AS I write, a submersible craft that was on a trip to look at the wreck of the Titanic on the ocean floor has gone missing, writes columnist Alison Eden.
A huge rescue operation is underway. The price of a place on this trip is quoted as $250,000 and those onboard include a British billionaire and a Pakistani businessman and his son. It’s impossible to imagine their terror and panic not to mention the agony of all those who love and fear for them.
To take up a place on this voyage to the seabed, paperwork must be signed where those travelling confirm they understand and accept there is a risk of death.
When these travellers signed those forms, did they really consider the horror of being trapped on the seabed with oxygen running out and no means of escape? Of course not. It’s in the nature of risk assessment and consent perhaps that when we want something badly enough, we belittle or even ignore the attendant risks.
The sinking of the Titanic in the North Atlantic in April 1912 has inspired writers and film directors ever since.
The much-loved 1970s ITV show ‘Upstairs Downstairs’ killed off one of its main characters on it (Lady Marjorie Bellamy), there’s been a Doctor Who episode starring Kylie Minogue and of course there is ‘the’ iconic 1997 film with Kate Winslett and Leonardo di Caprio.
Has the romance and fiction of the Titanic made visiting its wreck more alluring? Maybe.
I can entirely see why somebody would want to see with their own eyes the ruined hull and bits of ship, discarded cutlery and rusting furniture in its watery grave. But at the risk of my own life? Definitely not.
It seems we humans have a conflicting relationship with danger – when it’s something we very much want to do, we accept more risk.
When it’s something other people want to do to us, we’re more wary. I’m overweight and don’t take enough exercise but I pour over all the side-effects listed in prescriptions before I take them to make sure I understand and accept the risks.
Maybe if I agonised over my decisions about cake I’d make some real strides in my health!
Every day people jump out of planes for fun, they abseil down terrifying slopes and office buildings and climb mountains in all weathers and scarier terrains.
All these activities when organised by professional companies require the signing of waivers and consents to stop them getting sued. In the light of tragic accidents, should the warnings and consents that accompany dangerous hobbies be much more plainly written?
Every time we get in a car, ride a bicycle or even cross the road, we risk freak accidents, death and injury yet on we go because, largely, we have no choice and because life is for living not hiding away.
But because we tolerate some risks doesn’t mean it’s worth adding unnecessary ones. Take great care everybody, buckle up and let’s hope that craft is rescued by the time this goes to press.