ODD OBSESSIONS – BY ELLIN CURLEY

I’ve had some random and esoteric obsessions over the years. Only two have stayed with me for decades and are still going strong.

One is the Titanic and anything Titanic related. I saw the movie “A Night To Remember” when I was in elementary school. I then read the book the movie was based on and I was hooked. I continued to read other books that came out over time about the Titanic and her last hours.

Painting of the Titanic going down

I was fascinated by the series of ill-fated coincidences that sealed the ship’s fate. If any one of six or seven things hadn’t happened exactly as they did, the ship might have been saved or avoided the iceberg altogether. I also loved the stories of the people on the ship – from the super rich and famous down to the crew and the steerage passengers.

I passed my Titanic fever onto my daughter, Sarah. We watched the movie “Titanic” together over and over. We frequently flipped through our large Titanic coffee table book with lots of wonderful photos. Sarah has followed all the dives on the Titanic wreck even more than I have. Many of the unanswered technical questions about the sinking have now been answered and Sarah and I share each new revelation with relish.

Photo of the wreck of the Titanic on the ocean floor

My other long-term obsession is the British royal family. I always loved English history, particularly stories about the Kings and Queens and their families through the centuries. I started following Queen Elizabeth II and her young family when I was a pre teen. Charles is close to my age so I was particularly interested in him and his slightly younger sister, Anne.

When Prince Charles was looking for a wife, my soap opera antennae went into high gear. When he met Lady Diana Spencer, my interest became a real obsession. I read everything I could find about them, but mostly her.

Charles and Diana early in their relationship

The day of Charles and Diana’s 1981 wedding, I woke up at 5 AM so I could watch the entire ceremony live. I had a one year old so I was up anyway. On this day, however, I stayed up. I also called my close friend in London and we watched the wedding together on the phone. I almost ended our friendship when I criticized the new Princess’s wedding dress. I thought it was overdone, too pouffy and unflattering. Most Americans shared my opinion. But most Brits, including my friend, absolutely loved the dress and took offense at any negative comments about it.

The infamous wedding dress

I followed Diana’s marriage closely. I applauded her more modern approach to being a royal, particularly after she became a mom. She wanted to be a hands on parent, which was a huge break with British royal tradition. I cheered her on, along with the rest of the world. I loved the new vibe she brought to the royal family. I also related to her increasingly dysfunctional marriage with a cheating husband. I mourned her tragic, early death.

I continued to read about Diana’s boys after her death, but not as avidly as I had when she was alive. When Kate Middleton came on the scene as Prince William’s love interest, I got my passion back.

William, Kate and their two children

Kate has continued the modernization and humanization of the young royals that Diana started. I am particularly taken with her easy, close and natural relationship with William. I applaud her involved parenting style and appreciate her and William’s accessibility. I follow news of her and enjoy photos of her clothes, as I did with Diana. I admire her style and taste and love most of her wardrobe, possibly even more than Diana’s.

Now I have a new royal couple to read about religiously. Prince Harry has announced his engagement to Meghan Markle, a poised, mature and charming biracial American actress. She seems caring and down to earth. She is already involved in international humanitarian causes on her own. She also has rescue dogs, one of whom has come to live with her and Harry in London.

Harry and Meghan announce their engagement

Meghan will be another breath of fresh air in the still stuffy royal family. She’s had a successful career and lived out on her own in the real world. Americans can relate to her and she can relate to the common man, just like her fellow commoner, Kate Middleton.

I don’t obsess over movie stars or pop stars, like many Americans do. I only know about a few of the ‘celebrities’ who appear in “People Magazine”. But I should have many years ahead of me of happy royal voyeurism following the two English Princes and their growing families.

Author: Marilyn Armstrong

Opinionated writer with hopes for a better future for all of us!

22 thoughts on “ODD OBSESSIONS – BY ELLIN CURLEY”

      1. I am not obsessed about anyone, but the British royal family is an interesting topic. I loved the two seasons of “ Crown “ and am waiting for the third one.

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      2. Ellin, I’m also a big “Titanic” fan. The movies and the books. The first film I saw was “Titantic” (’53/Fox) Barbara Stanwyck, Clifton Webb, Robert Wagner, Audrey Dalton, Brian Aherne. Believe I saw it at the Fox first run Theater on Jamaica Ave in Queens. I read several books in grade, junior and senior high schools. Read a lot on my own because of fascination with the story. I first saw “A Night To Remember” in ’59, I think, at our local theater in Jamaica, The Carlton. It was 2nd or 3rd run. I saw “Raise The Titanic” when it premiered in Boston. We did stuff with the guy who headed up the actual raising of the Titanic. That was pretty cool. We also talked to descendents of some of the Titanic’s passengers. Again, very interesting. One man was a 10 year old in 1912 when the Titanic sailed. He was left behind in London because he was very ill. He showed us an old telegram he received from his parents (who perished) on the first day of the voyage. We also shot interviews with “Raise The Titanic” cast members — Richard Jordan, Alec Guinness and others. Guinness almost gave you the feeling he actually sailed on the Titanic. No, just a good actor doing schtick with the press.

