Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Death of a Great Comedy Ship

So it's all over for the QE2. She is to be turned into a floating hotel in Dubai. Almost exactly twenty years ago, I sailed on the QE2. It was the maiden voyage after a big refit and nothing worked. Not knowing there were a bunch of hacks on board who had agreed not to file the increasingly wild stories, I blithely filed to The Times tales of floods, angry Americans and general chaos. This made me fantastically unpopular with Cunard and with the hacks, who suddenly had to work, and fantastically popular with The Times, the passengers I named who instantly got their money back and news organisations from around the world. Finally, it also made me popular with the crew. Things were so bad, Cunard had agreed to give them bonuses to persuade them to stay with the ship. Old American widows started rushing up to me and whispering, 'Flood in room 2012, Mr Appleyard.' 'Eeez it ze fault of ze sheepyard, Mr Appleyard?' a Hamburg radio station inquired. 'Ja,' I replied. 'How bad is it, Bryan?' asked The World at One. 'Pretty bad, Gordon, pretty bad.' Staggering off the ship in New York, I was confronted by a line of hacks. 'Is it true about the sniper in First Class?' 'Yes.' But then I admitted I was a journalist. 'From The Times?' 'Yes.' They embraced me. 'Best story of the week.' My stuff had gone round the world. It remains my funniest memory in journalism and I still occasionally wonder what happened to Cap'n Larry.

5 comments:

  1. Why does anybody pay good money to spend time on these floating vomitoria?

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  2. Cap'n LarryJune 19, 2007 9:15 am

    I smuggle in heroin to the US from Honduras for the CIA.

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  3. Thank God, Larry, I feared you might have gone down to Dubai with your ship. And, Sophie, no reason that I can discern.

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  4. In 1971, my parents took me out of third grade a week early and we sailed to Southampton on the QE2. We then did five cities (London, Paris, Florence, Amsterdam and Geneva) is three weeks and sailed back on the France. It is the ships that I now remember most clearly.

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  5. Loved the original article, Bryan. There's a certain point at which a really terrible service starts being great fun.

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