Dear Friends

DF 25 - Not entirely nothing to do with taboos

20 June 2002

Dear Friends,

I have been prompted by our Ed………'it's been a while', which reminds me……..'I didn't get where I am today'.

I have it on good authority, i.e. from Jon Lord, that he will be joining us for the UK dates in September. Given the circumstances then and now, we've all decided that it would be excellent if Jon joined us for a few numbers (yet to be decided), and happily he's up for it. My illness, and the postponement of the UK dates, put a damper on what was going to be Jon's swansong with Purple.

I heard that swimming trunks were frowned upon in America. It first came to my notice a few years ago when it seemed they caused a fuss on Cocoa Beach in Florida, and since then all Speedos have been screened for content.

This was probably around the same time that the nudity was banned, even on desolate stretches of sand. Anyway it's given me something to do. I have, of course, thrown away all my Speedos. Shame really, as they are ideal for swimming, they hug the form and are the next best thing to your skin for gliding unrestricted through the water; even better really, because you can streamline your bits.

Never wanting to be seen to be out of step with current trends, I have bought a couple of pairs of taupe, baggy shorts, which create such a drag in the water that I find myself swimming on the spot. This excellent discovery has changed my life; I can now swim my daily five miles in the hot tub. The only disappointment to my sense of taste however, is the drab appearance of these shapeless garments, both wet, when they appear to vacuum wrap my thighs, and dry, when I have to avoid being caught by the wind; so I have used acrylic paints to outline a fairly decent set of turgid male genitalia on the front of each pair.

I have checked with the Hilton, Marriott, Westin etc franchises but, so far, they have no clothing-optional facilities. This is also a shame as I really think that nakedness, as much as it is taboo in the USA (even in saunas and strip joints believe it or not), would be a vast improvement on most of the leisure apparel in evidence, in their lobbies.

More than seventeen years ago my wife and I were watching our daughter take her first few steps on the grass by a pool in San Antonio. It was a moment of laughter and joy. To our utter horror the hotel manager came screaming across to us demanding that we cover up our baby girl, who was naked. He was insinuating the most awful things and we were very upset. I remember thinking what perverse minds these people have, to see badness in such innocence.

Of course, we were in the wrong; we should have been aware of local sensitivities.

It was the same when I arrived in Makhachkala, in Dagestan. After a long ride with my band, on a wonky tour-bus, through Chechnya and the Caucasus, the first thing we wanted was a shower before the press conference which was to be held in our hotel. There was a lot of pushing and shoving as the paparazzi closed in, something more sinister too; a couple of guys were drawing their index fingers across their throats by way of a clear signal, telling us exactly what they'd like to do to us, if only they'd had a knife handy. We were wearing T-shirts and shorts mostly, as it seemed to us to be the most practical of outfits for the arduous journey we had just undertaken. This, it turns out, is not the chosen fashion for the Muslims who were threatening us; bare arms and legs are strictly no-no.

Again we were wrong, we should have known. Also, to be fair, we wouldn't have got into most golf clubs in any country (mercifully), without a collared shirt, no matter what our handicap might be.

The Victorians used to hang drapes over anything which could be construed as sexy (the leg of a small table for example), whilst the Spartans used to hide their testicles whilst preparing for battle. I can understand the former because I grew up with a grasp of 19th century daftness, but I really would have thought that the Spartans might have been able to focus their minds on more pressing issues; and yet, upon reflection, adolescent games must have offered light relief from all those wars, and all that self-deprivation.

The ever generous Mr. Ronnie James Dio held a lu'au in Atlanta. There wasn't much notice, so I sent for a box of pineapples and a ball of string, and it all held together rather well, in a purely thematic sense, when assembled with a little imagination. The finishing touch was a pink chiffon tutu which I acquired in Russia, and which made a passable imitation of a grass skirt. Hawaiian flower garlands were handed out to the guests and the catch-phrase of the day was…….'it's the first time I've been leid on this tour'.

It is rumoured that the Scorpions are going to have 'A German Evening', so I'm planning something even more spontaneous for that.

You'll not be unaware that I'm seldom averse to the not altogether ineffective use of the double negative; so it's with no small regret that I leave you in order to crawl back into my bunk where I shall contemplate my sanity, and recommence hurtling across this not entirely unspectacular country.

Ian Gillan
Copyright © Ian Gillan 2002

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