Friday, September 01, 2023

Do you feel like the QE2? - left to rot

All photos courtesy of Unsplash 

The QE2 – the longest, widest, tallest, fastest and most expensive passenger liner when it was built – made 26 circumnavigations of the world and took more than three million passengers a staggering 5,875,264 nautical miles in glittering surroundings that were the epitome of luxury. 

Today, however, more than 55 years after she was launched, the once magnificent QE2 is a discarded shell taking on rainwater and slowly gathering rust alongside a spartan dockside in Dubai’s commercial harbour, Port Rashid. At a distance – and that’s how the security guards like to keep inquisitive tourists – the former Cunard flagship looks as if she is ready to cast off at any moment, full steam ahead on what would be her 1,375th voyage. Close up the reality is tragically different. Gone are the glorious days of pre-dinner cocktails in the Chart Room, formal meals at the captain’s table or late nights over liqueurs in the Yacht Club. No longer do bronzed couples on 80-day world cruises spend lazy hours on sunbeds or enjoy unhurried moonlit strolls around the teak deck.

As the Middle Eastern sun beats down on her, the QE2 is silent. The last of her nine engines – the largest marine units ever built, each the size of a double-decker bus and consuming 18 tons of fuel an hour – turned off.  No more wisps of smoke curl from her iconic black and red funnels.  Without power for lighting and air conditioning, the queen of the seas is condemned to a sad and lingering death and “left to rot” despite several failed attempts to buy and moor the liner permanently on the Thames. 

On a personal note, I enjoyed two short trips to Guernsey on the QE2 back in the 1990s  and have happy memories of the experience despite a Force 8 gale on one of the return legs. Speaking of Guernsey and the QE2 being "left to rot" reminds me of a book I read about a young man named Rod living in Guernsey. As a child, his Swansea parents divorced, and he went to live in Guernsey when his mother re-married. The book "The Real Deal" by Rod Williams is a compelling read and one which is hard to put down. It tells an honest and gritty story of one man's struggle with the powerful grip of drug addiction and the absolute devastation it brought.

Rod's pursuit of a lifestyle that promised money, pleasure, power and popularity left him feeling broken, lost and desperate.  In other words like being "left to rot" on the scrap heap of life.  A drug dealer, who became addicted to heroin and gambling, he saw his life spiral out of control.  Was there any hope for someone like him?  

In his gripping account, Rod relates how he found 'the real deal', which rescued him from his destructive lifestyle to begin a journey of fulfilment and freedom. He details the greater power of the Lord Jesus, who saves lives and brings about a complete transformation to those lives which are on the path to utter destruction in such a way that nothing and no one else can. The book reveals how God's love, grace and true forgiveness turned not only Rod's life around but also the lives of long-time accomplices and shows how that has impacted hundreds of other lives for the better. It was scary stuff but encourages us to recognise the wrongs of this life, to take steps to follow Christ in righting them, and lay at the foot of the cross the weight of sin that this messy world makes.


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