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Titanic: Why some laughed when they hit iceberg

As Titanic swept at nearly top speed towards her fate, passengers were amusing themselves in different ways.

Some made ready for bed, others slept, and a few night owls were still enjoying the novel experience of the early 20th century's most luxurious form of transport.

According to Lawrence Beesley, the science master who survived and wrote one of the best survivors’ memoirs, he climbed up towards the top deck to investigate the jolt and came across a card game in full swing. The men said one of their number had seen an iceberg go “towering by” above the decks as they dealt and shuffled, yet even though all the players watched it disappear, and had felt the jolt, they continued their game.

One of their number, a motor engineer travelling to America to promote his model carburettor who knew about measuring things, estimated the height of the iceberg as “between 80 and 90 feet”. In a bluff, let's not take this too seriously, manner, the men then speculated on what had happened.

As one wag said, amid laughter, “I expect the iceberg has scratched off some of her new paint, and the captain doesn't like to go on until she is painted up again.”

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