It had to happen some an Aussie businessman is splashing out on building a replica of the doomed liner

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News of Titanic II being built by an Australian billionaire manages to combine the two opposite ends of the ‘surprise spectrum’ in one fell swoop.

A rare, and indeed some would say, impossible state of affairs. A surprise is either a surprise or it isn’t, after all.

But check your rules of the English language at the door for a brief moment.

Because it was surely only a matter of time before someone came up with sufficient cash to fund the creation of a Titanic replica. Albeit one with a better lifeboat/passenger ratio and a rather more refined system for spotting ice bergs looming on its murky route.

Yet, while marrying financial resources and a sound business model around one of the greatest maritime disasters of all time could work, as insane as that sounds, the fact someone is now doing it, defies belief.

So, grammar fans, while there is the complete lack of surprise someone thought there was acres of publicity to be had, and a vast quantity of tickets to be sold for a jaunt on a Titanic replica, on the flip side there is the supreme surprise that someone would be so horrendously crass to name a new, exciting new project after such an enormous tragedy.

Our fascination with the Titanic is something of an uncomfortable one at the best of times; toeing a fine line between the horrific loss of so many lives and a morbid fascination with what happened on board and the terror all must have faced on that terrible, dark night.

Yet Clive Palmer, a wealthy Australian, has hired a Chinese firm to build Titanic II.

It will look as close to the original, doomed, liner as possible and will make the journey from London to New York in 2016 if all goes to plan.

But surely looking to create a major business off the back of such an horrendous tragedy is deeply uncomfortable?

Cruise liners are not things of the past. If you want to travel on one, the opportunity is still there. The Titanic’s grasp on us – if indeed it has such a thing and the intense interest around the 100th anniversary recently would very much suggest it does – is that it provides a snap-shot of a moment in time, an era which has long since died beneath the waves and been lost by countless wars and the relentless pursuit of progress.

The Titanic meant opulence of the upper class – and a ticket to a new life to those who bought the cheap seats. The fact the class system of the era was so clearly defined is one of the ship’s most notable aspects. That, and of course, the fact it sank, killing thousands. Death’s icy fingers cared little for which class you represented.

Today – or, more to the point in 2016 – the class system has been so narrowed for it to blur at the edges. And travel so expensive the poorest can no longer expect even a cheap seat. You may opt for an inside cabin the size of a small shoebox, but you’ll still have to pay over a grand to do so for a five-day jaunt around the coast of Italy.

What’s more, the quality and finery of the Titanic’s interior was what made it so fascinating – especially by virtue of the fact its tomb at the bottom of the ocean allows us to catch a glimpse of it.

What will 2016’s interior bring? A slew of widescreen TVs, casinos and swimming pools? An injection of 21st century living which extracts the soul and the fascination from the original?

We shall have to wait and see.

One thing which is unlikely to surprise anyone, however, is that tickets for that maiden voyage are likely to be rather on the expensive side.


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