Posts Tagged ‘culture’

Fantasy Fish Tale

Posted: October 26, 2015 in Culture, Media, Movies
Tags: , , , , , ,

“You’re gonna need a bigger boat…”

Last night, I had a strange experience. I was staying in Italy with very good friends. One of them had brought along his 10 year old son for the weekend who, being 10 years old, wasn’t quite as enthralled with the architecture and vistas on offer in the Italian countryside. In fact, like the majority of modern 10 year olds, any period of time away from his iPad connected to Minecraft, Angry Birds or the latest awful Transformers offering from movie director Anti-Christ Michael Bay was met with foot-stomping protestations of boredom that not even Italian ice-cream could suppress.

That night while the ‘grown-ups’ were having dinner we decided that to keep our nipper occupied we would stream a movie onto the TV. We went through a series of options. Would we serve up another Transformers-style CGI-fest like Avengers: Age of Ultron? Or Iron Man? Perhaps he’s nearly old enough for something slightly darker from Christopher Nolan’s excellent Batman series? Upon checking with the IMDB and rather excellent BBFC website we figured it may be just slightly beyond his maturity.

In the end, I recalled the movies that had impacted me at that age. What had stuck with me. What had stood the test of time. What, when I looked back to the young me, was burned into my memory as a landmark movie. Jaws, the 1975 classic, which has recently celebrated it’s 40th birthday, stood out as a big influence.

Regarded by many as the first summer-blockbuster-popcorn-movie, Jaws transcended it’s genre – as the best movies do – and became a cultural phenomenon. Like many of my generation, I can still remember this film being broadcast on TV when I was a child of that age. At first scared and watching from behind a cushion, as I grew the movie grew with me. Forgetting it’s lamentable sequels, I still love it today. And although it is not without flaws, without any hint of irony, will happily cite it as one of my favourite films.

So what’s great about it? Well, in many ways, it’s the first ‘family’ horror movie – if there is such a thing. Although only a PG rating in the UK originally (now reclassified to it’s 12A modern equivalent) there is something tense and shocking about it even today- whether it’s a 10-12 year old meeting the movie for the first time. Or, at the other end of the spectrum, granny watching it on boxing day while munching on a mince pie. It has the ability to captivate each generation.

Some of that brooding sense of threat that the movie has is a happy accident. Something serendipitous making the film greater than the sum of it’s parts. The rubber shark that they had lined up to play the title role (nicknamed ‘Bruce’) malfunctioned during production. It simply wouldn’t work. This had a few side effects.

Firstly, it meant that under pressure to complete the film under schedule, and with the studio breathing down his neck, Spielberg was forced to shoot large sections of the movie shark-less. This meant that legendary composer John Williams had to effectively become the shark. In fact, for the first half of the movie the shark is not seen. It’s heard in the form of John Williams’ cello. And a healthy does of Hitchcockian suggestion from Spielberg.

  • As with many good horror or sci-fi movies, Jaws has said to be allegorical for a bigger issue. Over the years Jaws has been said to be about variously; the Watergate scandal, the atom bomb, that the shark represents a sexual predator or serial killer, it’s a parable on the need for order in society, a morality tale, representing science (Hooper) vs. religion (Quint) in the face of the common man (Brody), the three aspects of the human psyche Parent (Quint), Adult (Hooper) and Child (Brody) engaging, the unreality and sanitisation of modern life and (inevitably for a film of this era) the dread of spreading communism.

Secondly, the three main protagonists in the movie; Quint, Brody and Hooper, famously clashed on set. Accounts vary as to why that may have been the case. Some say it was a deliberate ploy from hardened actor Robert Shaw to create tension on the set. Part of his plan. Others say that Shaw – known to enjoy a drink – simply didn’t get on with Richard Dreyfuss and Roy Scheider. Whatever the reasons, the tension between the actors seems real and palpable.

Critics and academics have picked over the meaning of the film for decades since it’s release. What the film represents. The psychological representation of the three main characters. Why it effects people so profoundly. Why it has succeeded where other haunted house and monster movies have failed. Let’s face it, no-one is picking over the cultural significance of The Swarm, Piranha or Lake Placid which, essentially, try (and fail) to tread the same ground.

Quint

Whatever it’s draw – and I’m probably not smart enough to give a reasoned response – it still works. 40 years on in October 2015 I sat next to my friend’s son as he watched the movie and he was enthralled. He jumped as the ‘face’ appeared in the bottom of the wrecked fishing boat. He yelped as the ‘monster’ burst through the hull of the boat in the final act. The film works.

So what was strange? Well, across at the other end of the sofa were two other friends of mine. Mature, intelligent adults. They were scowling. Arms folded. They hated it. They said it was sh*t. When asked to elaborate the reasoning was that, a) it wouldn’t happen – in the real world the shark would have been dealt with in the opening act. No shark behaves like that, b) in the final act the actors laugh in relief at having survived the final ‘confrontation’ before hanging their heads at news of Quint and c) the violence is gratuitous – and the characters should have been sobbing for the tragedy that had just happened. This was a strange reaction.

