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19th April 2010 - Monday in Madrid

Tom and I are rather slowly making our way back from a rain sodden la manga to the shores of the UK. We pulled into the so called capital of spain last night and hope to get to Bilbao tomorrow. I will come back to the mess and failures of the EU transport system another time, but whilst sitting crammed in a web cafe, surrounded by swiss and Hun in the same positin as us, there is a sort of a Blitz mentality goping on. Except for klaus on my right whose grandparents started it.

However, monday in madrid...there are 3 big galleries in town. One houses Guernica, a big black and white comment on war by the cubist himself.Not bad, if you like bulls and horses at peculiar angles. But what gets my fury exploding, is the other 2 major league art houses here, the prado and Thyssen Boerisma are blody well closed. Both of them. YOud have thought that with unemployment at 20 % therd be enough people to staff a sodding gallery. Especially with Europes ashNomads piling through this town.

luckily Tom bought a Picasso powerball at the last gallery gift apologies to the Prado who will find tomorrow, puple marks over their atrium by the main entrance, and a couple of chips on the big 18th century wooden doors that stayed oh so closed. Our last game (hit the O in Goya)was won by me, but we are still waiting for a ruling as Tom reckons it hit the outer rim of said letter.

i always wanted to do that

and that...

conclusive proof that this is a true spanish keyboard.

Got some french in the next door booth now...they could darn well walk back, lazy sods. I know what it feels like to be an immigrant trying to get to our fine shores...and advice to all those who follow, hit this town on a Tuesday.



Comments on this post:

I assume your misspells, and poor syntax are not as a result of your stupidity..but due to the fact that your keyboard is sticky and dusty due to a hundred years of backpackers dirty fingers....


For an even better blog than this... Read Rob's Blog

8th April 2010 - Prague

How do you know when Obama's in town?

The first giveaway is the sniper on the roof opposite.

And like out of that Pepsi ad, the girls here are all staring and ooh and aahing over his cropped haircut and ripped biceps.

The Czech guys of course see the truth.

"50 cal laser sighted" they all croon.

My English superior knowledge of security is asked for..."is he FBI, CIA or who"

NRA honey...good old National Rivers Association.

Mixed acronym gags are lost on the Czechistas though,so i'll keep the WWF one to myself.

Anyways, President Hope Change and whatever other verb Cameron's going to steal this month is here to meet none other than Presidential Puppet Mededev. He pulled in last night and is at the 4 Seasons. Big O is at the Hilton apparetnly. I wonder how they sort this out beforehand, as the former is way nicer? Better stocked minibars and the showers still work.

However the main source of Czech incredulity is the fact that Medvedev is a dwarf. Well 5 ft 3" apparently. What they miss is that there's no way that Putin will "put in" a Pres who will turn out more popular than him over the next 4 years. So a dwarf it has to be for the Russians until Putin is reelected off the back of topless bear fighting photos in a few years.

Now theres an idea for Nick Clegg.


Comments on this post:

Hot news from Wensclesas Square..the crowds are cheering. Little paper flags rhythmically waved. The CONTRACT is signed!

A quiet new world. The Yanks and the Russkies have agreed not to prolifewrate their nukes any more. Production will cease. The thousands of old ones stashed away in bunkers from Kansas to Kamchatka will just have to do.

But am I the only one dissappointed? Just where the hell does a man buy a shiny new nuke now??? Guess i'll have to join the queues in Pakistan and North Korea like every other bloody terrorist.


For an even better blog than this... Read Rob's Blog

3rd July 2008 - On Breaking Ribs

Ah, how well we remember Our Tune by that Holy Chalice of 80s DJs, The Batester himself...

How other peoples ****ed up lives could make us feel better in ourselves for a few minutes.

Exam stress/marital disputes/cats gone missing... all would fade into nothingness when compared to the tale of woe that Bates would read out in his sympathetic way.

So let's hear a few sorry diving tales form our inbox to make us all cheerier...

[To the tune of Accidents will Happen by Elvis Costello]

Let's start with the routine diver on a bike:

"I am currently in Mexico doing my divemaster education. Saturday one week ago I had a scooter accident but the doctor said that I was alright. After a couple of days I decided to see the doctor again, because I had a constant pain in my chest. The X-ray shows that I have a small fractured in the 3rd rib on the left side."

3 out of 10 I think.

OK, from bikes to boats:

"I am emailing to find additional information about an accident i had last month. I fell on my boat and broke 4 ribs in a total of 6 places. My lung was also punctured. I had a very incompetent surgeon put a chest tube in the wrong place, way to high. I was with only one lung for 2 1/2 days."

5 out of 10 here with an extra point for the crap surgeon...

Now can it get worse..:

"Nine months ago I suffered a number of broken ribs and a punctured lung when I was attacked and trampled by some cows whilst out walking my dog.

I was hospitalised but the x-rays and scans didn't pick up a sharp sliver of broken rib protuding into the chest cavity. Three days later, this cut an artery and I had emergency surgery to repair the damage."

