She was supposed to go yesterday, of course. But, as I type this, the Queen Elizabeth 2 is still shackled to her pier in Dubai. And, inevitably, doubts and fears are beginning to hang over her like gathering storm clouds.
This, despite the fact that the date of her departure was announced months and months ago. If there was a change likely for any reason at all, then there was more than enough time for the new owners to make that public. They didn’t.
It’s yet another botched bit of PR by people who have shown all the deft grace of an elephant tap dancing behind a public house bar. From Nakheel right on down to the current Oceanic Group, there has been one shambolic attempt after another to either stifle any information at all, or to manage the story to suit themselves.
The result has been evasion piled upon platinum chip idiocy; time and time again, pronouncements proffered up as soundbites have sunk one after another.
This, of course, is why so many of us in the west with connections to this marvellous ship, simply no longer take a word that issues from Dubai at face value. Our intelligence has been insulted with a quite flagrant disregard; our fears, anxieties and concerns dismissed with a casual indifference that almost beggars belief.
But I fear the truth is that what we think, care and feel for our venerable ‘lady of the seas’ has no currency whatsoever with the current owners. To them, she is an asset. pure and simple. That asset only exists to be managed, mangled and displayed in whatever way is expedient and, more importantly, profitable.
These are people who only see the ship as she is now. I wonder if any of them ever stood on one deck in mid Atlantic, and watched the wake boiling along behind her?
My point here is that they have no empathic, emotional connection with her. Not like we do. Here, it really is ‘them’ and ‘us’ and, though we are in mutual proximity and tied by a common theme, an area of mutual interest, the truth is that we grind up against each other like mutually belligerent tectonic plates.
We- builders, crew, passengers, and those just lost in thrall to her- invested an incalculable amount of emotional currency in her. For the crew, she was their home. Any kind of ‘renovation’ is, for some, unthinkable. Why not just buy the Mona Lisa, draw a moustache on that instead, and then put it on display in Shanghai?
We’re working on our emotions; the end result of all our experiences and memories of the QE2. The owners are working on pure, impersonal logic. They paid for her, and they own her. Their money, not ours. It’s long been evident that they don’t feel that we have either currency or clout when it comes to the ships’ future. Assuming, of course, that she has one.
I suspect that they are quietly, inscrutably outraged at our belligerence and continual badgering. These are naturally secretive people, and they do not like being called out by people-ie us- whose opinions they regard as largely superfluous to their grand ideas.
Hence the ham fisted, flowery burblings that attempt to pass themselves off as serious press statements. Sorry, but the late Josef Goebbels was more consistently believable than this lot.
What credibility might once have existed- and I was prepared to give them the benefit of the doubt- has now been irrevocably squandered. Any future pronouncements will simply be greeted with a tidal wave of silent, unvarnished scorn.
And so it goes. Lies, bluster and incompetence. It would be funny if the potential outcome was not so damned tragic.