Skeletons in cupboard can rest in peace
A whisper from my Almighty Leak high in the executive structure of British diving has set ancient divers rotating in the Netherworld, and caused much wing-fluttering in the Great Decompression Chamber in the Sky.
My Great Leak was difficult to hear as he coughed through the black smoke already drifting through his windows, as the Battle of the Book began in the corridors of Telford's Quay, the most northern bunker of Beesac's high command.
His message was, however, clear: "They are going (cough) to publish (cough) a comprehensive history of (cough, cough) the BSAC," he said, before the line went dead.
But within minutes the lines to Beachcomber's eyrie in the west wing of Eaton Towers were jammed with the faint, if wandering, voices of members of the Ancient Order of Old Beesackians. Most of them claimed to have been the first members when the British Sub-Aqua Club was formed, so they said, in a London hotel way back in '53.
Most seemed angry, all were worried. What would this mighty tome-to-be say about those early days? Would old squabbles be revived?
Who really was the first member? Who sacked who and why? Who had stayed the nights after those liquid branch dinners? Did it matter if she was a non-member?
Their worries seemed to have little to do with BSAC's glorious part in the early days of diving, in fact little to do with diving at all. But now, thanks to officials leaking like sieves, I can offer some answers which might help them sleep at nights.
My Top-of-the-Heap Leak was correct as usual. It is true that "A History of the BSAC" is planned, but not by the club itself - by a publisher. The BSAC has not been asked to authorise such a book and, at executive level, knew nothing about the project. Nor apparently did it want to know.
Such a history has been mooted a number of times by the BSAC in the past. However, the project always faltered because of the difficulty of finding an author it felt could pick his way through the minefields of those early days without triggering wholesale desertions to the enemy.
Now the publisher, who presumably believes the chronicles of the BSAC to be a money-spinner, is said to have paid a "handsome advance" to an author who played a part in the early days of British diving.
However, he might well find that producing this "book of revelations" will not be easy.
At one stage in the middle ages of the BSAC, a lovely lady was set to work to record the old boys' memories, so that at some time in the future a club history could be produced.
So explosive were their revelations considered to be that the ancient divers suggested the tapes be deposited in a box in a bank vault, with access to the contents strictly limited. Those who had heard those contents were said to have been white and shaking afterwards. Some left the country.
So will the Lovely Lady's Box at last be opened? Ah, that's the sad thing. No-one can find it...
Beachcomber knew you could do it. All it needed was a little time and a lot of thought, and here we are with a collection of collective names for a group of archaeological divers.
Most fun of all was a contribution from Ian Wigg of Surrey. He suggests a "digger-mortis" of marine archaeologists. As promised, I'll be putting a crisp crunchie into the Diver Lifeboat Fund for that.
Less charitable, from a reader "snowbound in Wales", were "ass-embly" or "an athema".
Turned down, as it only really applies to land-based diggers, was "a bent" of archaeologists. Unkind, too, were lots of suggestions along the lines of a "snag" or "dredge". All of which made me wonder about marine archaeologists' standing in the diving world.
And, finally, I drew the line at a "reek" from a Bristol diver, who based his entry on a close association with diving archaeologists and their "rarely washed" suits. Have you noticed that?
Beaten to the punch
When you are in the leaking business, you need to keep abreast of the latest developments. That is why I was delighted to enrol a new set of Leaks in the fast-growing deep sport-diving business.
One such Leak in Dorset waters has already supplied me with some fascinating insights to the world of mixed-gas diving.
My Deep Dorset Leak talks of discovering untouched, often unknown wrecks and assumes that that is all his colleagues want from the miracles of modern diving technology. He might be right. He has been telling me of an expedition which had targeted a virgin wreck at well over 80m "to the south of the Isle of Wight", which, as I pointed out to him, is a pretty big area.
Unabashed, he went on to say that he and his fellows had found the wreck intact in cold water but clear viz, and assumed that they were the first divers to reach it.
Alas, when they rounded the stern, there was no doubt that they were not. All the hallmarks of a professional salvage operation lay before them. The bronze prop had gone and holds which had been listed as full had clearly been broken open.
My DDL said he had spent months researching this vessel. He had been assured by its foreign owners that it had not been salvaged, and that they had never been approached about salvage.
All his other checks showed the wreck as unsalved and undived. In view of that, the expedition members had clubbed together and bought the salvage rights for hull and cargo from those same owners - for a surprisingly small sum.
You will not be amazed to learn that the DDL and Co are furious. They think they know who was responsible, but don't know where to find them. I too have ideas about the culprits and their nationality, and have set my overseas Leaks to work in a country in which they use those dreadful euros.
What is the ship's name? At this stage in this sad affair I shall confine myself to telling you that it sounds very like that of a German seabird. More will follow when my Deep-Deep Leaks report.
Rule of law
Talk of "Metric Martyrs" makes you wonder what they teach youngsters these days.
Reading an article about the wreck of a French smuggling boat in a nameless diving magazine, I found this immortal line: "Stories of the punishments the Judge metered out were quickly known to the locals". A sort of French lesson?
Thanks to a video sent to me by a very well-known photographer, a video he made when in the Coral Sea, I can't argue with him when he dismisses my idea that spear-fishing is dead and gone.
The tape shows, as he points out, that one dive boat carried 16 spearfishermen and nearly 40 guns for their use. And, although I couldn't see it, he says that only one spearhead was covered during the whole time they were in the boat.