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April 15, 2012

I just thought it worth mentioning that when Titanic sank and 2/3 of those on board perished, 37% of first class passengers died, 74% of third class passengers and 78% of the crew-members. I mention this because I learnt today on twitter that the memorial plaque bearing the names of the dead, listed them in alphabetical order, as the twitter-comment pointed out, making no distinction of class or creed. Well, fuck it! I think class matters and the figures above suggest that it mattered on Titanic as well, or it mattered sufficiently to privilege the first class over the third class and crew.

And while I’m at it: the centenary of the ship’s sinking looked more like a marketing opportunity for Belfast than a genuine act of commemoration. I’m not sure how anyone can square taking a disaster at sea that leaves over 1500 people dead and turning it into a heritage industry.

And to finish with, this really pushed me over the edge into apoplexy. Did you here the one about the guy who was gloating over ‘communist’ North Korea’s failed rocket launch on the same day he was welcoming the announcement from a senior Chinese politician, Liu Yandong, that her country was committed to Northern Ireland? Then two days later he was mourning the sinking of the Titanic. Is it just me…

4 Comments leave one →
  1. charliemcmenamin permalink
    April 16, 2012 11:13 am

    It appears Garibaldy agrees.

  2. Rab permalink*
    April 16, 2012 12:15 pm

    Ah, the meeting of great minds. Honest to God, though, it’s bloody wall to wall over here. I accept it was a terrible event and one that plays in all sorts of interesting ways in the modern imagination but, seriesly, the way it has been co-opted and sanitized for corporate purposes is vomit-inducing.

    Also, I’ve been following a local MLA over here on tweeter whose fawning, obsequious comments on the visiting Chinese delegation were vomit inducing. These are the people and his party would once have denounced as Godlless, communists.

    At the moment, some of Norn Iron’s most eminent representatives sicken me…

    I must go and congratulate Garibaldy on his good sense…

  3. April 16, 2012 12:24 pm

    You sure about those percentages, Rab? 🙂

    You’re right though about the Titanic commemorations – there was something a wee bit unhinged about it all, creaking as it was with the weight of its contradictions. The class dimension was one of them, of course, but also the sectarian dimension: the Titanic as a symbol of Belfast’s glorious industrial past with no acknowledgement that throughout the period Catholics were largely excluded from the shipyards. And in a recent article on the Titanic for the Irish Times (7 April), Fintan O’Toole tells us that, in 1888, Harland and Wolff threatened to move out of Belfast if the British parliament passed the first Home Rule Bill.

    As O’Toole writes:

    “Memory is shaped by politics, by myth, by the demands of narrative, by the desire to find some kind of meaning in the absurdity of death. We can see all of these forces at work in the way Titanic was and is understood. The ship and its fate act as a microcosm in which we can see how events become images and how those images acquire their own power, their own truth.”

  4. Rab permalink*
    April 16, 2012 2:02 pm

    Opps! AA. I consequence of poor grammar or worse maths…

    Here’s a heart-warming story of surviving the Titanic –

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