Saturday, 3 May 2008

The "London" Wreck

No need to commiserate with those who have chosen to put an idiot in charge of their city; they will get what they deserve, all 1,168,738 of them. Many of them are not proper Londoners. anyway: I mean, Bexley? Bromley? Barnet? To hell with the inner city oiks, they said, let's get a toff to sort out our problems.

But for the other 1,028,966, those who had the good sense to put aside their dislike of Ken and vote for him, we must all feel sorry; perhaps it will cheer them up to read about some people who suffered an even worse disaster.

Many of the awful poems of William Topaz McGonagall were accurate and harrowing descriptions of terrible things which happened to innocent people. The best known of his two hundred poems is The Tay Bridge Disaster, but there is another one more appropriate for today. It is called The Wreck Of The Steamer "London":

'Twas in the year of 1866, and on a very beautiful day
That eighty-two passengers, with spirits light and gay,
Left Gravesend harbour, and sailed gaily away
On board the steamship "London,"
Bound for the city of Melbourne,
Which unfortunately was her last run,
Because she was wrecked on the stormy main,
Which has caused many a heart to throb with pain,
Because they will ne'er look upon their lost ones again.

You can read the whole of this magnificent account by following the link above, but here are some couplets from it which will give you the flavour:

'Twas all on a sudden the storm did arise,
Which took the captain and passengers all by surprise...

...To hear mothers and their children loudly screaming,
And to see the tears adown their pale faces streaming...

...A beautiful young lady did madly cry and rave,
"Five hundred sovereigns, my life to save!"

...For three stormy days and stormy nights they were tossed to and fro
On the raging billows, with their hearts full of woe...

Happily, though, there were twenty survivors, who "most heroically behaved". Probably these did not include the beautiful young lady, since:
..she was by the sailors plainly told
For to keep her filthy gold.

5 comments:

eric said...

I too pity the poor Londoners. From a slightly loopy but basically decent man who likes salamanders, to an extremely loopy and utterly indecent man who resembles a salamander. Ugh!

outeast said...

Was "awful" merely a comment on the subject matter and content of the poems, or editorializing on their quality?

Tony said...

Both, really, Outeast. The events described were "awful" (inspiring awe, as in Scott's South Pole landscape) and the poems were awful (=lousy). Or perhaps not, perhaps they were what North Americans call "arsome" (a vague term of approval).

crowbar said...

Perhaps London is trying the approach of some American states, and electing on the basis of potential entertainment value (Louisiana and Texas come to mind).
'Entertainment', of course, being a subjective and very flexible concept.
I am pleased to have a new visual referent for the phrase straw-colored hair. He looks like he might go sticking straws in it at any moment, too.
Arsome.

Tony said...

Possibly, Crowbar, though I have to say I don't find Bobby Jindal or Rick Perry remotely entertaining, even potentially. Or Boris.
But then I don't live in LA or TX, or London.