BACK IN THE 1980S, well before I became a diver, a friend called Karl who was a decent roofer at the time called to say he had some major news, and did I fancy a pint? Silly question!
Over the drink he told me that he was quitting his roofing job because he had decided to become a commercial diver. It would be a radical change, but he had been sold on the idea by a chance encounter with an old schoolfriend of his. And so his career was shaped.
A similar twist of fate led David Harrison Beckett to follow such a path. After being caught hosting a party at his parents’ house without permission, he moved out and into a boarding house where he met a group of divers from Delta Diving.
They happened to be a man short, and invited him to join them. So, at the age of 20, Beckett embarked on a diving career that would span 32 years and see him progress from a “bubblehead” through to general manager at the prominent company now known as Subsea 7, a seabed-to-surface engineering, construction and services contractor to the offshore energy industry.
I was taken aback by the brutality of what divers had to endure back in the day, as Beckett recounts experiences including the grim recovery of the 45 victims of the Sumburgh Chinook disaster of 1986 and assisting with the investigation of the ms Estonia sinking in 1994.
The book contains plenty of bawdy toilet humour that initially I thought a little over the top. However, it soon becomes clear that such humour was just another strategy for staying sane, and once you get into the spirit of the book you just join in with the fun.
It’s an easy book to read, and should appeal to anyone with a sense of adventure.
When I told Karl about the book he said he would be happy to read it and compare notes about the sort of antics Beckett and he got up to.
When I pressed him for examples, however, all he would say was: “What goes on tour stays on tour.” Darn it!
Hardback, 254pp, £16