Thursday, March 9, 2017
St. Helena: antidotes to Napoleon and toured
March 7, Tuesday
St. Helena: antidotes to Bonaparte
7 p.m. Still light in a gray cloudy sky, though the sun has set.
Misty rain kept me from standing in the companionway for my evening drink. Brief spells of rain came and went all afternoon, including when I was taking a solar shower in the cockpit. A bit more fresh water was welcomed.
I took my sail bag of wet clothes to Annie’s Laundrette today and while ashore filled two jerry cans with St. Helena water. Also bought two bottles of gin, one of tequila, and four cans of Lipton green tea.
Tomorrow I go on a tour to Napoleon’s last home and first grave. I did this 29 years ago. The hotel where I used the Internet today has a statue of the pot-bellied emperor—I deliberately do not capitalize. I have written before that the British have less lavish tombs for the winners, Wellington and Nelson, than the French have for the loser.
I do not admire Napoleon, who twice deserted his armies to further his own ambition and to save his short, fat ass. Once in Egypt, once and much worse in Russia. Perhaps if you are Napoleon or any of a number of other kings and generals and dictators, you think that if these fools believe the lies you tell them, they are of no account and you can use and dispose of them freely. And perhaps you are right.
Two antidotes to this are Joseph Conrad’s excellent short story, ‘The Warrior’s Soul’, which I reread this evening, and Mark Knopfler’s song, ‘Done with Bonaparte’, which I listened to this evening. Cause so much death and suffering and then die on this island of natural causes, though I believe he claimed the British poisoned him. Cancer did run in his family. If the British poisoned him, it was a public service.
The herd admires many despicable men. And a few despicable women too, I suppose. But mostly men. We men surely cause the most trouble.
I would rather be a forgotten Webb Chiles than a remembered Napoleon.
March 8, Wednesday
St. Helena: toured
I posted the passage log today, I think. The blogger administrative page showed that it didn’t properly save, but the entry appeared to be online. If it disappears, I’ll try to fix it.
I am writing this on GANNET near sunset.
I took my land tour today. In two of these photos you will see a large sailing vessel which came in yesterday. She is a school ship with several dozen teen-agers, with presumably wealthy parents, who are in the the 11th and 12th grade and first year of college. I arranged a tour through the Tourist Office on Monday and four of the students ended up with me. Two Canadian, two German. I don’t have much contact with teen-agers and these were intelligent, friendly and well-mannered. Perhaps there is hope for the future, at least in Canada and Germany.
The photos are of Jamestown, the only town on the island. The small boats visible are local boats. The mooring field for visiting boats is blocked by the mountain to the left.
There is a photo of the runway to nowhere. People here say this will be sorted out, but how do you sort out the trade winds and a sheer 2,000’/600 meter cliff?
The house is Longwood, the little emperor’s last home. (Again the lack of capitalization is deliberate.) A very nice house. Compare his life there with the deaths of the soldiers he abandoned in Russia.
His bedroom. Dining room. And his death mask at age 51.
The British really did treat him better than he deserved.
There are great contrasts on this island and endless spectacular vistas.
7:30 p.m. I had a good late lunch of a BBQ lamb chop with rice and vegetables at Anne’s Place which served as my main meal for the day. I picked up my washed laundry at Annie’s Laundrette much farther up the steep road and have the no longer salty clothes stowed. So I am sitting here, listening to music, the album FIESTA by Chico and the Gypsies, sipping gin, feeling the wind blow against my skin through the open forward hatch. I am content. It has been a life. It still is. To Bill in the UK, I’m not sure but I think Wales, I lift my glass to not putting our mastheads in the water, to all of the rest of you who don’t do that, I lift my glass to your finding joy without knockdowns.