Ok, it's an old one but a good one.
Subject: Nelson 200 years on, could Trafalgar happen today?
It's 199 years since Lord Nelson's famous naval victory over the French
and Spanish in the Battle of Trafalgar. To kick-start the anniversary
celebrations, an actor dressed as Nelson posed for pictures on the River
Thames at Greenwich. But before he was allowed on board an RNLI
Lifeboat, safety officials made him wear a lifejacket over his 19th
century admiral's uniform.
How would Nelson have fared if he had been subject to modern health
and safety regulations?
"Order the signal to be sent, Hardy."
"Aye, aye sir."
"Hold on, that's not what I dictated to the signal officer. What's the
meaning of this?"
"England expects every person to do his duty, regardless of race,
gender, sexual orientation, religious persuasion or disability. What
gobbledegook is this?"
"Admiralty policy, I'm afraid, sir. We're an equal opportunities
employer now. We had the devil's own job getting 'England' past the
censors, lest it be considered racist."
"Gadzooks, Hardy. Hand me my pipe and tobacco."
"Sorry sir. All naval vessels have been designated smoke-free working
"In that case, break open the rum ration. Let us splice the main brace
to steel the men before battle."
"The rum ration has been abolished, Admiral. It's part of the
Government's policy on binge drinking."
"Good heavens, Hardy. I suppose we'd better get on with it. Full speed
"I think you'll find that there's a 4 knot speed limit in this
stretch of water."
"d**n it man! We are on the eve of the greatest sea battle in history.
We must advance with all dispatch. Report from the masthead, please."
"That won't be possible, sir."
"Health and safety have closed the masthead, sir. No harness. And they
said that the futtock shrouds don't meet regulations. They won't let
anyone up there until a proper scaffolding can be erected."
"Then get me the ship's carpenter without delay, Hardy."
"He's busy knocking up a wheelchair access to the fo'c'sle Admiral."
"Wheelchair access? I've never heard anything so absurd."
"Health and safety again, sir. We have to provide a barrier-free
environment for the differently abled."
"Differently abled? I've only one arm and one eye and I refuse even to
hear mention of the word. I didn't rise to the rank of admiral by
playing the disability card."
"Actually, sir, you did. The Royal Navy is under-represented in the
areas of visual impairment and limb deficiency."
"Whatever next? Give me full sail. The salt spray beckons."
"A couple of problems there too, sir. Health and safety won't let the
crew up the rigging without crash helmets. And they don't want anyone
breathing in too much salt - haven't you seen the adverts?"
"I've never heard such infamy. Break out the cannon and tell the men to
stand by to engage the enemy."
"The men are a bit worried about shooting at anyone, Admiral."
"What? This is mutiny."
"It's not that, sir. It's just that they're afraid of being charged with
murder if they actually kill anyone. There's a couple of legal aid
lawyers on board, watching everyone like hawks."
"Then how are we to sink the Frenchies and the Spanish?"
"Actually, sir, we're not."
"No, sir. The Frenchies and the Spanish are our European partners now.
According to the Common Fisheries Policy, we shouldn't even be in this
stretch of water. We could get hit with a claim for compensation."
"But you must hate a Frenchman as you hate the devil."
"I wouldn't let the ship's diversity co-ordinator hear you saying that
sir. You'll be up on disciplinary."
"You must consider every man an enemy who speaks ill of your King."
"Not any more, sir. We must be inclusive in this multicultural age. Now
put on your Kevlar vest; it's the rules."
"Don't tell me - health and safety. Whatever happened to rum, bum baccy
and the lash?"
"As I explained, sir, rum and baccy are off the menu. And now there's a
ban on corporal punishment."
"What about bum?"
"I believe it's to be encouraged, sir."
"In that case ... kiss me, Hardy."