One rule for us, another for the archies...
Picture the misery. It is already the not-so-merry month of May. Diving windows in the weather have been few and far between, foul winds and rain have plagued practically every neap. My country-wide chain of Leaks has despaired of giving me any good tales at all.
But finally, suddenly, the weather improves and a classic case for Beachcomber surfaces into the unusual Bank Holiday sunshine. It is swiftly scooped up by my best Northern Leak.
Oh, the joy for a team of divers from all over the far North! Into the water at last. Viz is, of course, poor, but at least they are going diving.
But where should they go? Anywhere will do, but they finally settle on a fairly close-in old wreck. Some have dived it many times before. It is interesting but scarcely sensational diving.
This dive turns out to be different, however. One of the new divers claims to have found a stone anchor amid the much more modern wreckage. Another more respected local diver confirms the discovery. Who would have thought they could have found something new after all those years of diving over, under and around the wreck?
Their nautical archaeology training takes over. They look, but do not touch. Back on the boat they tell the others where it is and remind them to do the same - look but no touch. Confident that proper procedure will be followed, they dekit and discuss the report they will make about the anchor.
But what on earth is this? As the last divers return to the dive-boat, they bring the stone anchor with them! What's more, the leader of the lifters is a prominent member of the Nautical Archaeology Society itself. He says he wants to take the anchor home with him - and he does.
My Leak in the Far North suggests that this misbehaviour deserves a thumping fine from Beachcomber. And I agree. So will the gentleman with a stone anchor on his mantelpiece not only explain this strange interpretation of nautical archaeology rules, but also send me four crisp crunchies for the Diver Lifeboat Fund to remind him not to do it again.
The Axeman has been in touch. Or perhaps it was the Son of Axeman. His short message reads: "Forget axes as lobster-collectors. Why don't you highlight Podgers, much more effective."
Now what is he on about? What is a "Podger"? Is there a Podgerman? Let me know please.
Complimentary O2, sir?
My Oxford Leak has just returned from Barbados, where he reports that he was bombarded with invitations to take part in Virgin Atlantic's "Check In And Chill Out" service.
This involved early-morning transport of his baggage to the airport on his last day and loading it on the aircraft. This would leave him free to enjoy his final hours at the resort with plenty of time to make the most of the island's offerings.
What a good idea, he thought - until he was surprised to find, smack in the middle of the advertisements for this early check-in service in the tourist magazines, a picture of a diver, and the suggestion that he should use the time saved before going to the airport on a scuba dive!
He wonders if Virgin now serves neat oxygen from its in-flights drinks trolley... and would it care to make a handsome donation to the Diver Lifeboat Fund?
Life changes for a lakeballer
As Beachcomber forecast last month, the ridiculous six-month jail sentence on a golfball-collecting diver (now revealed by Diver as not a real diver at all, see News) was quashed on appeal.
This reversal was aided by diver-golfer readers of this column, following my advice to lobby members of the legal profession in their clubs.
However, I could not condone what I can only describe as blackmail operated by diver-golfers in one famed club. They said that unless the sentence was quashed they would run a sweep for the "most balls in the water by a member of the legal profession", to be named by Beachcomber.
Even so, I have been sent a surprising list of names of legal luminaries, headed by one such who is credited with more than 100 balls in one lake in a year. So high does this legal eagle fly that I am tempted to demand a hefty contribution to any lakeballer's legal costs, or for the super-slicer to act without charge for anyone else pilloried in a golfball diving case in future.
However, the publicity given to "lakeballing" has had one good effect. John Collinson, the victim, has been inundated with work offers since his release. Many of the country's most exclusive ancient and modern clubs have asked him to empty the balls from their water hazards.
They say they had no idea of the thousands of balls plopped into the ponds and lakes on their courses until they read of this disgraceful affair. Nor, of course, of the large sums their members could save by using such rescued balls.
Another side-effect is that divers now classify golfers like anglers, who always exaggerate their catch. Golfers, it seems, overestimate how often they get round without losing a ball. What else could account for the huge numbers of balls under water, and the silence about such losses back at the 19th hole?
Do all novice women divers fall in love with their diving instructors? According to one mammoth Sunday paper, it would seem that they do.
The woman at the heart of the underwater love affair it highlighted was named as 25-year-old "Sally Evans". The dive centre pinpointed was on Rarotonga, in the Cook Islands, but did it really happen?
At first Sally thought Sam was a lousy teacher of theory, but a wonder under water: "I couldn't take my eyes off his strong, rubber-encased body torpedoing through the water... of course, he was the man I trusted every day with my life."
At the end of the party to celebrate "passing our dive certificates", she wobbled on her hired scooter to his apartment. "Wow, I thought afterwards, staring at his sleeping face. He's the one."
But the next morning, Sam was probably not the one. "When he slurped his tea, burped and then pinched my bottom, I realised that perhaps I'd been deluding myself about his noble soul... I could see he was, after all, a moody egomaniac who hated his job but loved diving... But despite everything, Sam did make an impression: since him, most of my boyfriends have been divers."
Some women never learn, do they? Any diver could have told her about egomaniac instructors. But do women really have to fall in love with them? I'd like to hear from those who have.
Keep it short and I'll print the best of your underwater love stories.