Going Down Like The Titanic

That's a big boat.

100 years ago this week, The Titanic slid down a well lubricated Harland and Wolff slipway into infamy.

You know the story. On its maiden voyage Leonardo di Caprio and Kate Winslet, fell in love, had a soft focus back seat love affair in a car stowed in the hold, where she went down before The Titanic did. They danced an Oirish jig, and felt the wind in their hair on the prow as Celine Dion sang that awful song.

Then, to the relief of the audience the bloody ship sank. Winslet drowned before taking her clothes off and doing it in a few more movies, whilst Di Caprio came ashore in Boston, where he later starred in The Departed.

Meanwhile back in Belfast this week, the same slipway, now minus the 20 tonnes of tallow lubricant, was packed with the great and the good eager to celebrate ‘a major achievement for Belfast.’

The newly inaugurated Mayor of Belfast, Niall O Donnghaile, acclaimed the City’s achievement in building the ship. That in itself is an achievement. Mr O Donnghaile’s forefathers would not have had the opportunity to set foot in the shipyard let alone stand there and speak.

Anyhow, what continues to amaze me is the relish with which The Titanic is hailed as some sort of monumental triumph for Belfast.

It sank.

1,517 people perished when the liner hit an iceberg at 11.40pm on 14 April 1912 and sank less than three hours later.

Fatal flaws in its construction and a lack of lifeboats contributed to the huge loss of life. The majority of deaths were caused by hypothermia in the -2 °C water where death could occur in as little as 15 minutes.

Next year an iconic £97 million Titanic building dedicated to remembering the ill-fated ship will open, expecting to attract 400,000 visitors annually. It will feature nine galleries telling the story of the Titanic, the Belfast shipyard and early 20th Century life in the City.

Perhaps Leonardo di Caprio and Kate Winslet will attend the official opening, she might keep her clothes on and hopefully the whole thing will go down this time without any further loss of life.