After stints as a marine, a Moonie and a hands-on dad, Stephen Gough seems to have found a purpose, of sorts, in naked rambling. But we’re blowed if we know why. Guy Gilbert’s profile seems to be as frustrating an affair for him as it is for the rest of us. After serving a total of almost seven years in prison for public nudity, Gough’s been released and has resolved to hike down from Edinburgh to his family in Eastleigh – naked, naturally.
It’s something to do with making a stand for personal freedom, but Gough’s mission statement – even after ten years – is so poorly articulated that Gilbert eventually characterises his civil liberties crusade, incredulously but not inaccurately, as ‘fighting for the right to fart’. There are, of course, serious questions to be asked of a society that insists on banging up Gough when there may be other, greater threats to society at large, and Gilbert’s film does its best to address them.
But Gough (who refuses to have his mental health assessed) doesn’t do much to help himself: as nitwitted as some of the public are at invoking ‘paedophile’ and suchlike, why does Gough insist on strolling past a primary school at kicking-out time rather than deviate from his route? Campaigning provocateur or self-obsessed buffoon, Gough remains an enigma, and a slightly annoying one at that.