Sit On A Towel

“… and now,” the newsreader concludes “with the time fast approaching ten thirty and a-hem… acting in full compliance with the newly elected government’s single issue election manifesto promise…” the middle-aged man pushes himself up and out of his chair, “I will disrobe, taking off all my actual clothing.”

“In this special, extended edition of the news,” the newsreader tugs at his tie and begins unbuttoning his shirt, “the Nudist Party’s MP for Dulwich and recently appointed Minister for the Department of Domestic Affairs, Ms Brighton Hope… is here with us to explain the Nudity Act, which was rushed through the Commons today and became a part of British Law, just a few seconds ago.”

An odd moment for the viewing public: the camera recording the scene swings in different directions, seemingly out of control. Aspects of the studio not normally seen are revealed. Lighting, cables and members of the crew holding e-clipboards are caught motionless in the shadows.

A bonus! The distraction has spared viewers the sight of a saggy backside flopping out over the elasticated waistband of a pair of rather grim-looking underpants, descending two flagpole legs. The next stabilised image frames the newsreader re-seated on his caster wheel chair behind the studio desk, with his modesty mostly in check.

He is noticeably uncomfortable. He shuffles several pieces of paper into the vertical plane, so as to partially obscure the view of his fallen physique.

“Brighton Hope,” he says, turning towards his guest, “thank you for agreeing to an interview. I imagine today has been busy, finalising the Common’s Bill your party has campaigned so hard for, over the last few years.”

“Yes, indeed.” Brighton Hope is a curvaceous, generously proportioned woman, her brown hair tied up neatly with a shimmering silk, red ribbon. This, being the only textile she wears. Chestnut eyes stare out attentively through tortoiseshell framed glasses perched on her nose. “We have been granted a mandate by the electorate and on day two, our first full day in government,” the politician beams a well rehearsed smile at the camera lens, “we have delivered our manifesto pledge.”

The transmissive optical device remains fixed on Brighton Hope, lingering, absorbing light and scanning the smooth contours of her upper body.

“Um, Callum,” she leans forward to the newsreader, “you might want to get a towel to sit on. It’s considered a courtesy.”

“A courtesy? Why?” The newsreader looks blank.

“Probably best not to go too far into that on international television. We’ll have a chat afterwards, alright?”

His face remains clueless and with a shrug of his shoulders, he moves on.

“When we get down to the bare bones of this,” Callum attempts to rediscover the flow of questioning that first got him this cushy number, “I mean, for those of us who haven’t been keeping abreast of, um…” Self-consciously, he drags his gaze from his interviewee, losing grasp of a pen he has been twiddling between finger and thumb. “The nuts and bolts, Ms Hope,” a serious tone is adopted, “why exactly, have the Nudist Party brought this legislation forward and what is hoped to be gained, exactly?”

Another camera wobble: This time, camera two is focused on a pair of breasts. Reacting to commands coming through a headset, the camera zooms out, showing Ms Hope in full frame.

“Your viewers will know, the clue is in our name.” Hope is enjoying the moment. “Our policy is straight-forward, if you don’t want to wear clothing, then don’t.”

“Ah, yes!” Callum shifts in his seat, a coiled spring readying to release. “But by making this law, making it so that everyone must become a nudist, some would argue that this is the worrying sign of an authoritarian government, and will probably be wondering, what next?”

“It’s not mandatory Callum. Every, body, has a choice.”

“What? Wait-a-minute, my understanding is that it is mandatory! Seriously Minister, are you announcing an early government U-turn?”

“No Callum, I think someone in the studio is pulling you.” Brighton Hope suppresses a smile, unsuccessfully.

“What?” The newsreader is looking aghast. “You mean – I have stripped-off naked on international, live streaming news, without needing to?”

Chuckling can be heard in the studio, punctuated by uncontrolled outbursts of laughter.

“ARSEHOLES!” The volume of his voice creates a fuzzy distortion through the microphone. Leaping from his seat in an unguarded moment, he grabs at the discarded clothing on the studio floor. Gathered together in an untidy bundle, the newsreader succeeds in obscuring his withered genitals from view.

“Callum, if I may…?” Brighton Hope pauses for an answer, but the newsreader is bent over searching for a stray sock. “Okay, I’d like to take the opportunity to go on record as saying that we have no plans to make nudity mandatory in public, at work, while out shopping, in cinemas, museums, out in the countryside, anywhere.” The cabinet minister relaxes into the back of the studio chair. “It is entirely optional.”

Cursing, Callum storms off the studio set, causing more camera erratics.

The next shot shows an outline map of Britain. Animated clouds sweep along, isobars expand and contract, moving frame by frame. Katy, a meteorologist, walks into view, smiling and unclothed.

“Good evening, we’ve come to the weather a little earlier than expected…” She presses the main button on the presentation remote, held in her hand. “Honestly,” she says, breaking from the script, “I’ve got no problem with this. It’s natural isn’t it? People are bound to stare at first, but after a while, we’ll all get used to it.”

“Bravo Katy!” Brighton Hope MP for the Nudist Party, calls out across the studio.

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