Never Can Say Goodbye

August 18, 2008 -

John Heald

So, picture this. Heidi and I were having lunch today and having a good old discussion about what’s better in Holland than in the UK……..we had gone through clogs, windmills and marijuana when Heidi said……….”Well, what’s really British then? What are the English good at?” Now I’ve been ready for some time for her to say: “I have discovered you are as ugly as a dung beatle’s bottom and I want a divorce?” I’ve been preparing for that one. But: “What are the English good at?”. ………that one took me by surprise.

“Well,” I stammered. “We, er . . . we’re good at . . .” For some extraordinary reason Benny Hill’s name came into my head. “Chasing women dressed as nurses.”

I then had a quick run round all the usual suspects: football, cricket, tennis, motor racing and so on, and could come up with nothing. So I moved into the world of innovation and again drew a blank. Our submarines have been grounded because Health and Safety have said they are not wheelchair accessible. Our Eurofighter doesn’t work if it’s cold.

British Airways is run by an Australian and the English football team is managed by an Italian.
Well……….building things………..I told Heidi…….yes building things, that’s what we are good at. Then I sat and thought about it for a moment and then said…………”Well, we used to be. Nobody builds great houses for the grandchildren and huge gardens for the generations to come. Where are the Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s ?”

Nowadays we celebrate James Dyson as a great engineer because he invented a vacuum cleaner with no bag. And we swoon over the latest mobile phone because it can send a 10-second video clip of your dog weeing in Grandma’s shoe.

The single best invention I can think of in the past 20 years — 20 years! — is the one that allows you to pause and record TV. But it’s not really up there, is it, with the invention of flight or electricity or the modern day ocean liner? Speaking of which, if you are looking for something that was built by the British and like Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s bridges and steam ships that have stood the test of time…………… is of course the Queen Elizabeth 2.

I am sure there were gasps of horror and shock when Carnival Corporation purchased Cunard…….”Oh no” – thought people who wear blazers and have hyphens in their names. “It’s the end of the world as we know it.”………..tea time will be replaced with ice tea time and there will be grits for breakfast…………….well, none of that happened . Instead, the QE2 was given a new lease on life and was joined by Mary, Victoria and soon a new Elizabeth will grace the oceans of the world.

Meanwhile, the Queen Elizabeth 2 will spend her retirement in Dubai where deep pockets will ensure that as a hotel she will continue to ooze sophistication and class.

When Micky Arison took Cunard under the Carnival wing he took a big gamble…………no doubt he took a lot of flack……….. shareholders will fire any CEO who doesn’t turn a profit within the next quarter of an hour. However, he took over Cunard, breathed new life into the company and kept it something that really is the Best of British

This legacy started with the Queen Elizabeth 2 and we shall pay homage to her again later in the year when she takes her last bow. However, on Sunday, Mr. Micky Arison with his wife Madeleine as always by his his side, said their last goodbye to a ship that has so much to thank him for.

Thanks to him, Cunard lives on and just keeps on getting better and although there may have been a touch of sadness in Mr. Arison’s heart as he left the QE2 for the last time, I am sure that sadness was eclipsed by the joy in the knowledge that for generations to come people will continue to experience the Most Famous Ocean Liners In The World and hear the words “We are Cunard .”……………..this is his legacy.

Here are some photos which I thank Mr.Peter Shanks, our friend from Cunard, for sharing with us all.


Hi, I’m John, and this is my blog. So please don’t mistake my opinions — or those of my dear friends, fans or commenters — for those of Carnival Cruise Line or Carnival Corporation. My apologies in advance for anything I may say that upsets you, but this disclaimer covers Carnival and puts the blame directly on me………….. bugger.