Liverpool’s Titanic/Irish Connections

St. George's Hall, Liverpool circa 1890's Public Domain (U.S. Library of Congress, digital id#08555)
St. George’s Hall, Liverpool circa 1890’s
Public Domain (U.S. Library of Congress, digital id#08555)

The annual Irish festival in Liverpool is about to take place so the Liverpool Echo listed 10 things the two have in common. Number three on the list are ships and specifically Titanic. The list (from top to bottom)is:

1. Distinctive Scouse accent.
2. People of Irish descent living in Liverpool.
3. Ships/Titanic.
4. The number of Irish pubs in Liverpool.
5. Irish music is popular.
6. Football (soccer for those in the USA).
7. Famous Irish poet William Butler Yeats made many trips to Liverpool.
8. Irish street names.
9. Politicians with Irish backgrounds/ancestry.
10.Chambered tombs.

Source: Ten connections between Liverpool and Ireland (4 Oct 2015, Liverpool Echo)

Countdown to Halloween: The Mummy

Poster for the 1932 film The Mummy Image:Public Domain
Poster for the 1932 film The Mummy
Image:Public Domain

Inspiration for many mummy-themed movies is drawn from a Bram Stoker book called Jewel of the Seven Stars. Unlike Dracula which has been given both literary and cinematic status, this 1903 book is not as widely known but influenced the mummy franchise we generally know today. The story is about a dead Egyptian queen named Tera who during her life amassed considerable dark powers. A mummy hand with seven fingers, adorned with a ruby ring with seven points that look like stars is found with her in the tomb. Abel Trelawny, a noted Egyptologist, becomes obsessed with the idea of resurrecting her. His daughter, Margaret, born not  long after the tomb’s discovery, bears a resemblance to the dead queen and later seems to either be connected to her or controlled by her.

The ceremony to resurrect Tera is performed and in the original ending appears to succeed but at great cost to those who participated. However the ending was quite shocking and upset quite a lot of people (it was not a happy ending except for Queen Tera). The result was that in 1912 Stoker wrote a second ending where the ceremony failed and the Margaret and the story’s narrator (Malcolm Ross) married. The essential story of an ancient Egyptian mummy being resurrected via dark forces though would inspire other tales and most notably the 1932 movie The Mummy starring Boris Karloff. In the movie, Imhotep was caught attempting to resurrect his dead love, Princess Ankh-es-en-amon, and sentenced to be mummified alive. He comes alive when an archaeological team finds his mummy and disappears returning 10 years later as Ardeth Bay to help another excavation team find Ankh-es-en-amon’s tomb. He encounters a young woman named Helen Grosvenor (played by Zita Johann)who likes like Ankh-es-en-amon. He seeks to bring back his former love by trying to show she is the reincarnation and later in a ceremony where Helen will be killed.

The movie was a success but no direct sequels were ever made. Hammer made a series of mummy movies based on the same story. The Mummy (1999)starring Brendan Fraser was billed as a remake but really re-imagined (like the more recent version of Battlestar Galactica). Several attempted mummy movies based on the Stoker novel are mostly unremarkable except for the 1971 Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb. Like the original ending of the Stoker novel, most are dead at the end and the ambiguous ending leaves you guessing whether Tera or Margaret survived (albeit not in the way Tera would have hoped for if it was her.) To begin our countdown to Halloween, here is a clip from the 1932 movie The Mummy starring Boris Karloff.

And here is the trailer for the 1999 re-imagined version:

Titanic A Boost To Belfast Economy

According to a UTV news report, Titanic Belfast is a major economic boost to Belfast exceeding original targets. Between April 1, 2012 when Titanic Belfast began to March 2015 ,900 jobs have been created. 1.9 million people attended the galleries along with conferences and special exhibitions that drew people in as well.

Titanic Belfast (side view) Image:Prioryman (Wikipedia)
Titanic Belfast (side view)
Image:Prioryman (Wikipedia)

The figures also show that most visitors were from outside Northern Ireland (over 71%). Visitors spend money in lodging, food, sightseeing, and of course all kinds of extra purchases that put money into the economy. Titanic was a tragedy but celebrating its loss has proven to be a major boost for Belfast.

Source: Titanic Belfast ‘Generated £105m For NI Economy’ (2 Oct 2015, UTV)

Friday Funny: Abbott & Costello

Perhaps one of the funniest sketches of all time is Abbott & Costello’s Who’s On First? Even if you do not like baseball, you have to laugh. Abbott & Costello performed it both on radio and television to great acclaim. While the routine was copyrighted, they never performed it quite the same way each time.  Sometimes the names or nicknames of real players were tossed in or referenced. A gold record of the sketch is at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. Time magazine in 1999 named it the Best Comedy Sketch of the 20th century. There have been other imitators, of course, some done to parody the sketch. The original though still is the best. And whether performed on radio or television never failed to entertain.

Today in History:The Infamous Munich Pact

By 1938 there was no doubt anymore about the intentions of Germany’s Third Reich and Adolf Hitler. European nations were generally worried about a major war and to that end the two biggest powers in Europe: France and Great Britain, sought to avert it. It was based on the experience of the First World War in which millions had died. The aftermath of that war was a sentiment that total war must be averted at all costs. So far all of Hitler’s violations of treaties, such as occupying the Rhineland in 1936, had caused no major retribution even if it was a major violation of the Treaty of Versailles that Germany had agreed to in 1918.

