YOU ARE NOT WHAT YOU EAT
LET'S GET SOMETHING STRAIGHT. You don't need an exotic diet to dive competently. Some of the most accomplished divers I've ever known exist quite happily on food with a lower nutritional value than its packaging.
I've happily placed my life in the chubby hands of men who didn't consider a dish edible unless it was battered, deep-fried in dripping and served with a side-order of black pudding in clotted cream.
I have researched the effects of several advanced nutritional theories on the diving metabolism and I'm pleased to be able to publish my results herewith. You can read the fully-annotated version in next quarter's Minutes Of The Royal Society of Dieticians and Nutritional Physiologists, but remember - you heard it here first.
I first became interested in specialist diving diets when I bought my first set of diving equipment, second-hand. I noticed that the mouthpieces of the snorkel and the DV were neatly bitten off.
I deduced that the eating of a mixture of rubber and neoprene might somehow bestow magical qualities upon the diver. I drew analogies with practices still common in certain African countries, where the digestion of one's enemies is deemed to augment one's own powers.
As it turns out, I was completely wrong. It was just that the previous owner of the gear had never really felt at home in the water, and had expressed his nervousness by an involuntary clenching of the jaws.
As an interesting (and true) aside, he seemed to show no such lack of confidence ashore: he was eventually arrested while trying to burn a gangland adversary's head in a fireplace at his East End residence.
After this shaky start, I began to observe the dietary habits of my fellow-divers. A common denominator seemed to be the consumption of incredible volumes of lager.
Perhaps the ingestion of carbon dioxide on such an epic level was designed to increase the diver's buoyancy, thus reducing his reliance on the cumbersome weightbelt?
Often, however, the diver overestimated the amount of lager necessary to achieve the optimum buoyancy. He was then obliged to compensate with mountains of chips, Mars bars and those pork pies you get in filling stations that are so dense, they actually bend light.
Of course, until the advent of Ecological Correctness in the 1980s, diving and eating were inextricably linked.
Every diver carried a "goody bag" - a large receptacle with a drawstring into which he would plunge everything that moved slowly enough for him to grab or stab.
I regret its demise. At least you can't drown a dolphin in a goody bag. And anyone who has the guts and the ingenuity to subdue a 3kg lobster with his bare hands deserves more respect than some hatchet-faced fisherman with 20 cunningly crafted traps and a chip the size of Anglesey on his shoulder. A purely personal view, of course.
In the end, the diet issue is very simple. The current debate is about how divers can get fitter. But why do divers need to be fit? We sit in a boat for half an hour. Then we endure a few moments' discomfort as we don a little steel and lead before free-falling into the water, where Archimedes' Principle takes over and we're completely weightless.
Our bodies are now subjected to less stress than when they're slumped on the sofa watching Match Of The Day.
Then we increase our buoyancy and ascend effortlessly to where strong hands hoik us back into the boat. Let's own up - it's hardly the bleeding Olympics, is it?
So stop your fussing and eat what you damn well like.
Deeper with Blackford
by Andy Blackford
£7.95 plus P&P, A5 format, 156 pages, paperback
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From Swanage Bay to the Redcar sewage treatment plant; from Bovisand Harbour to the wreck of the Wigan Shopping Trolley - Andy Blackford has been there, dived it, and recalls the experiences in this new collection of 36 of his best stories. Illustrated by Rico.
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