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RMS Queen Mary

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indar
Posts: 1009
Joined: Sun Jan 07, 2018 3:00 pm

RMS Queen Mary

Post by indar » Mon May 13, 2019 11:43 pm

Image

Night Aboard the RMS Queen Mary

After the last tour below decks, the magic show,
the guided search for her famed ghosts,
She sleeps.
We prowl the abandoned promenade
ascend winding steps to upper decks,
secret passageways,
rows of heavy lifeboats slung in cradles
never to be used,
beneath red, glowing stacks
bigger than Midwest silos riding high
on fields of grain,
warped plank decking by the acre,
like pirates we take the captain's quarters
then the bridge high over water
four decks up,
below, a blue-lit excursion boat glides by
returned from Catalina: island of romance,
romance romance romance romance
(I'd swim with just my water-wings 
and my guitar). We are ghosts aboard 
a ghost-ship, this relic was alive 
during our lifetime,
Big bands played in the ballroom
piped in hallways now
like elevator music,
She is a displaced old lady
and we were never part of her history.

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Gyppo
Posts: 233
Joined: Sat Mar 31, 2018 9:28 pm
Location: UK

Re: RMS Queen Mary

Post by Gyppo » Mon Jun 10, 2019 2:30 pm

indar wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 11:43 pm
 We are ghosts aboard
a ghost-ship, this relic was alive
during our lifetime,
Big bands played in the ballroom
piped in hallways now
like elevator music,
She is a displaced old lady
and we were never part of her history.

Not sure how I missed this one earlier, Indar.  A lovely look at the old lady of the sea.

When I was a kid both of the Queens sailed regularly from nearby Southampton, and I saw them regularly when we travelled by ferry across Southampton water to visit relatives on the other side.  They looked huge from water level, although they would be dwarfed by modern cruise ships. 

I never went on either, but we were allowed into the docks and it was fascinating to see lines of stevedores running up, or down according to the tide level, numerous gangplanks to various openings in the side carrying sacks and boxes to re-supply before a crossing.  Like ants scurrying around a carcass.  No safety orange jackets back then, just rough working clothes, and sometimes stripped to the waist if the weather was hot enough.  The contrast between uniformed deck officers and the raggle-taggle  loaders was striking.  (In these days of containers and pallets and forklifts it's hard to imagine the sheer amount of human muscle involved back then.)

Viewed from the ferry side I was awed by the huge holes in the side as various hatches were opened not far above water level, and stuff was loaded by crane from various 'lighters'.  Occasionally there would be jets of filthy water gushing from hoses.

As a kid those holes in the side bothered me, but Dad, with his naval background, explained how hatches like that were sealed and 'dogged tight' on the inside, with the locking dogs often beaten into an even tighter fit with sledge hammers.  "After all, Son. they're never going to open them at sea."  

The Mary always looked more 'rounded' than her somewhat sleeker sister ship, but those three towering funnels gave her a presence that the Elizabeth lacked.

If we saw them when they'd not long been back in dock they would be salt-stained, rather like a  car which has spent a lot of time on Winter roads.  With cleanup crews hanging over the sides in cradles, and occasionally repairing storm damage as well  as cleaning.

I was at school with kids whose Dads worked on the Queens, including a girl who claimed her dad was one of the captains.  The family name was the same, but the 'goodies' which appeared in their home when the ship was in dock suggested he was more likely a steward with 'sticky fingers'.  She once brought a glass jar of one hundred sticky lollies to school with her and shared them out, saying her Dad wouldn't mind as it 'was left over' supplies.  It never happened again.

I also remember the 'boat train', with the posh carriages, where the lamps had fancy tasselled shades and fresh antimacassars on the headrest of each seat, carrying on beyond the Terminus into the docks, so the rich folks didn't have to walk too far.  Some of the kids collected train numbers, I, even then, watched people. 

In a way I'm glad the Mary has a peaceful requirement as a hotel, rather than a hot date with a cutting torch at a scrapyard, or being deliberately sunk as part of a man-made reef.  I can easily imagine the ghosts from that previous era still walking the warped plank decking.

Gyppo 

 
I've been writing ever since I realised I could.  Storytelling since I started talking.  Poetry however comes and goes  ;-)

User avatar
Gyppo
Posts: 233
Joined: Sat Mar 31, 2018 9:28 pm
Location: UK

Re: RMS Queen Mary

Post by Gyppo » Mon Jun 10, 2019 7:58 pm

Gyppo wrote:
Mon Jun 10, 2019 2:30 pm
indar wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 11:43 pm
 We are ghosts aboard
a ghost-ship, this relic was alive
during our lifetime,
Big bands played in the ballroom
piped in hallways now
like elevator music,
She is a displaced old lady
and we were never part of her history.

Not sure how I missed this one earlier, Indar.  A lovely look at the old lady of the sea.

When I was a kid both of the Queens sailed regularly from nearby Southampton, and I saw them regularly when we travelled by ferry across Southampton water to visit relatives on the other side.  They looked huge from water level, although they would be dwarfed by modern cruise ships. 