Let’s be clear and put a couple of flags in the sand at the outset. These guys who objected to the film are not prissy or prudish people. They are progressive in their views and taste in film. In fact, earlier in the week we’d been discussing some of the more recent Lars Von Trier offerings – and you would struggle to get more controversial than that. They also usually have a profound understanding of art and what gives something impact.

“The purpose of art is to collide the intellectual and visceral together at the highest speed possible.” Penn Jillette

It therefore seemed odd to me that they would be so revolted by the movie for several reasons. Firstly and most importantly, this is a horror/fantasy movie. Somehow, in watching the film, they seemed to have blurred the line between fantasy and reality. The shark in Jaws is no more real than the bees in The Swarm, the crocodile in Lake Placid. Shark behaviour is well documented and the personal attacks on the Orca vessel or it’s crew bear about as much relationship to reality as the autonomous and sentient VW Beetle in the Herbie movies.

In the final act, yes, the characters laugh in relief at their apparently miraculous survival against the odds. And then hang their heads as Brody confirms to Hooper that there has been an unfortunate event involving Quint. It’s a fleeting moment. But this a popcorn movie not intended or expected to be based in reality. It has no duty to explore the reality of the human condition. The film is a form of escapism to transport you from reality for 2 hours, not a therapy session.

In reality, of course, the protagonists of the action would be traumatised by events. Their reaction would be different, I’m sure, to that shown in the film. However, in movie world, their reaction is no more unrealistic than the whooping of Luke Skywalker – as thousands perish – as he destroys the death star. Or the grin of the cinema crowd as Indiana Jones casually shoots in cold blood the sword-carrying assassin in Raiders of The Lost Ark. Inevitably there is death and destruction in these type of action movies. But it’s dealt with in a very tongue-in-cheek, cartoon way. To worry about the morality of Hooper and Brody’s reaction to Quint’s demise is akin to getting caught up in the moral dilemma of what will become of the wives and children of the Nazi soldiers crushed under wheels of trucks in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Or the assassins and henchmen disposed of by James Bond during his last mission. Children are smart and understand that real-world situations are different to the fantasy and schlock of on-screen situations.

Jaws, for all it’s supposed gore or gratuitity, is surprisingly low on blood. We see one unattached leg. The ghostly face of a befallen fisherman poking out of the hull of a boat. And, a final act in which one of the main protagonists is swallowed with the inevitable tomato ketchup moment that ensues. That’s it. Compared with the body count and gruesome endings that some of James Bond or Indiana Jones’ adversaries meet, this is positively tame. The rest is suggestion. The rest is threat.

Perhaps the visceral reaction my friends had to Jaws is not a reaction to how bad it is. Perhaps it’s an adverse reaction because it’s a bit too close to reality for their tastes. Had it had a more ‘cartoon’ element, their reaction may have been different. However, great art, as Penn Jillette rightly said, “…is to collide the intellectual and visceral together at the highest speed possible.” This is how magic tricks work in his world. This is how a roller coaster works. Your visceral senses are telling you that hurtling down the track at great speed you are in danger. Your intellect tells you that you must be safe – thousands of people ride this roller coaster each year. If it was genuinely dangerous they wouldn’t be in business.

And that’s Jaws. A roller coaster. A 40 year-old roller coaster. Your senses tell you there is danger. That the shark will destroy them. That the characters you’re invested in are in mortal danger. Your intellect by contrast, tells you that sharks are neither that large nor able to board boats and destroy the crew. This is fantasy. A ride.

As the legendary horror director Wes Craven once said “”It’s like boot camp for the psyche. In real life, human beings are packaged in the flimsiest of packages, threatened by real and sometimes horrifying dangers, events like Columbine. But the narrative form puts these fears into a manageable series of events. It gives us a way of thinking rationally about our fears.”

For me, Jaws is the epitome of this. And, 40 years after it’s original release, it still had the power to thrill a 10 year old boy I know.

In breaking news at The Scuba Monkey’s top-secret research lab (recently re-located to Scotland, just off the main high street in Orkney, past the Fish and Chip shop on the left. Ask for Bob, red beard, glasses, you know the fella) it has been revealed that the Oxford English Dictionary is to be revised due to a spate of incompetent divers.

As it stands, the word ‘Autonomous’ is written on the back of all diving certification cards from Open Water level through, Advanced Open Water level and beyond. This wording was thought to mean that the diver had achieved a level of knowledge, learning and self-sufficiency necessary to dive independently and globally with a similarly qualified dive buddy.

However, recent findings have indicated that the vast majority of supposedly qualified divers are massively incompetent and cannot even prepare themselves for a dive without a team of trained dive professionals dressing them like a small baby having it’s nappy changed and pandering to their every whim.

Rare photo of diver putting their own fins on.

Rare photo of diver putting their own fins on.

