Scuba diving adventures

my first dive, Great Barrier Reef, AustraliaIn 2005 I tried scuba diving for the first time, on a trip to the Great Barrier Reef. Then in 2006 I took the PADI Open Water Diver course in Spain. That gave me a recognised qualification which means that I should be able to hire equipment and dive with organisations worldwide.

Now I want to get some experience and become more familiar and confident with all the equipment and the underwater environment. What I won’t be doing anytime soon is diving in a quarry or anywhere in open water in the UK. Spain in September was just right for me. I don’t do cold!

So now I’m investigating diving clubs in and around Manchester. Trouble is, I’m PADI trained, but some clubs are BSAC and I don’t want to go somewhere that looks down their nose at someone from a different approach.

I’m going to Spain later in the year with some friends who have also recently learned to dive so I’m looking forward to that.

Oh no! It’s Harry and Paul

The toe-curlingly unfunny new comedy series “Ruddy Hell! It’s Harry and Paul” on BBC One should never have seen the light of day. Isn’t there some kind of quality control which TV shows have to go through before they are broadcast? Or do established stars just get carte blanche?

Let’s hope it is quickly forgotten and that Enfield and Whitehouse work out why they have produced this turkey.

‘Robot Wars’ – no it ain’t

a proper robotEver watch Robot Wars on TV? I could never watch for long because it seemed a shame to destroy those lovingly designed and created machines. Plus Craig Charles was a little OTT.

However, there was another irksome feature besides CC – and that was the name itself. Take the first word Robot. In the ’50s and ’60’s a robot was a science fiction machine with human features. Like Robert the Robot in Fireball XL5. Autonomous, limited in intellect and often scary (RtR being an exception. He was benign and showed some personality – ‘On our way ‘ome’ he would intone with a buzzy voice like people who have had their voice box out.) They often had arms, legs, torso, head – bit like us really, but without any embarrassing bits.
Continue reading

A case of Macho replacing Masochistic?

“Sometimes you have just got to go ahead and bite the bullet …”

This expression has almost universally replaced a phrase which once co-existed: grasp the nettle. Why one would deliberately do so is beyond me – and presumably beyond everyone else too which may explain why we all bite bullets instead.

Neither action is a particularly sensible one. You either get a sore hand which needs a good rubbing with dock leaves (does that actually help?) or lead poisoning and possibly a fatal explosion in the mouth, which would spoil your whole day.
Continue reading

New adventures in pinball

“Ever since I was a young boy, I played the silver ball.”

My interest in pinball machines started when I was in my early teens. In those days pinball machines were to be found in cafes and amusement arcades in my home town of Liverpool. If I remember rightly games cost sixpence or three for a shilling (two-and-a-half pence and five pence). I spent many hours and many pounds playing pinball on my own and with mates. I dreamt that one-day I would have enough money to buy my own retired pinball machine for home amusement. (In fact my friend’s dad did just that. As a senior civil servant, I think he kept it quiet from his colleagues.)
Continue reading