Let’s as­sem­ble the fleet!

The Compass - - OPINION -

She is float­ing aim­lessly in the North At­lantic as I write th­ese words, but things may have changed by the time you read them.

She is named for a film star, an aris­to­crat born in Czarist Rus­sia in 1902, an ac­tress famed in the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s through­out Josef Stalin’s Soviet Union and pro­claimed Peo­ple’s Artist of the USSR in 1950.

The Soviet Union is gone now, and so is the ac­tress Lyubov Orlova, who died in 1975. She is not for­got­ten though, her im­age can still be seen on a Rus­sian stamp is­sued in 2001.

The ship, Lyubov Orlova, is gone from this province as well, adrift out­side Canada’s ter­ri­to­rial wa­ters. She is not for­got­ten ei­ther, though it must be said her best days were be­hind her when she set sail un­der tow from St. John’s on her fi­nal voy­age in Jan­uary.

Speak­ing of film stars, the Marx brothers could not have chore­ographed a more fit­tingly comic de­par­ture than the one cap­tured by CBC tele­vi­sion as the Lyubov Orlova was towed away from the quay­side. The re­porter, Zack Goudie, mi­cro­phone in hand, was speak­ing to the cam­era, his back to the ship mov­ing away be­hind him, when he was grabbed by a by­stander and pulled to safety. Just in time too, as an over­looked line from the ship, still at­tached to a bol­lard at the wharf ’s edge, grew taut and snapped, whip­ping back ashore and slap­ping down onto the con­crete apron where sec­onds ear­lier Zack had been stand­ing.

It is what screen­writ­ers re­fer to as fore­shad­ow­ing.

More ropes were to snap apart, once she reached the open sea, two tow ropes and count­ing, as I write this. Likely more be­fore this story comes to an end.

None of this would ever have hap­pened if Danny Wil­liams was still in of­fice.

Be­fore the Lyubov Orlova ever got to the crit­i­cal scene in the fi­nal act of this drama, the moment when she was pulling away from the wharf with her rope still at­tached, the ac­tion would have stopped. De­ci­sively. Just like the scene in the fi­nal reel of the movie Casablanca, a plane taxi­ing across the tar­mac into the fog car­ry­ing In­grid Bergman away, her heart strings still stretch­ing out, still at­tached to Humphrey Bog­art,

would

have some­body ”Cut!” Danny Wil­liams. Sun­glasses on his nose, dressed in his sig­na­ture seal­skin coat, he would have jumped up, over­turn­ing the fold­ing can­vas chair with the word Di­rec­tor writ­ten across the back. He would have ripped the beret off his head, thrown it to the ground and jumped up and down on it, all the while bel­low­ing into the mega­phone clutched in his white-knuck­led fist:

“&*%^$*^)(*_(&)(@*& %. Cut! Cut, I tell you! I’m ex­pro­pri­at­ing this ship! And what’s more, I’m go­ing to build a fence along the har­bourfront to pro­tect her. For­get keep­ing ter­ror­ists away, we have to keep safe this valu­able as­set that now be­longs to the long-suf­fer­ing peo­ple of New­found­land and Labrador. We’re the own­ers of this ship now, and I’m not giv­ing her up.

She’s mine! She’s ours! thing.

There will be no more give­aways. We’re go­ing to na­tion­al­ize this ship and turn her into the venue for the world’s most de­sir­able cruise ex­pe­ri­ence imag­in­able. We can part­ner with other At­lantic prov­inces and

shouted

... Same sell spe­cial low-price tick­ets to them and cus­tomers in the New Eng­land states. New­found­lan­ders and Labrado­ri­ans will have to pay a tri­fle more, but hey, we are in­vest­ing in our fu­ture. Que­be­cers will not be al­lowed on board. French will not be spo­ken. We will not sail up the St. Lawrence at any time. In or­der to get to the main­land, we will only cross the Gulf to Nova Sco­tia. We will call it the An­glo-Saxon route.

The Lyubov Orlova will be such a success that we will buy more used ships named af­ter com­mu­nist film stars. We’ll have a fleet. We will en­sure cruise ship se­cu­rity for New­found­lan­ders and Labrado­ri­ans for gen­er­a­tions to come. Never again when speak­ing of New­found­land and Labrador cruise ships, will the words “have-not” be heard.”

If Danny Wil­liams was still pre­mier, the Lyubov Orlova would not be drift­ing aim­lessly in the North At­lantic. Look­ing back though, drift­ing aim­lessly might not be all that bad.

Peter Pick­ers­gill is an artist and writer in Sal­vage, Bon­av­ista Bay. He can be reached by email at pick­ers­gill@mac.com

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