Hornblower the Environmentalist
by Liv

Author's notes: This scene takes place when Hornblower, Archie et al
return to Spain in episode 3. The purpose of this story is to
demonstrate Hornblower's tendency to get carried away with improving
other's station in life, even if it is for the enemy. Enjoy!!

 

************

Horatio and Archie are sitting on a grassy knoll under a large oak
tree, enjoying a hot caramel bunting.

"Oh Horatio" says Archie gaily "This is the life, isn't it? No wars
to think about. No hunger, no work, no wives, no debts-"

"No rat holes" intercedes Horatio, and they both smile at the common
terror they once shared.

Horatio finishes off his caramel bunting, scrunches up his litter,
and looks around for a bin to dispose his garbage into, unlike Archie
who casually tosses his litter behind a tree, swallows his last
piece, and rubs his hands to shake off the remaining crumbs.

Horatio stares at him in disbelief.

"What?" says Archie.

"The way you just littered like thatdon't you care about the
environment?"

Archie rolls his eyes: "We're in SPAIN Horatio, we're in ENEMY
TERRITORY. Who CARES if we litter their land?"

Horatio is incredulous: "What if everybody in England took such a
carefree attitude? What do you think would happen to the environment
then?"

"If everybody cleaned up their own rubbish, the cleaners would go out
of business."

"So that's it then is it? Just let somebody else clean up after you."

They don't stop arguing for a while, and finally decide to head back
to their cell, but not before Horatio makes Archie retrieve his
litter. "You're going to pick up your rubbish, and you're going to
put it in the bin" says Horatio with determination.

As they head back to their cell, they keep an eye out for a bin, but
none can be found. By the time they reach their cell, they still have
their litter in their hands.

"Well, Horatio" asks Archie expectantly.

"Well, there MUST be a bin round here somewhere" says
Horatio "otherwise the place would be covered in rubbish."

"Maybe they stuff it in here" says Archie, stuffing his food wrapping
in the crack of a wall.

"Enough of that!" says Horatio sharply, and snatches the wrapping out
of the crack. "We'll go and see Don Alfredo and ask him where the
disposal facilities are."

*****************

"Dis-po-sal fa-ci-li-ties?" says Don Alfredo, pronouncing each
syllable carefully.

"Like a bin or a trash can" elaborates Horatio.

"Or a crack in the wall" mutters Archie, until Horatio nudges him to
be sensible.

Don Alfredo looks at them with amused suspicion. "In Spain we do not
have gar-bage bins, Meestir Hornblower. We just throw the rubbish
onto the ground."

Horatio pushes the point: "What about pollution?"

Don Alfredo shrugs. "Somebody else will come along and pick it up.
Even-tually."

"You mean like a garbage collector" states Horatio.

"That is usually what I understand garbage collectors to do" replies
Don Alfredo gruffly.

Horatio doesn't know what to say. He stands there feeling
embarrassed. Totally embarrassed. Then he finds his tongue and
manages to be bold: "In that case, Sir, may we be permitted to leave
our litter on your table?"

"If you wish" replies Don Alfredo.

Horatio places the scrunched-up litter on Don Alfredo's desk, bows,
and promptly leaves the office along with Archie. When the pair
leave, Don Alfredo tilts his head to one side, takes his stick in his
hand, and with one long sweeping movement, brushes the litter aside
until they fall onto the floor.

*********************

"I won't say I told you so" says Archie sympathetically "but you
should learn to accept it. People these days just don't care about
the environment."

But Horatio is stubborn. "Why don't they care about the environment?
Do you realise what future generations will be left with if we don't
start taking care of the planet now?"

Archie is weary. "What do you want us to do, Horatio?" he says
rhetorically. "Go round and start planting trees and flowers? Grow
our own vegetables? Recycle??"

Horatio doesn't answer, which usually means his mind is ticking over
an idea.

"Oh no" says Archie "No Horatio, NO!"

*****************

Matthews, Styles and Oldroyd aren't so reluctant to the idea as
Archie. They are used to heavy duty work and haven't got anything
better to do. Besides, it would be nice to "freshen up the place a
bit with a few pansies and roses here and there" as suggested by
Styles.

"That's the spirit!" enthuses Horatio.

Horatio delegates the tasks that must be completed, including
building general waste and recycling bins, turning and clearing the
soil for a vegetable patch, and information programmes to educate the
locals about how to take care of the environment. Styles is delegated
the task of running these programmes.

