Friday, October 21, 2005
Today is the bicentenary of the Battle of Trafalgar. This morning HMS Victory was the setting for some (extremely damp) commemorative events, and tonight the Queen will stand beside the ship to light the first in a national chain of beacons. On Sunday the focus switches to Trafalgar Square, with events including a grand parade and an all-ticket patriotic spectacle involving stirring music and lots of maritime symbolism. How very British. I shall be watching on the telly.
If you're at all interested in naval-gazing then may I heartily recommend a visit to the Nelson and Napoleon exhibition at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich. The curators tell the parallel life stories of Horatio and Boney through an extensive collection of rare exhibits including the two men's famous bicorn hats, the coat Nelson was wearing when he was shot (complete with hole) and the musket ball that killed him. I was even lucky enough to meet Nelson and Lady Hamilton themselves, although they seemed somewhat preoccupied showing round a party of over-dressed Swedish nautical types and may just have been costumed fakes. Admission to the exhibition normally costs £9, but it's free this weekend if you can beat the queues. And should you miss out, don't worry, because there's one place you can remember Nelson for nothing all year round, and that's in Trafalgar Square...
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