Monday, 22 June 2015

Anecdotes..stories from a Cameramna

If you wantb to read more stories and anecdotes then visit my ReelShow Mag site and read the Richard Dodd SECTION

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Death by stupidity

Did I ever tell you…Of the time I was working down at the very tip of India, in  the state of Kerala.
We were staying  at the Kovalum Beach Resort,
In those days, mid seventies, it was a very rare and attractive hotel that sprawled down a gently sloping cliff face and every room and large terrace had a view over the fantastic Kovalum beach which curved away into the distance to finally be obscured by the foam from the breakers.
There were a number of very active, and for India, seemingly prosperous fishing villages dotted along the beach and one was just outside of the hotel compound, a short walk from the hotel bar down the well guarded path..
One evening the crew were as usual propping up the bar knocking back a few beers and getting quite merry when pandemonium broke  out. The hotel staff were running around doing a bit of weeping and wailing and calling for divine help.
Apparently one of the fishermen from the village had gone missing during a fishing trip and everyone presumed he was a gonner..including us. We returned to the bar and continued with our hobby, getting drunk.
Some thirty minutes or so later the noise of weeping had diminished a little and we were a little more drunk..The Manager appeared and apologised for the scene we had witnessed as it must have been a little embarrassing for us. The problem was that the missing fisherman was from our local village and nearly everyone employed  in the hotel was a relative of his.
We asked what sort of rescue operation had been set up to search for the man..”None” he said…”we don’t have such a thing, his fate is in the hands of The Almighty” And with that he left us.
The producer on this particular trip had a slight fetish, he saw himself as the archetypal Englishman. He never travelled anywhere in the world, no matter how hot or dusty or tropical, without  wearing a black pinstripe three piece suit, plus collar and old school tie and Oxford wing tipped shoes..
And that’s what he was wearing now as he said to me in the words I will never forget “We cannot let this happen, just sitting here getting drunk when a poor chap might be dying for want of some effort” or very near to those words anyway..
And so it was a few minutes later that both of us were down on the beach pushing a canoe out into the Indian Ocean.
What we had failed to spot in our very drunken state was the fact that the canoe was the only one left down near the waters edge…very much on its own., but it seemed to float very nicely so we hopped aboard. and grabbing a paddle each we headed off into the pitch black night……..Fools….
At this very tip of India the two oceans from either side meet and to put it mildly, collide.
This causes the water to churn on the surface and heaven knows what type of strong currents are running deep underwater.
We were to find out.
After vigorously paddling for some time we hit this maelstrom of water .It was rough. and it suddenly got very tough..
The canoe we were riding in  departed..without warning it serenely sank beneath the Ocean waves and left us floating, with just two small wooden paddles. It happened so quickly that we didn’t speak for a few moments and during that time we both got very sober.
Here we were bobbing about. The hotel lights were fading in the distance very fast and in a short while we lost sight of them completely. The current was strong and we could actually feel it towing us further out. We locked the two paddles together and contemplated our fate, or rather our imminent demise
This was how it  stacked up. A long way South of us, several thousand miles was Antarctica, immediately to our left was Malaysia and just beyond that Australia, again, several thousand miles and many days of floating along clutching our paddles. It would never happen, this was the Indian Ocean which is apparently stuffed with man eating things called sharks.
The thought that in a few hours time we would be shark shit did not make us very happy and we both went very silent, each with our own thoughts.
We floated for a very long and sombre time, waiting for that first strike. I did keep my legs up as much as I could and never let on
Do you believe in miracles. I never did .The parting of the Red Sea, the  Five loafs and Fishes, Turning water into wine. That was just great storytelling and total myth to me.
And then a miracle turned up.
Way out there in the Ocean, having almost given up hope, a small canoe came out of the darkness, at great speed. It almost went straight over the top of us.
We both desperately grabbed the outrigger that those canoe’s had and it came to a sudden stop.
Had it been twenty or even ten feet away we would never have stopped it and I feel sure the fisherman onboard wouild not have stopped..would you..
The man on board must have been near a heart attack as he looked down and saw two white faces peering up at him,grinning wildly.
White sea monsters..
I have often wondered what his thoughts were as we struggled aboard. Two Englishmen and one wearing a complete Saville Row outfit. I bet his grandkids think he is nuts.
He did manage to keep his cool as we requested he drop us off at our hotel
Two happy endings to this story. The fisherman took us to our beach and kindly dropped us off and on returning to the Hotel bar we were told by a bemused but delighted manager that the “Lost” fisherman had been found .
Moral of the story..If you ever steal a canoe, stay sober and make sure the bugger floats..

