Thursday, 3 September 2009

The horror

I find it hard to watch documentaries about the Titanic due to the footage they always show of the ship's broken carcass lying on the ocean bed. The thought of such a large vessel rendered so tiny by the vastness of the ocean depths seriously freaks me out. And the same goes for the thought of seeing a large ocean liner sink in the way the Titanic did, sticking straight up into the air - the unnaturalness of it all, its giant propellers turning vainly in the sky. And then the thought of sitting in a miniscule life raft on top of the rolling surface of an ocean extending to the horizon in every direction. Clearly I'd be of very little use in an emergency at sea.

I mention all this as a preamble to a poem about the disaster that I found in a book I bought this lunchtime (Oxfam again), Dear Blue Peter, a collection of letters, mainly from children, to that fine programme. Despite the almost mindnumbing terror that the whole Titanic scenario threatens to induce in me I was reduced to tears of laughter by the poem, which I share with you now:

So many screams and cries
Why did it have to happen?
All they wanted was a peaceful holiday
Nobody likes getting killed
So much pain
So much history
As the people watch in horror
Lots of people died

It really is a very lovely book.


  1. I became slightly obsessed with the Titanic a few years ago after reading a piece written in Childrens book breaking the event down.

    As you say tseeing the wrong end of this colossal ship groaning and creaking it's way down to the depths is terrifying..

    A Night to Remember by Walter Lord (a survivor) is a must read. One of the most chilling moments is when, after the sinking, the cries for help coming from the darkness slowly start to die out.

  2. And my computer just went into a mess. It seems that Nature is better in designing working systems than man. Personally, I think it’s the lack of back up systems. Nature knows that most things never work out how it was planned anyway so its better to design lots and lots of backups, while most people have hubris. Well, my computer had backup systems, perhaps I’m just whining.

  3. Mondo - I've been wanting to watch the film of A Night to Remember for some time now (I'm sure Filmfour will do the honours at some point) but on your recommendation if I see the book anywhere I'll give it a go.

    Which reminds me, if Davy H is out there, I polished off Time Out of Joint the other week, excellent stuff. Looking forward to finding a copy of Ubik.

    Ande - it's true, but then Nature's had a lot longer to get things right and probably has a few embarrassments tucked away in the fossil record. When reading about things like the Titanic it's hard not to feel that Nature sometimes steps up from its indifference towards humanity and adopts an altogether more malevolent attitude.

  4. Hey hey! Glad you liked TOOJ! UBIK's even more of a mind-messer...I've got a copy - drop me an email with your address and I'll pop it off to you.

  5. Hi Artog,

    "All they wanted was a peaceful holiday" :S

    You describe this dreaded scenario very well. I am afraid that I would not be very useful either, if I was in such a situation. What strikes me about Titanic is how they did not think of the risks before taking off. They ought to have known that such a gigantic ship was not built for these circumstances. Kind of like letting Don Quixote be the ship architecture or something.

    The film "Titanic" most be the worst film I have ever seen, btw.

  6. Hello Jenny,

    I don't think I've ever met anyone who did like the film. It's weird, it's such an awesome story you'd think it'd be quite hard to make a hash of it. But there are a few like that: King Arthur, Robin Hood.

  7. I really enjoyed this. So much so I put up a post about the titanic in tribute! And, that is a lovely poem.

  8. Oh yes and I wanted to add that A Night To Remember was on TV last weekend oddly enough.

  9. Hello Charles, thanks for the comment and gah! I really must put more effort into my study of the telly schedules.