Thomas Paine, Henry Blogg, Captain Mainwaring...if Nelson goes, so should they
PUBLISHED: 15:20 05 September 2017 | UPDATED: 15:20 05 September 2017
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I’ve been a-pondering on Norfolk’s most celebrated hero, Admiral Lord Horatio White Supremacist Nelson.
The incomparable naval commander has taken a few hits, not least from columnist Afua Hirsch, who said he “vigorously defended” slavery and used his position of influence to “perpetuate the tyranny, serial rape and exploitation organised by West Indian planters, some of whom he counted among his closest friends”.
Boom! Mizzen mast down, three men maimed.
Thankfully the fightback was ferocious, as thousands rallied to defend Nelson, pointing out that he was a man of his time and his heroic deeds should never be forgotten.
I think Ms Hirsch’s ship was sunk without trace - taking with it her suggestion that Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square be pulled down.
I needn’t use this column to defend that column. It’s obviously staying put.
Instead, I want to take Ms Hirsch’s logic to some of its natural destinations.
If Nelson’s character and behaviour was so repugnant as to demand the toppling of the column, then it follows that all things to glorify him should be removed, too.
Bang goes Nelson’s County and in comes - Cavell’s County? Our Edith was definitely a good egg.
And it’s goodbye to the Nelson Museum at Great Yarmouth, Nelson Infant School in Norwich, Nelson Academy in Downham Market and the Viscount Nelson Education Network (Norfolk School Improvement Service).
Woodforde’s would have to rename Nelson’s Revenge, maybe as Fry’s Delight? And Nelson’s Blood rum would be a tipple that would have to topple.
What about Norwich striker Nelson Oliveira? If he had any sensitivity and understanding of the menace of his moniker, he’d change it to Grant.
After a quick raid to sink HMS Victory, Nelson’s flagship, in Portsmouth, the next mission would be to flatten some statues.
Nelson’s Column, of course, the Nelson Monument in Yarmouth, the rather weather-beaten statue in Norwich’s Cathedral Close, and other Nelson memorials in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Birmingham, Liverpool, Portsmouth, Hereford, Menai Strait, Northumberland, Derbyshire, Northern Ireland, Montreal and Barbados.
Pubs are a problem. I don’t want to see any closures, so I’ll let Britain’s 167 Nelson-inspired alehouses go for a name-change.
For info, that’s Lord Nelson (78), Victory (32), Nelson (31), Trafalgar (16), Admiral Nelson (five) and Nelson’s (five).
Who could possibly disagree with this mission to clean up Norfolk, Britain and the world? You might have the odd problem with the next bit though.
For I am going to pick up Ms Hirsch’s logic and run very hard with it.
If Nelson has to walk the plank for his sins, I have a few more statues and landmarks that should be taken down:
■ Bishop “Bloody” Bonner’s Cottage - he was a persecutor of heretics in the 16th century
■ Thomas Paine, Thetford - helped us to lose our American colonies
■ Henry VIII’s coat of arms, Lynn - decapitated two of his wives, dissolved the monasteries, etc, etc
■ Henry Blogg, Cromer - a hero, but inclined to be a touch grumpy at times
■ Charles I, King’s Lynn - encourager of Popery, fancied himself as all-powerful
■ Charles II, King’s Lynn - acknowledged at least 12 illegitimate children, a hedonist
■ King John, King’s Lynn - lost the Duchy of Normandy to the French, lost his crown jewels in the Wash
■ Harry the Herring, Horning - merciless murderer of fish
■ Adam and Eve, Wolterton - ultimately responsible for all the bad stuff in the world since the beginning of time
■ Wind in the Willows Fountain, Hay Hill - should we really celebrate selfish and spendthrift Mr Toad?
■ John the Baptist, Norwich - ate locusts, possibly inspiring I’m a Celebrity
■ Captain Mainwaring, Thetford - called Pike “stupid.”
It doesn’t leave much. But if we want the subjects of our public memorials to be perfect, the field is narrow.