On a recent diving trip, Dick Byrne, 63, a recently retired accounts manager, fully qualified diver and irritating arse said “I’ve dived globally and have over 50 dives in my logbook. However, I still can’t manage to put on my own hood, gloves, mask, fins…anything in fact. I can’t even manage to switch on my own tank before kitting up.” Looking baffled he added “I know it says ‘autonomous diver’ on the back of my certification card but I thought that meant I had to sit on the dive deck like Professor Stephen Hawking while 3 people dressed me and then eased me into the water.”

“I thought you were going to equalise my mask for me.”

Rosy Beaver, 28, of Boston, USA, a web designer and olympic standard wet-blanket, said “When I go diving I like to wait until 3 minutes before the dive before checking my equipment and then decide I’d like different fins, mask, gloves. And then to sit there like a helpless animal while a team of dive staff run around after me like I’m Kanye West in a Gucci shop. I and I never put on my own fins. Never.” Looking surprised, she added “I thought Autonomous meant you would be dressed automatically anyway.”

Anass Rhammar, 36, an IT consultant originally from Mumbai, said “When I dive I have a diving computer. However, I have no idea what the strange figures are it provides me on screen are. I just follow the guide blindly like a lemming on a suicide mission. It looks good though, it has a red strap.” Dumbfounded, he said “I thought Autonomous meant I had to wear it in the car too”.

Representatives from the Oxford English Dictionary are presently revising the dictionary definition of ‘Autonomous’ to read: stands a 50/50 chance of being competent and able to think and act for themselves.

Maggie, 38, an Instructor working in Indonesia said “…most holiday divers are about as autonomous as my 3 year old nephew. Yesterday I had to explain to someone which of their boots was for the left foot and which was for the right foot.” Shaking her head she added “Soon we’ll be towing them around the dive site on long ropes so they don’t have to move their legs either.”

Invisible to most novice divers.

Invisible to most novice divers.

In breaking news today at The Scuba Monkey’s top-secret research labs (just off the A12, near the Texaco Fuel Station and Wild Bean Café, ask for ‘Bob’, red-beard, glasses, you know the bloke…) groundbreaking new evidence has been uncovered regarding novice divers.

Previous schools of thought has assumed that completing your introductory one or two scuba diving courses had no bearing on the students’ eyesight or powers of perception. However, recent evidence has suggested that being a novice diver in the 10-100 dive range can drastically impair vision and memory.

Dr. A Hedgehog of Scuba Monkey Labs commented “…in recent tests these new divers went through a transformation following their basic training. Not only did they, seemingly overnight and for no reason, develop an over-inflated sense of their own diving ability – which in today’s narcissistic society is perfectly normal – but more surprisingly appeared to lose a large proportion of their vision or memory when diving.’

A narcissistic idiot earlier today.

A narcissistic idiot earlier today.

Asked to elaborate, Dr A Hedgehog said “As you’re aware, an experienced diver can usually enjoy the full underwater experience regardless of environment; the topography, the ambience, the water movement, the variety of life from small hermit crabs, dancing shrimps and nudibranchs to schooling fish and beyond, the history of the wreck, the interaction with fellow divers, the peace and tranquility and the sheer wonder of simply being underwater all are enough to keep the experienced diver amused…usually for the whole duration of the dive.”

“However”, he said shaking his head sadly, “this 10-100 logged dives demographic seem unable to focus on anything in-water aside their own, personal, diving needs and bragging rights on the boat – and are only able to physically see something if it is aquatic life greater than 3-4m in size that is physically pointed out to them with the accompaniment of a repeated ting-ting-ting sound – a bit like Pavlov’s dog. Astounding.”

Beautiful...they'll never see them.

Beautiful Bluefin Trevally…they’ll never see them.

We caught up with a diver just surfaced from a dive in the Indian Ocean. Boarding the boat from a stunning dive where Turtles, Peacock Mantis Shrimps, Trevally, Moray and a school of over 100 barracuda were present, Fabrice Crotch, 27, an enormous twat from Switzerland who works in accounting said “I’m an Advanced Open Water diver with 25 dives and I didn’t see a Whale Shark on that dive. In fact I didn’t see anything. Boring. I did manage to kick the other members of my dive group on the head several times and set off the ascent alarm on my computer though, so not all is lost.”

The crowned-prince of twats.

The crowned-prince of twats.

Asked by our research team if he had any other recollection of the dive he rolled his eyes threw his mask randomly on the floor in with someone else’s equipment to cause delays searching for it prior to the next dive, before picking up his iPhone and standing in the middle of the dive deck obstructing everyone else.

We next managed to catch up with Terry Balls, 42, a Carpet-fitter, UKIP voter and irritating arse from Barnsley, UK, at Scapa Flow, Europe’s premier wreck diving site. As he was lifted back onto the boat from a dive on the historic German Battlecruiser, SMS Dresden, we managed to grab Terry’s first words: “It was a bit cold… The instructor said something about a gun or anchor capstan or something, but I didn’t see it…pretty boring.”

"I can't see a Barracuda - how can you expect me to see a fan coral?? Don't worry a new one will grown in a few decades."

