Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Titanic tastelessness

A hundred years ago today, seven hundred surviviors of the Titanic disaster arrived in New York on board the SS Carpathia.

I've watched quite a few documentaries about the sinking in the last few weeks, as well as the still watchable 1958 film A Night to Remember starring Kenneth More as the ship's Second Officer Charles Lightoller. BBC North West's coverage has focussed on Lancashire's connections with the Titanic: the White Star Line had its headquarters in Liverpool, Lightholler was from Chorley, Carpathia captain Arthur Rostron from Bolton and Wallace Hartley, the leader of the band that famously played until the end, from Colne.

I'm always bemused when Liverpool and Belfast - where the Titanic was built - express their civic pride in a ship that sank on its maiden voyage with the loss of 1,500 lives. I suppose it's to attract tourists. Even more tasteless are the Titanic hampers and teddy bears and the £6,000 centenary cruise across the Atlantic.

A much larger proportion of third class passengers, many of them Irish emigrants, drowned on the Titanic compared to first class.  The idea that this reflects a class-divided society that disappeared in the First World War seems especially wide of the mark now when inequality - in income, education and life expectancy - continues to increase.

Apparently, there were fifteen thousand bottles of beer on board the Titanic. I wonder what it was and what condition it's in now.

1 comment:

  1. 39% of First Class passengers perished.
    58% of Standard Class passengers perished.
    76% of Third Class passengers perished.
    They weren't all in it together, even in the face of disaster. I'm sick of all the hype, the main purpose of which is to boost TV ratings, and nothing more: there have been hundreds of other maritime disasters that will never get any coverage at all. Are those lives less worthy of commemoration?

    The beer bottles may well have imploded under the pressure.