Sinking the Unsinkable, Chapter 2Posted: March 29, 2012
The second part of my epic tale of the voyage of the RMS Torytanic. The story so far: A shortage of berths has prompted Captain Cameron to promise nothing less than an ‘accommodation revolution’ on the back of the ‘affordable ticket’ scheme dreamed up by his assistant purser, Mr Shipps. It will be iceberg season by the time the Torytanic completes its maiden voyage but fortunately for them she is designed to be unsinkable.
Ship’s journal of Captain D Cameron, Esq, Sunday October 16: The crossing is proving much slower going than my chief engineer, Mr Osborne, promised when we set sail. There are murmurings of discontent from passengers all over the ship and I’m not sure how much longer I can get away with telling them that they are better off than they would be on RMS Labour under Captain Brown or his replacement Mr Miliband. Fortunately, the loud parties organised by our Greek and Italian passengers have given them something else to moan about.
Wednesday October 19: The accommodation crisis is getting worse in all parts of the ship. Somehow we seem to have more passengers than berths and they have taken to sleeping in the bilges, in the hold and in the engine room. The price of first-class cabins seems to have gone through the roof, many of our better-off passengers have raised the rent on cabins they own in second class and that’s increased the charges for our new affordable hammocks in third class.
Tuesday October 25: Our assistant purser Mr Shipps really is a fine chap! He assures me that the situation is under control and that his plans for a ship-wide hammock-swap scheme will make all the difference. He’s also come up with a jolly wheeze to make that troublemaking Seaman Crow pay more!
Wednesday November 2: A deputation of first-class passengers came to see me headed up by the redoubtable Dame Fiona Reynolds and Lord Jenkins. It seems they have no objections in principle to our plans to provide more berths around the ship but fail to see why first-class leisure facilities should be sacrificed for the purpose. They presented me with a petition saying that converting the fives court and promenading deck into space for more hammocks will be an unwarranted interference with the views from the starboard staterooms. I turned to Mr Shipps for advice on the matter but he informs me that he has reluctantly stepped aside on this issue in order to give more responsibility to the senior cabin boy, Mr Clark. I do hope we can resolve this unpleasantness because it really does have the potential to make our voyage rather tiresome.
Monday November 7: More grumbling from passengers in third-class about the new charges for food and drink. My chief steward, Mr Duncan Smith, says it is all part of his plan to give them a greater sense of personal responsibility. Eventually they will have one budget for all of their living expenses and it will become much easier for them to take the jobs that are available scrubbing the decks and waiting on tables in first class. I only hope he knows what he is doing.
Friday November 11: I take the early morning watch and am horrified to see several passengers climbing down from lifeboats where they have obviously slept the night. I called in Mr Shipps for a stern word but he assures me that this is actually evidence that his new flexible approach to on-board accommodation is working according to plan. Under his localist plan, different parts of the ship will get a powerful new berths bonus to provide more accommodation in first and second class. Down in third class, those who cannot afford to buy their berths will be allocated them on a fixed-term basis for up to five days a week. ‘Then what will they do for the other two days?’ I asked. ‘That’s a very good question and I’m glad you asked,’ he replied. ‘Very well, I’m glad you have the situation under control, Mr Shipps,’ I said. He really is a most capable chap.
Sunday November 20: Samantha swears that we have been steaming round in circles for days in a flat calm. Lieutenant Clegg says that it all the fault of our chief engineer, Mr Osborne, and he in turn blames Mr Cable, our chief navigator. I had to bang a few heads together and they assure me they have a new strategy in place to ensure we make the crossing in time. Let’s hope they’re right. May God bless the good ship RMS Torytanic and all those who sail in her!