Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Ahoy There!

When I heard that The World's Greatest Twit, Michael Gove, had proposed that the nation should give HM Queen a new royal yacht as a present for her golden jubilee, I thought at first that Gove had finally lost his marbles completely and would shortly be keel-hauled. But as the story has unfolded, we discover that it's not just Gove; there has been a lobbying campaign going on for several months. And now even David Cameron has come on board. Although Downing St has refuted any suggestions that it should be funded by the taxpayer there remains the notion floating around that it might be paid for by 'public subscription' or donations. (They probably mean the National Lottery Heritage Fund.)
You have to wonder what planet these people think they are on.
It is reported that Prince Charles and Princess Anne think it's a good idea. Well of course they do - free cruises for them and their families. But does El Queenie want a yacht for herself? She's 86, her old man is threatening to pop his clogs any moment and by the time the thing is built and operational both of them are likely to be totally decrepit if not feeding the fish in Davy Jones' Locker. But I suspect the idea is not to provide a like-for-like replacement for HM's old Royal Britannia, but merely to hijack the buzz around HM's Jubilee and apply it to an already existing project, and thus to raise funds - from wherever.
The scurvy knave behind the dastardly plan is Rear Admiral David Bawtree, the central figure promoting something called The University of the Oceans. The Big Idea dates back almost twenty years. Essentially, it is to build a sail training ship crewed variously by "about 2,000 (fee-paying) young people each year, from all walks of life, to enjoy the benefits of adventure training under sail whilst at the same time assisting with national and international events." The ship might also be used for research, and Admiral Bawtree figured ahaarr, why don't we bung in a couple of VIP suites and it can be a Royal Yacht as well! So the crafty devil enlisted the help of his local MP David Willetts who put the idea to the Cabinet, and Midshipman Gove has subsequently endorsed it. Whether or not Prince Charles, Princess Anne or HM Queenie quite realise they would be sloshing about in the aft quarters of a sailing ship crewed by apprentices, rather than relaxing in the luxury of a mini-ocean liner, is not clear.

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