Barry Gibson: Titanic souvenirs whistle in the wind
AFTER a week in the Republic we crossed the border to my native Northern Ireland where the pound still holds sway.
I grew up in Belfast, but the city is now to me a strange mix of the novel and the familiar.
The flags, bunting and bonfires were all present and correct as normal last week in the run-up to tomorrow’s Orange Order marches.
But alongside the old divisions, Belfast is changing fast.
The most obvious sign of this renewal is the huge new Titanic museum right next to the slipway where the great liner glided into the water for the first time.
I spent several hours at the new attraction, which is well worth a visit, but I found the exhibitions became steadily less interesting as the afternoon went on.
The first part, explaining Belfast’s industrial heyday was by far the most interesting section.
It included descriptions, not just of the shipyard, but also of the city’s many mills and factories. There was also a display about the world’s biggest ropeworks where my great grandmother worked at the time the Titanic was being built.
But from this strong start it was downhill. Fairly interesting displays about the building, sailing and sinking of the great liner eventually gave way to a rather dull section about the efforts to locate the sunken ship in the 1980s.
Then it was out to the gift shop where taste fought a losing battle with greed.
I declined the opportunity to purchase a Titanic pint glass for £12.
And as for the Titanic-themed whistle (left) – presumably perfect for alerting people about a looming iceberg – well, it must have seemed like a good idea at the time.