Some hours after reading No Good Boyo's post about nudism, it struck me that I should by rights take umbrage with his description of me as a 'gonzo anthropologist', pointing out haughtily that the correct term for 'gonzo anthropology' is 'participant observation'.
Then it struck me that actually, 'gonzo anthropology' is better.
The theory goes that one can only understand certain things - ceremonies, diet, acrobatic monkey sex with local men/women according to gender and taste, performing arts, sex, socialisation, sex, superstitions, sex, cosmologies, more sex, language and even more sex - if one participates in them rather than merely observing them as an outsider. It is a theory most anthropologists (and their fieldworking fellow-travellers like ethnomusicologists and ethnolinguists) have gladly embraced, along with substantial proportions of the populations they have studied.
It was fairly standard procedure, for instance, for the tutor to bring in his/her native-speaker spouse along for oral language exams (titter ye not) when I was a grad student at SOAS. Other standard procedures included wearing ethnic-print clothes and smoking suspicious roll-ups (when kretek were available our entire Javanese class - tutor included - would slope out onto the landing for a smoke break halfway through a mind-bendingly thorough treatement of homorganic nasalisation in transitive verb formation, back in the days when this was still allowed. The smoking, that is, not the grammar. Ah, the memories...)
Before the politically correct take offence, I should point out once again that Mrs Byard and I are equal-opportunities miscegenators - I fulfil the role of sleeping dictionary/proff-reader (sic - just spotted both the typo and the deliciousness of the irony) for her every bit as much as she does for me. And we have the advantage of being able to hold private conversations wherever we are confronted by insurance salesmen and similar subhuman wretches.
Furthermore, given that Boyo claims his research was on homosexuality in the Russian navy, I think questions can legitimately be asked.