Historic Conversations 3
“Battle draw nears Hardy.”

“Yes, my lord.”

“The battle that will put an end to Napoleon’s hopes of ever invading”

“Yes, sir.”

“Trafalgar. The defining moment of my career, Hardy.”

“Undoubtedly, sir.”

“If we sink the French fleet today, Hardy, our beautiful country is safe and Britain will rule the waves for ever more. Think of that, Hardy. Safe from that blaggard Bonaparte and we shall be heroes.”

“Tis a sobering thought, my lord.”

“Time, I think, to send the signal: England expects every man to do his duty.”

“I will see to it straight away, sir.”

“My God man, what are you doing?”

“Texting the men, sir.”

“You’re what-ing the men?”

“Texting them, sir. Mobile phones, they’ve all got them. Ing… xpex… F-ry… man… 2do…hs.. du-T.”

“What are you blithering on about Hardy? Have the flags raised this instant.”

“Well, I could sir, but this is more efficient.”

“I want something that will resonate through the ages, not some half-formed gobbledegook. Ing?”

“Short for England sir, like you said.”

“Flags! See to it Hardy.”

“As you say, sir, but…”

“But what?”

“The men, sir.”


“They all laugh sir. They say, here’s Nelson with his little bunting and then they giggle. They think…”

“What do they think, Hardy?”

“They think you’re sweet, sir.”

“Sweet? The victor at the Battle of the Nile. At Copenhagen. Sweet! I am Nelson. I am a legend.”

“Instead, sir, I just use my two thumbs, see, press this button here, and – there – all the men have got the message.”

“Confound it. That’s amazing. I can hear them cheering. Thumbs, eh? And it’s all of them?

“Well, er, you have only got the one, my lord.”

“No, I mean, all the men have these, er, mobile phones do they?”

“It’s the latest thing, sir.”

“What’s that noise?Who’s playing the hornpipe?”

“No-one sir. It’s an incoming call. Ssshhh.”


“Oh, hello dear. Sorry. Speak up. I can hardly hear… I. Am. On. A. Ship. Afraid so, dear. Yes, the French again. Well, it’s not my idea. Look, I have to go. I’ll be home in, oh, about four months. Bye. Yes, me too. Bye.”

“You mean you can talk to people on those things as well?

“Yes, sir.”

“Good Lord. And the French, do they have them?”

“Oh yes, sir. And there’s no shortage of masts around here. Well, not at the moment.”

“Do you mean I can take their surrender on that thing?”

“I am sure Admiral Villeneuve would be honoured, sir.”

“Then give it to me Hardy.”

“Yes sir, but there’s just one thing.”

“Which is?”

“You’ll get a better reception up on deck.”