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Diving Chamber Treatment Trust
I know me t'interweb two point nowt and I want me chuffin' Big Fat Feed of RSS fed to me.
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Brad Thai
Knightsbridge







Finally made it to Bangkok and Khao San Road. People say things like this about Khao San Road: ďOh God, yeah, itís just so Western, yeah, it makes me sick...Ē But before they can go any further you say: ďAnd how much Thai do you speak, you godless hippy?Ē and then you tie their dreadlocks to their canvas pantaloons and thrash them with their own beads.

I love Khao San Road; thereís nowhere else like it on Earth. Sadly, its reputation will eventually eat itself. Already there are a couple of big hotels there, where presumably you can sample the authentic Khao San Road atmosphere in luxury. Soon, bars will open designed to look like what youíd expect to find in Khao San Road except much cleaner, like in tropical resorts (eg. the one Iím in now) where they remove all the tropical stuff because itís inconvenient and replace it with fake tropical stuff intended to make it look like what people expect from the tropics (ie. tropical stuff). One only hopes that before it becomes a caricature of itself entirely, the Americans staying in such hotels will be provided with telescopic rifles to enable them to pick off hippies from their balconies.

Weíre in Koh Tao now, which, if youíve been here before, inevitably isnít like what you remember (see above). Iím teaching Marina how to dive. The other instructors here (A and B) are exactly what youíd expect to the point of actually amazing me. Instructor A was very helpful when we were buying a mask and snorkel for Marina, mostly by dismissing everything I said on the subject and giving exactly the opposite advice. The same routine continued as we sized her up for rental equipment. It got to the point that I was finding it so amusing, I helped him out by suggesting giving her an extra-large wetsuit, despite the fact that sheís tiny, just so he could disagree whilst elbowing me aside.

Actually, we had an argument about wetsuits: she claimed vehemently that she didnít need one, despite my advice. As she started turning blue during the Confined Water session, I suggested we go back in but she denied being remotely chilly, even though she did so through chattering teeth, so we persevered. When we returned to the dive school later, Instructor A came bounding [prancing] over saying ďOh, you must be SO cold. You really must wear a wetsuit next timeĒ as he elbowed me aside. Sadly, she did. Weíre on the boat with him tomorrow.

Instructor B has a massive head.

Marina, in her childlike, naive way thinks that Instructor A is just being helpful. I canít properly explain why I know that not to be the case without disclosing some information about my Brad-shaped past that Iíd rather remain secret. Not that it matters as Marina has said that at times, when Iím teaching her, I remind her of Brad. Sadly, though, one canít help wondering if Iím just a fake Brad, designed to resemble exactly what youíd expect from the real thing, but cleaner for an American audience. Nice t**s.

Rob
O'Three

For an even better blog than this... Read the Battersea Blog

 
The Spirit of Sarf Landan
Debora







I think I mentioned somewhere before in this blog that one of the most endlessly fascinating things about diving, and indeed the world in general, is baggage: this is why the pages of dive forums are so rightly obsessed with it. As a result, I feel duty bound to mention that I was charged £175 in excess baggage fees by Qantas at Heathrow. Previously, I only hated Qantas for the same reason that everyone does: they appear to be missing a ďuĒ from their name, but now I hate them because of Debora [sick]. This is how our conversation went at check-in:

Debora: Thatís £350? [sic again. Debora said everything in a South London sort of way with appropriately aggressive rising inflection.]

Me: Sorry? (Also a rising inflection, but in this case acceptable as I was actually asking a question.)

Debora: £350?

Me: Erm, what for?

Debora: The excess on the baggage?

Me: You want me to pay £350 for the excess on the baggage. (No rising inflection required here as I was making a statement, albeit a moronic one.)

Debora: Youíre 14 kilos overweight?

Me (in my head): So are you, you fat c***.

Me (in the real world): Whatís the allowance?

Debora: 23 kilos? (she was suppressing a giggle at this point. I was suppressing panic.)

Me: Couldnít you have advertised this at all? Like somewhere in the environs of my ticket perhaps?

Debora: And, you canít fly to Bangkok with that ticket?

Me (quietly, close to tears): But itís a ticket to Bangkok.

Debora: Yeah, but you are staying there for over four weeks? And you canít stay there for over four weeks?

Me (quiet, despairing): What can I do about my bags?

Debora: You can take them to the shipping company downstairs? They might be able to ship them for you?

