Nelson's Navy

Posted in Written by Our Readers on June, 23 2005 7:10 PM

If Nelson’s navy had been subject to today’s regulatory environment, would the Battle of Trafalgar have proceeded more like this?


“Order the signal, Hardy.”


“Aye aye sir.”


“Hold on, that’s not what I dictated to the signal officer. What’s the meaning of this?”


“Sorry sir?”


“England expects every person to do their duty – regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, religious persuasion or disability. What sort of gobbledygook 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 environments.”


“In that case break open the rum rations. Let us splice the mainbrace to steel the men before battle.”


“The 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.”


“I think you’ll find that there’s a 4 knot speed limit in this stretch of water.”


“Damn it man! We’re on the eve of the greatest sea battle in history. We must advance with all dispatch. Report from the crow’s nest please.”


“That won’t be possible sir,”

”Health and safety have closed the crow’s nest sir. No harness. And they say the rope ladder doesn’t meet regulations. They won’t let anyone up there until a proper scaffolding can be erected.”

”Then get me the ship’s carpenter without delay, Hardy.”

”He’s busy knocking up a wheelchair access to the fo’castle 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 to have the word mentioned. 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 full sail. The salt spray beckons.”


“A 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.”


“The men are a bit worried about shooting at anyone, Admiral.”


“What? This is mutiny.”

”It’s not that sir. It’s just that they’re afraid of being charged with murder if they actually kill anyone. There are 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.”


“We’re not?”

”No sir. The Frenchies and the Spaniards 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 for a claim for compensation.”

”But you must hate a Frenchman as you hate the devil.”


“I 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.”

”Not 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?”


“As I explained sir, rum is off the menu and there’s a ban on corporal punishment.”


“What about sodomy?”


“I believe it’s to be encouraged sir.”


“In that case, kiss me Hardy.”


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