Everyone who’s been privileged to hear me sing – usually after I’ve had several pints of Old Cobblers in the front bar of The Sozzled Cod – claims disbelief when I tell them that, as a young sprog, I was a valued member of the church choir.
Strangely enough they have no problem believing me when I tell them that not only was I briefly in the choir, but that I was once a soloist whose pure rendition of, “Oh For The Wings Of A Dove” managed to bring tears to the eyes of an entire congregation. (Indeed, it was such an obviously moving performance that when I started singing the bit about, “I would fly far away”, several kind-hearted souls started organising a whip-round to pay for an air-ticket!)
Immediately following my debut as a soloist – and obviously inspired by jealousy of my golden tonsils – the other choristers campaigned to have me removed from their ranks. They claimed that my singing was foul and that my voice, rather than just breaking, had shattered into a thousand irretrievable pieces. I pointed out that a dove is not a fowl and that their decision would leave the world a poorer place by denying it the talents of a gifted vocalist. My pleas fell on tone-deaf ears.
Still determined to make a singing come-back, the likes of which even a peach like Nellie Melba would have been proud of, I spent years banished to the bathroom practicing and rehearsing that ill-fated song, “Oh For The Wings Of A Dove”. A self-imposed mission that, with the passing of time, has left me deeply suspicious and resentful of anything that has the word ‘dove’ in it!
(This includes bathroom toiletries. I’ve never quite understood why some manufacturers think that their products are more marketable when they’re likened to a dove. Soap, I can accept. But I do have problems with toilet tissues. Advertisements that claim, “You’ll love the dove-like softness of …” always make me wonder about the product’s quality testing programme and what they do with the doves afterwards.)
But I digress. I know that the dove is supposed to be the symbol of peace and deliverance, but as far as I’m concerned it’s just an upper-class pigeon that’s tried to better itself by slimming down a bit; a physical condition that’s probably due to the fact that it seems to spend all of its time – according to all of the cartoon images that I’ve seen – flitting around with a heavy olive branch clenched in its beak!
Not once have I ever seen a caricature of a dove feeding on an endangered marine species; nor have I ever heard of a dove doing anything remotely connected with diving, (unless you count those divers who occasionally go, “Coo!” when they see a new piece of equipment that they covet.)
Which is why I find it strange to see an increasing number of divers using the word, “dove” to describe their diving experiences.
As far as I can make out, the past tense of diving is, “dived”; as in, “We dived the wreck of the ‘Grumpy Grouper’.” An alarming number of people, however, are starting to say, “We dove …”: A term that’s only marginally better than, “We doved …”!
I mention this because of the long-term implications for diving. If ‘dove’ is allowed to take hold as a commonplace term then it’s only a matter of time before ‘divers’ will start to be referred to as ‘dovers’.
Apart from the confusion that it’ll cause to people living in the southern English seaport of Dover, there’s always the possibility that ‘dovers’ may start to be confused with pigeon-fanciers. And given the measures that most countries now have in place to halt the spread of avian-flu, it’s not inconceivable that a conscientious customs officer might ruin an international dive trip before it’s even begun by impounding a dover’s dive gear and placing it in long-term quarantine.
Not that it’s going to affect me. I know the difference between a dive and a dove. Which is more than can be said for those divers who have problems with their vowel movements.