The Titan submersible, operated by OceanGate Expeditions to explore the wreckage of the sunken SS Titanic off the coast of Newfoundland, dives in an undated photograph. | OCEANGATE EXPEDITIONS


By the time this column goes to print, the five men, known as the Titan Five, lost in a 21ft submersible 12,500 feet below the ocean, will have hopefully and miraculously been found alive. The craft, owned by Oceangate Expeditions, was launched 900 miles off the coast of Cape Cod, and cost its wealthy adventurer participants 250,000$ for the pleasure of seeing the remains of the famed Titanic.

Within a few hours the submersible had got into difficulty and soon there was no discernible signal from the craft at all. It took the mother ship, The Polar Prince, some time to alert the US Coastguard, losing valuable time. Of the many things that could have gone wrong with this venture, first appears to have been not having a disaster plan in place. Former divers who tried out the expedition to the deep, cited all manner of problem with electrical circuits malfunctioning and pieces of equipment falling off the craft. The weather had recently been so bad that it was touch and go that this particular jolly would ever take place but, in the end, for better or worse, the Titan launched last Sunday.

On board, like a setting for an Agatha Christie, there were five men, a French navy veteran, PH Nargeolet, the American CEO of Oceangate, Stockton Rush, British billionaire and explorer, Hamish Harding, and wealthy businessman Shahzada Dawood and his 19-year-old son, Suleman. Why such a young participant was allowed on the risky expedition to the deep is anyone’s guess but maybe the moneyed thrill seekers brushed off fears of claustrophobia, electrical failures, lack of oxygen, and the fact that they were entering one of the darkest and most dangerous places on earth.

If truth were told, as a claustrophobic, I would have to have been paid 250,000$ to set foot on the craft and even then, would have turned down the offer. I genuinely cannot think of anything more terrifying than being bolted into a tiny tube with a single chamber, a mini loo and one window looking out onto pitch black water and swirling debris at the bottom of the sea. All of the men needed to sit crossed legged for ten hours as there was no room and no chairs. As the craft had suffered some kind of malfunction, that ten hours stretched into days. With dwindling oxygen and severe cold, no wonder hypothermia and panic attacks were flagged up as likely occurrences for the five trapped on board.
But my overwhelming curiosity centres around one question: why? If you are a billionaire or a wealthy explorer or businessman, why is it so attractive to put your life at risk on such a perilous and terrifying adventure? Perhaps, as has been suggested, if you have broken world records, made a fortune, seen most countries on earth, you’re left thinking, what next? What wild adventure can top the last? Maybe it becomes obsessional, and the stakes need to keep getting higher. I always think these super achievers must have a low boredom threshold and would rather die trying than lead a life of utter dullness. I doubt these guys sit in bed at night watching Netflix series and munching on crisps.

All the same, what joy is there in visiting a graveyard under the sea where countless lives were lost? Maybe I don’t get it, but I would rather leave this sad and poignant site alone and not treat it as a tourist attraction for bored adventure-seeking multi-millionaires.

I sincerely hope these five men have been found. Their poor families and close friends must be waiting in agony for news. It would be such a waste for such intelligent and successful beings to die in such a reckless pursuit - the thrill of seeing an old and tragic wreck that cost so many lives.

In the UK, there has been the debate about how pupils identify themselves in school life.

Mad world

It strikes me that the world is becoming steadily more divisive, dangerous and stark raving bonkers. Aside from adventurers setting off on perilous expeditions to the deep, there are deranged killers lurking around seemingly every corner, whether by a lake in France, a chateau in Germany, a street in Nottingham or at a London hospital. I sometimes wonder if Covid and its psychological ramifications turned many into mentally unstable killing machines. But perhaps maddest of all recently in the UK, has been the debate about how pupils identify themselves in school life. There was a bit of comic banter earlier this year about pupils being allowed to identify as cats but it seems that it’s got a whole lot worse and that educational establishments are complicit, with many teachers damning pupils for questioning this new bonkers world order.

Now, schools are putting out grass and hay for pupil ‘horses’ and there are apparently plates of meat offered to pupils who identify as dinosaurs. It’s wonderfully insane, the stuff of surrealist writings and comic ramblings but tragically it appears to be true. I loved the twitter user who put up a video of herself dressed as a cat, demanding to know if she could get a job, driving licence and social benefits as a self-styled feline. While many teachers keep up the insanity, fearful that they’ll lose their jobs if they dare to criticise, much of the world aside from the States, appears to have so far dodged to the bullet. Long may it last before we’re all off our rockers.

R.I.P. Molly Mitten.

My Molly Mitten

During the height of Covid I found three beautiful waif-like Siamese kittens and a pure black brother on orchard land above my finca. I got a ladder and carried them to safety, having heard them mewing pitifully in the rain. With help from my vet, Tomeu, I bought formula milk and bottle fed them lovingly to health and together with Antonia, our local Soller valley cat angel, I found homes for all. However, I kept the beautiful female, double the size of her brothers and named her Molly Mitten. For three years this mesmerically beautiful Siamese cum Burmese with searing blue eyes, has been my constant companion. She has been the pampered princess of the household, spoilt massively and given far more treats than our two wonderful boys, Minky and Smudge. She had a huge personality and was loving and cheeky in equal measures and uncannily intuitive and clever.

A few months ago, Molly became inexplicably ill with a blocked intestine. Miraculously, at death’s door, she was saved by our vet and Hospital Canis and has been in robust health ever since. But alas, last week, having enjoyed breakfast and lots of play in the garden, she suddenly took gravely ill and her back legs became paralysed. It was siesta time, so we drove immediately to the Canis Hospital but this time, there was no hope. She had suffered a sudden inexplicable stroke, so severe that nothing would bring her back. I pleaded for the vet to try to save her and she promised to heavily sedate her and see if they could raise her blood pressure but she soon floated away. To my relief, I was able to kiss her goodbye and tell her much she meant to me just before than happened. We collected Molly Mitten the next day and have given her a regal burial site in the garden where she will be surrounded by nature’s unremitting beauty. My heart is broken but there will always be a part of it reserved forever for my little princess who gave us so much but for so short a while.