In spring 1938, Hitler claimed that German-speaking people living in Sudeten region of Czechoslovakia wanted closer ties with Germany and began agitating that unless this was done it would be taken by force. Hitler claimed that this region was part of a Greater Germany. Needless to say, the Czechoslovakian government was concerned. Hitler had annexed Austria in 1938 and he might just do the same to Sudeten. Czechoslovakia had a pact with both France and Great Britain to come to its defense. Neither power was interested in having to defend Czechoslovakia on the battlefield. Both Britain and France sought to avoid a war and both agreed, without bothering to consult with the Czechoslovakians, they would give Hitler what he wanted. The deal was that in areas of fifty percent or more German Sudetens would go to Germany.

Hitler though, sensing he could get a lot more, wanted to put German soldiers in Sudeten and that Czechoslovakian army had to leave by 28 Sept 1938. This caused a crisis resulting in the Munich Conference of 29 Sep 1939. In attendance were British prime minister Neville Chamberlain, French premier Édouard Daladier, and Italian dictator Benito Mussolini. Mussolini presented a plan (that imitated a German proposal) which allowed German military occupation and an international commission to resolve disputes. It was formally agreed to on 30 Sep 1938. Czechoslovakia was presented with this agreement and had no choice but to accept or face immediate invasion. Chamberlain would get Hitler to sign a treaty and proclaim later, upon arrival in Britain, that he delivered “peace for our time.”

Germany acquired not only territory but the industrial resources that it needed (raw ore, steel and iron production, electrical plants). Czechoslovakia was diminished as a result. While many in public in Britain and France heralded the agreement as avoiding war, there were warnings it was wrong. Winston Churchill was critical of the deal and how they had abandoned Czechoslovakia to Hitler. The British Labor Party opposed the deal as well. A view began to emerge and would continue long after, that Britain and France wanted to get out of the military pact as they were not ready for war. Was Hitler bluffing or not also is discussed as well. The evidence is that Germany could have invaded but got what it wanted without firing a shot. And it was handed to Hitler on a platter by two powers that in the last war had been Germany’s enemies. It could not have been a greater present for Hitler.

Czechoslovakia was doomed by the pact. In October 1938, it was forced to hand over under the Vienna Award territory in its south to Hungary and a small concession to Poland. In March 1939, after Slovakia seceded to become a pro-German state, Hitler demanded Czechoslovakia accede to German occupation, which it did. Czechoslovakia then became a protectorate of the Third Reich. Churchill’s warning had come true. With his policy of appeasement now deemed a total failure, Neville Chamberlain realized that it was time to mobilize for war. The French would likewise make preparations (but so entrenched was the avoidance of total war doctrine failed to act when it had the option to do so when most of the German army was invading Poland). In September 1939, World War II would officially begin with the invasion of Poland and declaration of war by Britain and France on Germany.

The lesson of the Munich Pact is that making short term deals with dictators to gain a moment of peace comes at a high cost. The Czechs were abandoned by Britain and France to their fate because neither one wanted to stand up to Hitler. Both Chamberlain and his French counterpart would live to see how badly it would turn out. After war broke out,  Chamberlan’s popularity fell and would resign on 10 May 1940 and replaced by Winston Churchill though remained in the Cabinet. He would die in November 1940. Édouard Daladier, who was under no illusions as to Hitler’s goals (but knew support for standing up to Hitler was thin),had resigned his position in March 1940 but was still minister of defense when Germany invaded. He would be arrested and charged with treason by the German supported Vichy government and imprisoned. He would be imprisoned in several places, including the Buchenwald concentration camp and ended up in Itter Castle in Tyrol with other French dignitaries until liberated on 5 May 1945 after the Battle of Itter . He would return to the Chamber of Deputies after the war, served as mayor of Avignon, and died in Paris in 1970.

Auction of Rare Titanic Memorabilia Tomorrow


A couple of rare Titanic items are up for auction:a ticket from the Turkish bath, a lunch menu, and a letter written six months after the disaster by Lady Duff Gordon’s secretary. The auction for these items is at Lion Heart Autographs in New York on 30 September. Bids are being accepted online.

Here is an article from National Geographic about the auction and its historic value:

A Look at the Titanic Artifacts Going to Auction This Week (29 Sep 2015, National Geographic)

Titanic II Update: Maiden Voyage Will Be From China To Dubai

Cruise Arabia & Africa reports that Clive Palmer’s Blue Star Line has
announced that Titanic II’s maiden voyage in 2018 will be from Jiangsu, China to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. Blue Star has stated that the project is still on refuting rumors of its demise. Originally the maiden voyage was to be from Southampton to New York. James McDonald, the global marketing director of Blue Star Line says the change was due to seeking business partnerships in Dubai.

We are not looking for investment from Dubai, as it is a project we are
funding ourselves, but we have been in contact with a number of
companies based in the Emirates who are looking at utilising
opportunities that arises with the project. It is people looking to use
the opportunity of the trademark and licensing potential of the
project… We own the Titanic II name and trademark and people are
lining up to be part of it.

Not so long ago I reported of interest in Dubai in Titanic II and
speculated that since Palmer is not getting the Chinese investors he was hoping for, that he would seek out investors in UAE. Now so far they official line is that the ship will still be built in China but suppose
with all those “business partnerships” being formed in Dubai that the ship can be built there and cheaper than China? So far no official order has been placed with a Chinese shipyard, Palmer is involved in a serious row with the Chinese government, and a Titanic replica is already being built. And, just as a wild thought, suppose you could add in the Titanic Artifact collection to Dubai with Palmer’s Titanic II?

Source: Titanic II Is To Sail Maiden Voyage In 2018 From China To Dubai In The United Arab Emirates(26 Sep 2015,Cruise Arabia & Africa)

Commentary on Titanic news and other related items.

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