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Night Of The Wrong Dives

One of the chief glories of curating a worldwide inter-web public-facing news and information digi-portal dedicated to a man as great and as memorable as Professor Thrupiece is the fact that there is rarely, if ever, a shortage of material to write about.

Whether it be uncovering a brand new story never before told, reliving a past glory or simply reminiscing about a man whose life and achievements touched many, many people - womenfolk in particular - in very intimate ways, there is always a wealth of personal experience upon which to draw.

Professor Thrupiece in his pomp. It is said that he was so quick-thinking and so agile, he could check on the state of his own piles in the time it took to plunge from the high board to the pool.

Today's post brought a particularly powerful example of that in the form of a letter and several photographs sent by much-beloved former Olympic radio commentator Hilver Summe. Ms Summe who is now 94 well-remembers the 1960 Rome Olympics when a 20 year-old Professor Thrupiece competed with a now forgotten friend - Julian Nancie-Boyye - in the Synchronised 10-metre Springboard Diving event in which the couple came a respectable 14th.

Professor Thrupiece with an unknown admirer shortly before competing in the Rome Olympics. Note the state-of-the-art Olympic Pool.The unknown admirer's very modern appearance has led some to conclude that Professor Thrupiece is capable of time travel and that his current "disappearance" may be related to an adventure in the time-space continuum.

The story of that occasion is the stuff of legend. Professor Thrupiece, who had already "medalled" [before that was a verb, or at least one meaning to gain a medal [Ed]] in the 100 metres mixed butterfly as well as the 24 hrs free-style relay ["Le Mans without the cars", Gazetta dello Sport] events, was forced to find an emergency replacement for his original partner [Sue Chefe*] following an incident in which Ms Chefe's costume had been seized by Italian custom officials at Rome's Malpensa airport. The whalebone-lined costume - which would not fit through a standard Italian letterbox - was deemed unsuitable [ie too unrevealing] for an Italian Olympic audience [the games were being televised on an experimental basis] and Ms Chefe was left with a choice either of competing without it or not competing at all. The 17 stone former shot-putter wisely chose the latter and Professor Threadbone was forced - at very short notice - to make a reverse-charge call to Batcombe asking his old school pal Julian Nancie-Boyye to join him.

* Sue Chefe was the niece of Professor Thrupiece's bio-ethics supervisor the renowned Dr Kenwood Chefe and though "no great shakes at anything" was in huge demand as one of only 3 women in the whole of Cambridge University. She attended a record 438 May Balls with 442 different partners during her 20 years in Cambridge.

With only an hour's practice in a hotel paddling pool under their belt and a much-revised and reduced programme in mind, they plunged off the top board at almost the same time and hit the water a mere 2 seconds and 18 feet apart - enough to secure them 14th place in a crowded field of 14 teams.

That Olympic Pool pictured in 1984 and looking the worse for wear. It was demolished soon thereafter making way for a pasta factory that would supply lunches to the Ferrari Formula One team. Just one of the reasons they were spectacularly unsuccessful at the time.

Ms Summe who was commentating for Radio Dorset's flagship Saturday sports programme Grandstand, remembers the occasion more than 60 years on. "I remember being in a very small radio booth more or less at pool level. I looked up and there they stood - the tall lean Professor alongside his rather rotund and frankly dwarfish friend. Julian looked terrified, the Professor resigned. The next thing I knew somebody fired a gun to start the 4x100 women's freestyle, the startled pair plunged off the board, and my booth was swamped with the backsplash. Elegant? No! Effective? Not very. Stylish? Absolutely not. But memorable? Absolutely. We pissed ourselves for days just thinking about it. I have no idea what the listeners made of it. It was pretty much over before I had the chance to say: "And here come the plucky British contestants Professor Thrupiece and his... At least that lovely Nikita Longbarrow made up for it by bagging us a gold in the breaststroke."

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