Friday, August 31, 2007

One Majestic Lady

Kath is on there somewhere.

Is big, no? I bet she's on the back, I mean stern, at that party where some band is playing "Red Red Wine".

Did you know that some fears can be inherited? That's my story and I'm sticking to it. Elephants? Buildings? Trees? Not a problem. Ships? Whales? Freak me out. Turns out dad saw big cruise ship that was being renovated as a troop mover for WWII (Media Guy? Help me out here?) that caught fire while docked in NYC and sank. He saw it all keeled over on its side and it wigged him out. As I approached The Queen Mary 2 Electric Boogaloo tonight I got butterflies, like I would be somehow pulled into its vortex. It got better when I got up close, though. Which is weird but true. Still, that thing is so huge I can't even begin to explain and I'm sure these pictures don't capture it in a visceral way. Can you see those tiny people waving? Their friends were on the ground with me waving and having a shouted conversation with them.

The 'copter isn't actually landing on the boat, I just hit the shutter late. It's a police vehicle and it was flying around and around the ship as she departed. In this picture it's taking the turn around behind the ship. We could see the men with guns stationed in the open doors when it flew over us.

What do you think that square thing is? Clearly it had something retracted in there. Anchor maybe? I hope that Kath behaves. Maybe they'll make her walk that teensy plank on the right if she acts up.

I went nutso with the photos. I'd come to see if I could see Kath (mission unaccomplished) and to take pictures. I had the film camera and was clicking away. Then I started to feel guilty about all the film and development costs and tried to slow down. Almost immediately, though, I thought, "My grandfather would fucking love this. He'd want me to take as many pictures as I could cram onto the film. He'd be sorry I hadn't brought more film and more cameras and possibly a picnic." So I pulled out my digital too. I wanted to be able to share the experience here with some immediacy but also to take some higher quality shots of it all. These guys were one set of the guys at the bow letting the ropes go when the time came. Big ropes.

So all of these pics are with the digital and I'll have some more next week. Are you holding your breath? Be careful about that, willya? Just think nice thoughts as we watch the water churn up while the old girl gets under way. It seemed to be going very slowly but then I looked away for a moment and they'd moved quite far from the dock. With something that huge that also moves it really messes with your perceptions.

I stayed happily chatting with fellow landlubbers until the QM2 seemed a manageable size in the distance. Then I got on the manageably sized bus.

And I went home.
I was there Kath! I waved at a bunch of people on general principles. I'll leave the details of the story for you to tell. Hope you're having a glorious time.


  1. Anonymous11:00 PM

    SS Normandie

    Your grandfather was right - even the film of the accident freaks me out. The ship was scrapped.

  2. Oh, thanks for that! I will not be watching the video, I don't need any more freak in my out I don't think.

    It's my dad who remembers actually. He was born in '37 so he was a kid but they lived in NYC then and he saw it when they drove by on the Henry Hudson. Possibly the same year he was traumatized by a viewing of Dumbo that coincided with a real life circus tent fire in the news.

  3. To clarify again, I don't think he actually saw the fire but he did see the hulk of the ship lying overturned in the river/harbor/whatever we call it.

  4. Anonymous2:20 AM

    The Wikipedia link doesn't have video of the Normandie fire, but a photo of the ship lying like a dead whale. It was left there for two years. The ship makes a cameo in the Hitchcock film Saboteur. Try explaining the whole story of the ship to Miflony under your breath in a dark, crowded theatre, since she'd never heard of the ship, let alone the fire.

    The Normandie fire wasn't the same year, but close. The Hartford Circus Fire of 1944 happened the year after the ship was righted. Ugly fire that killed 170 after an arsonist set the tent (soaked with gasoline and wax, a common waterproofing measure) on fire.