Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Of Titanic Disasters

The world seems to have gone Titanic mad at the moment. You could almost call it hysteria. You open a newspaper or magazine and it's about the Titanic. Put on the radio and it's all about the Titanic. Switch on the T.V and there's a news report about descendants of its passengers travelling out to the spot where the Titanic sank exactly one hundred years ago.

It's almost like regions of the UK and elsewhere are now competing to be most closely associated with the disaster. Belfast has a loud shout because it is here that the vessel was created (though as the joke goes there's a sign on the wall of the Harland and Wolf docks that reads "Titanic -well it was alright when it left here"). Queensland in Cork feels a strong connection with the ship for it was the first port of call for the vessel after leaving Belfast. Southampton has a strong connect to the disaster too because over 500 of the fatalities were from that part of England; many of them crew. Cherbourg in France no doubt is making the most of its role in the ship's first and only voyage being the last port of call before she headed out into the Atlantic and to tragedy.

A friend of mine in Moscow (which, I assume lays no claim to the Titanic story) says she can't understand the clamour to be connected with such a terrible incident and neither can I. So how do you explain it? Is it our morbid fascination with death? Partly. Is it our ability to profit from a clear business opportunity that no longer appears distasteful now that any survivors have since died. Partly. But maybe too we all like, or at least need, to be reminded that however clever we become as human beings we're still vulnerable to nature and quite insignificant alongside it even when in great numbers andprotected by something considered to be impregnable.

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