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The Titanic

The Passing Show: Censured

In the May Socialist Standard was reprinted part of an article on the Titanic disaster from the May 1912, issue. It recalled some of the unsavoury details of the tragedy—the desperate rush (in order to attract the rich transatlantic passengers) to break speed records for the crossing, which resulted in an insufficient look-out being kept; the much higher proportion of first-class than steerage passengers rescued; the officer who kept steerage passengers from the lifeboat with his revolver; and so on. Now another significant piece of evidence has come to light.

Letters

Barmy Lammy

Dear Editors

In the March Greasy Pole – Baby David Speaks – Ivan wrote a witty and perceptive account about the August Riots and Tottenham's MP David Lammy.

The Titanic: A Member Writes...

THE TITANIC was a family theme in my wife’s family - her mother’s grandfather (that is, my wife’s great-grandfather) went off in 1912, having booked his passage on this marvellous new apparently unsinkable ship, to visit a daughter who had emigrated to Canada, and nothing was heard (no mobile phones then) till the news came of the sinking. So my mother-in-law went down (aged 3) with her father several days running to see the lists of the drowned and the saved in the local Post Office window. Then they found out - my wife’s great-grandfather had missed the boat, and went over safely on a later ship. So it’s not always a good idea to be punctual.

Here are some figures for numbers of people saved -

First class ..... 202 out of 325 62%

Second class ..... 118 out of 285 41%

Third class ..... 178 out of 706 25%

Crew ..... 212 out of 908 23%

Whole ship ..... 710 out of 2224 32%

What About the Deckchairs?

Everybody has heard the saying about “re-arranging the deckchairs on the Titanic”. It has become a stock phrase to describe some futile or pointless activity, especially in the face of some impending disaster.

Online dictionaries offer various interpretations, ranging from, “[to] illustrate the futility of concentrating on the trivial details of some enterprise that is ultimately doomed or in the midst of some serious crisis that can not be overcome,” through, “when someone tries to futilely reform the ways things are done in a failing system,” to “to do something pointless or insignificant that will soon be overtaken by events, or that contributes nothing to the solution of a current problem.”

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