Stephen Midgley sends in this gem, and seems to have not only mastered the great man’s style, but his taste in subject matter…
The Wreck of the “Costa Concordia”
’Twas in the year of 2012, on January the 13th day,
The great cruise ship “Costa Concordia” set sail without dismay,
Starting out from the port of Civitavecchia,
And the passengers all thought they could not have been luckier.
She was one of the largest cruise liners in the world,
With more than 4000 souls on board all told,
Bigger even than the mightiest ship of battle,
But the captain little knew how soon of his deeds the world would prattle.
By nightfall the great liner was approaching the Isle of Giglio,
And the captain decided a bit closer he would go,
But he did not think to beware of rocks underwater,
Which soon would result in a major disaster.
For later the captain would say he could swear,
That the last time he came here those rocks were not there;
But soon his ship would strike something in the blue Mediterranean sea,
And he would be forced to exclaim: “Oh, dear me!”
For suddenly the passengers heard a loud scraping sound,
As the ship’s port side on the rocks ran aground,
Which caused an immediate loss of power,
So their dinners they could no longer devour.
The announcer on the intercom said, “Stay calm, don’t panic,
For the situation in no way resembles the Titanic”;
The announcement continued: “It’s just an electrical fault”,
But many of the passengers took this with a pinch of salt.
Next they were told “Please return to your cabin”,
But by now to one side the great ship was lagging;
“We have some issues in terms of seaworthiness at the present time” –
Or, in other words, there’s a gaping hole below the waterline.
Oh heaven, ’twas a dreadful sight to see
The great ship leaning over in the blue Mediterranean sea,
And the poor souls wondering when the listing would cease,
And whether they would ever get out in one piece.
Then the passengers were finally told: “Abandon ship,
Due to technical reasons we are now terminating this trip.
You will receive a refund in due course,
That is if you make it to the shore, of course”.
The crew were struggling to launch the lifeboats,
So that they and their passengers could stay afloat.
For they knew it was going to be hard for them to reach dry land,
Especially as there had been no emergency drill beforehand.
On deck Captain Schettino said: “Follow me, step this way,
For I will show you how to get into a lifeboat without delay”;
And in so saying, he unfortunately did trip,
Fell straight into a lifeboat, and could not get back onto his ship.
By now the ship’s plight had come to the authorities’ attention,
And they had launched a brave rescue operation;
But coastguard Di Falco took the captain’s attitude very badly,
For he was not one who suffered fools gladly.
To Captain Schettino on the phone he did shout,
“Get back on your ship, you useless layabout”;
But the captain kept making excuses, and so exasperated was Di Falco,
That he finally yelled: “Vada a bordo, cazzo!”
By this time the evacuation was in full swing,
With many boats ferrying and helicopters airlifting.
But, sad to say, more than twenty-five souls perished that terrible night,
And the survivors had many shocking stories to tell of their plight.
Costa Cruises generously offered them a full refund,
A gesture which many passengers shunned,
And free vouchers towards their next cruise too,
But of this some customers took a very dim view.
Now, ye builders of ships, be advised by me,
The purpose of a ship is to float in the sea,
And not overturn when she strikes a rock,
Which should be obvious even to ordinary folk.
As for cruise companies, you should hear my behest,
And only hire captains who have passed their driving test,
And who can behave sensibly in a tricky situation,
Above all by staying on board to take charge of any evacuation.
Some say the captain was talking on the phone,
Instead of looking where he was going,
Which should be a lesson to all of us,
Whether we are steering a ship, car or bus.
Perhaps he was even inebriated,
And thus his own downfall created,
But whatever the truth, his days as captain are numbered,
Since onto those unyielding rocks he blundered.
So now I must conclude my lay,
By telling Captain Schettino without dismay,
That he must surely be put on trial,
And not set foot on a ship’s bridge for a very long while.