All aboard, for today we are setting sail and heading to the high seas! Head of Publicity for OUP UK, Kate Farquhar-Thomson, has been galivanting once again and this time sends word from the Queen Mary 2. Jealous? Moi? Well, yes, actually.
People in publishing are rarely paid well, indeed the arts generally are known to offer little in terms of remuneration, but that is not the reason we work in this area. We do it for the love of it, we do it for the kudos and we do it because we enjoy it. And never more so has it been as for me now. Why, you ask? Well, I have been involved in lots of projects in my job which have allowed me to do many things. For instance I have had the pleasure to be in the Queen’s presence, to shake hands with Tony Blair, to go to the theatre with Leonard Nimoy, to dine with James Ellroy in LA, and to share a moment with Cherie Booth. I have ‘hung out’ with Kathleen Turner, and shared warm white wine from plastic cups with Lauren Bacall. And now I have had the honour of sharing a historic moment with some 5000 to 6000 people across the Atlantic Ocean, that being a voyage on board the world’s greatest ocean liner the Queen Mary 2 sailing alongside the magnificent Queen Elizabeth 2 who was making her very last transatlantic crossing before becoming a floating hotel in Dubai.
I have met many people aboard the QM2 who are here expressly to share this very moment. The passengers are extraordinary, they are not simply on holiday they are, as they see it, participating in history. One person I met one night had travelled on the QE2 and QM2 some 22 times! The majority of passengers on board the QM2 on this voyage are British with the second largest group being Americans followed by about another 30 nationalities.
I was also very pleasantly surprised to find a forthcoming OUP author on board, David Whitehouse. Well-known in the astronomy field and often on television news programmes David was speaking about the sun, the moon and aliens! His book for us is going to be about the rainbow and as if on cue we had a marvellous display of a super rainbow off the stern one day.
One night I had the pleasure of dining with Caroline from Cunard and film historian Barry Brown. What a charming man he is, full of great stories about the Hollywood stars. I went to hear him speak about David Niven and Alfred Hitchcock, both of whom he had had the pleasure of meeting. He showed some great film clips and tied everything together with witty repartee. I also have to thank Craig and Robert who were constant companions at dinner and indeed afterwards in the Commodore Club on a number of occasions. They were excellent company and we shared many evenings of good conversation.
On our penultimate day we were entertained by a whole pod of dolphins off the port side of the ship during lunch – what a sight they were leaping out of the water, often in pairs and clearly aware they had an audience. In mentioning lunch I should perhaps say that this trip has proved to be a truly fabulous gastronomic experience which I will never forget. As the miles were shrinking between us and Southampton I was conscious of the waistline expanding and I felt the urgency to rush to the on-board gym and burn some calories. Hopefully I will not have to work too hard to return to normal!
I came on board in New York having flown out to spend a few days in meetings with colleagues in our Madison Avenue office. I also had the opportunity to meet some of my American authors and to visit Washington (what a beautiful city it is!), all be it briefly. But for what reason could I possibly have to travel for business on the QM2? Well, it was indeed a business trip but I took it as a holiday – one does not want to work all day in such an environment as there is far, far too much to do! I am working on a collaborative project with Cunard which collaborator Caroline and I are keen to keep under wraps until we launch the project in March next year. Everyone watch this space!
Pictured above: Kate boards the QM2; the QE2 leaving New York, as pictured from the QM2