We went to the Titanic Exhibition at the O2 Dome today, the Titanic being a much loved topic for my newly 10-year-old. It was a thought-provoking and poignant display of artefacts brought up from the debris between the two halves of the sunken ship, entwined with a retelling of the events of the night of 14 April 1912 and the personal stories of the passengers. It was an emotional visit for me: I feel a deep sense of frustration at the careless errors and frightening arrogance which led to this loss of life; I was moved to tears by the pencil stubb once held by a third-class German passenger on his way to a new world and a new life, eager to improve his English, and the top hat, water-stained from seventy years lying on the bed of the Atlantic Ocean; I wonder with my son whether I would be the type of woman who would rally the others in my lifeboat, organizing them to row and cheering them with stories and song or if I would panic and fight my fellow passengers for a place on the boat, or whether I would play music to offer comfort to the doomed or simply stand alone and wait for the end.
One anecdote that struck me was of the mail clerks, frantically moving the sacks of post up to the top decks of the ship. Despite being told that it was futile they continued and were not seen again. How noble and brave they were to stand by their duties, to guard and protect the precious mail, but how pointless a gesture when the whole lot was going down. Beneath the busyness and celebration of today, I can feel the germinating question: what do I hold onto, work hard at or seek to preserve in my life that might seem so important but is ultimately moving things around on a sinking ship? What is worth persevering with, what needs leaving behind? At this change of year, perhaps that is a better question than still trying to work out some good resolutions!