"What about them Dons?" asks Matthews. "Surely no governor'd be so
willing to get free land used up without permission first."

******

"I am happy to accept" says Don Alfredo cautiously, when Horatio asks
him for his permission. "But you must first promise me two zings.
One, you must plant flowers that only I like; red roses and
carnations are my favourite. And two - you must not try to dig a long
tunnel under the ground from which to escape."

"You have my word" promises Horatio.

So the men get started on completing the various projects as
required. Styles, Matthews and Oldroyd quickly build sixteen bins and
spray paint labels on them; four bins for aluminium cans, four for
plastic PET bottles, four for glass and four for general waste. These
bins are then stationed around the village.

Then it comes time for Styles to run the information programmes to
show the locals how to use the bins correctly. He is demonstrating in
front of a large, attentive group.

"Now you see here this tequila bottle" says Styles, holding up a
bottle in his left hand, "you drink it first to get the liquor out.
Environmentalists don't want any alcohol stuff in their bottles." He
guzzles the tequila down quickly. "Then you toss it in this bin
marked with a picture of a bottle this bin is for GLASS ONLY,
including liquor bottles, glass jars, soft drink bottles, milk
bottles and anythin' else made of glass. Here, I'll show you another
example."

Styles takes a bottle of vodka, guzzles that one down quickly, and
tosses it in the recycling bin for glass, giving the same
instructions as before, although his diction is slightly
slurred: "An' ya toss that'n the bin.the one with th' picture."

Styles repeats the process, a third time, fourth time, using beer
bottles and bottles of margaritas, each time getting drunker and
drunker. By his tenth demonstration, Styles is practically
legless: "An'.this `em whiskey bottle....'cos y'know, men needa
drink when no woman be'd around, an' ye git it inter ya -" THUD. Here
Styles passes out with an almighty thud on the floor.

At this point Horatio walks in to see how the session is going. When
he sees Styles passed out on the floor, he groans, and orders two men
to "carry him away at once." Horatio then decides to complete the
training himself.

At the end of the session, Horatio conducts an exercise where all
kinds of litter is strewn about the floor, including drink bottles,
cans, orange peels, hamburger wrappings, jars and milk cartons.
Horatio takes out his stop watch and gives the locals five minutes to
put all the rubbish in the correct bins. The exercise is completed
successfully in 3 minutes.

"Well done!" announces Horatio. "You are now ready to begin the
recycling process."

*****************

"Who put THIS IN HERE?!" cries Matthews, taking a banana peel out of
a recycling bin for glass.

"It was me" says Oldroyd nonchalantly, then adds "sorry, I didn't
know."

"Of course you bloody well knew" rasps Matthews. "How many times do
we have to tell ya? Red bins are fe glass bins, green bins are fe PET
plastic bottles, yellow bins fe aluminium cans and brown bins fe
general waste."

But Oldroyd still doesn't get it.

"Mr Hornblower said you only have to follow the chart" explains
Matthews; "there's pictures we put on them bins to show you where to
put the rubbish."

"Oh, what difference does it make!" says Oldroyd stubbornly. "So as
long as there are bins!"

"I'll tell you what difference it makes Oldroyd, you bloody idiot"
says Styles. "You can go through every bin and sort out the mess you
made yerself." Then Styles and Matthews walk off to attend to other
activities, leaving Oldroyd to hunt through all sixteen bins to
reallocate the litter into their correct disposal units.

**************

From then on, Oldroyd cooperates with all manner of environmental
jobs he is allocated, including collecting dung to add to a compost
heap to fertilise new plants and trees which are being planted around
the village.

Horatio is thoroughly pleased with the way things are going, and
almost every day comes up with new ideas to improve the environment.
On one such occasion, Horatio wanders down to the shore to see what
kind of pollution is being washed up. He is on his hands and knees
collecting debris when he hears a fleet of horses behind him. He
turns around and sees it's Don Alfredo. Don Alfredo announces that he
is to be set at liberty for "saving life at the peril of his own."

After Don Alfredo leaves him, Horatio turns back to the ocean and
draws a long, deep breath of fresh salty sea breeze into his lungs.
It's been six months since he returned to this land in order to
honour his parole; six months in which he transformed this barren,
arid land into a lush, fertile paradise. The place was almost
beginning to feel like home.