Day Four - Last Day Lunacy


Day Four - Last Day Lunacy - BLAH BLAH - by Simon Campbell

The final quarter of the elephant to go but we were all getting very tired and crouchy. Again up at 0630 for a bit of preparation, breakfast then off to the Tingle Creek Hotel - or so I thought. With plenty of time in hand I received a phone call from Pearso as I was just about to drive off. He had had a nasty shaving accident (yes, shaving accident) and needed urgent medical attention. Apparently he has blood vessels very close to the surface of his face and during the shaving process had caught one. Andy was with me and as a trained medical professional (a psychiatrist) we decided it was best to go and attend to him. What Pearso had not told me was that he was stark naked and literally covered in blood following his shower; Andy will be traumatised for life.

*Cambo's Exam Tip #10: Don't shave (also applies to the ladies - go European, we don't want an underarm incident)...*

0825: I arrived at the hotel with New Order's 'Blue Monday' rattling the car windows; inappropriate as it was Tuesday. Ho hum.

Complete with projector, computer and my flash card theory presentation, always my weapon of choice, I entered the hotel. Trying to obtain some sympathy I explained that there might be a delay in us all arriving due to Pearso trying to cut off his own head. No chance.

The Tingle Creek has a ‘function’ room adjacent to the bar. As I walked in I could almost hear the strains of ‘Caught in a Trap’ by an overweight but suitably attired Scottish Elvis impersonator but restrained myself from adopting the pose and breaking into song.

There was no screen for the projector so ND’O’ was rushing about trying to stick a white sheet on the wall. In the confusion I thought it would be an appropriate time to look for a suitable spot to set up my theory lecture. I found an excellent location next to the bar (where I feel most comfortable); bit tight but workable.

Sean briefed the session and my examiners were Sean, Clare, Pete and Maggie. Great, the NDO, the former NDO and the course boss; what could possibly go wrong?

My lesson was ‘How to Develop Instructors (post IFC) in the Branch’. What a great title to provide an interactive practical and fun 20 minutes. I set up my flash cards complete with pictures of two brand new Assistant Diving Instructors from the mighty RVSAC (thanks Riddler/Gasman), and off it went. It did go very well but at the end I had the examiners questioning me for 15 minutes on my postulations.

<img src="{filedir_4}Riddler.jpg" alt="the riddler" width="130" height="315" /><img src="{filedir_4}Gasman.jpg" alt="The gasman" width="130" height="315" />

Next up was the presentation on the task in which the candidates delivered different sections. I was responsible for setting up the projector/computer. There is nothing worse than waiting for it all to fire up: very unnerving, which is why I usually stick to low-tech blue-tack and coloured paper.

I don’t really have a problem with presentations but I do with sea life - ask Dr Peddie. I very nearly came unstuck when I described the fileshell’s nest and its construction – not good when you are presenting to an informed and erudite throng.

*Cambo’s Exam Tip #11: Don’t $%£^ when you don’t know what you are talking about.*

Again nearly thwarted by technological woes, Churcho ran the next section which was the video theory lesson examination assessment. This is where you see a candidate deliver a theory lesson as per a TIE. I was tired and missed one or two points but overall it went pretty smoothly.

In the ‘breaks’ I still had to do the Instructor critique on Clare who had delivered the underwater AS mini-lesson on day two. I have to confess it was better doing it now as I had had time to think about what she did, how she did it and how it could have been made better.

Just after that coffee arrived, Dennis was standing next to me. Guess what: ‘Simon, do you have a minute?’ I was getting really fed up of this now and this time couldn’t remember why Nitrox was better than air… If you do the exam you will know that even the basic facts become VERY misty as the days proceed.

The Final Countdown

Lunch on the hoof and off to the site for the penultimate challenge: The open water instructor trainer lesson.

I was tired and weary as I donned my drysuit and carried my kit to the beach just off Kyleakin. Carlo was managing the session and prompted by the mighty Bromo (friend to the NI candidate) asked me to call the Coastguard to tell them that we were tooling around on the beach. A local glass bottomed boat comes around periodically during the day and we didn’t want any accidents.

We were allocated lessons and I was given deployment of the DSMB. Glory! A lesson that you can teach people to teach excruciating progression, correct techniques to the nth degree, how to make it VERY safe, and of course outrageous amounts of demo/mimic at every stage…

I had had enough and was running on pure adrenalin but the lesson went well and the final stage was the open water candidate assessment.

<img src="{filedir_4}group.jpg" alt="Group involved in the open water assessment" width="210" height="192" />

Watto was demonstrating rescue breaths in open water. He is a ‘card’ and put on a very ‘interesting’ performance. Was it a pass or fail? Did it display the essential criteria? I was making furious notes just in case I did forget stuff. When I received the comments on my assessment it was clear that I wasn’t watching…

At the end of the assessment I ran down the beach and threw myself into the water screaming ‘I have eaten it - I have eaten it!!!’ The locals who had congregated at the top of the beach thought I had lost my marbles. Of course they were quite correct.

We then had the team photo and a few minutes to get back to the hotel, write up the comments and attend the debrief. I was becoming increasingly out of it and didn’t do a good job on the assessment. This nearly cost me the exam as I heard later in the examiners meeting my name had changed from Cambo to Scrapo. I wonder why that was?

*Cambo’s Exam Tip #11: Watch the very last stages especially when you are really tired. I nearly failed by not paying attention to the final details.*

I honestly can’t remember the debrief except that I nearly cried when I thanked all the people who had mentored me and spent massive amounts of their personal time helping me to take this huge task.

Last Night Lunacy

It’s a mistake to start drinking when you are physically knackered, mentally drained and coming down off a massive adrenalin rush but of course I didn’t care. 1930, we arrived, tipsy, at the Tingle Creek for the dinner in Pearso’s van (he doesn’t drink, yes you heard me he’s an esteemed BSAC instructor and he doesn’t drink).

The rest of us do, certainly making up for his abstinence as we ripped through a lake of red/white wine and a sea of beer. It was clear that the examiner team were competing as to who could accumulate the largest number of empty bottles by their seat.

Over dinner we discussed many things of a technical nature and global significance; of course all total b*&&%^$s. I did remember recounting my famous ‘vasectomy’ story. This was the point when Sean ND’O’ asked me to do the after dinner speech at the DOC. I said yes. I was leathered. I am a fool…

I also agreed to take Claire and Maggie diving the day after. That would have been just dangerous. It took me a month to recover and I am not sure if even now I am fully back to normal. The question is what is normal anymore?

The sunset was truly magnificent and a fitting end to the National Instructor Examination 2007… A few weeks later it was even better. Seven merits and seven borderlines - I scraped a pass.

<img src="{filedir_4}sunset.jpg" alt="Sunset at the Kyle of Lochalsh" width="210" height="140" />

So in Summary...

Q. Is it good?

A. No it’s great - A lot more people have climbed Everest than have passed NI. I am #229.

Q. Is it worth the time, money and the effort?

A. Absolutely - The sense of achievement is awesome. It’s the hardest thing I have ever done. The experience is life changing as I now look at everything totally differently than I did 18 months ago…

Q. Would you do it again?

A. Yes - if I had failed I would have taken it again. Actually it would have been easier as you know what the gig is. I really appreciated Carlo and Andy helping us through the process.

If you have any questions re this or any other issue don’t hesitate to "contact me":


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