I'm mystified by the controversy currently raging over the BSAC medical. It's perfectly obvious that the mandatory health check is a useless anachronism, like penguins' wings, ABLJ bottles and rear brakes on motorcycles.
The proof is there for all to see. Take Fort Bovisand on a May Bank Holiday. The jetty sags under heaving, shapeless mounds of cellulite. Varicose legs buckle beneath sweating, gasping torsos. Shrivelled alveoli writhe, strangling, in tar-encrusted lungs; hearts the shape and size of putrefying beetroots convulse spasmodically with the effort of hauling wetsuits over bodies bloated into Reubenesque parodies of the human form by a diet of stout and porky scratchings.
By noon, just to walk around the harbour is to risk the effects of passive drinking. It simply isn't possible to be in worse shape than this without being dead.
And yet every one of these fine examples of grace and sinewy athleticism must recently have passed a medical. So what kind of diseased-raddled specimen is it, then, who fails a BSAC inspection?
I'll tell you. Me.
I failed my diving medical shortly after finishing the London Marathon in 3 hours 9 minutes, and not long before that I ran across the Sahara with a 9kg pack on my back.
I'd been using the gym three or four times a week (climbing a virtual Empire State Building on the Stairmaster at every session), not to mention cycling to work and swimming with the branch on pool nights.
I'm not saying I was fit, but I used to kick sand in Daley Thompson's face on Lulworth beach.
However, I was found to have a PFO like the PLO, they said, but slightly more dangerous. A tiny "hole in the heart" was allowing even tinier bubbles of air to leak into my bloodstream.
So while I wasn't actually denied a certificate, I was warned that on no account must I dive deeper than 10m. (I later had this extended on appeal to 15m, and I had the distinct impression that the House of Lords would have upped it to 20 had I bothered to pursue the matter.)
After a couple of miserable years, I simply got bored and dived to 40m to look at a cave in Gozo. I died, of course, just like they said I would.
However, a quick-thinking instructor whisked my mortal remains back on the first available flight to London, where I underwent an emergency BSAC medical. Happily, I was declared 100 per cent fit.
When all's said and done, just how healthy does a diver really need to be? After all, once you're in the water, you're weightless. You'd put your body under far greater stress just wandering around a supermarket.
Indeed, one could make quite a good case for keeping heart patients permanently under water. You'd need to keep a look-out for sharks, obviously but at least there wouldn't be any shortage of sea beds.
I note that PADI doesn't bother with any of this medical nonsense. All it has to do is check your credit rating, interview your bank manager, ascertain your liquidity ratio, undertake an exhaustive survey of your savings and investments and establish your socio-economic status.
And rightly so to dive with PADI, you barely need to get out of bed. The sun is always shining, the water is always warm, clear and no more than 10m deep. There are slaves to fill your bottles, thread your weight-belt and lug your bags about. For a modest supplement, they will even breathe for you. There are no nasty wrecks to snag your suit, no tides or currents to disturb the tranquillity of your submarine experience.
If you ask me, a good in-water medical emergency or two would liven up the whole show enormously.
For more in a similar vein the book Blackford's Diving Life and Times can be ordered from Underwater World Publications, price £7.50 (tel. 0181 943 4288).