Oh yes, when animals attack... poor bloke.

Hoodie cows, the country is a dangerous place... best stay underwater.

For an even better blog than this... Read Rob's Blog

6th February 2008 - Reef(er) Madness

They want it decriminalised,

but some want it racked up to Class A,

either way there are diving implications....

heres some research.


January 27, 2008

Long term marijuana smoking might increase risks of pulmonary barotrauma

A new study reports that there is an increase in the formation of "bullous lung disease" from marijuana smoking. The effect comes on marijuana smokers some twenty years ahead of cigarette smokers. This is important to diving because bullae or blisters can and do rupture due to the effects of pressure changes on trapped air in ascending the water column after a dive.

A condition often caused by exposure to toxic chemicals or long-term exposure to tobacco smoke, bullous lung disease (also known as bullae) is a condition where air trapped in the lungs causes obstruction to breathing and eventual destruction of the lungs.

The study Bullous Lung Disease due to Marijuana also finds that the bullous lung disease can easily go undetected as patients suffering from the disease may show normal chest X-rays and lung functions. High-resolution CT scans revealed severe asymmetrical, variably sized bullae in the patients studied. However, chest X-rays and lung functions were normal in half of them.

Lead author Dr. Matthew Naughton says, What is outstanding about this study is the relatively young ages of the lung disease patients, as well as the lack of abnormality on chest X-rays and lung functions in nearly half of the patients we tested.

Patients who smoke marijuana inhale more and hold their breath four times longer than cigarette smokers. It is the breathing manoeuvres of marijuana smokers that serve to increase the concentration and pulmonary deposition of inhaled particulate matter resulting in greater and more rapid lung destruction.

This paper is published in the January 2008 issue of Respirology.

For an even better blog than this... Read Rob's Blog

9th November 2007 - Techie Terror

For all you techies out there...

Big Brother has arrived and you are being watched...

"Some dive schools in the USA and Europe are beginning to keep accurate records of all technical diving equipment purchased to reduce the likelyhood of them being used by terrorists.

Underwater attacks have often been very succesful in times of war and it is feared that various terrorist groups are trying to develop underwater stealth attack capabilities. It would be a relatively simple task for a rebreather diver to place limpet mines on an ususpecting ship, either in port or out at sea. The result could be a catastrophic loss of life.

Within the last few hours it has been revealed that an ETA terrorist had attempted to board a UK/Spanish passenger ferry with the intention of blowing it up. So it is not surprising that that there is serious concern that well trained scuba divers could lauch successful attacks upon marine targets.

Generally military docks and commercial ports have some form of underwater detection and anti-terrorism operations in place but there are numerous weak links that could easily be exploited."

For an even better blog than this... Read Rob's Blog

31st October 2007 - Unfinished senten


in the words of bouffant 80s Thatcha-dontcha-hater comedian Ben Elton... lets get a bit political here...

Here in dull grey England we're always banging on about how lily-livered our courts are, tiny sentences for grand crimes. Yoofs stabbing away with only the fear of a wrist slapping for their misdemeanours.

But hey, it could be worse, we could be in Spain.

Sentencing of the Madrid bombers started today and...

"Rabei Osman Sayed Ahmed, 35: An Egyptian national described as one of the masterminds. Also known as Mohammed the Egyptian [thats gotta be the crappest nickname for an Egyptian - Ed], he was arrested in Milan in June 2004, and convicted of subversive association aimed at international terrorism.

Prosecutors claimed he came to the Spanish capital in January 2004 to meet the Madrid cell and help prepare the attacks.

They sought a sentence of 38,962 years in prison, although Spanish law means he can serve no more than 40 years. The prosecution figure includes 30 years for each of the 191 people killed, plus 18 years for each of the up to 1,800 wounded. This applies to the top eight defendants."

So... 40 thousand years down to 40. Serving 0.001% of a sentence.

Where's me semtex, Juan?

For an even better blog than this... Read Rob's Blog

30th October 2007 - People are Strange

I know you lot out there are a charitable lot,

so heres a plea from the sun kissed Isle of Roatan.

Medical Help Needed in Roatan : Between dives at Sueno del Mar, Undercurrent reader and dentist Bill Edell (Lake Oswego, OR) volunteered his services at La Clinica Esperanza, a new hospital run by nurse and missionary Peggy Strange that gives low-cost and free healthcare to Roatan residents. "I recommend dentists, hygienists, doctors and nurses who enjoy great diving and want a rewarding experience consider volunteering. Take your dive gear, favorite instruments and perhaps some supplies to donate, you will have a truly rewarding vacation." More info at: Mission Roatan

OK, thats simple then, cut and paste the link if you want to...

But as dogs look like their owners, so do some people match their surname.

Peggy Strange... oh yessssssiirreeee.

As much as I love helping others, can't say I want to look at that every day.

For an even better blog than this... Read Rob's Blog

17th October 2007 - M. Bob Denard RIP

Hes French

Hes dead, but oh what a life.

