Tuesday, March 20, 2012

When the Bird Flew

There's so much truth in what they say: it takes all kinds to make the world...

London cop Bruce Perry covering streaker O'Brien's private parts which, admittedly, is no longer private. Phew! That's a very suey helmet is ever there is one; after 'that' head, hope he didn't put it back on his head..

Ever wonder how streaking came to be? Streaking - the act of running nude through a public place (usually at a sports event) - was quite rampant during the '60s and '70s.

People usually streak on a dare. The earliest recorded incident in England was on the 5th of July, 1799 when a naked man was arrested whilst streaking at the Mansion House, London. 

He confirmed that he had accepted a wager of 10 guineas (equalling 735 pound sterling today), to run naked from Cornhill to Cheapside. 

In the United States, the first recorded incident of streaking was by college senior George William Crump in 1804 at Washington College (now called Washington and Lee University).

Crump, who eventually rose to become a US Congressman, was arrested for running nude through Lexington, Virginia, where the university was (and still is) located.

I was floating about in cyberspace when I chanced upon the story of Michael O'Brien, a 25 year-old Australian who was the first known streaker at a major sporting event.

On the 20th of April 1974 he dashed out naked, manhood flying, onto a rugby pitch during halftime before a crowd of 48,000 people, HRH Princess Alexandra of Britain amongst them.

It was a Rugby Union match between England and France held in the London suburb of Twickenham, and O'Brien apparently did it for a 10 pound bet.

He was captured by police constable Bruce Perry who covered the streaker's genitals with a police helmet. This famous (infamous?) helmet is now on display in the museum at Twinckenham.

O'Brien may have captured the imagination of millions around the world but his luck didn't hold.

He was fined 10 pounds, the exact amount he won in the bet, and was fired the very next day by his not-so-amused employers.

O'Brien later went on to become a successful businessman in Australia, shunning the media over the years in an effort to keep the lid on his youthful indiscretion.  

 In 2006, however, he eventually spoke on an Australian TV show called “Where Are They Now?”

He said he regretted his stunt, saying it was a stupid thing to do and that he wasn't proud of it. Also on the show was ex-bobbie Bruce Perry whose helmet covered O'Brien's manhood.

“I feared he would be mobbed, or that other people would follow suit. I felt embarrassed so I covered him up as best I could,” said Perry. 

“It was a cold day – he had nothing to be proud of,” Perry added. [Oh, bummer!]

 The picture above, taken by Ian Bradshaw, won numerous awards including the World Press Photo of the Year.

It was also chosen as Picture of the Year by Life magazine and Picture of the Decade by People magazine.

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