Is the distinctly British art of streaking on the wane?

DYING BREED 'Mankini' streaker Alan Young
DYING BREED 'Mankini' streaker Alan Young

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So there we were, enjoying the sunshine and the horse racing at Goodwood when it happened. Suddenly, into view came a runner who was most definitely not of the equine variety.

Dressed only in his underpants, a punter emboldened by a combination of heat and alcohol had jumped the fence at the side of the course and was now cantering the wrong way down the home straight.

Evading the clutches of a man doing a mid-race check for any divots, he then continued before seemingly realising the consequences of his actions and ducking back under the fence to the public area.

Met by security staff, he was quickly escorted away – soon followed by a gaggle of his by-now-concerned friends, carrying his clothes and obviously hoping they could smooth over the situation and get him released with just a ticking-off.

Of course, what he did could have been very dangerous if he’d chosen the wrong moment. A dozen horses and their riders thundering towards somebody doesn’t bear thinking about.

But it did get me thinking that the distinctly British art of streaking has been on the wane for some time now.

Bookmaker Paddy Power even gave odds of 500-to-1 on a streaker interrupting the Royal wedding procession – presumably safe in the knowledge that nobody would try such a stunt.

But time was when big occasions were a gift for the exhibitionists who liked to play catch-me-if-you-can with the police.

Who can forget that iconic photograph of streaker Michael O’Brien being led away by police (with one officer holding a strategically-placed helmet) after baring all at an England-France rugby match at Twickenham in 1974?

Ever since then we’ve got used to sporting and other events being punctuated by a succession of people gripped by the urge to run naked to get some exposure (literally).

The rest of us who keep our clothes on are still as fascinated as ever by the phenomenon – just look at the number of hits for the recent video of somebody stripping down to a mankini and invading the pitch at a Havant & Waterlooville football match. But are would-be streakers now getting cold feet (or other parts?)