Things you didn't know about Lord Nelson
Everyone knows of Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson, the British naval hero who turned the war with Napoleon Boneparte’s French Empire in Britain’s favour when he destroyed the French fleet at Trafalgar. Were it not for the Little Admiral we might now all be speaking French and dressing far more stylishly and arguing about existential philosophy instead of dressing badly and arguing about people speaking in tongues.
There are many interesting facts about Nelson. It is true he was only five feet tall and had one arm but not true that he only had one eye. He had two but was blind in one.
Nelson’s last words as he lay on the deck of his flagship The Victory having fallen to a snipers bullet were not Kiss Me Hardy nor even Kismet Hardy as some homophobic historians insist but, " Fan, fan; drink, drink; rub, rub; the poor man, in extremis, was hot, thirsty and his chest hurt like hell.
Real famous last words often disappoint compared to the fictionalised ones.
One thing Nelson did truly request before dying was that his body should not be buried at sea as was traditional, but returned to England.
Cape Trafalgar, on the southern coast of Spain, is in a warm climate and even with favourable winds a sailing ship was two weeks from the south coast of England. In order to comply with The Admiral’s wishes the officers decided to preserve the corpse in a barrel of brandy to keep it fresh.
This would have worked had the Victory not taken a few hits to its provisions hold during the battle. Unfortunately the crew’s rum supply had been destroyed and on a long voyage there were two things a British sailor could not do without, rum and a cabin boy.
While the officers showed admirable self restraint the crew took to having a quick slurp at Lord Nelson’s unorthodox embalming fluid through drinking straws.
By the time the ship made port most of the Bandy had gone and the Admiral was stinking a bit.
His feet were in lovely condition though.
To this day the practice of having an illicit drink on board ship is known in the Royal Navy as "tapping the Admiral."