        Owen is REALLY a Titanic maven. He’s read a ton of stuff. He probably qualifies as an expert on Titanic trivia.

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  1. Like many people in Australia, I made a day of watching Charles & Diana’s wedding. It was on in the evening here but a friend and I treated ourselves out to lunch before going back to her house to watch it. Although I don’t read every scrap of royal news I do enjoy reading about the British Royal family especially William and Harry and their families. I admired Princess Diana for being a hands-on mother to her boys and it’s nice to see a new generation of royal children getting a more normal upbringing. I have a soft spot for the Danish royals too as Princess Mary is an Aussie girl from Tasmania. They occasionally visit Hobart where her sisters live and I love their low key approach to the visits. I imagine that will probably have to stop when Prince Frederick becomes king of Denmark though.

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    1. I still remember Diana’s wedding and the fun I had sharing it via phone with my English friend! I’m not a huge Megan Markle fan but I like the direction that Harry and Will are taking the monarchy, particularly regarding the more normal family life they are providing for their children.

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      1. I had never heard of her prior to her involvement with Harry. I’m glad that the Royal Family are a bit more flexible than they were when Princess Margaret was not allowed to marry the man she loved.

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  2. Ooh, I loved the royal weddings and the 3 women who have/are bringing a measure of modernity to the monarchy. When I visited Ireland a few years ago I visited the titanic museum and it was an experience I’ll never forget. The artifacts, stories, letters are heartbreaking and people were openly weeping. It was powerful.

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    1. I hope to go to the Titanic museum in Ireland too. I’ve read about it and it sounds awesome. My daughter saw a touring exhibit on the Titanic a few years ago and was very impressed – she’s also a huge Titanic fan. It still bothers me that if only one of the many coincidences that doomed the titanic hadn’t happened, the ship might have survived, or at least many more people would have made it.

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  3. I too think the new blood will be a move forward to the Royal family. We are in the Elizabethan age and I think she’s done a good job of it. She’s had lots of practice. Not easy to see your realm diminish but she has let go graciously.
    Leslie

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    1. You’re right about Elizabeth. She is allowing the monarchy to modernize and adapt to the realities of today’s world. She didn’t have to do that and she should get ample credit for bowing graciously to modernization.

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  4. While not obsessed with the Royal Family, I am interested in seeing what changes will occur with the advent of Kate and Meghan. They are a breath of fresh air as Diana attempted. There was something special about Diana that simply reached out to everyone. I remember the car crash and staring with horror. It is as fresh in my mind as the day it happened. A needless tragedy in my opinion.

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    1. Diana was the first to try to humanize the face of the monarchy and she did it with such charm and style! I am a big fan of Kate Middleton, who seamslessly melds the rules of the old world with the sensibility of the modern world. Megan may be trying too hard to crash through the old rules and create ones of her own. Kate seems to respect the old order more while subtly changing it.

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  5. My brother was obsessed with the Titanic and ultimately, by all the big steamboats of that time. He used to have a whole cabinet of books about ships at sea and he built a huge model of the Titanic.

    I was never particularly overwhelmed by the modern royals, but I was fascinated by the Plantagenets and eventually, the Tudors — even though they were barely related to the Plantagenets. I used to be able to recite the entire British line of succession from William I through today, but it has wandered away in my aging mind 😀

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    1. My mother used to recite a mnenomic for the Kings of England — I don’t remember it all, but in the middle there is a section that goes Willie, Willie, Harry, Ste, Harry, Dick, John, Harry 3.

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    2. Part of the reason I love to follow the current royal family is because I loved the stories about the royal family through history. Knowing what past royals have done with their power and status makes you appreciate the good ones amongst them. I understand that the queen has very little real power today, but the royal family has been evolving for centuries. And what’s happening today is just part of an historical trajectory that future generations will read about if we still have history books in the future!

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      1. I used to know the British royal succession too. As with much of what I learned over the years, it is all gone now. I know I once knew it but I don’t remember what I once knew!

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  6. …. and you will have to read more, as the last developments in the Harry/Meghan history will give you much more to be joyous about!
    BTW, I had a ‘recommended’ video on my YT account I ignored sucessfully for a long time but eventually watched this week and it was far more interesting than I would have thought. It’s a video explaining the place and actions of Prince Charles wife Camilla – I’m in a much more favourable mood towards her after having viewed that film: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D9e82ODqXxU)
    I can understand your obsessions, and I’ll never forget how HH called me out of bed on the day Princess Diana was killed in France….. it was national and international mourning for the ‘people’s princess’ then and it will always be a theme to discuss.

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