Day 5: Our Trip to Southern England, March 2000

by Jim Mann
Photos, links and [commentary] by Laurie Mann

Site Map for the England 2000 Trip Site

On Monday morning, we took the train to Portsmouth. We met John Richards, a Portsmouth fan who had offered to show as around town. We checked into our B&B (a great place called Fortitude Cottage), then headed for lunch.

Lunch was in an old pub called the Anson. It was marvelous pub food -- we had huge portions of steak-and-stilton pie and more real ale (or, in Laurie's case, real cider, since she likes what I like to call "fizzy, tasteless Euro-lager," not what she likes to call "warm, flat beer").

We spent the afternoon on the Victory. I am very interested in the naval war between Britain and Napoleon's and his allies. Moreover, Trafalgar is one of those great turning points in world history that is also a remarkable drama. It forever ended Napoleon's chances of taking over all of Europe, in that it ended is chance of taking over Britain. (He had a flotilla of small boats that could have carried an invasion fleet across the Channel, a fleet that would have carried enough men to defeat Britain. Yet, unless his warships could break out of port and protect the flotilla, he couldn't get them across the Channel.) It's made more dramatic by the fact that Nelson was killed in the battle.

Walking on the Victory, seeing the spot where Nelson fell and the spot below decks where he died several hours later was certainly the most moving moment of the trip for me. The tour as a whole was impressive, as we saw a lot of the ship. I've read the works of O'Brian, Forester, et. al, but there is nothing like actually walking about on a wooden warship to ge the feel of what they must have been like.

Afterwards, we met Mike Cheater, stopped by several nice pubs (my favorite of which, The Hole in the Wall, is only a few doors away from where Conan Doyle wrote the first Holmes story and where H.G. Wells once worked). We sat around drinking ale and cider and discussing fandom and the world. It was a great time.

John and Mike also filled us in on the London mayoral elections. London is electing its first real major, at the race is quite interesting. The leading candidate is "Red Ken," who is leading by a long way in the polls (with about 60-70 percent of the vote), despite the fact that he is running as an independent. He tried to get the Labour nomination. He won in all cases where Union leadership actually asked its members who they should support, but lost overall. He then decided to run as an independent, livening up an already lively race, in which one of the candidate is nick-named "Shagger," because while an MP he had five mistresses at the same time.

Yesterday's Trip - British Museum
Tomorrow's Trip - Salisbury