah some do, some people get what’s going on, some are inspired by it.
SS: Have any of the prisoners ever said to you that you’re being treated unfairly?
SG: Yeah they have, they say; “what you doing here, is that it? For being naked you get locked up?” Some do get it.
SS: Some people who have complained about you, they say they think what you are doing is “disgusting” what would you say them?
SG: If they were standing here, no one would ask them “what am I doing?” and throw that question back.
We are used to complaining about someone but when the person asks the simple question; “what am I doing? I’m just standing here (clothed). If I was naked, I’d be naked standing here.
I have challenged people that have said it before – I feel I am open to be questioned but they change the subject and try to avoid what I’m asking them.
Usually I find they haven’t asked themselves much about it.
What I’m doing is unusual and people just react. It’s a knee jerk reaction and I do understand that reaction because we are brought up to believe that it’s indecent to be naked in public but often they haven’t asked themselves “why do I feel like this?”.
They see me coming along and have a go at me without knowing the basis of their complaint really.
SS: You’ve been denied the chance of addressing a jury directly. What would you have to say to them if you had that chance?
SG: I don’t want to rehearse it really. I want to be spontaneous. If you ever hear somebody reading a speech from a bot of paper or it’s rehearsed, it makes you want to go to sleep.
If I’m there totally naked, acting as if I am not naked, as if it was nothing that in itself.
I’m not acting as if there was something shameful about it. It will open people’s minds because after the initial shock after a few minutes they’ll just forget and listen to what I’m saying, hopefully. I’ll be saying I am just an expression of nature like you are, what’s indecent about nature? If what you are seeing in front of you is indecent then nature is indecent.
I’m sure that will open people’s minds even if their first reaction is a bad one.
SS: What has 10 years in prison done for your family life?
SG: I haven’t been with my kids – that’s something I’ve missed out on.
SS: I understand because you are in the segregation unit you can’t have visits?
SG: No, not because I’m in segregation. In segregation you can have visits. I’ve not been allowed to because I refuse to put clothes on.
SS: So that prevents you from seeing anyone?
SG: Yeah, even my mum wrote to the prison saying; “I’m getting old now – she’s 89 – and asked; “can I visit my son?” and they have refused.
All I am allowed to see are solicitors.
SS: But you’d like to see your mum?
SG: Yeah, yeah.
SS: If you could say anything to Judge Cutler what would it be?
SG: I feel that he did stick his neck out, so I have a warm feeling towards him… and yet… you can stick your neck out 99% but I want everything. I want to be able to stand in front of a jury naked and for him to have allowed that to go against the higher court, the appeal court decision would have been him really sticking his neck out as far as he can go and maybe getting it chopped off, so I was asking a lot but I am asking a lot.
What I’m doing is asking a lot off people.
It’s asking people to open their minds in a big way and I understand it’s asking a lot but that’s what we need to do in order to have a free society.
We need to really stretch ourselves, that’s what it’s about, stretching ourselves, to be free -
I understand it’s difficult.
I understand it’s asking people to come out of their comfort zones but that’s what life’s about.
Stretching and expanding and that’s what it is to be alive.
SS: If you were allowed to do what you do without interference from the police would you continue rambling?
SG:Yes I would because one, I like it. I didn’t used to like walking when I was a little boy but now I like being out in the wild and often the best clothing to wear when you’re walking is nothing cause it’s great but also it’s to spread the message and I’m sure a lot of people would like to walk with me and meet me and we’d have a good time.
SS: What is the attraction of walking naked in the countryside?
SG: Well, sometimes there is no attraction and I want to put my clothes on but other days it’s a beautiful sunny day and as long as you’ve got a lot of Vaseline on your body to stop your rucksack rubbing, you got the sun on you and it’s just great, as I wrote to someone once, being naked is like the expression of freedom, being naked is you are not restricted by clothes and the definition of freedom is you are not restricted in any way, it’s freedom being expressed in a physical form.
Bob Dyer: What’s been the best part of any of your walks?
SG: What immediately comes to mind is I walked up this really steep big hill in Wales. It was a bastard going up this hill.
I was naked and I was sweating. I got to the top and there was this shepherd pushing some sheep along this narrow road. It was a lovely idyllic setting at the top of this hill with green fields. I was sweating. It was really hot and there was a water trough for sheep and I dipped my hat under the trough faucet, filled it up with water and tipped it over my head a few times. It was fantastic!
Once, just before going into Scotland I walked into this little village and there was a woman there with a little child and I was walking past and she was clapping and the little child was clapping like they were cheering me on and that really touched me. It was beautiful!
SS: How much support do you get from the public?
SG: I get a lot of support. Very rarely do people react adversely. Maybe they do feel a bit angry or whatever but they don’t say anything. Maybe that’s the British way.
I meet a lot of women on my walks but I say “hi”, they say “hi”. I think people can tell where you’re at when they see you coming towards them. I’m up front, I’m walking.
I’m going somewhere, I’m not skulking in the bushes, I’m striding along on my way somewhere and people can see that a mile off. I‘m open, I’m a friendly guy.
I like chatting to people and saying hello. I hope that comes out when people see me. I hope they can see that I’m walking along and just happen to be naked.
HMP Winchester, Romsey Road, Winchester
“As the cold weather forces people to put on extra layers, one person notorious for his lack of clothes is Stephen Gough, otherwise known as the Naked Rambler. Having served stints in prison for over ten years, including spending time in solitary confinement, a judge has now said Gough has served enough time in prison for breaking the terms of an ASBO. Stephen Slominski was there to see him come out.” Victoria Wang -
Below: The full transcript of the interview with Stephen Gough following his release from HMP Winchester filmed at Farley Mount, Winchester on 15/1/16 Published by journalist Stephen Slominski
What would former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher say to: "Either I’m wrong or society’s wrong, we can’t both be right." Click Here to find out
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