THE ROYAL YACHT, "EL EMIR FAROUK"
While I was
still a pupil Naval Architect, in England, the shipyard at which I worked
designed and built one of the world's most luxurious yachts for King Faud of Egypt.
I personally, did not see the yacht itself as I left the Tyneside shipyard to go to Liverpool to work on the design of new ships for Far East Service. The yacht had been ordered by King Faud of Egypt, but he died in 1936 before it was delivered. He was followed to the throne by his 16 year old brother who became "King Farouk".
When launched, the yacht itself was named "El Emir Farouk." King Farouk had asked a British Society leader, Lady Lumley, to supervise the interior decor and whenever she visited the yard, I was the one deputed to take her around.
One day when she was approving special accommodation pictorial layouts, she okayed the "Lounge of the Pharos" and the "Nile Dining Room." She baulked however at the rendering proposed for the "Royal Bed Chamber."
The sketch showed a 10 ft wide bed with a tapestry above the bed depicting the horned Goddess Isis.
At the two bottom corners of the bed, arranged diagonally, were two large unicorns sitting back on their long tails.
Lady Lumley said "my dear Richard, you must replace the unicorns with something else--can't you just see everybody tripping over those long tails."
This comment amused me and, after she left, I made my own freehand sketch of the bedroom.
I sketched the room essentially the same as the official drawing, but I put a naked woman on the bed together with a naked man.
Running away from the bed and out of the room was a second naked man, and running into the room towards the bed was a third naked man.
Both of the running men were falling on their faces. The sketch was titled "Lady Lumley was right--people do keep falling over those tails!" On the backside of each man I had painted his nationality. The sign on the man running out said "him Finnish", on the man in the bed "Himalayan", and on the one entering the bedroom, "him really Russian!"
Some days later, when I was out in the shipyard, Lady Lumley appeared in the Design Office insisting upon a chat with her "dear Richard."
While I was being called on the public address system, she sat at my drawing board and saw, in my half-open drawer, the comic bedroom scene I had sketched.
When I got back to the office entrance, two of the staff were waiting to warn me that she had the sketch in her possession.
I almost started to cry, I could visualize nothing but ignominy and certain dismissal, but my major concern was not the end of my career, but was "what on earth will I tell my mother!"
I need not have worried.--Lady Lumley loved my drawing, said "you naughty, naughty boy", insisted upon keeping it, and gave me 20 pounds. Since my salary was only 26 pounds a year at that time, it forced me to seriously consider pornography as an alternative career!
Some 18 years later, my wife and I, having spent the war years in Singapore and Australia, were returning to England on a troopship via the Suez Canal.
At Port Said I spotted a bare, rotting, gutted hulk which I recognized as the "El Emir Farouk."
I remember, that even in Singapore we heard stories regarding the depraved Farouk. He was known internationally for his major traits; womanising, gluttony, pornography and the total lack of consideration for others.
He had become king in 1936 at age 16. In 1952, when Egypt had achieved its independence, he was deposed and exiled by Colonel Gamel Nasser.
He had large vilas in Italy and Switzerland and apparently continued his disgusting ways.
He died at age 45 weighing some 300 lbs, after eating a meal reputed to have consisted of lobster thermador, oysters, roast lamb, beans, English trifle, cake, fruit and coffee.
CHRONOLOGICAL BIOGRAPHY / BRIEF BIOGRAPHY
SHIPBUILDING HIGHLIGHTS / STORIES / POETRY
images: ART / ORDER OF CANADA / SHIPS / PHOTOS