The true Titanoraks
Published Wednesday, 11 April 2012
When it comes to Titanic it may feel like every superlative has been used, every description deployed and every angle covered.
If you can look past the Titanic branded crisps and the nautically-named pubs, for me this centenary is all about the twists and turns of Belfast's story.
Over the last few weeks as I've researched, interviewed and read up on all things Titanic (I am officially in 'Titanorak' territory now!) - I've come across some fantastic characters - and what links so many of them is their love for this part of the world.
Like Betty MacQuitty. She's the spirited widow of William MacQuitty - the Bangor man who translated his passion about the Titanic into the much acclaimed movie 'Night to Remember'.
I met Betty at a QFT showing of her husband's film - and her energy as an interviewee amazed me. So much of her life has been dominated by Titanic and yet she shows no sign of waning in her enthusiasm towards it.
She lights up with pride when telling me that James Cameron himself told William that 'Night to Remember' created the ripples which allowed his 1997 movie to be so successful.
And then there's Patrick Frillet. He's a French photo-journalist over here to cover all things Titanic.
But what makes him stand out is that he is all too aware of Northern Ireland's back story. He worked here at the height of the Troubles - capturing the images which made us infamous around the world. Now he's back with a group of 16 other French journalists and it's his vision to show them how much our story has moved on.
John Martin stood out for me too. He's the great nephew of John Simpson who was one of the surgeons on board Titanic. To talk to John Martin about John Simpson is to feel as if he's describing one of his closest friends, so connected is he to this story - which he's determined to keep alive in his family.
John Simpson glided effortlessly across so many of the ship's divides - serving those who needed his medical help, while dining at one of Titanic's top tables - with so many of the stars on board - on the ship's final tragic night before going down with her.
It's stories like these which weave into the rich narrative Titanic continues to create, in a city which it seems is now learning to re-claim the glory in its past.