It’s almost 200 years since Lord
Nelson’s famous naval victory over the French and Spanish in the
Battle of Trafalgar. To kick-start the anniversary celebrations,
an actor dressed as Nelson posed for pictures on the River Thames at
But before he was allowed to board an RNLI Lifeboat, safety officials
made him wear a lifejacket over his 19th
century admiral’s uniform.
How Nelson would have fared if he’s been subject to modern health and
You are now on the deck of the recently
renamed British Flagship, HMS Apeasement.
Order the signal. Hardy.
Hold on, that’s not what I
dictated to the signal officer. What’s the meaning of this?
England expects every person
to do his duty, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation,
religious persuasion or disability. What gobbledegook is this?
Admiralty policy, I’m afraid, sir. We’re an equal opportunities
employer now. We had the devil’s own job getting “England” past the
censors, lest it be considered racist.
Gadzooks, Hardy. Hand me my
pipe and tobacco.
Sorry, sir. All naval vessels have been designated smoke-free working
In that case, break open the
rum ration. Let us splice the mainbrace to steel the men before
rum ration has been abolished, Admiral. It’s part of the Government’s
policy on binge drinking.
Good heavens. Hardy. I suppose
we’d better get on with it. Full speed ahead.
think you’ll find that there’s a 4 mph speed limit in this stretch of
Dammit, man, we are on the eve
of the greatest sea fight in history. We must advance with all
dispatch. Report from the crow’s nest, please.
be possible, sir.
Safety have closed the crow’s nest, sir. No harness. And they say that
rope ladder doesn’t meet regulations. They won’t let anyone up there
until proper scaffolding can be erected.
Then get me the ship’s carpenter without delay,
He’s busy knocking up a wheelchair
access to the fo’c’sle Admiral.
Wheelchair access? I’ve never heard
anything so absurd.
Health and safety again, sir. We have to provide a barrier-free
environment for the differently abled.
Differently abled? I’ve only one arm
and one eye and I refuse even to hear mention of the word. I didn’t
rise to the rank of admiral by playing the disability card.
Actually, sir, you did. The Royal Navy is under-represented in the
areas of visual impairment and limb deficiency.
Whatever next? Give me a full
sail. The salt spray beckons.
couple of problems there, too, sir. Health and safety won’t let the
crew up the rigging without crash helmets. And they don’t want anyone
breathing in too much salt – haven’t you seen the adverts?
I’ve never heard such infamy.
Break out the cannon and tell the men to stand by to engage the enemy.
men are a bit worried about shooting at anyone, Admiral.
What? This is mutiny.
not that, sir. It’s just that they’re afraid of being charged with
murder if they actually kill anyone. There’s a couple of legal aid
lawyers on board, watching everyone like hawks.
Then how are we to sink the
Frenchies and the Spanish?
Actually, sir, we’re not.
sir. The Frenchies and Spanish are our European partners now.
According to the Common Fisheries Policy, we shouldn’t even be in this
stretch of water. We could get hit with a claim for compensation.
But you must hate a Frenchman as you
hate the devil.
wouldn’t let the ship’s diversity co-ordinator hear you saying that
sir. You’ll be up on a disciplinary.
You must consider every man an
enemy who speaks ill of your King.
any more, sir. We must be inclusive in this multicultural age. Now put
on your Kevlar vest, it’s the rules.
Don’t tell me – health
and safety. Whatever happened to rum sodomy and the lash?
explained, sir, rum is off the menu. And there’s a ban on corporal
What about sodomy?
believe it’s to be encouraged sir.
In that case –
kiss me Hardy.
BRITISH HISTORICAL SOCIETY