I had not intended to write this piece at all, to be honest. With no new information to share about our beloved QE2, I did not want to either raise false hopes, fly potentially dodgy kites or- if I’m plain honest- depress myself thinking about the last six years.
But if I wanted to leave the story, it did not intend to leave me. Just as always during her long, happy life, the QE2 was never far from my thoughts. And today, of all days, please permit me the indulgence of sharing my own, personal take on how things stand.
I have always had grave misgivings about the intentions of those ‘gentlemen’ in Dubai, right from the moment that I first read the ‘glass funnel’ idea. As their original plans to mutilate the great lady surfaced like some crack addled Kraaken, I got more and more angry. Hell, why not just buy the Mona Lisa instead, and paint a moustache on it?
This intended vandalism gradually subsided beneath a veil of discreet, uneasy silence, garnished with occasional fantastic pronouncements and served up with a side order of incredible lies. Promised reactivation dates came and went; progress reports- scant and intermittent- had all the credibility of a chocolate fire guard. With each passing day, my heart sank just that little more.
These days, I perceive our much loved lady of the seas as a kind of mummified deity; still coated in the royal colours of Cunard, stuck like some splendid, petrified goddess in the midst of a steel, concrete and sand sarcophagus. The accrued dirt cannot take her dignity away, but the pitiless sun does her no favours, either. She seems alone and in a state of quiet despair. The life, light and joy has been siphoned out of her bit by bit, and those responsible simply do not seem to care.
Don’t get me wrong; I fully understand that the crash of 2008 completely changed the game for the new Dubai owners. But that was then, and this is now. We are expected to applaud and show amazement at the string of new building projects (including an entire new international airport) that will sprout like so much pre pubescent acne across it’s precocious, chubby little face. All while QE2 sits, withers, and slowly suffocates, an unwanted toy cast aside with a callous shrug.
You’ll forgive me if I don’t jump on that particular band wagon, I hope.
Six years on, I still want to hope for a better future for QE2. I was heartened immensely by the lavish. loving restoration of the fabled Rotterdam. The return of that legendary ship to the port of her birth was tear inducing stuff, beautiful and life affirming.
But Rotterdam was- indeed is- beloved by those who fought tooth and nail to save her in the face of almost insuperable odds. Their sheer, dogged determination is a million miles removed from the brash, bile inducing, cavalier way in which the ‘great and good’ of Dubai have left QE2 to wither on the vine.
They first have to possess the will and the guile to save her. In six years, I am afraid I have seen no evidence of either.
God knows, I wish I was wrong. Truly, really, God Save the Queen.
Because the burghers of Dubai sure as hell will not.