“I can’t see a Barracuda – how can you expect me to see a fan coral?? Don’t worry a new one will grow in a few decades.”

This phenomena is still being investigated by the world’s leading Ophthalmologists and Neurologists to decipher causality but there appears to be a strong link between being an inexperienced diver in combination with being an enormous idiot.

Instructor Carlotta Gonzales Fernandez from Tossa de Mar, 33, said, “…these new divers seem to have an uncanny ability to filter out anything smaller than a large eagle ray. I once took my group through a school of dozens of hunting trevally and afterwards they said the dive was boring and they’d seen nothing. Yes, they were idiots.”

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“ok, I admit it, it was me…”

 

In breaking news at the Scuba Monkey’s top-secret research labs (just south of Nangtong Supermarket, near the massage parlour on the road south from Ranong) it’s been revealed that Satan, Prince of Darkness, is the entity responsible for GoPro Hero cameras.

Long suspected to be the case by Scuba Diving Instructors worldwide, this latest information confirms their deepest suspicions and fears.

The Dark Lord himself told The Scuba Monkey’s research team about his evil bidding in a telephone interview yesterday afternoon.

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“There’s just too many humans in the world. Too many. Why can’t they stop rutting, just for a second? They’re not even my favourite primate. I like the Orangutans – that ‘Clyde‘ especially. And we need to sort out this food/air deal. Anyway, him upstairs – y’know him with the white flowing beard – commanded I do something about it. Said I was the demon for the job. After all, Satan’s the name, capturing souls is the game!”

“So, I appeared to (founder and CEO of GoPro) Nicholas Woodman in an apparition. You should have seen his face!! I snuck into his bedroom at 4am and planted the idea in his brain. So, go easy on the guy – it’s not all his fault.”

Laughing almost to the point of tears Satan said “I filled him full of a load of crap about how it ‘helps people capture and share their lives’ most meaningful experiences with others—to celebrate them together’…a ha-ha-ha-ha…”

“The reality is it’s a great way of culling the most shallow, self-centred, egotistical and narcissistic fleshlings for my evil kingdom. These f*ckwits are like lambs to the slaughter. First I give them Facebook – the ultimate tool for the mentally ill who post ‘selfies’ under the misapprehension that anyone gives a shit. And then, my masterstroke, was as to create simple to use, easy to buy, small boxes that takes 1080p footage which they can stroke their egos with and post on social networking sites. The poor buggers can’t help themselves! They’re like lemmings! Spending their whole life from behind a small box on a stick nearly killing themselves in the hope of becoming more popular, instead of actually having a life… I mean, what a great idea: Foolproof. Simple. Effective. Much like the camera. Add Scuba Diving Equipment and these idiots are like an accident waiting to happen and ‘boom’ – we cull the idiots and make some more space on the planet. Job done. The boss will be pleased. ”

Sam Worthington, 33, a PADI Instructor presently working in South East Asia confirmed Beelzebub’s account of human behaviour. Clutching his head in his hands he said “I deal with Scuba Divers on a daily basis. At best most holiday divers are average in the water. But, add a GoPro and…they behave like headless chickens. Swimming up, down, left, right….everywhere except with their buddy or the group. You can hear their computers screaming as they ascend like polaris missiles. Or beeping like a faulty doorbell as they blow through their 1.4 ppo2 using nitrox as they don’t have a scooby what depth they’re at…”

Shaking his head Sam added “Watching someone dive with a GoPro is like watching a car-crash. These people can barely dive without a camera. Then giving a novice diver this evil piece of technology is like asking a new car driver to drive through a city centre while juggling like Penn Jillette – doomed to failure. And, in the process, they kill most of the aquatic life in their path and risk the safety of the whole group. They’re like human wrecking balls. That Devil guy is not as daft as he looks y’know. I’ve seen a dozen incidents this year already watching some pituitary retard chasing a Whale Shark. And if I see one more of these knob-jockeys kick the coral I’ll kill them myself before they manage to kill themselves…”

Dorianne, 30, an Instructor in the Red Sea, said shaking her head “I once saw a customer – a daft traveller/trustafarian type with ‘ethnic tattoos’ and dreadlocks – shoot up towards the surface chasing footage of an Oceanic Whitetip with a death-box on a stick. Luckily, we managed to slow her down on her journey from 30m to 5m before she hit the surface – despite her kicking and punching. Her Suunto was beeping like morse-code machine having a seizure. When we got back on the boat she was more concerned with uploading her footage to improve her popularity and get ‘likes’ than being connected to the emergency oxygen. Idiot. She’s presently in a chamber just outside Hurghada taking ‘selfies’ of herself with the facility staff.”

Before departing Satan chuckled and said “Soon every diver will have one of these devices before they even finish their Open Water course or know how to hover, monitor their air and depth, or fin correctly. I love it when a plan comes together…business is booming down here in my Evil Kingdom!”

