This week, 11 years ago. I was on board the QE2 for her last sailing into Southampton. With the world’s media on standby for her historic return, she ran aground on the sandbanks in the Solent. Whoops.
I had many happy times on that ship. It always felt a bit special to be onboard, despite the fact she was well past her glory days. I remember once, having a nice cup of tea with my mum in our cabin as we left Southampton. The engines vibrated the room so violently, the cups bounced off their saucers. Our hallway invariably stank of diesel fuel and the cupboard doors refused stay shut. When I heard any of the passengers angrily complain about the state of things, the Cruise Director would say, “Well, she’s like a dear of favourite aunt – she may be old and a little tired, but we do love her, don’t we?” And with that they’d meekly tramp back to their smelly cabin, feeling ashamed of themselves for even mentioning it.
So, it was rather an unfortunate end for the QE2, to snag a sandbank in the Solent when the world was watching. These days she’s a luxury, stationary hotel in Dubai. Fortunately, there are plenty people around who remember her glorious past, coursing through the great oceans and putting young singers in their place.