Billionaire literary agent Christopher Little hired the QE2 for a huge bash in anticipation of his 'discovery' J.K.Rowling's receiving a Damehood in the forthcoming 2011 New Years Honours List. As he boarded the colossal ship with his partner Neil Blair and several members of his in-house writers' team he refused to disclose what his supreme optimism was based on; "It's in the bag," was all he managed through cigar smoke.
No reporters or cameras were allowed on the vessel. Soon after, Rowling herself arrived in a Rolls Royce with friends and family among whom was Bishop Roderick O'Toole said to be her second closest confidant, next to her bank manager. Rowling wore a red cloak over a long black dress with a black lace top and matching black pearls. The car wore a green ribbon on the hood.
Much to the merriment of the guests as they trooped up the gangplanks a small group of protesters paraded along Portsmouth docks waving placards stating that Satan himself would be making a guest appearance on board the ship before it arrived at its destination. They knelt and prayed as the liner pulled out into a clear night filled with stars and lit by a full moon. However, rumours of strange goings-on during the first luncheon are only now coming out six days after the ship's departure.
The banquet hall would have contained at least a thousand guests most of whom belong to the publishing or media industries. Many celebrities from the entertainment world jostled among them, Sean Connery, Geoffrey Archer, Paul McCartney, Alice Cooper, Gary Glitter, Richard Dawkins and others. On stage, seated at a long table, were Rowling in the middle, to her left husband Neil Murray wearing his Harry Potter costume, and right of her Christopher Little. Others at her table were Barry Manilow, Ralph Fiennes accompanied by a petite hostie from the plane he came over on, several representatives of Rowling's legal firm Schillings, Rowling's sister Di still sporting her barrister's wig, and Bishop O'Toole in his full regalia.
The party was scheduled for midnight once the ship had cleared the harbour and was well out to sea. At the appointed hour the guests took to their tables in the banqueting hall, a very large room bedecked with silk drapes and gilt trimmed rococo furniture. A small orchestra serenaded the guests with soft music.
Ex-Prime Minister and television journalist Gordon Brown, a stalwart media advisor to Rowling, made the intros. "I am sorry that Bryony Evens was not able to attend as we are still determined for obvious reasons to keep any connection between her and Ms Rowling a well-kept secret. Business folks! (General laughter). Regrets too that some of our writer friends and supporters in Edinburgh were unable to attend and, of course, our long- time enablers at Fidra Books, Penguin and other publishing houses who are prepared to lie their heads off to support us. All loyal and true. All of whom serve our motto: "Tollete ab artifice et satisfacete morionem." Which loosely translated means; "Steal from the talented and give to the gobshite", and show no mercy, of course. Cheers to our esteemed hostess and replenisher of our bank accounts, the future Dame Joanne Rowling. Rule Britannia!"
The next speaker Director General of the BBC Mark Thompson told the throng the difficulties he had had submitting to pressure from Brown and others to prevent any serious inquiries into Rowling by his unruly staff but that his hard work would soon pay off with Joanne's "well deserved and long overdue Damehood".
Alas, he had not gotten far into his speech when a ferocious storm broke. Lightning cracked and flashed, thunder roared to a deafening pitch and the ship lurched violently throwing guests off their chairs and upsetting the many bottles of champagne and wine that festooned the tables. Chandeliers swung and rattled dangerously from the high ceiling as staff hurried to gather up the debris. What happened then defies belief even to those who witnessed it. A fluorescent green tattoo in the shape of a bolt of lightning mysteriously appeared on the guests foreheads. It flashed on and off for a few seconds before vanishing.
It was felt then by many that the prediction that had followed them was true and that The Prince of Darkness would indeed make an appearance as his presence was unmistakeably felt by all even before Gordon Brown had got to his feet. Women and waiters fainted. Men guzzled bottles of anything they could find. Several couples disappeared under tables to have sex for what they thought would be the last time. To all present, it was just a question of what form The Dark One would take or whose body he would inhabit as there seemed to be many possible candidates including Little himself who is rumoured to be as close to Satan as it is possible to get without having to buy flowers. The question was soon answered.
J.K.Rowling got to her feet to address the throng and appeal for calm. Suddenly and rapidly she levitated a full sixteen feet into the air and adopted a cruciform shape! The temperature in the room dropped to twenty below zero as she spoke from on high, loudly, in a mannish voice in what appeared to be Latin. Ralph Fiennes' head was seen to spin on his shoulders like a top. Bishop O'Toole blessed himself and ran from the stage to the poop deck from whence he hurled himself into the sea. Fortunately he was rescued by a passing fishing vessel. To his rescuers he recounted the story but refused to translate what Rowling actually said; "We have to stop the bitch from getting into politics," was all he could muster as he was hauled on board the trawler in a sling.
Then, as mysteriously as it had started, the storm blew over and an eerie calm invaded the hall. Rowling was back in her chair, giggling, and not seeming to remember what had happened. Little, Blair and the Schillings fraternity broke into spontaneous applause that was quickly taken up by rest of the guests.
Days later, some were able to relive their ordeal; "I never seen anything like it," said the director-manager of Penguin books. "I knew she had it in her but to see it manifested….wow!" Schillings rep Olaf Backhander commented; "Magic is all I can say. Pure magic. We, at Schillings, are so proud of her." Another Schillings rep known fondly to his colleagues as "Vladimir the Impaler" declared; "This will shut the bastards up for good. We just have to keep it to ourselves, in strictest confidence. What happens on the ship stays on the ship! But, if need be we have eye witnesses to our client's magic powers which are in no way comparable to our own but very impressive all the same." A blonde waitress chimed in: "I knew Fiennes had a roving eye for the ladies but that was fucking over the top!"
Captain Jorge Arantes (rumoured to be sole proprietor of the QE2) wearing a Groucho Marx false beard and moustache was more stoical. "The QE2 has witnessed this sort of thing before but never on this scale. It reminds one of Rupert Murdoch's sixtieth party. Same thing. During a thanksgiving luncheon a similar storm broke just as we approached Haiti. And Richard Branson who was our toast master for the night unexpectedly inflated like a balloon and rose a good ten feet in the air. Of course, we try to make light of these things as it would be bad for business. Shit happens sir, even on ships. Personally, I don't believe in Satan, on principle. We can all rise to the occasion, some of us better than others, that's all."
The boat is expected to be at sea for several more weeks and will dock in San Francisco Bay where it will take on board more guests from Hollywood for the return journey. Ralph Fiennes, who broke up with his girl during the voyage, announced he would be returning home by plane as he figured the whole thing had so far been a "pain in the neck" and that sex at sea was not all it was cracked up to be, whatever toilet you chose.