August 16th, 2017


Forever Pompey

‘But by G-, you lost a fine sight by not being here (in Portsmouth) in the morning to see the Thrush go out of harbour. I would not have been out of the way for a thousand pounds. … I was upon the platform two hours this afternoon, looking at her.’

Mr Price, Fanny’s father, in Mansfield Park.

Early this morning, HMS Queen Elizabeth came into Portsmouth. By six o’clock there were thousands of people, many from naval families, waiting to see her. I watched some of this on the early Southern news and I have to say it was a fine sight: the enormous ship with ratings lined up on deck and the cheering crowds on shore. No doubt they wouldn’t have been out of the way for a thousand pounds.

Here’s another link with the naval days of Jane Austen. Fanny’s horrid cousins tell Mrs Norris how ignorant Fanny is. ‘She thinks of nothing but the Isle of Wight, and she calls it the Island, as if there were no other island in the world.’ People on the south coast, not necessarily ignorant, still call the Isle of Wight ‘the Island’, so some things never change.

This ship cost you £3bn, folks.