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Thursday, 7 August 2008

The Queen

You know how, when you were a kid, you had two grandmas, and how one was a little bit posher than the other? Well, the QE2 smells exactly like your slightly posher grandma's house. Looks a bit like it too, all purply-red carpets and things made of wood and brass.

Anyway, so the QE2 is quite great. It's the only cruise ship I've been on that actually feels like a ship once you're inside. Most of them look and feel like luxury hotels, all marble, glass and water features - which is lovely, but the QE2 feels like a big boat. And a satisfyingly old one at that. No electronic card keys for your cabin door here, just a clunky yale lock. The elevators are slow and dodgy, and the clattery doors take forever to close, half shutting and then opening again with a mechanical stutter whenever someone inside so much as breathes heavily.

I'm quite chuffed to be on the QE2, as in a couple of months, it goes out of service, hangs up it's 41 year career as a classy cruise ship and retires to Dubai where it will be some kind of floating retro hotel. So bearing in mind all of that, it's nice to have worked it before it stops being a cruise ship.

During one of my late-night wanders I found, in a stairwell in the middle of the ship, a long glass case filled with old photographs of many of the famous and powerful people who have enjoyed a cruise here. I spent a long time gaping at this. Made me feel all gooey, it did. There's all the Royals, obviously, and scum like Thatcher, but then there's the good stuff... We get Spencer Tracy, one foot up on a chair, hat pushed back on his head, looking rakish. Winston Churchill stands on the deck looking exactly like a cardboard cutout of Winston Churchill. Bette Davis with a cocktail, Lucille Ball at dinner, Jimmy Durante clowning around with a waiter, Fred Astaire, David Niven, George Burns, Bob Hope, Dudley Moore, Athur Askey, Lena Horne, Bing Crosby, Liz Taylor, Buster Keaton. Excuse my French, but Buster Motherfucking Keaton. And then, right in the middle of this smorgasbord of heroes, as if he belongs, Eddie Large. From Little & Large. All sweaty face, perm and fat bow-tie. Now don't get me wrong, I'm a fan of his early classic stand-up routine "Famous people starting their cars" as any right thinking child of the 70's is, but it does not qualify him to be inches away from Buster, Lucille or Astaire. It's just wrong. Might I suggest a "b" board, for all the slightly lesser stars, and Thatcher, obviously. And I'm not sure where I'd put Askey, the more I think about it.

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