Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Benjamen West's The Death of Nelson: laurenroyal.com

Today is the 203rd anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar. Lord Horatio Nelson defeated the combined fleets of Imperial France and Spain, and effectively ended the threat of any French invasion of England. We had a special show at the Bohemian Club three years ago for the 200th Anniversary. I think it was the last event Dennis ever attended at the club until the reception after his funeral.

(But I guess he didn’t go to that – though I did have two large photo collages of him by the entrance of the main lounge.)

I bought a commemorative decanter of Pusser’s Navy rum and a pair of etched whiskey glasses for the 200th Anniversary, and also sent a pair to my Australian friend Jeffrey Hardy, then in Brisbane, Queensland. (He’s now in Manhattan.)

Jeffrey is a direct descendant of Captain Thomas Hardy, in whose arms Lord Horatio Nelson died after the battle. Because of that relationship, Jeffrey and his sister once had a private tour of HMS Victory at No2 Dry Dock at Portsmouth's Royal Naval Dockyard.

Tradition is that Lord Nelson’s final words were: “Kiss me, Hardy.” Jeff tells of two other versions: “Kismet (fate) Hardy;” or “Kiss me? Hardly!” Oh well, I guess we’ll never really know for sure.


Postscript: I went to the Bohemian Club tonight for the annual meeting of the Aviary Chorus. At the bar in the Cartoon Room I came across Cole Thomason-Redus, fellow member of the Schola Cantorum SF. He had just had his auditon for Aviary after being sponsored by David Conte, a professor at the SF Conservatory of Music and a superb composer. Cole was wearing one of Dennis' navy blue blazers. I had given him most of Dennis' clothes because they were the exact same size. This blazer had English nautical buttons, appropriate for Trafalgar Day. I nearly wept when I saw that Cole had kept Dennis' carefully ironed handkerchief. Dennis was very particular about how he folded his handerchiefs. I've not been able to reproduce it precisely; but Cole had retained his exactly as Dennis had folded it.

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