Thursday, 11 June 2015


I have just written a piece about sunken treasure in the waters off that island paradise called the Seychelles.
Then a couple of days ago, on the news, there is a report of man who was snorkeling just twenty meters from the beach being taken by a shark, and there is another report of a French tourist being taken just two weeks prior to this latest incident.
A belated word of warning , if you go looking for that treasure…BEWARE OF THE SHARKS.
I spent a lot of time swimming offshore in the Seychelles and often got a scare when a clump of seaweed on the ocean floor some twenty /thirty feet down, would seem to move. It does put one off a little.
All of the diving instructors that I worked with assured me that the sharks were not a problem, one or two hammerheads, well out at sea, but nothing in the bays.
I do not for a moment think they were lying but maybe they should have a re-think and install some nets on the popular beaches. It would be a great shame but it keeps the tourist trade happy. No one wants to go on holiday and finish up as shark shit.
No one can blame the sharks. It is their environment and they are hungry, humans are just a snack to them.
Humans do not move too well in the water, no matter how graceful we think our freestyle crawl is. The hungry shark sees a slow moving target with few signs of danger, in it goes.
I often think sharks have no taste buds because most of their human targets must taste of polystyrene or latex rubber, but it must be worth it , humans do not put up much of a struggle after the first hit and then its easy to consume.
I must admit that I am a pool person after seeing “Jaws”. The only way I want to go underwater these days is in a submarine, preferably a nuclear one.
The most vivid example I have seen of the capacity of sharks to consume huge chunks of matter was on Norfolk Island. Another island paradise, this one in the Pacific , but a paradise for entirely different reasons.
Not many beach umbrellas and sandy floored bars there, mainly because there is only a tiny beach and the shark population residing just offshore puts off any swimming adventures. Not that we knew that when my crew went for a swim when we filmed there.
I won’t do a tourist brochure thing here, you can Google the place, but it is a small rocky Island about 1000 miles out in the ocean from mainland OZ, the most direct route is from Sydney.
It was at one time a notorious penal colony, anyone of the bad lads sentenced to go there never left, that was it.
At a certain time of the day, when the sun is very low the outline of a circular prison compound is revealed. The prisoners were kept in underground cages that formed a huge circle. Nice place
Today the Island attracts what would at one time been considered a Hippy crowd, easy come, easy go, and they have developed their own tourist industry. Well worth a visit.
When I was there we filmed the islands refuse department, yes they do have one, with a very smart truck. They collect the garbage from all of the little settlements in the hills and take it to the refuse tip. In this case, the Pacific Ocean
Yep, they actually tip all of the assorted rubbish into the sea. The tipping place is high on a cliff , about thirty metres above the water, the truck tips up and all of the white, council provided, rubbish sacks drop into the sea, slowly fill with water and then begin to sink.
I was naturally outraged at this appalling pollution of one of the worlds most beautiful areas, and voiced my opinion.
The Foreman Refuse Collector calmed my fears…’Just watch this mate” he said ”this stuff never reaches the ocean floor”
He was right.. As the sacks descended through the clear water, large dark shapes approached at lightning speed and ate them, yep, these critters would take a full sack of rubbish, tins, bottles, garbage, all in one bite…There were hundreds of them.
The Norfolk Island Refuse Disposal Unit, Marine Dept. (TNIRDUMD). Trash snacks a speciality.
That would look good on a T shirt.
Want some advice…never go swimming where you are considered to be the main course for a BIG fishes dinner.

PS  JUST AN UPDATE  I remember having a great day body surfing at the great resort of Surfers Paradise in Queensland Australia.
Me and my mates had been in and out of the water for a few hours..diving into a wave and then being carried along the beach to be deposited like so much garbage onto the sand a few hundred yards further down.the beach.
After a few hours of this I decided to sit down and become a spectator......then I spotted them..three sharks about four feet in length were also having a good time in the surf..they were clearly seen at the top of the line abreast ...just feet away from he surfers..That was the end of my body surfing career.