Wednesday, August 25, 2010

One man's life, a.k.a. Doc Savage, Nudist.

I'm sure we could find stories like this in newspapers today, but I'm equally sure the reporters would make it sound much tawdrier:

From a British paper, reprinted in the Straits Times of Singapore, 21 September 1932:

Remarkable Career
Pushed Policewoman Into Water

Described by the defence as a "sunbathing enthusiast," and known to his followers as the "Sun God," a man who pushed a policewoman into the Serpentine was sent to gaol by Mr. Mead, the Marlborough Street magistrate.

Incidents that occurred on the bank of the famous stretch of water in Hyde Park were referred to in court, it being revealed that accused, prior to the offence with which he was charged, had threatened the officer with a ducking if children were not allowed to bathe in a prohibited area.

In the course of a remarkable career the man, who looked like a bronzed giant in the dock, has held scholastic positions in South Africa and England, and rose to the rank of captain in the War.

He has often been in connict [sic] with the authorities in the course of campaigns advocating sun-bathing, and was once evicted from a piece of land where he built a hut to practise the cult.

Over six feet in height with his skin bronzed to a deep copper hue through continual exposure to the sun, Harold Hubert Vincent, 51, described as an engineer, of Edgware Road, W., who was accused of obstructing Policewoman Annie Matthews, assaulting her, and damaging her uniform, presented a striking appearance in the dock at Marlborough Street. He wore a tennis shirt open at the neck, grey flannel trousers, and canvas shoes with no socks.

Vincent, who was educated in South Africa, has had a remarkable career. After taking a degree in science and arts, he became a teacher at a native school, but soon resigned this position. In his early teens he enlisted in the South African Constabulary, as a trooper, and when the Boer War broke out volunteered for active service, taking part in the relief of Ladysmith.

After that war he returned to police duty, and it was he who arrested Gandhi and sent him to gaol at Durban. He next worked as an engineer in connection with gold mines in Rhodesia, and subsequently came to England.

Served As Transport Officer
During the Great War he served as a transport officer, holding the rank of captain, in France. After Vincent had been found guilty of the offence with which he was now charged and senteneced to three months in the second division, several convictions were proved against him, a police officer stating that none of them was for a similar offence. Some of the offences were for "indecency" connected with sun-bathing.

Vincent has been an advocate of sun-bathing for many years, and has founded a number of organisations. He is known to his followers as the "Sun God." His activities in Hyde Park brought him into conflict with the police, and, indignant at what he deemed to be injustice, he once visited the House of Commons, and from the Strangers' Gallery threw a bundle of documents to the floor of a startled House.

Abandoning Hyde Park, Vincent next moved to Hendon, where he built a hut on a piece of derelict land. This he considered as "No Man's Land," but the authorities had him removed and the hut demolished.

[the rest of the article is just testimony from the trial].

[Roz Kaveney notes that Vincent served in the tanks in WW1]

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