How to fail with real elan – Some Heroic Failures
Here are some more amusing examples of how to fail with real elan…
The top man in this class is Carl Shimmin, who in May 1991 refused to let the Queen of England into the Royal Windsor Horse Show. ‘Sorry, love, you can’t come in without a sticker,’ he told the monarch, holding up a hand to stop the black Vauxhall Carlton that she had driven herself for the five-hundred-yard journey from Windsor Castle.
I thought she was an old dear who’d got lost,’ he said afterwards, explaining that, as you well know, stickers matter and it was his job to check them. Opening the window, the Queen said: ‘I think if you check I will be allowed to come in. ‘The Queen did not seem at all upset,’ he observed later. Everyone in her car was smiling happily because it is not every day that you get to meet a true original of this calibre.
Correctly spotting his vocation, William Lee Murrell became a harbour pilot in March 1860 at Melbourne’s Port Phillip Bay.
Piloting the steamship Barwon, he showed early flair when he collided with 2 other vessels. Clearly this was no fluke. Piloting the SS Balclutha a year later, he collided with 2 more ships, sinking the SS Aphrasia and runining aground the SS Minna.
It was a promising start, but even so no one had any idea of what was to come until 1864 when he was put in charge of piloting the Southern Cross, a brand-new steamship, which always seemed to bring out the best in him. Whilst turning this ship around, he destroyed the entire Queen’s Wharf.
Only a year later he crashed the same ship into the same wharf, which had just been rebuilt.
Showing his versatility, he switched briefly to the Alhambra and, while turning that around, dashed into the side of the Southern Cross. It was only now that his fine genius started to emerge. Reunited with the Southern Cross, he promptly ripped off her propellers in a collision. Two years later he grounded the Alhambra. Then he ran the Macedon into the Catherine Jane and then the Blackhawk into the stern of the Sir Harry Smith. It is worth mentioning that while manoeuvring the Dandenang, he also smashed into the side of the Alhambra, completing a personal hat trick with that vessel.
Awed seamen looked on as Mr Murrell now entered his prolific mature period. He ran the Leura aground two days running and on the third day, while docking the Tamar, he crashed into the side of the Leura. Six days later he grounded the Lady Darling and then, while docking the Ringarooma, he ripped off her propeller – twice in two months. Then he crashed the Omeo into the Tamar, grounded the Easby and the Adela, again crashed the Leura and six months later ran her aground again. Two weeks later he ripped the propeller off the Mangana, smashed a wharf with the Rodondo and put the Southern Cross out of action for a record fifth time.
When this unique matelot retired in 1892 his place in maritime history was assured.
Wishing to celebrate High Marnham power station’s hundredth accident-free day after a successful safety campaign in 1987, its manager, Mike Johnson, ordered an official flag to be flown. The security guard was hoisting the flag in when a pulley wheel fell off and knocked him out. ‘It’s true. We boobed,” Mr Johnson said afterwards.
As you’ll see this guy has nothing on Basil Fawlty.
Giving a masterclass in how to run an orderly hotel, Herr Erwin Wagner put the Pension Kaiserblick in Sol on the map. Wishing to ensure that his guests got enough rest during their Austrian sojourn in May 1994, he ordered them all to go to bed at 9 p.m.
Edna King, a retired schoolmistress from Leamington Spa, who pointed out that the guests, a group of British tourists, were all middle aged and completely peaceable, said: ‘He stomped in and shouted, “Nine o’clock – finish. You have finished Go to your rooms.” He was banging on the tables and his eyes were popping out of his head. We could not believe it.’
Because they were tired by their long journey, the guests did not argue and went to bed. Next day they were thoroughly refreshed and determined to stay up.
On the second night the diligent Hen Wagner once again demanded that his guests go to bed at nine o’clock. When they refused, he locked them in the dining room and called the police One holidaymaker tried to intervene to end the row. With great finesse the owner unhinged one of the doors, then charged after the guests with the door in front of him, chasing them into their rooms. ‘We said we did not want to go to bed so early and Herr Wagner flipped,’ said Miss King. He,said we were rowdy, but I only drink lemonade- and tea Challenged by the tour operator, Herr Wagner said: This is my hotel. If I say it is nine o’clock it is nine o’clock. We do not have any room for sitting and talking. I know the English. They drink gin and whiskey when I have gone to bed.’
Spotting a small carpet fire in an upstairs bedroom in her Virginia home in March 2000, Cecilia Perry called the fire brigade. While waiting, she doused the flames with buckets of water, helped by neighbours. By the time two fire engines turned up from rival stations the fire was out.
Still wishing to do brave and manly things, they both marched into the house and doused the carpet again until a fight broke out as to whose fire call this was. During a prolonged dispute the firefighters smashed furniture and flung each other around the lower floor of the townhouse. Captain Chauncey Bowers, a spokesman for the fire department, said that the fire caused about $1,500 worth of damage and the firemen caused about $3,000′