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Scuttlebutt: Battle of Trafalgar 2005

provided by John Harwood-Bee (author unknown)

click for artist info

“Order the signal to be sent, 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 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 as smoke-free working environments, sir.”

“In that case, break open the rum ration…let us splice the mainbrace to steel the men for battle!”

“The er- rum ration has been abolished, Admiral. It’s part of this Government’s policy on binge drinking!”

“Good Heavens, Hardy. Well, I suppose we had better get on with it. Full speed ahead!”

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

“Damn it all, man! We are on the eve of the greatest sea battle in history. We must advance with all dispatch. Report from the masthead, please!”

“That won’t be possible, sir.”


“Health & Safety have closed the masthead, sir. No harness. And they said the futtock shrouds don’t meet regulations. They won’t let anyone up there until a proper scaffolding has been erected.”

“The get the ship’s carpenter on to it without delay, Hardy!”

“He’s too busy, sir. Knocking up a wheelchair access to the fo’c’sle, Admiral.”

“Wheelchair access? I’ve never heard anything so absurd!”

“Health & Safety again, sir. We have to provide a barrier-free environment for the differently abled, sir.”

“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 playin’ the disability card!”

“Actually, sir, you did : the Royal Navy is under-represented in the areas of visual impairment and limb deficiency.”

“Whatever next? Order full sail, the salt spray beckons!”

“A couple of problems there too, sir. Health & 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 actually shooting at anyone, Admiral.”

“WHAT? Is this a Mutiny?”

“It’s not that, sir. It’s just that they are afraid of being charged with murder if they actually kill anyone. There’s a couple of legal aid lawyers on board, watching everyone and everything 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 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!”

“I wouldn’t let the ship’s diversity coordinator hear you saying that, sir. You’ll be up on 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, sir; it’s the rules.”

“Don’t tell me, Hardy … Health & Safety again, eh? Whatever happened to rum, bum, backy and the lash?”

“As I explained sir, rum and backy are off the menu. And now there’s a ban on corporal punishment as well.”

“What about bum?”

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

“In that case... kiss me, Hardy.”

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