Monday, February 28, 2005

Time lines……

I got a book for Christmas, I’ve just started to read it - ‘Trafalgar - Anatomy of an epic battle’.

I’m into Horatio Nelson at the moment. To be honest, I always have been – a great English hero who kept on getting body parts blown off – but carried on waving two of his five remaining digits to the French…. "come and have a go if you think you’re hard enough". Just like the Black Knight in Monty Python’s ‘Holy Grail’.

His finest moment – and his last, was at Trafalgar in 1805 and the consummate defeat of Napoleon’s naval forces. The bicentennial anniversary of the battle is coming up later this year, be sure to take a measure of grog and toast Horatio Nelson on the day of the battle – October 21st. But for him, we'd all be talking French today - rather than the current vogue for chav-estuary English.

I used to do some work for a guy called Malcolm during the early 80’s – and one day we sort of got chatting about Nelson. He then told me something really weird. Malcolm was coming up to retirement – and he started to tell me about his family. His Dad was born in 1857 – which I was a bit surprised about, to say the least. He married in his sixties to a young girl – and Malcolm came along in 1924 when his Dad was 72 years old.

His Granddad married fairly late in life also – again to a much younger woman – some 20 years his junior. His Granddad was 52 years old when Malcolm’s Dad was born. This of course meant that his Granddad was born in 1805 – the year of the Battle of Trafalgar.

I was amazed, three generations of family stretching back not far off two hundred years. His Granddad was born when George III was on the throne and William Pitt the Younger was in his second stint as Prime Minister, shortly before becoming ‘William Pitt the dead’ the following year.

The USA was barely 30 years independent and the dark continent was still a romantic mystery. Railways had 25 years to go before making an appearance and the first fatality, courtesy of an automobile was 100 years away. I sort of got to thinking that if there was any way that Malcolm could have met his Granddad – just how the two would have got on – and how they might have viewed each others world.

2 comments:

Roger B. said...

Did Pitt the Younger manage to complete his 'O' Levels before beginning his second stint as Prime Minister?

Birdman said...

If you're ever in Gibraltar, visit the Tralfalgar Cemetery. Some of the dead from the battle lie there. It's towards the end of Main Street.