Do men who have got all their marbles go swimming in lakes with their clothes on? ~P.G. Wodehouse
Today is The Day of the Divers – the SCUBA folks -- not the ones off the diving board. Alexander III, who made his own children sleep on army cots, bathe in cold water, and sometimes made them wait so long to be served a meal that Nicholas II ate the wax in his crucifix, founded the world’s first deep sea-diving school in Kronstadt on May 5, 1882, which today is part of the Naval Engineering Academy of St. Petersburg. Kronstadt is an island near St. Petersburg with numerous associations with the Russian Revolution, and I think it is fair to say that the water temperature never gets what you and I would call tepid.
I am not a SCUBA enthusiast myself. If you ask me, one is just asking for a solid week of Neti-Potting after a few hours, and I didn’t care for the distinctly amphibious look of the feet of the guy who taught HRH and Velvet and me a few years ago. It is very expensive, and I feel I don't look my super best in the kit. However, HRH’s godson, George, really IS into diving. At only fifteen, he is already PADI certified and goes diving whenever he can. Oddly enough, May 5th is also George’s birthday, so do click on the comment button below and leave a comment for George to wish him Happy Birthday AND Happy Diver's Day – because he will be checking to see that you did!!!
Russian Diver, George is 15 today
George is not unusual in his passion for a sport that his hometown (Moscow) can’t really support or accommodate.
A while ago, a glamorous American journalist called Dinah rang me up from Prague in a panic: having had a few too many pints of beer with an editor in a downtown bar called "The Scarlett O'Hara" she had insinuated that she knew rather more about Really Tacky New Russians than she actually did. She’d scored a 1500-word gig, intimated that this was not all she had scored, and thus was suffering from a horrible hangover, some guilt, and severe writer's block. Dinah needed sound bytes and she needed them fast. We covered the cost of a bottle of cheap and cheerful chardonnay from Australia ($37 USD), that famous story when the BA plane was delayed by 75 minutes while flight attendants tried to fit 10 (ten!!!!) Jimmy Choo shopping bags into the overhead compartment while their owner, a human Barbie doll, talked non-stop on her diamond-studded Nokia to someone called “Ksiusha,” at which point Dinah took another swig of Alka-Seltzer and said:
“What do Really Tacky New Russians in Moscow like to do for…ummmmmmmm…sports?”
I knew this one.
“Really Tacky New Russians in Moscow like to find the most impossibly exclusive, completely unavailable sports with the most complicated and gut-wrenchingly expensive kit possible.”
“Such as?” asked Dinah.
“Golf, downhill skiing and yachting.”
There was a long pause.
“But…” began Dinah.
“That’s right,” I said, “Moscow is flat, landlocked, and you can only play golf for two months of the year.”
“Unbelievable,” said Dinah.
“Actually, what is unbelievable is that some idiot bankers have started to play polo.”
There was a sound as if Alka Seltzer was going down the wrong tube.
“You made that up, Jennifer,” she accused.
I don’t often snort, but I snorted then said:
“How could anyone possibly make up something like that?"
This post is part of The Stunt
Do you think I made the polo players up? More fool you….I didn’t. Did you ever think you'd see something as silly as this in the middle of a financial melt down? No, you're right. It would be funnier if those clowns from Citi were supporting it.
Today is also Day of the Cryptographic Service – Russia’s code crackers.
But more importantly: Please please please leave a comment wishing George a Happy Birthday. Seriously, he’s a great kid, is nice to his little sister, I'm concerned that HRH didn't get him the iPad he wanted, and he can sing "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" in Chinese." I kid you not.