Seeing I was being fobbed off, I leapt over the desk and punched Debora repeatedly in the face, smashing her head into a shattered, brain omelette whilst the good people of the airport cheered. Then I shuffled off to another desk where a nice lady helped me pretend Iíd altered my ticket. As Debora was no more, Ďpon my return I had a different check-in agent who fetched me a bag and helped me move things around until my fatness was reduced to a mere 7 kilos and £175. Quite why I didnít just throw 7 kilos of the tat Iím carrying into a bin is beyond me, but I blame Debora. Itís her fault I couldnít get a vegetarian meal on the plane as well since she probably scoffed it?

Rob
Dive Worldwide PNG

For an even better blog than this... Read the Battersea Blog

 
Te Gusta Supergrass?
Pete Doherty.







I donít generally listen to any music less than 20 years old because it gives you a rash on your willy, but Marina and I were tempted into attending two days of the Bilbao BBK Festival last week, because it was cheap, and also because it didnít cost very much. The headline acts were: Depeche Mode, Basement Jaxx, The Kaiser Chiefs, Placebo, Primal Scream and someone else; none of which we saw because we had to leave at 9pm on both days to get the train back to nice, quiet San Sebastian. Rock and roll. However, there follows for your delectation an account of the bands we did actually manage to see.

1) Vetusta Morla. For those of you who havenít heard of them (ie. for anyone reading these words), VM are currently acclaimed as being the best band in Spain. They certainly were that day, although their lyrics seemed to be comprised of nonsense words or Spanish or something.

2) The Ting Tings. Marina told me the girl is quite young and the bloke is quite old and it is thus an odd relationship that they have. What I saw was a gay bloke and a girl dressed very inappropriately for a young lady, but I persevered and decided that her attire was agreeable, even though it was provocative.

3) The Editors. I had no idea who these chaps were before the gig, and have no idea now, but thatís hardly surprising given my knowledge of celebrity, as we shall see later. The festival guide listed their influences as Joy Division, REM and Echo and the Bunnymen, and as these are all bands that can be listened to without being be-rashed, I can confirm that their first song was exactly like a cover version of a Joy Division song and their second an exact replica of any REM track. Guess what their third song sounded like. Wrong: it was just boring so we left.

4) Supergrass. I wanted to enjoy this first band of the second day, but in the end you have to wonder whether even the band themselves actually like the music that they play.

5) Babyshambles. They came on stage and announced they were a man short. I asked Marina if the man they were missing was Pete Doherty. She said the man that made the announcement was Pete Doherty. I asked her if Kate Moss would be backstage. She said it was unlikely because they don't go out anymore and Kate Moss is seeing the lead singer of The Kills. I asked who The Kills were. She told me to shut up. She was probably expecting me to ask why Michael Jackson wasn't playing.

Anyway, I really enjoyed the band. Your man, Doherty, was playing guitar, which I'm not sure he usually does: he was either playing it quite badly or very well. It worked though.

6) The Dave Matthews Band. Utterly tawdry.

7) Some bloke. We left at this point.

We had to be up early the next day for the 6 hour journey back to Madrid, so we had a quiet night of tequila and beer and gin and tonic.

An old man accosted me in the bar and harangued me for half an hour in old man Spanish. I could tell that he had some very strong political opinions with regard to the Basque Country, but I couldn't understand enough to tell which way he was leaning. This is very much like finding yourself in a bar in Northern Ireland and talking to someone with extreme political views, but you don't know whether he's a Republican or a Loyalist. For some reason this seemed to wind him up.

His conversation with Marina when I excused myself to buy cigarettes was apparently much easier to understand, involving as it did a series of reasonably straightforward sexual mimes.

Marina wants me to make it clear at this point that he was the one miming, not her.

Rob
OonasDivers

For an even better blog than this... Read the Battersea Blog

 
In the Bum
You know what I like?  Drinking.







We went to the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona today.

When we set up the Midlands Diving Chamber, we (by "we", I mean "Simon" - El Dictatador Generale de la Camara Hiperbarica) spent about 34 years filling in risk assessment forms for the Healthcare Commission. In order to get approval, we (Simon) had to ensure that, for example, the door frames were painted a different colour to the walls, so as to avoid someone mistaking a wall for a door and accidentally killing themselves trying to open it.

The conversation between the organisers of the Running of the Bulls and the Spanish Health Authorities must've gone something like this:

"So, we release ten bulls into the street and hit them with sticks so they get angry and run really fast."

"Sounds like fun."

"Yeah, there'll be a couple of hundred people on the street that they run down. They have to try and get out of the way."

"And if they don't?"

"They get gored."

"Of course."

"We're only expecting serious injuries every three or four runs."

"And it's an annual event."

"Yeah. But we do eight runs every year."

"No problem. Just try to make sure everyone stays up all night beforehand, drinking heavily."

