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Rob Hunt

The best diver in the world is Marjorie Tippett of 26 Pine Cone Lane, Alaska. She has 34,680 championship points. You don’t. You probably have 10.

Marjorie holds the highest attainable rating in every Scuba certification agency in the world (three of which she invented herself; and one of those whilst off her face on catnip). Marjorie dived the Titanic with the Elders of Atlantis. You can’t hold a torch to Marjorie. Well, you could try, but it would wither in your hand because she doesn’t do night dives and because your torch, clearly, is unsuitable for penetrating caves and wrecks. Because it is yours.

It was in this spirit that we were welcomed to South Australia. South Australia is famous for its population of great white sharks, as is Western Australia. Unlike Western Australia, however, South Australia doesn’t have a policy of slaughtering them in order that bipeds can splash about in the sharks’ home without being frightened. All of which is irrelevant as I wasn’t there to see the sharks. One could assume, inaccurately, that I only mentioned them in order to tiresomely promote a worthy political agenda. Vote Greens.

South Australia is also famous for its murder towns; places where serial killers seem to spontaneously generate due to boredom. But I wasn’t there for the serial killers either. Killing bipeds is naughty, so don’t do it. I’m talking to you, sharks. Hanging’s too good for you. Vote UKIP.

The other thing (the only other thing) that South Australia is famous for is cave diving and I wasn’t there to do that either. Largely because my general technical deficiency with any kind of instrument makes it a miracle that I ever made it this far in life. Vote Bez.

There were cave divers in South Australia, though, and some of them were sharing our

accommodation. Occupying the corners like indolent spiders made fat on the carbonised flesh of hogs and the menstrual activity of chickens cloistered in reconstituted flaps of smashed wheat and slathered with the processed excrescence of cow’s teats (bacon and egg sandwiches) washed down with Jack Daniels and Coke.

Actually, they were alright (the cave divers, not the spiders. Describing spiders as “alright” will be an offence, along with supporting the wrong football team and disagreeing with me, that is punishable by death in the People’s Democratic Republic of Rob). The cave divers were alright apart from the fat bloke on the couch (fBoc). fBoc had zero interest in talking to us once he found out we were only there to dive a 10m deep series of gentle ponds with no overhead environments, like the anaemic, jaundiced, warm-water-loving, single-cylindered, fins-flippers-and masks-goggles-

calling, half-of-sweet-cider-with-ice- cubes-drinking, tube-from-Covent- Garden-to-Leicester-Square-taking, lobster-looking-at-and-not-collecting, David-Beckham-underpant-wearing, PADI-spelunkaphobes we clearly were.

To be fair (well, slightly less unreasonable), fBoc had zero interest in talking to us before he knew we were recreational, but you could tell he thought all the other stuff from his haircut and the way he looked at his iPad. I expect he was looking at pictures of Marjorie on the iPad and dreaming, impotently, of reaching such a status, but I can’t be sure because I didn’t see the screen. Actually I can’t remember if he even had an iPad. I might have made that bit up.

fBoc clearly had several thousand more championship points than the entire diving wing of our clan put together (which was just me and Ludwig; M Hamby was there solely for the drinking). This is because fBoc owned a rebreather replete with bailout gas bottle that lived within easy reach of the couch. It remained within easy reach of the couch for the three days we were there. Perhaps Marjorie would approve of this, but I became increasingly confused.

Others of fBoc’s creed, race and colour, who had accompanied him to the accommodation, if not the couch, were spending their days locating diveable caves of yore; following directions scribbled down on parchment some thirty or forty years since by someone who was unable to remember ever having done it. This instilled romantic aspirations within me, and set off a yearning to learn cave diving, an accomplishment which would inevitably be followed by the traditional waving of the goolies at the feeble, morally-inferior, recreationally-diving / professionally-drinking spoons I was accompanied with. Then fBOC contemptuously referred to his compatriots’ activities as ‘hole-digging’ and went back to his iPad / cereal box. I went back to being the kind of person that likes looking at a clownfish in a pretty anemone.

One of the group, I discovered later, was proficient in verbal communication, even to the point where he was willing to use such skills on someone with a fraction of his championship points. I felt that even I could potentially learn how to swim around in confined spaces until fBoc removed his gaze from the iPad in order to cast it witheringly in my direction and we left to do our simple dives in the simple ponds. Good dives but I could feel Marjorie frowning through a bacon and egg sandwich all the way from Alaska.

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