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Honoured guests to Manx waters

by Mike Glover

Reproduced from in focus 38 (October 1990)

The tall figure, familiar to most members, was staggering under the weight of camera boxes as he came out of the airport at a run.

Are the Basking Sharks still here? What's the weather forecast? How are you Mike?

Yes. Not too bad. I'm fine .... I replied, thinking that Brian Pitkin must have adopted the advice of a well known purveyor of underwater cameras that 'you can never be over-equipped'.

After a meal I asked tentatively if he would like to see some of my Basking Shark shots, which I had taken the precaution of immunising behind glass against Cafe Creme cigar ash. I stood nervously by as he pawed, sorry pored, over the light box. After the predictable comments of 'not bad' and 'pity that's not quite sharp' it struck me that he was spending a long time on one particular slide. 'That's a winner', I thought I heard him say. It would be less than charitable at this point to say that I think I sensed a determined expression on his face and a squaring of the shoulders!!

The next morning we were on the water early. Guess what? Not a fin to be seen anywhere!! If the rumour that Peter Rowlands, with Granada TV in tow, was on the Island was true, as well as the Chairman of BSoUP, surely the sharks should have been lining up to have their photographs taken?

It was with considerable relief then, that I spotted fins moving through the water. An over-weighted (must shoot upwards) Pitkin was in the water before you could say Bingo. Some hours later he generously offered to drive the boat so that I could have a go!! Moments later I thought I heard a anguished wail from the boat as a 30 foot giant cruised gently past me, mouth agape.

The next day we even had sunshine, and it gave me great pleasure to see Brian raise a clenched fist of success several times. I think we were both fairly happy that evening as we looked at our slides. The words 'wait 'til Linda hears about this' were said with some relish I thought.

For the record, Peter Rowlands was on the Isle of Man that weekend, but not the one of our variety: yes, there's another one around.

If you see Pitkin in his drysuit, don't bother to ask him what the black marking is on his thigh, because he will not be able to resist telling you anyway. He's so proud of it that I would not be surprised to see him wearing it at the next meeting!


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