Twice yearly I get the task of packing up all my warm clothes (of which I don’t have many) and travelling back to the UK to man the stand at the Dive Show, and this week saw just that happen. It was held at the NEC in Birmingham, but with a week off in total, I got to spend some time at home with the parents before I had to hot foot it up North (well, anything north of the Watford gap and all that!).

Having made it back safely, I immersed myself slowly back into the world of pork….. sausages, sausage rolls, pork pies, gammon and bacon wheat crunchies (ok, so they probably don’t contain meat of any type, in-fact I believe they may be vegetarian!). I then headed out for an afternoon of shopping to restock my Sharm shelves for another couple of months. It never fails to amuse me as the check out girl in Tesco tries to figure out why anyones weekly shop would comprise of packet mixes, crisps, marmite, more pork than you can shake a stick at and a box or two of red wine.

Anyhow, back to the Dive Show. If you’ve never been to one of the two UK Dive Shows (the other one is held at Excel in London in February) then you’re missing out on a great way to spend the weekend.  Not many people want to get up too early… it is the weekend after all, so after a sedate start, the hall starts to fill up with people who want to be surrounded for the day with all things diving. Want to buy some new kit? Take your pick of sellers. Planning a holiday? Ask the representatives from every country you can think of.  There are plenty of food vendors if you get peckish, and they have thoughtfully put in a few bars should you run into someone you met on your last holiday and fancy a catch up!

Taking time out to catch up on diving stuff!!

For me, it’s a weekend of constant chat…something those close to me would tell you I can breeze through! Whether it’s someone who’s new to diving and wondering about the Red Sea as a destination someone looking for a change of career and wanting information about going pro, it’s non stop for the whole weekend.  A lot of our visitors are repeat guests who want to say hello or pass on messages to staff in Sharm.

It’s the last category that pose me the biggest problem… remembering names. I’ve long thought my forgetfulness is simply a side effect of all these years of diving. At the show is when it’s at its worst. It’s the stuff of nightmares when someone comes up to me and says ‘Hi Susie, do you remember me?’ There are generally three possible tactics to take here, all of which Instructors, Dive Show or not, are highly trained in. Option 1 is the ‘keep chatting until you remember who they are. This is the most risky route to take as it is easy to get rumbled if the name doesn’t come to you early on in the conversation. Option 2 is to confess all and risk offending your student, who will quickly remove you from the pedestal you were probably perched upon.  My preferred method is Option 3.  This involves displaying a broad smile whilst explaining that ‘If your name sticks in my head it’s for a reason, normally if someone was really bad!’. This serves two purposes, those who know you (and you remember ironically enough!) will understand the joke and those who you don’t remember will feel relieved, and won’t feel the need to ask ‘was I your worst student ever?’…

So after two days of constant chatting, fun though it was, for those who saw me on Sunday evening nursing a glass of wine and perusing the Sunday papers in the corner of the bar of a well-known hotel chain, I’m sorry if I failed to start a conversation. It was one of the two times a year when I face uttering another word!