High-flying Gnasher puts owners to test
You are, one would think, tempting fate if you call your cockatoo Gnasher and take it about with you shouldered a la Long John Silver. You're pushing it even further if you take your pet to lunch in this manner at a country pub.
But those who know - and all old Red Sea divers will know - Alex and Tamara Double, captain and crew of a dive-boat there for many years, will not be surprised at such behaviour.
They will not be surprised either at the tender loving care the Doubles give to 13-year-old Gnasher, ship's parrot retired, in Cowley in deepest Oxfordshire. Here Mr Double, also retired from the sea, teaches children more serious necessities of life than diving. The bird has also become a familiar sight at the Dive Shows.
Taking a break brought the Doubles to the garden of the Plough, where Gnasher perched on Alex's shoulder ready for food. He stayed shouldered only until a nearby cockerel crowed loudly. It scared Gnasher so much that he took flight across the road into the top of an 82ft tree.
Borrowing a ladder from the landlord, Alex set off up the tree in true seaman mast-shinning style, but Gnasher hopped higher and higher. Finally, at the 60ft mark, Mr Double had to admit that he could go no further - neither up nor, unfortunately, down.
So the local fire brigade was summoned and, when its ladder couldn't reach, they called for an hydraulic platform from 15 miles away in Oxford. Police, not to be left out, closed the roads around Captain Double's precarious perch and long tailbacks of traffic soon built up.
Alex was soon lowered gently to the ground, but Gnasher was attacked by local crows, who wondered what the big yellow bird was up to - and in their tree too. Gnasher fled again to another smaller tree further down the road, from which he was finally lured by Tamara. She, unlike her husband, not only managed to climb this tree but get back down again with Gnasher.
Everyone involved, has, so my Oxford Leak tells me, been terribly nice about the Gnasher-at-the-Plough Affair, but I am now being asked by those who remember this sea captain at the height of his Red Sea mast-climbing prowess for a donation from him to the Diver Lifeboat Fund to mark his crow's nest failure.
Gnasher has suggested three crisp cracklies. To me swiftly before another cockerel crows.
Watch out for coasteers
Those given to exploring the delights of the seas under the cliffs of Wales should be aware of a new form of sea-sport. My Dyfed Leak is concerned that "coasteering" could come into bodily conflict with diving.
He has thoughtfully sent me with some publicity material which describes this practice as "an adrenaline sport that will have you plunging, swimming and scrambling along Pembrokeshire's beautiful shore".
The adrenaline might well start pumping when you find that a weekend of coasteering will cost you £184, though it does include equipment and full-board accommodation.
Never let it be said that divers are not brilliant, sharp, and witty to boot. As you know, in Beachcomber's Name that Club competition, I am seeking an apt name for a naturist diving group. Or rather, I was.
Iain and Brenda Kennedy, who must be fire-brigade divers, judging by their e-mail address, have come up with the perfect name. No one will beat it. So I am donating one of my very own crisp crunchies to the Diver Lifeboat Fund on their behalf. Their suggested name is the Nudi-Branch.
Camera clodhopper strikes again
Out in the world of warm waters and viz that lets you see forever, all is not the utopia travelling divers often say it is.
Don't believe the Florida TV weathermen who start their forecasts with the single word "Japdip", which translate as "Just Another Perfect Day In Paradise". Nor should you think that travelling divers behave perfectly out there, as their training agencies think they should.
Take the case of a highly-qualified British instructor on holiday. My Leicestershire Leak was unfortunate enough to be paired with him on a warmwater jaunt. Such a keen photographer was this ageing lad that he hauled himself, while negatively buoyant, across beautiful black coral and through branching fan corals in search of the perfect pic.
Everything had to be sacrificed to his bright yellow camera, including abandoning his buddy to a lone ascent from 25m when her air ran low.
My Leak, however, had her moment. A baby nurse shark with its head in a hole objected to the old instructor hauling it out by the tail for a photo. It turned swiftly round and bit him.
I don't think this nip was enough, however. For the damage Instructor X caused to the corals, and for his disregard of basic diving rules, I expect at least four crisp crunchies for the Diver Lifeboat Fund. It might remind him to apply to himself all the things he taught novices earlier in his diving career.
To me as swiftly as a shark can bite, or I shall have to expose name and instructor number.
Bob and the white stuff
Who's a naughty boy then? Who didn't pay attention when he was being taught about decompression incidents? Who was responsible for turning airline-passengers' luggage whiter than white?
The answer to all these questions is Diver Bob from South London, for my South London Leak tells me that a diver by that name was responsible for interfering with luggage in an aircraft's baggage hold.
He tells me that Diver Bob, now living abroad, has an eye for a bargain. Recently he found the sort of thing he likes in a London DIY store, a big tin of cheap white paint, and decided to take it on his flight to gloss up his new home overseas.
Bob's delight at his saving seems to have wiped from his mind everything he had been taught about decompression or Boyle's Law or anything else about gases and pressures.
And, forgetting also the rules about goods in baggage on aircraft, he put the paint tin in the hold as part of his normal luggage.
Which accounts for the fact that Bob'sbaggage and indeed any other luggage close to the tin arrived at its destination a glossy white.
Bob's bargain could have caused serious damage, but I am not planning to fine him for his foolishness.
I just hope that the amount of trouble he is in will be a lesson to flying divers one and all.