I never went on either, but we were allowed into the docks and it was fascinating to see lines of stevedores running up, or down according to the tide level, numerous gangplanks to various openings in the side carrying sacks and boxes to re-supply before a crossing.  Like ants scurrying around a carcass.  No safety orange jackets back then, just rough working clothes, and sometimes stripped to the waist if the weather was hot enough.  The contrast between uniformed deck officers and the raggle-taggle  loaders was striking.  (In these days of containers and pallets and forklifts it's hard to imagine the sheer amount of human muscle involved back then.)

Viewed from the ferry side I was awed by the huge holes in the side as various hatches were opened not far above water level, and stuff was loaded by crane from various 'lighters'.  Occasionally there would be jets of filthy water gushing from hoses.

As a kid those holes in the side bothered me, but Dad, with his naval background, explained how hatches like that were sealed and 'dogged tight' on the inside, with the locking dogs often beaten into an even tighter fit with sledge hammers.  "After all, Son. they're never going to open them at sea."  

The Mary always looked more 'rounded' than her somewhat sleeker sister ship, but those three towering funnels gave her a presence that the Elizabeth, with only two, lacked.

If we saw either ship when they'd not long been back in dock they would be salt-stained, rather like a  car which has spent a lot of time on Winter roads.  With cleanup crews hanging over the sides in cradles, and occasionally repairing storm damage as well as cleaning.

I was at school with kids whose Dads worked on the Queens, including a girl who claimed her dad was one of the captains.  The family name was the same, but the 'goodies' which appeared in their home when the ship was in dock suggested he was more likely a steward with 'sticky fingers'.  She once brought a glass jar of one hundred sticky lollies to school with her and shared them out, saying her Dad wouldn't mind as it 'was left over' supplies.  It never happened again.

I also remember the 'boat train', with the posh carriages, where the lamps had fancy tasselled shades and fresh antimacassars on the headrest of each seat, carrying on beyond the Terminus into the docks, so the rich folks didn't have to walk too far.  Some of the kids collected train numbers.  I, even then, watched people. 

In a way I'm glad the Mary has a peaceful requirement as a hotel, rather than a hot date with a cutting torch at a scrapyard, or being deliberately sunk as part of a man-made reef.  I can easily imagine the ghosts from that previous era still walking the warped plank decking, or playing 'Deck Quoits'.

Gyppo 

  
I've been writing ever since I realised I could.  Storytelling since I started talking.  Poetry however comes and goes  ;-)

indar
Posts: 1009
Joined: Sun Jan 07, 2018 3:00 pm

Re: RMS Queen Mary

Post by indar » Mon Jun 10, 2019 9:17 pm

Well Gyppo,

We've both lived long enough to be able to compare life before and after the advent of the internet. Something has occurred on this thread that would not have otherwise happened. I posted a poem about an experience I had with a foreign ocean liner that, to this rather parochial writer, was novel--exotic even. I get an insightful, informative answer from a writer half a world away in whose life this ship was a working part of daily life. I never cease to be thrilled by such events. Thank you for a thoroughly  fun comment :D

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Gyppo
Posts: 233
Joined: Sat Mar 31, 2018 9:28 pm
Location: UK

Re: RMS Queen Mary

Post by Gyppo » Mon Jun 10, 2019 10:04 pm

You're welcome.  There are many bad things about the internet, but when it's good it's great ;-)

Southampton is now home to several cruise liners, and they're all as ugly as sin compared to the Queens.

When the big liners used to slowly make their way out to sea a lot of the passengers would stay on deck, waving to the kids along the beaches who waved back until their little arms nearly dropped off. 

There were coin operated telescopes on the piers, and people would do a spot of celebrity spotting if they knew someone famous was on board.  The local papers always gave the sailing times.

The other big event was the waves.  In such a relatively narrow waterway as The Solent the amount of water displaced by these huge vessels would send a wave up the sloping beaches like a mini-tsunami.  At Ryde, on the isle of Wight, there were signs along the waterfront advising people to get out of the water and move back towards the sea wall when the big ships were passing.  The big slow surge came a while after the ship had passed.  Rather impressive.

Within Southampton Water they were handled by tugs, but once they got a bit further out they went onto their own power.  Now, think about the impeller which quite violently moves the water in an old twin tub washing machine.  Usually no more than a foot across, often less.  Most of those old liners had four propellers, each around twenty feet in diameter or more.  Even on 'slow ahead' that's a mind-boggling amount of agitation.

Thank you, Indar, for triggering the memories.

Gyppo   
I've been writing ever since I realised I could.  Storytelling since I started talking.  Poetry however comes and goes  ;-)

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Tracy Mitchell
Posts: 993
Joined: Sun Jan 07, 2018 10:58 pm

Re: RMS Queen Mary

Post by Tracy Mitchell » Thu Jun 20, 2019 9:51 pm

    
What an endearing stream of consciousness tour of the old ship.  Very enjoyable.  :)

Just a few thoughts.

L.6 – “secret” >> narrow / quiet / unlit?  

L.8 – delete?

L.11 – seas of wheat?

For me the poem can end comfortable and complete with the elevator music.  The last two lines I think attempt a summary of what the poem really isn’t about – just my thought.

Love this share of nostalgia.  

Cheers.

T

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