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Shortly before releasing he’d just floated up from 25m to 5m in 10 seconds clutching his camera…

 

When you’ve been monkeying around in this business for years and teaching in different countries and environments you learn, like a diving detective, to identify traits, characteristics and cues with divers. To sort the new divers from the old. To quickly spot the experienced from the inexperienced. The cocktail divers from those who have spent time in a more demanding environment. It sounds harsh, but it’s part of the job. Making sure your dive group is safe may depend on it.

So, what are the ‘tells’? What are diving professionals looking for? What are the stereotypes?!… Stick around, take the test and I’ll let you see behind the curtain… It’s not a complete list by any stretch of the imagination, but it will give you a few ‘give-aways’ as to what kind of diver you may be dealing with on the dive deck. Write down your answers. See how you do! There’s a poll at the end.

 

Part 1: Equipment

1. My regulators are:

a) Whatever I’ve been given. I’m not sure.

b) A bargain. I got them off ebay/a friend secondhand.

c) MK2/11 Scubapro, Aqualung Titan LX, Cressi MC9, Mares Prestige 12s…etc.

d) MK17/25 Scubapro, Aqualung Legend, Mares Abyss, Apeks XTX200…etc.

e) Mares Carbon 42s, Poseidon Xstream, Apeks XTX200 Tungsten.

2. My BCD is:

a) Decent quality semi-wing/BCD style device such as a Mares Hybrid/Dragon, Scubapro X-Black/T-Black, Aqualung Axiom, Hollis HD200…etc.

b) Wing and back plate. Twin Bladder.

c) Scubapro T-One, Aqualung Wave, Mares Prestige…etc.

d) No idea.

e) Buddy Explorer/Commando. 2001 model.

3. My computer is:

a) What computer? I’m not bothered – I’m not even wearing a watch! – I’ll just stay close to the group. Or, a Mares Puck your partner bought as a present and you don’t know how to use.

b) A 15-20 year old Suunto Favor or big grey UWATEC Aladin that should be on ‘Antiques Roadshow’; the algorithm is so out of date that at 35m on a repetitive dive it gives you a bottom time of 73 minutes.

c) The size of a laptop and with a lurid multi-coloured screen.

d) A solid Zoop/D4/Geo2/Vyper/Veo 2.0

e) Suunto D6i/D9/DX/OCi

4. My fins are:

a) Aqualung Slingshots, Mares Avanti 3/Quattros, Scubapro Twin-Jets, Beauchat Powerjets – all with spring-clips…etc.

b) Jet fins. End of.

c) Size 43 full foot. But I’m shopping online for some Scubapro Seawing Novas – in white.

d) Aqualung Express, Scubapro Jet-Sport, Mares Wave, Tusa Imprex…etc.

e) Original Mares Plana (green/black).

Part 2: Dive Style.

5. Pre-dive I put my mask…

a) On the back of my head.

b) On my forehead.

c) On my face

d) Around my neck until I’ve jumped into the water (which I usually do minus mask and regulator). I’ll put it on when I’m waiting for everyone else.

e) I don’t know where my mask is. I may have sat on it.

6. I put my computer

a) In a console with my air gauge.

b) I don’t know how to use my computer. My boyfriend/girfriend bought it for me as a gift.

c) On my left wrist.

d) On my right wrist.

e) On show where everyone can admire it and it’s flashing lights.

7. On the surface at the end of the dive I…

a) Signal the boat with my SMB and keep everything in place until I’m back on the terra-firma.

b) Put my mask on my forehead and complain about the current.

c) Put the mask on the back of my head and talk about your computer readout/runtime etc. during various stages of the dive.

d) Put my mask around my neck and fin back to the boat’s ladder cheering and whooping.

e) Get ready to take off my enormous weight belt and pass it up to the crew.

8. My air gauge is…

a) Tucked in my pocket on a 3-in-line combo and it’s readings are top secret. If you ask me how much air I have during the dive, I’ll be offended.

b) Neatly tucked under my arm and/or in a clip on the left hand side. It’s just a simple air-gauge.

c) On a super thin miflex hose and miniature metal gauge and is only my business.

d) No idea. I didn’t set up my gear.

e) Standard issue Aqualung/Scubapro 2-in-line on a standard hose.

9. In current I…

a) Get blown away and/or am unable to adapt my style to the environment.

b) Complain when I get back to the surface.

c) Plan the route around the site carefully to take shelter where possible with one eye on the group.

d) Hope to see something big swimming by!

e) Hope it won’t mess up my dive plan that I made on V-Planner.

10. On a dive site I…

a) Have a list of things I want to see so that I can take photos to show my friends on Facebook.

b) Search for the ghost pipefish for 40 minutes (even though the group with a combined total of 35 dives will have no idea what the ‘stick thing’ is).

c) Grab the reef when it suits or use a metal ‘pointer’ to prod at things when it suits. Why not.

d) Monitor my plans. Plan the dive, dive the plan.

e) Try to ensure the group are safe and bring them all to a safe ascent point with a margin of gas.

