IN jokily describing herself as a Titanorak,

stand-up comedian Susan Morrison gives only a tiny hint of her powerful, life-long obsession with the RMS Titanic and the awful facts of the vessel's swift, tragic sinking on April 15, 1912. For one thing, Morrison's passion for the mighty ocean-liner formed the basis of her highly informed and funnily serious one-woman show on last year's Edinburgh Fringe.

Extracts from that stage show can be heard today on Radio Scotland in a programme which has allowed Morrison to add a documentary dimension to her Titaniphilia, not least by letting her visit the Belfast shipyard wherein the ship was assembled. While there, she naturally got to interview members of the Ulster Titanic Society, whose first move - equally naturally - was to check out Morrison's own Titanicredentials.

She sailed through the test,

of course. After all, Morrison's daughter narrowly avoided

being christened Carpathia - in honour of the ship that picked up

Titanic survivors.

On top of that, Morrison works day-to-day in Edinburgh as head of her own website consultancy firm. The name she gave her company? CQD - the distress signal sent out by the doomed ship.

''It stands for 'Come Quick Danger','' says Morrison

expertly, ''but it took so long to transmit in Morse code that, soon after the Titanic disaster, it was replaced by something more Morse-friendly, SOS.

''If you really want me to bore for Britain, though, my line of expertise is the Titanic's engines. She had two of them, 4600hp each, massive triple-expansion reciprocating engines - plus a turbine. Way ahead of her time when it came to turbine power, she was, the Titanic . . .''

An iceberg-like brusqueness impels me to puncture Morrison's conversational drift. What, I ask, began this mammoth

Titanic fixation?

''I honestly don't know,'' she says. ''As you'll hear on radio in the programme, I obsess over the roots of my obsession. My mum says that as a kid I drew scenes of the Titanic. I've spent my adult life collecting Titanic books and videos, plus any memorabilia from her owners, the White Star Line. I've got a framed White Star Line cap badge and copies of the Titanic's blueprints, you know.

''I can only surmise it must have begun with my dad, who worked at Weir Turbines when they were equipping the QEII. As a wee girl, I was under the impression that dad had built the whole ship himself.

''I was captivated when he took me to the QEII's launch. We'd also go on summer trips

on Clyde steamers, and my

dad would enthral me by showing me the engine room, the

flying pistons.''

Morrison is much less enthralled by Hollywood movie director James Cameron. ''My husband took me to see that bloody film. I walked out

half-way through, enraged by

Titanic's depiction of First Officer William Murdoch from Dalbeattie - he did not sell anyone a place in a lifeboat.

''Wisely, not wanting to be embarrassed, my husband had taken me to a morning showing so there wouldn't be many folk in the cinema. I'd spent my time shouting 'It's all lies!' at the screen. Why would anyone make up such soppy rubbish when there's a real story to tell?

''I e-mailed the Hollywood studio that made the film: 'Get off my ship, you lying bastards!' I sent another e-mail - 'Get off my ship, grave-robbing bastards!' - to the diving expedition firm that's been recovering Titanic artefacts for sale by RMS

Titanic plc, including some soul's watch and some poor first-class steward's mess-jacket.

''Last year, a couple actually got married beneath the sea on the Titanic's deck. He'd won a competition to do it, and thought it would be 'really romantic' - can you imagine? Don't ever

talk to any true Titanic lover about Jack Dawson and Rose DeWitt Bukater.''

At least the film has had one beneficial effect. It has led to an increase in the numbers of genuine Titanic devotees; folk who want the truth, not the silver-screen gloss. ''Twenty years ago, when I was a member of the Falkirk Titanic Society,'' says Morrison, ''you'd feel isolated and a bit odd, and our meetings would have a tendency to be held in draughty, dusty, dingy church halls.

''But when I went to the Ulster get-together, it was this huge event in a fabulous Belfast convention centre. They even had a bar. In all, I think I've been in half-a-dozen different Titanic societies over the years. At one point, I was even considering a move to land-locked Switzerland to join theirs.

''But there's been a recurring problem, society-wise, in that I keep resigning in one ideological battle or another over the brittle steel theory, or some new

re-interpretation of the role of

the captain of the California, the ship that inexplicably didn't join in the rescue effort with

the Carpathia.''

Ninety years after the unfortunate fact, conflicting theorists have few living first-hand sources upon which to draw, of course. Happily, that's not the case with A Titanic Obsession, the programme having interviewed 96-year-old local

John Parkinson.

''He saw the Titanic three times, and was actually standing at the side of Belfast Lough during trials when her engines powered up the first time. When he told me this - me, a marine-engine buff - I confess to becoming completely hopeless as a formal interviewer.

''I also lost it when the Ulster Titanic Society gave me one of the thousands of brick-like 8in by 6in teak blocks that had been found just last year in Harland and Wolff's engine testing sheds. These had been laid beneath the Titanic's engines to absorb vibration, then forgotten about for 80-odd years.

''Mine's black with oil, and therefore so redolent of the smell of an engine-room. It was like being given a living piece of history.''

Morrison's probing of the Titanic's past has only increased her love of the ship.

''Since Belfast, the obsession has become much worse. I've been sent off on a new tack altogether - a Scottish one.

''For, although she was built in Belfast - and very well, too - the Titanic was assembled there as much as anything. Most of her steel was made in Scotland. And it's a Scottish name that has been visible in film of wrecked machinery on the sea-bed - Arrol, of Paisley.''

Susan Morrrison. Sample her radio wares and you'll know she's Titanimated.

A Titanic Obsession goes

out on Radio Scotland

today at 11.30am, with a repeat broadcast tomorrow night at 11.30pm.


l Born in Glasgow, Susan Morrison attended Stirling University, graduating with a degree in what she describes as ''politics, history, and standing at the bar with a plausible rogue who claimed

at the time to be a mature student - Dr John Reid, now Irish secretary.''

l Prior to spending 12 years in BT's Press and PR department, Morrison was a cinema manager in Glasgow with the ABC chain. ''I went for an interview one day, thinking the job on offer was as an usherette. Instead, I came out as assistant manager. One day, I was sent to the Edinburgh ABC as temporary stand-in for their manager, who was returning home to England to get married - or he thought he was until I saw him and decided he was going to marry me. He still is.''

l Morrison has been the Friday-night compere at The Stand's Edinburgh branch for the past four years, fulfilling the same role every Saturday over the past two years at The Stand in Glasgow.

l A memorial to the Titanic's Scottish electrical engineers - all of whom bravely sacrificed their lives by staying at their posts until the ship sank - is affixed to a wall within Scottish Opera's current HQ in Elmbank Crescent (formerly the Glasgow ship design institute).

l True to form, Morrison will be sending herself an angry and forthright e-mail of protest as soon as A Titanic Obsession is aired. ''I didn't get to hear the finished programme until it was too late to make any changes to it. This is unfortunate, as I make a big howling clunker - I manage at one point to become confused about the respective roles of the California and the Carpathia. I will be sternly telling myself that, as a

so-called expert, I ought to be thoroughly ashamed.''