Belfast Telegraph

Putting up a barbed wire fence on a Belgian beach should stop nudists larking about... but we've only flights of fancy on Brexit

By Lindy McDowell

Getting back to Nature is all very well. Unless, of course, this turns out to be a bit of an inconvenience for Nature. Just ask the Flemish Agency for Nature and Woodland which has recently raised objections to proposals for a new nudist beach in Belgium

Apparently members are concerned that naturists might destabilise local wildlife by heading for the sand dunes to partake in what is coyly referred to as "subsidiary activities".

This sunbathing in the nude lark (and "subsidiary activities") would, the agency maintains, particularly endanger a timid, but much loved, local species, the crested lark or galerida cristata as it is known to ornithologists.

So, how to shield the bird from the bare bathers?

In a suggestion with echoes of our own Brexit conundrum, someone has proposed a hard border around the sand dunes.

Or in this case a barbed wire fence.

That should curb any subsidiary activities.

Now, barbed wire, you might think would be pretty off-putting for those in the buff. But it seems not.

Speaking to his local paper, the mayor of a town close to Belgium's first, and thus far only, nudist beach has pooh-poohed the proposed deterrent.

"Barbed wire against nudists? Pff," he is reported as saying. "As if a man without clothes cannot get over a barbed wire fence."

Back to the drawing board, then.

And a solution will have to be found because, according to statistics, naturism is now very much growing in popularity.

This year's heatwave across the continent has doubtless helped bolster nudist numbers.

One fan is quoted explaining: "Naturism is literally unbuttoning. Those who leave their clothes, leave the mobile phone and the work behind them. And it fits perfectly with the great call to go back to Nature."

Crested larks, permitting that is...

Surely a way could be found, you would think, around the vexing problem of how to accommodate both frolicking nudists and their feathered friends.

Getting back to the Brexit analogy, however, and considering how that's been handled by the great brains of the day, you can see why there mightn't be much room for optimism over speedy resolution.

Everybody here says they also want what you could call a bare minimum border. So why can't it be sorted? Where there's a will, and all that...

Yet there is absolutely no consensus on how to actually make it work.

In recent days Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has even threatened a no-fly zone. In this instance not targeting crested larks but British air travellers who've been snippily informed that, post-Brexit, planes departing the UK may not be allowed into the Republic's airspace.

Honestly. It's come to this.

This is the level of maturity we're now dealing with in a debate - against the ticking clock - that has serious ramifications for all the people of these islands.

Meanwhile, Theresa May, who tried to get Parliament to vote through an early summer break, has been off on an away-day tour around the UK which smacks a bit of the closing minutes of a football game where the players in one team just keep passing the ball between themselves.

Stalling for time in other words.

Where her Cabinet is concerned Theresa's done more reshuffling in recent weeks than a Las Vegas blackjack dealer. And she's still got that joker Boris in the pack.

No wonder she's heading for the hills.

And back here? In this part of the country which stands to be most seriously affected by the outcome of the negotiations...

Here politicians aren't even speaking to each other. Just hurling the odd claim and counter-claim via the media.

Like the comical yarn of nudists v larks you would be tempted to laugh at the ludicrous nature of it all.

If it wasn't for the fact that Brexit is currently bearing down on us all like a runaway EU juggernaut.

And politicians throughout the UK and Ireland are all still running round like headless chickens.

Belfast Telegraph

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