11. No stop/deco limits are:

a) Extended if you use some nitrox, but please keep one eye on your computer and let me know when you get to 5 minutes from your limit so I can manage the profile.

b) Something I learned about in training.

c) Something imposed by PADI/SSI etc. Pain in the arse.

d) On my computer. I’ll try to stay within them as we’re doing 4 dives today but if I see something a little deeper I’ll bend the rules and hope my computer sorts it out…

e) For inexperienced divers. I’m going with a couple of stages the richest one is 80%.

12. On safety stops I…

a) Hover vertically and blow air ‘rings’ for my customers.

b) Flap around and look at my computer in a confused manner, before popping to the surface like a cork before insinuating there’s something wrong with the equipment and that was the reason for floating away…

c) Film my friends so we can examine our positioning after the dive in the pub, talking earnestly and stroking our chins.

d) Try to stay horizontal and stable so I can off-gas efficiently and turn easily to keep an eye on where the group/boat is.

e) Make up the minutes left as my vintage Aladin slab/computer is simply showing ‘99’ – and I have no idea what that means.

13. My SMB is…

a) I don’t carry one – it’s something for the guide to worry about. I’ve never deployed one in my life despite having an ‘Advanced’ qualification.

b) On a chunky metal Custom/Kent Divers reel with a sausage big enough to lift an outboard motor from 20,000 leagues under the sea.

c) A cheap n’ cheerful plastic sausage on an 8m line with a bolt tied on the end. It has a smiley face drawn on it in permanent marker.

d) On a lightweight finger reel, but I keep a spare around just in case.

e) Faded and in my BCD pocket. It’s the same one I bought in 1986.

14. I love to dive…

a) In tropical areas or warm waters. I don’t like current. Diving in colder water is rubbish. And I expect to see exceptional things.

b) Where there’s some great Macro-life so I can get some decent shots. I love hunting for Pipefish, Seahorses and Harlequin Shrimps.

c) Everywhere. I love to blow bubbles. Everywhere in the world has it’s magic.

d) On wrecks. Deep. Dressed in black.

e) Wherever our committee says and is cheapest.

15. On the surface interval I…

a) Sleep if I can.

b) Tinker with my equipment.

c) Check my group are OK, speak with colleagues and prepare for the next dive.

d) Moan about what I didn’t see and how expensive the diving is.

e) Sit on the boat smoking and play verbal ‘Scuba diving ‘Top Trumps’’ with other guests (e.g. “I saw the ******, did you??”)

16. GoPro Hero cameras…

a) …are cool. I carry a camera just in case I see something on the dive.

b) …I don’t have time for one. I’m concentrating on the dive and the task at hand.

c)…make my heart sink. I know my work is going to be cut-out trying to make sure the user doesn’t lose the group or get a bend chasing something instead of monitoring their depth. Why don’t people buy a computer or continue their diving education instead?

d) …I don’t want any of that modern jibba-jabba! I reluctantly parted with money for my computer 20 years ago (which is still on it’s original battery). I’m not wasting any more money!

e) I bought one and take it everywhere. I film everything and post it to a social networking site as soon as I’m back on land. It was the first thing I bought in basic training (before mask, fins, computer…)

So, who are you?! Where do the majority of your answers fall? Recognise yourself? A friend? A dive buddy? Written down your answers?….scroll down for the reveal!

 

Cocktail Diver (Answers: 1a, 2d, 3a, 4c, 5e, 6b, 7b, 8d, 9a, 10a, 11b, 12b, 13a, 14a, 15e, 16e)

You dive only on holiday in warm waters. Or alternatively, it’s something you learned to do while ‘travelling’ as something to enjoy alongside elephant trekking or surfing. You have progressed to a maximum of Advanced Open Water level. You have less than 100 dives and in-water you dive for you, not as a buddy team and are prone to disappearing on your own or holding up the group. You expect the best and if you don’t see what it said on google for that area (e.g. Manta/Whale Shark/Turtle) you’re very disappointed. You like “big stuff”. You like to post diving footage from your GoPro on Facebook. You flutter kick and can’t cope with current. You have limited equipment (if at all) and what you may have bought is a mis-match of contrasting styles bought on special offer at the dive centre or dive show (as your ‘experienced mate’ said it was a bargain) or, alternatively, bought because the colours match – not for function. You have no idea how to use an SMB and are still scared of having water leak into your mask. Technically, you’re not unsafe but your skill level is still low. You measure your ability on what you’ve seen as opposed to how you dive.

 

Warm-Water-Spotter-Instructor/Part-Time DM or Instructor on holiday (Answers: 1c, 2c, 3d, 4d, 5d, 6c, 7d, 8e, 9d, 10b, 11d, 12a, 13c, 14b, 15a, 16a)

Hard working and with a passion for diving, you did your DM/IDC in the past 2 years in nice, warm, calm conditions. You have between 80-500 dives. You’re on a tight budget and your equipment is tough, mid-range gear that gets the job done – certainly no Tekkie gear although you like wearing a wing sometimes as you think it looks cool with your boardies. You like to party in the evenings and have been known to post ridiculous pictures of yourself making a peace ‘v-sign’ or ‘wicked/awesome’ hand signal underwater with your reg/mask off on Facebook. You’ve never taught/dived in a tough environment and focus more on ‘spotting’ creatures than group safety, dive management or coaching. You’re diving for you and may even carry a camera – even though you’re supposed to be guiding/teaching. Your mission each dive is to ‘out-do’ the other guides by finding more exclusive creatures than them to brag about back on the boat. You’re good with people but forget some of the safety aspects of diving sometimes if there’s something good to see, or at the surface. You’ve never seen a diving injury or accident and certainly not had to deal with anything as serious as a fatality. Teaching to standards is generally done, although you bend the rules a little sometimes to suit.