"We'll do our best."

Whilst there was clearly no way either of us was going to set foot in the actual street and run with the beasts (and the bulls), and so no danger of anything actually exciting happening in this blog, we watched the violent highlights of previous runnings on Spanish TV the night before, and I confess I got slightly nervous.

Marina helped quell any worries by telling me a story from her early nursing days. To put this in context, I'll relate the story she told me on the day I had a chest exam for my Australian visa (I had to have one because I once glanced at a foreign country and might have TB):

"We had to have a chest exam to work in the chamber in Melbourne", she began, "yeah, it was really good because one girl turned out to have a massive tumour she didn't know anything about." I waited for more but there didn't seem to be any.

"So... what happened? Did they operate? Did the x-ray save her life?" I enjoy the odd cigarette twenty or thirty times a day, which hasn't escaped Marina's attention since one of our hobbies is her berating me about it, so it was in my interests to find out.

"Oh, I dunno", she replied, "I never saw her again."

Anyway, early in her nursing days, Marina attended to a man who had been gored by a bull on a farm. She said its horn went straight through his abdomen. "I'd been hoping people would be slipping around on guts", she added, "but in the end it was pretty boring. There was a lot of blood, though." Then she told me about her last "amusing animal story", as she put it, from her days in a Melbourne hospital: "A guy got kicked in the head by a kangaroo", she laughed, "he survived but he had pretty severe brain damage". I lit another cigarette whilst she chortled away to herself.

It's impossible to find accommodation in Pamplona during the festival, so you either have to stay there all night drinking with 12,000 Australians, or pay Ä112.92 to get a taxi at 5am. I insisted on the latter as one Australian is enough in anyone's life.

Since we had to get up at 4.30am, we resolved to have an early night, starting with a quiet dinner at 9pm accompanied with a splash of red wine to help us sleep. By splash, I mean bottle, and by accompanied with, I mean preceded by. After the bottle, we wandered out for a spot of tapas and washed it down with another glass of red wine or two. Then another bar for more tapas and wine. In the next bar we dispensed with the tapas as it was distracting our attention from the wine. In the next bar we tucked into some gin and tonics, a couple of beers and the odd tequila. We got to bed at 4am.

At 5.10 this morning, we were woken up by the sound of our taxi driving off in the street below. I made a panicked call to the taxi company and knocked things over whilst Marina disappeared to "not be sick". Fortunately, when the driver reappeared ten minutes later he took pity on us and drove at 140km/h down the winding pre-dawn darkness of the Basque country roads to get us there on time. I tried to apologise to him, but my Spanish wasn't at its best: "I'm sorry because of... late" I croaked.

As we pulled up at 6.10, the first thing we saw was a youth trying to sleep by standing upright and resting his head against a lamp post. We emerged from the taxi into scenes of carnage that closely resembled a Sheffield United home game. The narrow streets were filled with filth, beer, sticky wee, smashed things and hordes of people dressed in red and white, singing, dancing, micturating, trying to walk through each other, waving their genitals about and screaming. As we wandered through the mobs down the street destined for the run, which still smelled of bulls from the previous day, I couldn't help but wish I was either safely tucked up in bed or as drunk as I had been two and a half hours before. Mostly the latter.

Trying to find somewhere to stand was utterly confusing, and in any case all the places where you might actually see something were already taken. Finally, we stood behind some Americans at the end of the route and waited for time to pass. As it did so, the tension in the air became palpable. I contemplated asking Marina what would happen if the excitement provoked a heart attack in me, but decided against it because I knew she'd tell me. Finally, the starting rocket went off and the bulls were thus released. Two and a half minutes later the runners and the bulls passed in front of us.

I nearly saw a bit of a bull.

Fortunately, I had my camera running in video mode and was holding it over the heads of the three people in front of me, so I got some excellent footage where you can nearly see almost 40% of a bull.

As we wandered off for an 8.15am beer, our misspent adrenaline was slightly rewarded by the sight of a man lying face down on a stretcher, with his trousers at half-mast, having the gore wound in his botty attended to. I wanted to take a photo but I got bored of shoving the paramedics out of the way who were selfishly cluttering up the shot.

An hour or so later we had the quietest bus journey I've ever known, back to San Sebastian. Like everyone else on the bus, I slept through most of it. Everyone except Marina that is. Marina and the bloke next to her who was quietly vomiting into a bin.

Rob
O'Three

For an even better blog than this... Read the Battersea Blog

 
Where are you Travelling to Next?








If you were in a backpackers' place, to pick a random example, and needed to use one of the three bathrooms, would you a) use one of the two with the door open, or b) repeatedly try the handle on the only one with the door closed, thereby making me unable to poo?

