That Guy: Not tonight Rover, I'm celebrating a life

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Today, many people will still be mourning the tragic passing of Bernard Mt St Helens, but I prefer to celebrate his life and remember his achievements as one of life's most-celebrated overachieving underachievers.

Born in 1908 into a wealthy family who were always broke, he never really knew the true meaning of money.

His father was a coconut oil tycoon, his mother a prostitute by day and a surveyor by night, but together they raised him to be himself, question authority and to always speak his mind. You can see why he was never able to hold down a steady job, let alone get invited to dinner parties.

He became a reclusive inventor. He met Jacques Cousteau in the early 30s and together they worked on a number of different designs for aqualungs and diving bells. Cousteau's early ideas evolved into the successful aqualung we know so well today.

Bernard's larger, all-encompassing model with one single, airtight door also evolved, eventually becoming the Gentle Annie washing machine.

He is also credited with devising the concept of urinating in your dive mask to prevent it from fogging up.

Bernard had four failed marriages and three successful ones, and he is survived by eight of the seven children he had to four different women and two different men.

Just before his death he had been actively inventing a machine that can turn grated cheese overnight into a large, single block.

Bernard suffocated on a pillow while he slept and he will be sadly missed. He will be buried temporarily over the weekend and then cremated at Piha beach on Tuesday, weather and iwi permitting.


As usual there has been a lot of mail through the box this week, most of it seems to have come from the Bigfoot community. They have been sending me hate mail by the sackload and abusing me in blogs so actively that I have had to install some more RAM in my computer to read it all.

This, of course, is a direct result of my recent article about the Bigfoot conference. The feedback has come from all over the world, which is not surprising as Bigfoot is clearly a global phenomenon, but most of it seems to come from an outspoken woman by the name of Loren Coleman.

I don't think I met her at the conference, but if I had I am sure I would remember her. She seems to run a Bigfoot-related site that keeps all the other Bigfoot sites supplied with enough information about me and my article to ensure it doesn't die a natural death.

Personally, I am not sure whether Bigfoot exists, but if he does the only way researchers like Loren are going to find him is if Bigfoot walks into an internet cafe and logs into one of their half-arsed chatrooms. The fact is, Bigfoot probably has better things to do with his time.

For the record, there are some serious researchers who actually venture into the field looking for clues and are doing reputable research.

I met some of these people while I was at the Ohio conference and they will feature positively in the TV show later in the year. I don't want to make the mistake again of tarring everybody with the same brush. I don't want to dwell on this any longer other than to say that I believe I overstepped the mark and offended some individuals. I have apologised on-line and in person to them, and I meant it. I don't owe women like Loren anything, and I hope she and her fellow "Blogfooters" enjoy the "lighthearted doco" later in the year. Let's move on.

A lot of the other mail also seems to be about animals: This letter comes from Gordon who lives in Christchurch: "Dear Leigh, I know you have a dog, do you have any tips as to how I can stop him humping my leg?"

Well that's a very good question, Gordon, and I am glad you asked it. I am sure most of us have at least experienced the act first-hand at some time in our lives.

A dog like this is classified as a "humper" in professional circles and the latest research seems to suggest if you are wearing thick grain corduroy pants you are encouraging them, as in most cases these dogs prefer rough sex.

So if this is something you experience on a regular basis you should first consider wearing something less sexy in the dog's eyes.

Alternatively you can experiment with wearing polyester slacks that haven't been "earthed". These will occasionally give off relatively severe static charges. Of course if the problem persists you will need to have him fixed by a vet.

Thanks for all your mail, I will see you next week when I will be reporting from Peru. Photos will cost extra but I will talk to the editor about that and see if he can get that cost at his end.

- Herald on Sunday

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