Greg (Gregorious) Wood decides to come on holiday to the Isle of Man as he wants to learn to dive and it’s cheap. I teach him to dive, he gets pissed and breaks his leg.
I should feel pleased that a guy in his early twenties wants to hang out with someone who is as old as his dad. In fact Angela and I do get on with Greg very well and when he announced he was taking his annual vacation with us, we were really looking forward to it.
I was delighted that I was teaching someone to dive from scratch again. As you rise (like shit to the surface) within the hierarchy of the British Sub Aqua Club it is very easy to lose sight of why we all started to become diving instructors.
There is nothing quite like the look of someone who has come up from their first dive having experienced, what sadly, we now take for granted. Just simple stuff like fish, crabs, anemones make people just beam like a proud new father. Greg was no different, except he swore a lot…
What is even better is teaching someone in the Isle of Man!
Why, well you can bloody well see for a start. The horizontal visibility varied between seven to 15m during the week – this makes the job easier and vastly more enjoyable! Secondly, you can teach everything from the very start in the sea – YEAH!!!
On this front I foolishly asked the amazingly helpful (and not suffering fools at all, occasionally abrasive) Michelle and Steve of Discover Diving if Greg could hire a wetsuit for the sheltered water stuff. ‘No one dives in a wetsuit here’… Fair enough, dry suit from the beginning then.
I had six days to take my ‘student’ from zero to hero. Though it was quite intense, we had plenty of time, even managing to take the Castle Rushen Sub Aqua Club RIB out on a test run following an engine repair.
Greg was a natural which did make it very easy; he really didn’t like taking his mask off though!
The course progressed well with the sheltered water dives being conducted in Derbyhaven Bay (hot and sunny) and off the jetty at Port Erin: splendid. The qualifying dive was a 20m drift on the underrated Port St Mary ledges opposite my house!
Celebrations started immediately the evening dive was completed with a trip to the most excellent ‘Rasoi’ curry house, conveniently located 10 minutes walk from our house. The monstrous quantity of food ordered resulted in Greg asking for it to be packed up for later.
Next stop was the Shore Hotel for beers and as it’s good 25 minutes walk away, he decided that it would be a ‘good idea’ to hide the curry in someone’s garden until we returned. The trip to the Shore was boozy, but uneventful and when we returned the curry was still there, lurking in a bush.
Back at the house we cracked open a few beers and at 0130 and following the progression to red wine, Angela, sensibility and most unusually, went to bed.
We then started watching SouthPark and Jackass – very bad news.
I opened another bottle of red wine and Greg made a sterling effort of drinking it all as soon as possible. I went to bed at 0400…
He was ‘supposed’ to be going home the day after and I set my alarm for 0730 in the morning. There have been many instances were people have not made the early ferry/plane due to alcohol induced sleep. This seems to happen a lot at the Campbell household.
I put on the kettle and knocked on the door to his room. No answer. I looked in, bed not slept in. I looked around the house in every room (including closets and store rooms).
Knowing Greg is really a vagrant at heart, I thought to myself “he will be asleep in the garden or on a bench somewhere”. Looked around, no Gregorious…
Hmmm, must be in the hut right next to the sea wall, walked over – no Greg. I then consulted my mobile that I had left in the office. Two texts and a missed call.
From what I can gather, following my ‘early’ departure, he thought it was a good idea to take the remainder of the wine and curry and sit on the bench watching the sea. This wouldn’t be a problem except he the decided to walk down the fearful ‘hill of doom’ to the bench right next to the wall, tripped, fell and broke his leg.
He was in great pain but managed to find his phone and ring me. I imagine him calling, like Mustafa in Austin Powers’, ‘The spy who shagged me’, up from the bottom of doom hill.
We were asleep and the phone was in the office. He didn’t have my home number so he rang 999. Of course the great big ginger nob didn’t know where he was.
It’s 0500, he calls my business partner Simon Collison to find my address, Colly contacted the ambulance again.
Like something from Saving Private Ryan, he crawls up the hill of doom to be picked up by the paramedics.
Why is it called the fearful hill of doom?
Well, it has already claimed one leg. Joe, my youngest son, ran down the same bit of hill, whilst pissed, hit the wall and careered over the edge seven meters to the rocks below, breaking is arm and leg – another supernob.
Exactly, the hill of doom. I now give a full safety briefing to all my guests (this is true) to prevent our house being blacklisted by the Isle of Man Ambulance & Coastguard service…
To be serious for a moment, to follow is a quote from that post and is one (thinking about it, the only one) of the greatest compliments I have ever received:
Having him as your dive teacher however, will most likely be a fantastic experience. When he gets under the surface all his personality attributes reverse themselves; he’s a patient, respectful, careful and informative dive teacher. Also, with his dive mask and hood on, he looks a lot like Gandalf the wizard, which certainly helps on the trust front. Campbell – thanks mate, you’re a legend x
I literally filled up when I read it…
Of course it implies that I am usually impatient, disrespectful, uncaring and uninformative. Fair point.
If you read the article you will also see him refer to me as a small aggressive little man. Aggressive yes. Small, bollocks: I am 5 feet 8.5 inches! The average height for a male on the UK is 5 feet 9 inches.
The best height statistic of all is that the British are on average one inch taller than Frenchmen which always make me happy :-)
So Wood, when you read this please revise your post!!!
Want more? Photos available on Flickr
‘The master in the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his information and his recreation, his love and his religion. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence at whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing. To him he’s always doing both.’
James A. Michener (1907-1997)