Put your clothes back on, dears! It may be for charity, but as more and more Britons strip for calendars JAN MOIR pleads for them to stop
The florists of Oxfordshire are in full bloom, each and every one of them as naked as a snowdrop. With her jaunty pumpkins, Miss October brings a nice seasonal touch to her pose. The strategically placed anthuriums elsewhere are perhaps less of a success.
The good ladies of the Harlow Ramblers have kept their walking boots and socks on as they let it all hang out near a windmill (draughty!) somewhere in Essex. Meanwhile, the stripped and stripless Kingswood Rugby Club look, frankly, rather silly, while rugby player and royal husband Mike Tindall appears to have been carved out of a trunk of solid Yeti muscle.
Yes, I am afraid it is that special time of year again. The time when the good people of this country take on their favourite charity by taking off their clothes. The time for the rest of us to shop, to dig deep, to look though rose-tinted spectacles and choose the best nude charity calendars of 2012. And this year, there seem to be more calendars than ever before.
Degree of daring: Oxford University postgrads raise money for the Gold Coast Fund, a West African charity
A part of you might want to scream ‘People of Britain, put your clothes back on!’ But no country on earth has taken to this naked act of charity more than the Brits.
You might think a nation famous for its reserve, its modesty and its love of all things cosy would shun the ghastly strictures of the nude calendar, but not a bit of it. Among this year’s selection are farmers, musicians and some Oxford postgraduates pictured branching out up a tree. There are polo players and gardeners, too, most of them without a sock or a stitch between them. What has got into them
Of course, it all began back in 1999, when some members of the Rylstone And District branch of the Women’s Institute in North Yorkshire launched their famous nude calendar to raise money for leukaemia research.
Nice pumpkins: Florists from Wallingford and Didcot raise money for the Sue Ryder hospice in nearby Nettlebed, Oxfordshire
Fine fillies: Girls from Nottingham University Polo Club feeling cheeky while Mr June, aka rugby's Mike Tindall, right, aka Mr Zara Phillips poses for a military charity
A few passes might be made: Bristol University netball team pose to raise money to pay for court hire, fitness classes and, hopefully, some sports kit
Their idea was to make a saucy calendar similar to the famous Pirelli one but featuring themselves and their WI crafts, such as jam-making and baking. The calendar became a sensation and the story was turned into the film and stage show Calendar Girls. So far, so good.
However, the success of the WI original did unleash a beast lying dormant within the British psyche. It appeared to tap straight into a secret urge to strip, melting away that famous British reserve and resulting in a naked stampede towards the cameras.
Why First, it is a cheap and cheerful way to raise money for charity — and nude calendar veterans know that when it comes to stripping off, there is safety in numbers.
Bra trek: The Harlow Ramblers strip to the waist to raise money for Harlow Fields School in Essex
Ploughing something back: Irish farmers help send livestock to farms in the third world
Bottoms up: Yorks bartenders do the full monty to raise money for a local river safety campaign following the drowning of a barman
Second, the most successful calendars have a strong sense of humour — as evinced by the fruity florists from Wallingford.
Finally, nude charity folk must not totally mislay their modesty in their fervour to do good. Never forget the fate of the East Grinstead Spinners and Weavers.
In 2004, they had to pulp 15,000 copies of their calendar because it was deemed to be too revealing. You could actually see too many bits — and no one wants that.
Classical lines: Students from the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama help a trust for autistic people
Just dont try it in the scrum: Kingswood Rugby Club raise money for Help the Heroes Forces charity and hope to knock your socks off, too
So with strategically placed plant pots and a lovely bunch of coconuts — or similar — to hand, let’s have a big round of applause for this lot making a full-frontal attack on their charity of choice.
The nude charity calendar lark may make some of us yearn for the traditional blandness of a royal palace view or some fluffy kitten, but, be fair, it is all for a good cause.
WI originals: Six of the Calendar Girls who inspired the hit film pose one last time. Over 13 years, theyve raised 3million for leukaemia and lymphona research