I know that Hollywood must sex things up to sell movies, but they barely had to touch one of the greatest, most enduring stories in history.
Four years ago, it was the 100 year anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, seen then as the unsinkable icon of mans triumph over the oceans. Man was proved tragically wrong in his determination to beat even mighty Poseidon, Cthulhu or Neptune, whichever water based god you may put most faith in. Almost 20 years ago the James Cameron film was released, which has raised so many questions, mainly why Kate Winslet didn’t share the door with Leo, possibly she was scared of having to share the Oscar. For whatever reason Rose decided to let Jack freeze to death, the film was a roaring success. My school took my whole year to see it and I don’t think any of the teachers were expecting all of us to cheer at Rose’s reaction to Cal being a massive douche. Seriously, almost the whole cinema cheered when she spat at him. Take that Billy Zane! Sorry Billy, we love you really!
In 1912 an ‘unsinkable’ ship wound up on the bottom of the Atlantic, cruelly, within a few hours journey of safe haven. They, the mysterious ‘they’, have theorised that had they kept the engines running, they could have battled the waves to near safety, that by stopping the engines, they doomed all aboard. Others have the thinking that if they had hit the iceberg head on, they could have limped into America. Others still have theorised that it was the captains fault, the lookouts fault and even Gods wrath. The simple fact is that hindsight is always 20/20.
But now, over 100 years later, the story of the Titanic, it’s 2,223 passengers and 1,517 victims endures. It still conjures jokes about Celine Dion, Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio, it has led to the grave of the real Jack Dawson, in America, to be flooded (no pun intended) with flowers and pictures from adoring fans. Still, to this day.
And now the exhibition is in my local shopping precinct.
Royal Victoria place in Tunbridge Wells has four separate sections of exhibitions. It features photos, artefacts and furniture, all from the Titanic. I took a wander round it with my dad, a rare father/daughter moment, which we haven’t had many of over the past 30odd years, it was nice. I regaled him with useless facts about the funnels, the listing, the rivets and the passengers. I let him tell me where it was built, because it was nice to see him look pleased with himself. Although I accidently confessed I already knew it was built in Ireland, but then he got to enjoy feeling smart all over again because I didn’t know it was built in Dublin.
We walked past preserved chairs, cutlery and crockery, furniture and a still working clock. We compared the states of living between 1st and 3rd class, the incredibly ostentatious furnishings, the opulence and ridiculousness of 1st class, then marvelled at how simple 3rd class was. Near the front of the display was the list of every passenger and crew on the Titanic, with those who survived in white and those who died in red.
There weren’t many white names.
In one family only one name is in white, could you imagine being the only survivor of such a tragedy? Without todays help and support networks?
Not one single name of the restaurant staff was in white.
My dad and I walked in silence for a while, until I broke the silence with something that struck me as amazing.
“It amazes me to think that those things were at the bottom of the sea, and now they’re in our local mall. 10 years ago they wouldn’t have made it out of a museum, and now they’re between a defunct BHS and French Connection.”
The exhibition is open until 21st August. For a sense of the profound or even just for a peek, I truly suggest going to see it. It’s free entry and it might keep the kids quiet for a while!