 

Old-Skool-Clubbie (Answers: 1b, 2e, 3b, 4e, 5b, 6a, 7e, 8a, 9b, 10c, 11c, 12e, 13e, 14e, 15d, 16d)

You’re a member of BSAC/CMAS etc. and think PADI/SSI etc. are money-grabbing charlatans who don’t know how to dive. A diving traditionalist, your equipment and procedures are 20 years behind the curve but, ironically, you’re so set in your ways that you wouldn’t accept any advice even if it was offered. You expect special service but also a discount (?) and think dive centres are out to rip you off! Equipment is rarely serviced – if at all – and you consider that if your equipment is old, faded and beaten-up it just makes you look experienced, right? You have limited buoyancy control and environmental awareness – and think nothing of grabbing the reef or wreck to get a photo. You wear too much weight, have between 100-500 dives, but still have high gas consumption – however you won’t pay a supplement for a 15L tank and would rather compromise the dive for the rest of the group.

 

Weather-Beaten-DM/Instructor (Answers: 1d, 2a, 3e, 4a, 5c, 6d, 7a, 8b, 9c, 10e, 11a, 12d, 13d, 14c, 15c, 16c)

You’re a Divemaster or Instructor who’s been around the block. With >1000 dives in different environments you don’t pretend to know everything, but you’ve got some tales to tell. You’re on a dive professional’s salary (square root of f*ck all!) but you have the best equipment you can afford. You know your life depends on it. Safety is your first priority over spotting the creatures – although you’re passionate about aquatic life – and you’ve seen enough cock-ups in your time to know that little mistakes can add up to a big incident if you don’t pay attention. Warm water, cold water, reef, wreck, current…you’ve seen a little of everything and try to adapt your style accordingly. It drives you crazy when people (including other professionals) are unsafe in the water or have no respect for the environment.

 

The Tekkie (Answers: 1e, 2b, 3c, 4b, 5a, 6e, 7c, 8c, 9e, 10d, 11e, 12c, 13b, 14d, 15b, 16b)

You’re not a full-time diver but a wealthy person who has a serious day job. You take yourself and your diving very seriously and are prone to considering yourself a class above standard recreational divers. You’re about 75% likely to be male. You have around 200 dives and consider yourself to be a great diver (the reality is you’re average and having been seen flapping around or getting lost like a student on dive holidays). You have all black dive gear. You love wrecks and have no time for “fishy sh*t”. Twisted metal is where it’s at. You love to talk gas mixes, shutdowns, SAC rates and run-times loudly to whoever will listen. You read the diving press religiously and buy the very best equipment online after drinking your local dive centre dry of coffee and not buying from them. Your equipment makes working DMs/Instructors drool but you don’t know quite how to use that flashy equipment to it’s full potential. You’ve never gone down the coaching/DM/Instructor route as you don’t have the patience or personality. You wear a twin-set even when you’re only doing a 12m dive in a lake as you love the kudos. Diving’s about you and your gadgets and some of your best dives occur during tall stories in the the pub.

 

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Why dive to dive?? You can simply use footage to post and tell everyone how great you are!!

Scuba Monkey Labs, the top-secret research facility in Asia (just south of the 7/11 on the main road, the pub on the left, ask for Bob – red beard, glasses – you know the one…) have discovered that in the near future, watching GoPro footage of diving will replace the actual experience of physically going scuba diving.

With technology becoming cheaper and most modern homo-sapiens reluctant take part in any team activity or leave their smartphones for more than 10 minutes, scuba diving will be phased-out in favour of watching footage of aquatic life on a series of 1080p image files while sitting on a boat.

In the next few years virtual diving is set to boom and diving instructors will be phased-out, with most people opting for new ‘diving experiences’ where they can simply sun themselves on a boat and watch footage on their smartphones with a commentary 4 times a day which they can then post to their facebook pages.

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A Trustafarian yesterday “Yar, so, like, I’m a traveller….I’ll tell you all about it – I’ll just grab my laptop from my Mum’s Audi”

Lenny, 25, from Holland, an enormously narcissistic young man, said “I’ve done nearly 50 dives now and surely that’s enough. After all, I’m a rich trustafarian who’s already dived in the best places of the coral triangle; Indonesia, Phillipines, Raja Ampat. I only want the best. Big stuff. Even though I can’t even manage to get my own fins on. And Diving is just so much effort. I have to actually think about other people and work as a team which, being a massively self-absorbed person, is very difficult for me.” Checking his reflection in the window, he added “I just disappear off on my own on most dives. Sod my buddy. I want to get footage of big things to post on facebook so everyone can see how great I am. I really am that pompous and selfish. This new process of simply buying footage of pelagic life to watch on your smartphone and claim as your own sounds perfect for massaging my ego.”

