Names and Ships

Names are funny things. As a writer I name ‘people’ all the time and there’s an art to finding the correct name for a character. Many things influence your choice and they include nationality and occupation, gender obviously, personality and perception. Unlike when you’re naming a baby, a writer knows what the character is like and can choose a name the suits.

Sometimes you’ll come across names in real life which stay in your mind. Benedict Timothy Carlton Cumberpatch is a name so wonderful you’d swear it was a stage name, but it’s not. Another one I like is Ramin Karimloo, Mum says it sounds like an exotic dessert, and you pronounce his first name Ra-MEAN not RAM-in. I knew twins called Rose Bud and Briar Bud, and my brother went to school with a Christopher Cross (no, his name was never shortened) and a Mike Paykel (no, his name was never lengthened). Who in their right mind calls a boy Michael Paykel??

Talking about names and associations, does anyone EVER think of anything other than a ship when they hear the name Titanic? In the dictionary it’s listed as an adjective meaning pertaining to, or characteristic of, the Titans. In other words, enormous size, strength, power, etc.; gigantic.  BUT as a noun it’s listed as “a British luxury liner that sank after colliding with an iceberg in the North Atlantic on its maiden voyage in April, 1912, with a loss of 1517 lives.”

What’s a ‘Titanic gin?’ A drink that’s ‘easy on the ice.’ When an action is hopeless it’s sometimes described as ‘shuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic.’ Has any other disaster entered into our vocabulary in such a fashion? Has any other disaster entered into the international consciousness in such a way? The 100th anniversary of the sinking has just passed and unless you live on Mars, you will have been made aware of that fact.

I’ve seen the movie, too much running around the corridors when the water was rising and we knew they needed to get ‘on deck’ and THERE WAS room for two on that board she was floating on. She prized his frozen fingers off the wood and said, “I’ll always love you, Jack.”

It was tragic and criminal and negligent and a terrible collision of circumstances and the unthinkable happened and when that happens, when natures proves to be so much more powerful than the endeavours of mere mortals, we tend to remember the outcome. Forever.




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