The sinking of the Titanic, and events surrounding it, are undoubtedly of great interest to the public. There are the stories and lessons on a broad scale, such as the media hype surrounding the launch and allegations that they were trying to break the speed record for the crossing. Then the many personal tales of lives and hopes lost, and also bravery in the face of terrifying circumstances. We are intrigued, as we know so much, yet also so little, about what took place and the people involved.
Having seen details for Springhill’s Titanic based events in the recent National Trust magazine, I was very taken aback (see attached) The change in tone from ‘tragic’ and ‘ill-fated’ to ‘enjoy’ and ‘let’s pretend’ makes it sound like the National Trust is celebrating rather than commemorating the anniversary of the sinking. Showing it to friends and colleagues I wasn’t alone in thinking that the brief bit of copywriting seemingly trivialised the 1,517 deaths. Enjoying dressing up and children’s games feel like an unusual way to explore the Titanic, unless, as suggested by someone; the children will dress up, have buckets of water thrown at them, and then the boys are told they have to stay over there, while all the girls are allowed to go over here.
Contacting Springhill on the number given I was directed towards the NT website. Events on the Springhill section only went out a few months so I called back, and was asked for my address so a leaflet could be sent. The leaflet gave a little more detail such as mentioning Eileen’s letter, and the dates of events... then gave the phone number and National Trust website as sources of further information....
An accompanying booklet did list each event with more details. Now knowing about Eileen’s letter, I appreciate Springhill’s link to the Titanic, and think the idea of watching ‘the family’ pack while unawares of what lies ahead is a poignant idea. It’s still not clear to me though why a second hand book fair, nautical activities for dad, croquet and a children’s tour of the house have all been pinned under the flag of “Titanic – The Springhill Story”. Perhaps attending the events would give greater clarity and each is set within a clear context. With only the leaflet to go on though, they read like a strange attempt to forcibly add visitor pulling events onto an otherwise touching idea.
I have no strong link to the Titanic, no lost family or great study of its history. I simply had a strong gut reaction to a piece of text, and further investigation has left me even more curious about the events you are providing to commemorate this centenary. Any comment or explanation you are able to provide would be much appreciated.
(I am well aware that the terrible act of writing mildly indignant letters firmly places me as middle age and middle class before well appropriate to do so, and that writing one to the National Trust is laughably a prime case. I'm off this evening to atone by getting wazzed on something bright pink and sugary, and then go to a cockfight, or whatever it is the kids do these days.)