I’ve taken more than one of those steps in my lifetime, in fact, I even managed to take two of them in the space of one week. A couple of weeks ago I responded to the first of a new series of challenges called Like it or Loathe It, where I mentioned a decision to board a small, rickety-looking airplane, or miss out on a rendezvous with the rather hot object of my not so ladylike intentions.
In that same week, I was invited to go on a scuba safari. I accepted the invitation even though I could barely wade across the local swimming pool without large portions of my life floating before my eyes. Against all wisdom (and because nobody told me I shouldn’t) I got blindingly drunk the night before and sallied forth at the appointed hour the next morning. If there was a theme song to this moment, it would have been 10cc’s “The Things We Do For Love”.
Anyhow, I struggled into a random borrowed wetsuit that previously belonged to a female of my height whose figure unfortunately swelled where I am narrow and was narrow where I am more, shall we say, generously proportioned. After some instructions, which mainly consisted of “don’t spit out the mouthpiece” and “hold on to my arm at all times”, we waded out to sea (backwards to accommodate the flippers), until we came to spot where solid ground dropped off sharply. It would only take one step to be actually diving.
The hardest thing I ever did was to duck my head under the water, I spent a couple of minutes, frozen, staring at the water level which was exactly half-way across my diving mask. I knew that if I didn’t put my whole head underwater then, I never would. I took a breath that probably depleted half of my tank, and stepped forward.
The thing about the sea off the Isles of Scilly (at the time I visited) was that it was crystal clear, and marine life, travelling comes right up to the shoreline. When my eyes focused, I was looking straight into the faces of a little band of very curious fish. To my right was a lobster, standing tall – much like the chap in the picture.
I still remember the amazing sensation of drifting upside down and sideways among wild creatures seemed as curious about me as I was about them. Because of my inexperience and excitement, my tank drained really quickly so the experience was all too short, but while it lasted, it was utterly wonderful.
After we came back onshore, the object of my affection peeled off his wetsuit to reveal a bruise in the shape of my tightly clutching hand around his left forearm. Small price, I told him, for the payback he was going to receive later.