Friday, 23 October 2009

Trafalgar Day

Just realised that I missed saying something about Trafalgar Day, the 21st October. OK, so it was 204 years ago, but it marked a truning point for so many different reasons. It shattered the dream cherished by Napoleon of dominating the world because he now knew he could no longer invade Britain or its many far flung colonies. It began the decline of his power in Europe as other nations began to see that resistance wasn't futile, and it saw the beginning of the decline of French power in the Iberian Peninsula.

It was a battle that the British should have lost, but didn't. They were outmatched and outgunned, but they were led by men of determination and vision, chief among them Nelson himself. His leadership inspired others. Yes, he was a vain little man, very sure of himself and no doubt a real pain to have under your command, but he was a leader and a brilliant one. The scene of battle was littered with examples of that leadership, though the British, on the day, seemed to have more of it than anyone else. On the French side the Captain of the Redoubtable showed plenty. It was his ship that grappled the Victory and it was his sharp shooters that killed the Admiral. But it was his inspiring leadership that kept his men fighting hopeless odds (Redoubtable was a "74" matched with the Victory "104" and another British "74" on her other side.) His ship sank under him, her bottom blasted out by Victory's 32 pdr guns but not before he had shown what the French were really capable of if properly led.

On the British side there is the example of the Belleisle, dismasted in "breaking" the Franco-Spanish line, her officers and men manned boats and towed her to where she could still fight her guns. All along the lines of ships there were examples of leadership we can only admire and guess at the cost to the individuals who gave it.

Where are the leaders of today? I look at the politicians I encounter and nowhere do I see anyone that inspire me to follow their example. Our "Pop" culture holds up media hacks who make a name for themselves destroying those who do try to rise above the pack, it holds up Pop stars who drink or drug themselves to death and "sports" stars paid obscene amounts of money to play a game. Not one of them having any "leadership" characteristics, they are nothing but distractions - an opiate for the masses, to misquote Marx.

When I am able to do so, I will certainly raise a glass to Nelson and our forefathers, in memory of their sacrifice so wasted and denigrated by the present crop of "managers" pretending to be leaders. They aren't and never will be.

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