Even though I wrote the book, i am sad.

So a rousing Gallic cheer and send off to bathroom appliance salesman, mercenary and all round Comoros hell raiser "Colonel" Bob Denard.

In the words of the Telegraph:

"Bob Denard, the French mercenary who has died aged 78, was one of the soldiers of fortune to profit from the upheavals of Africa of the 1960s.

He came to prominence during the early conflicts in the Congo, when he led a raid on Stanleyville (now Kisangani) to rescue white civilians besieged by rebel forces. The ruthless efficiency with which his group of mercenaries carved through the rebel army earned them the soubriquet "Les Affreux" (the fearful ones).

Denard, who always insisted that he was "a soldier, not an assassin", trained the secessionist force of Moise Tshombe in the breakaway Katanga province, fighting there until the regime collapsed in January 1963.

In 1968 he was back in the Congo, attempting to invade Katanga with 100 men on bicycles. This farcical episode ended in failure, and Denard left the Congo for the last time.

For 10 years he was employed as a "military adviser" to the government of Gabon in West Africa. This job is believed to have had the backing of the French government, which was known to promote its widespread interests in its former African colonies by occasional unorthodox methods and operatives.

Denard, describing himself as "the pirate of the republic", took part in an attack on Guinea in 1970 and was involved in a failed coup attempt in Benin in 1977. Again both ventures were believed to have had the blessing, if not the connivance, of the French government.

In later years Denard became obsessed with the Comoros Islands, an impoverished but idyllic group of islands in the Indian Ocean which had been part of the French Empire. He overthrew the government of the Comoros on no fewer than four occasions.

He first helped to depose Ahmed Abdullah in 1975, after which a young maniac called Ali Soilih seized power, and a group of teenage tearaways ran amok for two years: the chief of police was 15.

In May 1978 Denard was involved in a counter-coup, in which Soilih was shot, though it is not clear whether Denard himself killed him. He certainly delivered his corpse the next day to Soilih's sister, and remained on the Comoros after Abdallah resumed power.

Denard had considerable business interests, and influence, in the Comoros, converting to Islam and eventually becoming a Comoran citizen. When Abdallah was deposed in 1989 Denard hotly denied having anything to do with it.

He then launched a coup against Haribon Chebani, who had automatically succeeded Abdallah, in favour of Said Mohammed Djohar, who became the third president within five days. France had, by this point, had enough, and Denard was flown to South Africa and placed under house arrest.

But in 1995 he was back on the islands, and Djohar was overthrown. Three thousand French troops were sent in to tackle Denard and his 30 soldiers. Denard conceded defeat.

He returned to France to face trial for his involvement in the coup attempts in Benin and the Comoros. Although he was convicted, his jail sentences were suspended after evidence was given that the now ageing mercenary was suffering from Alzheimer's disease.

He also received outspoken support from the former chief of staff of the army, who declared that Denard had always operated in France's interests.

Robert-Pierre Denard was born near Bordeaux on April 7 1929, the son of a retired Army officer who later worked in the French colonial service, and grew up in the small village of Grayan.

He enrolled in a marine school and joined the French Navy, eventually serving in Indo-China as a corporal aboard a ship that was involved in patrol work in the Mekong Delta.

But Denard resented the injustices of the French class system; he left the navy and joined the colonial police in Morocco. He began to adopt aliases, beginning with Andr Maurin and then Gilbert Bourgeaud.

In Casablanca he fell in with Right-wing groups and was allegedly involved in a plot to assassinate Pierre Mends-France, the Left-wing French prime minister. He served 14 months in prison on remand before being acquitted.

Denard returned to France, where he worked as a bathroom appliance salesman, complaining that he was "bored s***less". Then a friend showed him a newspaper advertisement for security men needed to guard mining companies in Katanga, and within weeks he had emerged in Tshombe's Katanga province in the Congo dressed in a commando's uniform and using the self-bestowed rank of "colonel".

He soon found himself leading the motley group of European and South African soldiers of fortune fighting what was in essence a guerrilla war in the African bush. He soon established a reputation as a flamboyant and fearless leader of men in battle.

When the Katangese secession collapsed, Denard reappeared among a group of French officer-mercenaries training Royalist soldiers in the Yemen. He was summoned back to the Congo, succeeding the British mercenary Colonel "Mad Mike" Hoare in 1965 under the presidency of Mobuto Sese-Seko.

Mobuto soon became suspicious of the mercenaries he had hired, suspecting them of plotting against him. He ordered their disbandment, but Denard along with the Belgian mercenary "Black Jacques" Schramme attempted to overthrow the regime.

In the subsequent chaos Denard was wounded in an abortive attempt to relieve the beleaguered Schramme and fled to Angola, his reputation badly tarnished.

Denard was married officially twice, though he had a further five polygamous unions, and fathered eight children. He died at his home in south-western France on Saturday."

For an even better blog than this... Read Rob's Blog

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