Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Boaty McBoatface

You've got to love the British sense of humour.  When things seem particularly bleak, our way of not taking ourselves or anything too seriously seems to come to the fore and see us through.

With that in mind, it perhaps isn't the wisest decision then to ask the great British public their opinion over something serious in an online poll.

I can't say that I was terribly surprised to hear about the kerfuffle over the naming of the new polar research vessel.

So far the public have voted overwhelmingly to call this quite important, £200 million, 15,000 tonne, 128 m-long state-of-the-art vessel 'Boaty McBoatface', which sounds like a cartoon character.

Personally, I think this is hilarious, and am hoping that this name wins, although I believe the Natural Environment Research Council (with the unfortunate acronym NERC, which sounds like another word we used for 'idiot' when I was at school) who created the competition can override the public's decision.

This caveat, which was apparently in the small print somewhere on the online poll, was probably a good idea on NERC's part, as other suggestions have included 'Pingu', 'Usain Boat' and - another favourite of mine - 'It's Bloody Cold Here'.

At the time of writing, Boaty McBoatface has 27,000 votes, with its nearest rival RRS Henry Worsley (named after the explorer who sadly died trying to make the first unassisted solo crossing of the Antarctic in January) somewhat languishing behind on just 3000 votes.

Another more serious suggestion is RRS David Attenborough, which would be a fitting tribute to the man who has taught most of us Brits all we know about the natural world.

I'm not entirely sure who will get to launch this vessel, but if the public do indeed get their choice over this ship's name, I'm picturing a dignitary trying to suppress a laugh as they smash a bottle of Champagne across its bow, while uttering the immortal words 'I name this ship Boaty McBoatface!'

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