(Skibbereen – July 29, 1558) The entire Spanish fleet “the pride of Calais” has vanished in a violent storm approximately eighteen nautical miles off the southwest coast of the Republic of Ireland. According to a flagship call for help followed by a desperate distress signal from the few ships still afloat.

The renowned Armada was reportedly headed for England with the intention of invading that island nation. It was not clear how many lives have been lost to date since 16th Century ships’ logs were far more focused on weaponry, food and rum than on the lower element of human that inhabited the decks and galleys or were chained in their benches in the downstairs recreation area.

The Spanish military disaster represents the fifth in as many centuries. In 1588 the first “Invincible Spanish Armada, despite fiscal and spiritual support from the Vatican, was defeated by Sir Charles Howard of Great Britain. Nine short years later the Second Armada lay scattered by storms at St. George’s Channel.

These two incredible navel defeats were paid for with silver extracted from the lucrative Potosi mines in Bolivia. It is estimated that over 200,000 Native laborers died in the effort in the icy climate at over 4000 meters.

But did they learn anything? Apparently not since in 1644, with over 800 ships at his disposal, Manual Rudolf of Bavaria took the wrong left turn at La Coruna de Mariposas, landing his entire force waist deep in shark-infested waters on the Bay of Biscay. French villagers encouraged the sharks. All were lost.

Then in 1709 Italian, Hernando Cortisone, in an attempt to circumnavigate the swollen floodwaters of the North Tejo, landed on Gibraltar, which he claimed for the Queen of Denmark or the Duke of Marlboro, no matter. He was immediately arrested and jailed by the British colonial forces, where he roosted on the rocky peninsula, his ships reduced to firewood.

With the coming of the modern era Spanish navel thinking remained firm to its convictions and to the past. In 1889, during the lingering hangover from Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee in 1887, an expeditionary force, including several thousand Serbian demolition experts and a host of well-endowed Flamingo standouts in reserve, set out for Lisbon. The plan was to seize the oil fields at Falmouth and continue up the Thames to a rousing victory. Instead the convoy ended up in northeast Brasil three months later and was eaten by Dutch headhunters out on the weekend. England was spared again.

Today, with the most recent military snafu freshly piling up further carnage in the nautical pasture, Spanish picaroons have vowed to descend on Dover beaches “by the next century or sooner.” For those of you keeping score at home that’s only 85 years away.

Meanwhile the London Stock Exchange has seen brilliant gains, unsurpassed during recorded history. (Yesterday the exchange registered an unparalleled 141- point explosion in heavy trading just before the wire.)

Most brokers on the floor at the time the Armada ran aground admitted that they had not known about another attempt to invade their shores. Mass reaction moments after the freak announcement ran from horrid mumblings to the ever-popular “Good Show Old Man” and “Chin Up Matilda”, a pip saying borrowed from the Australians.

The final demise of Spanish sea power came crashing down in the late afternoon as thousands from Dublin to Cork watched from their barstools. By nightfall a flotilla of cold-water pirogue boats had already swooped in and made quick work of any survivors. By morning there was no indication that the fleet had ever existed. Before nightfall the pirogues, under a Carthaginian flag and seriously overloaded with Libyan crawfish, clumsily capsized only inches from the crowded, seedy harbor, sending hundreds of momentary victors straight down to the ocean’s floor. `- Kashmir Horseshoe

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