Queen Elizabeth II has just launched the third version of this famous liner. Strangely I remember the second version with fondness and gratitude for it bought one of life's windfalls that one reads of in books but never happens in reality for in about 1980 the Second QE II come to Aucklnad bringing with it my long lost Great Aunt Gracie.
Auntie Gracie was my Grandfather's youngest sister. She was born in the USA as my great grandfather was a stone mason and had emigrated to build Pittsburgh. Although the family returned to Glasgow Auntie Gracie retained her US citizenship.
By the nineteen hundreds the family had raised themselves socially. The Miller's were rich thanks entirely to the game of golf but Auntie Gracie met an American football player, Archie Stevenson and married him to the consternation of the now smart family who felt any sort of football player was beneath their dignity. Gracie was banished to New York never to be seen again.
Unknown to the family Archie was a chemist and founded an enormous cotton textile plant. He grew rich beyond any of the Miller's imagination. Two world wars and camouflage material for the three forces saw to that. So rich than when Archie died Auntie Gracie spent the next seven years living on the QE II with a companion who had a separate cabin. She never left the ship.
Except once in Auckland when the ship docked. On a beautiful day Auntie Gracie came to call. It was perfect , my daughter was just four and behaved like an angel. We took Auntie for lunch at 'Mon Desire', now demolished and sat while she ate two plates of oysters under the Pohoutokawa Trees and looked at Rangitoto the resident volcano in the wine dark sea.
The up come was Auntie Gracie left my father what she had left which was not a lot as living full time on the QE II does not come cheap but a considerable amount for us. I got my roof extension and view from it for which I was extremely grateful. I thank and think of her every day.
No more rich aunts but one day I hope to make a short voyage on QE II the third, looks deliciously vulgar!