November 4, 2011
We Are Cunard
If – like me – you are a Formula 1 fan then you will recognise these famous words. On very many occasions at 1300 on Sunday these words would burst out of our TV’s as the red lights went out and a Grand Prix started. They are of course the words of our legendary and much loved BBC motor racing commentator Murray Walker. I can remember him describing the moment when Nigel Mansell overtook Nelson Piquet at Silverstone on the last lap to win the British Grand Prix. I can remember him with a very large lump in his throat describing the moment when Damon Hill emulated his father Graham Hill in becoming the World Champion. Murray is also much loved for his unique and famous quotes and misquotes – anyway you look at it – he is a legend.
So we were delighted that Murray accepted our invitation to lecture on board Queen Mary 2 recently as part of our Insights program. And even more delighted when he agreed to write a blog for us. Here is the man himself;
When it comes to ships the word “Cunard” has a very special ring about it. Tradition, quality, prestige and superiority are what it means to me because I’m old enough to have been around when the launch of the original Queen Mary caused such a stir and I’ve done several voyages on both the much loved Queen Elizabeth 2 and the mighty impressive Queen Victoria. In 2004 my wife and I were present at the Southampton ceremony when Her Majesty the Queen named Queen Mary2 and we spent the night on board. She was moved a short distance during the night, which enabled me to say, proudly, “Oh yes, I’ve been on Queen Mary 2 under power.” True but a slight exaggeration!
But now I can really puff my chest out and say I’ve had the experience of travelling on the World’s Greatest Ocean Liner, as a result of being lucky enough to be a guest speaker on her latest Transatlantic Crossing. I was supposed to be doing the round trip – Southampton to New York and back – but a problem (not an “issue” you’ll note. I can’t stand the way the way the good old fashioned word “problem” has suddenly been replaced by “issue”) stopped us doing the outward leg. So Elizabeth and I flew to New York and did the return journey, and what a joy it was.
I am, of course, a petrol head whose world revolves around Motor Sport and the internal combustion engine so what I talk about is my life and times as a broadcaster, which isn’t necessarily everybody’s cup of tea, I was concerned, for instance, that with almost half the passengers on our trip being American that Formula One would be a closed book to them and that I’d be faced with rows of empty seats in “Illuminations”, where I’d be doing my talks. Thank heavens though, I needn’t have worried because we had full houses and hopefully it wasn’t just because the weather outside wasn’t all that inviting!
If you are a TV commentator you obviously don’t see the people you are talking to so it was a real pleasure to be able to meet so many Formula One fans in person and to chat about our mutual passion. And Queen Mary 2 is, of course, something else. She has a dignity and charisma all of her own and I was bowled over by the number of things there are to do and by the never failing friendliness and helpfulness of the crew.
Highlight of the trip? For me it was, beyond a doubt, being invited up on to the bridge by Captain Kevin Oprey, not just to have a look at all the mind-boggling controls and equipment at his command but also to sound all of Queen Mary 2`s fantastic hooters which, they told me, could be heard ten miles away. I have a powerful voice and when I was commentating I used jokingly to say “no one sleeps when I’m on” but, believe me, no one slept on Queen Mary 2 when I blew those horns!
So thanks Cunard for a fabulous trip on a fabulous ship. It’s one I won’t forget in a hurry.
Thank you so much Murray for adding your own comments – I know that our guests were enthralled. You are welcome to come back and sail with us again.