Monday, 19 April 2010

The spirit of Nelson flashes forth

Rejoice, rejoice! The long decline of the British Empire has been halted; we are no longer a laughing stock among the nations, sunk in nostalgia, currying favour with Johnny Foreigner in the hope of being asked to once more to play a part in world affairs. We have been uninvolved too long in great events and no-one has expected us to act decisively to show our mettle in a crisis.

And what is more, we didn't wait to be asked; after only four days we took the kind of action— brave, wise and above all firm, which used to be typical of us and which made us universally admired and respected.

We sent, not one but THREE gunboats. At this moment, they are in all probability steaming at full speed, ensigns flying, to remote spots to collect thousands of British subjects who might otherwise have had to remain in tropical hell-holes for several days, missing the start of the school term and incurring heavy expenses. Arrangements are being made to welcome them on board Her Majesty's warships (including the Ark Royal, no less; now there's an Imperial echo); wardrooms are being quickly converted into buffets, junior officers are rehearsing their stand-up routines and the Marine bands are getting ready to switch from hornpipes to Tunes from the Shows.

"Hello, sailor!"

"You'll find the ballroom just abaft the mizzen tops'l, madam"

1 comment:

Froog said...

I recall a cartoon from Punch in the '70s where a Victorian gunboat is chugging up a river into the heart of the African jungle. The riverbank is completely lined with hostile natives brandishing spears. The captain remarks, no doubt somewhat apprehensively, to his first officer: "I suppose Lord Palmerston knows what he's doing."