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“Man, I look good. I think I’ll make this my profile picture…”

Umberto, 44, from Italy, an enormously needy diver of some 73 dives said “I just get so cold on these tropical dives. The water is 28-29c – mamma mia!! Can’t they improve the temperature or something??” Shivering in the 34c air our delicate flower added “I love this new idea of simply sunning yourself on the boat and buying footage of the dive that someone else has shot. After all, if I can’t be guaranteed a Manta Ray why bother getting in the water?”

Magda, 47, from Oslo, a marketing executive with gigantic fake boobs, said “I was once told we would be diving a site a second time. That’s ridiculous. I’ve done it once so I’ve seen all I need to. So, this new system of sitting on the boat in my bikini talking about what a great diver I am while someone else provides footage sounds like a great idea. I don’t like all that hassle of actually having to move my legs and kick anyway. And last trip I found I had water trapped in my left ear for a couple of hours – which I complained to the manager about”.

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Commonly worn on the wrong wrist by cocktail divers (left instead of right) – they have no idea what it’s for but, boy, it looks cool!

Instructor Gary Clark, 42, concurred “Diving Instruction is set to become a thing of the past. And, to be fair, it’s probably for the best. Most alledgedly ‘Advanced’ divers don’t listen to their instructors, only wear a diving computer for decoration and have no idea what an NDL limit is, how to manage their air consumption, or how to plan a dive. So the safety will be much improved if we just let them sit on the boat, give them some footage of whale sharks to watch, and splash them with salt water 4 times a day. Everyone’s a winner!”

In breaking news at the Scuba Monkey’s top secret research facility (Asia-Pacific Branch, just south of Mars Bar on the main road from Phuket to Ranong, past the 7/11 on the right) shocking new research has linked owning and using a digital camera and housing with early-onset hearing loss.

Previous thought had theorised that hearing loss was linked to old age and/or long-term exposure to noise above accepted levels. However, recent findings indicate that being an underwater photographer can cause a form of selective hearing known as “happy snapper” or (in medical circles) “twat syndrome”. Technically speaking, scuba instructors refer to this as “completely ignoring the f*cking briefing and diving like a cock”.

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“No…I own a camera so I didn’t hear a damn thing…”

On a recent visit to a marine park in the Indian Ocean, Dirk Pederfilesen, 48, a fat bloke from Copenhagen with an underwater camera, said “I think they said something about ‘respecting the marine park’ in the briefing? or not touching the wildlife? Something like that? I couldn’t quite hear it as I’m an enormous bell-end.” Chuckling he added “I was busy preparing my camera housing for the dive, where I proceeded to kick living hell out of the reef and create a blizzard of sand for anyone in the area. However, I did manage to get 442 pictures of a clown fish that no-one’s interested in seeing. Ever.”

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International surplus of moray eel photos continues.

Plum Saw Wong, 23, an extremely pretty but totally incompetent female diver from Shanghai, said “Apparently we were told to during the briefing to not wear gloves as it’s a marine park rule and, also, to keep wearing our masks on the surface and keep our regulators in until we were safely back on the dive deck as there was lots of waves and it’s ‘good practice’. Naturally, as I own an expensive Nikon camera I didn’t hear a word of that. So, imagine my surprise as a smashed head-first into the boat’s ladder in the surge at the end of the dive. I couldn’t see what the hell was going on as I wasn’t wearing my mask. At the time I was busy trying to remove my ridiculous white fins while blinded by waves and…boom! into the ladder. If only I’d heard what was going on the briefing….” Making a ‘peace’ V-sign she grinned and added ” However, I did manage to scare the crap out of a cuttlefish by strobing it to within an inch of it’s life on the dive though so…happy! happy!”

Diver kicking up sediment

Take that reef!!

Dermot McCraic, 31, from Dublin said “I was greasing the o-ring on my housing during the dive briefing so my hearing was impaired and I couldn’t hear the instructor advising us about potential strong currents and keeping buddy contact. So, I was shocked to find that I was blown away from the dive site like a tit in the wind when I completely ignored the group and buggered off on my own with my camera. If only I’d been able to listen to the briefing. Bloody camera. Nevermind. It only compromised the dive for the whole group as they had to surface and look for me – so it’s not like my actions effected anyone else. Oh…they did.”

Sarah McDonald, 43, an experienced instructor in the area, said “This kind of occurrence is becoming increasingly common as more and more complete idiots buy underwater cameras. Their hearing and ability to follow simple instructions takes a nose-dive. It’s a worrying trend. However, it does mean the world isn’t short of pictures of moray eels.”

For help and advice on camera-related-twatish behaviour contact the Scuba Monkey’s research team below.