People that like bongos and street dancing are likely to choose a different answer to everyone else.

Rob
Denney Diving

For an even better blog than this... Read the Battersea Blog

 
Not my Fault
Nice street.  Shall we just burn it?







Met up with Marina on Sunday in Madrid, which is excellent because I haven't had an argument in a while. Fortunately, we only argue about really important stuff like why jazz is pretentious twaddle served up by men in slacks to people with exciting specs, or why I'm a twat.

One reason might be because we spent an hour looking for Plaza Mayor before giving up in favour of a jar of sangria, because I refused to ask for directions or look near a map.

Another reason might be because after the sangria, which took us an hour to drink, I observed, directly over Marina's shoulder, Plaza Mayor.

A third reason is because of boring solos followed by "Ladies and Gentlemen, Joshua 'Cardigan' Pube on tenor-keyboard" and ecstatic applause.

Yesterday we took a seven hour bus journey to San Sebastian, which allowed me to watch the in-bus movies: Transformers and Mamma Mia. My Spanish is somewhere between laughable and deportation but I believe Transformers had something to do with quite big robots and was mostly set somewhere abroad. I have no idea what Mamma Mia is about as I was found whimpering some time around the opening credits, and made a solemn promise to throw myself out of the emergency exit if I had to watch any more.

The place we're staying at in San Sebastian is a bit too nice. Marina picked it. I picked the one in Madrid, which had a lot of character. Character, bedlinen containing hair from previous occupants, and some interesting filth.

I'm not allowed to pick places to stay anymore.

I asked the owner of our San Sebastian lodgings, what the name of the street we're on, "31 de Agosto", was all about. She said that was the date the English took it upon themselves to defend the city from Napolean's forces by burning it to the ground.

"I'm English", I said.

"I know." She replied.

"Sorry." I said.

"He's a twat." Said Marina, to the owner.

"I know." I said.

"Sorry." Said the owner, to Marina.

Rob
Denney Diving
Comments on this post:
08/07/2009

Good blog, twat

Dan what looks like Ian Curtis
Blue O Two

For an even better blog than this... Read the Battersea Blog

 
It Wiz ******* Obvious That That **** Was Gonna **** Some ****








Just watched AnimalHouse Woddick vanquish Prince Andelbert of Murray. I found the only bar in Malaga that was showing it and I was the only one watching: I'm sure it was the same in London.

Sadly, my concentration was ruined by a group of Spanish types next to me, playing a game of table football seemingly constructed out of iron and loud wood, whilst shouting at each other in some incomprehensible foreign language. In the end, I was forced to snap all of their arms right off.

After the ambulance took them away, I realised the barmaid's boyfriend kept taking time out from haranguing her to glare at everyone in the bar in a manner that suggested we were all looking at her b'tom. This blatantly ridiculous attitude kept taking my attention away from the even more ridiculous super-slo-mo shots coming from Wimbledon. Not sure if you got them over in Blighty, but they were usually sequences of people's feet or McMurray's mouth presumably swearing like a Scotsman or a footballer. My favourite was a lingering shot of a tennis ball which was eventually picked up, about seven minutes of footage later, by a ballboy.

Some geriatric Scots turned up to moan for the last set, so the writing was already on the wall.

Anyway, I'd missed most of the action by that point because I was distracted by the barmaid's bottom.

Rob
Dive Worldwide PNG

For an even better blog than this... Read the Battersea Blog

 
Vermin
Where the hippies get sent when they try to play bongos.







What's the name of that ridiculous dance that when you see hippies doing it in the street, it makes you want to abandon science and become a climate-change sceptic? I think they usually claim that "yeah, actually it's a form of martial arts, but yeah, it's a dance, yeah?".

I'm sure when the native peoples of Brazil or wherever do it, they do it properly and it looks good, but I just saw some crusty types having a go in the town square and wished I had the ability to perform proper martial arts on them.

It's like the bongo. Some people can play it, but just hitting it whilst someone plays a broken acoustic guitar, isn't playing it, OK, hippy?

I'm not sure how well I'm going to settle into backpacking.

Rob
Adventure Divers La Manga

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El Tonto








16.46.

Malaga has no diving opportunities because it's "essentially just a whacking great port. You tit".

Rob
Catfish Dive & Safari

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El Buceo








16:45.

OK then, I'm off out to explore Malaga's diving opportunities.

Rob
Nautilus Lifeline

For an even better blog than this... Read the Battersea Blog

 
I know me t'interweb two point nowt and I want me chuffin' Big Fat Feed of RSS fed to me.
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