Wednesday, May 02, 2007

The Churchill Series – May 2, 2007

(One of a series of weekday posts on the life of Winston S. Churchill.)

The next time you have a problem over what to wear think of Churchill, who often had that problem. In the story you are about to read from Sir Martin Gilbert’s In Search of Churchill: A Historian’s Journey, Clementine objects to Winston’s clothing choice for a ceremony in Paris.

We’ll read first about her objections made in a note to Winston, and then learn how the matter was finally settled. I typed her note as it appears in Gilbert’s book. Clementine’s reference to Churchill as “Pig” is her pet name for him. His for her was “Cat.”

Gilbert begins: In 1947, two years after the war, she learned that he had instructed his valet to take his wartime Air-Commodore uniform for the ceremony in Paris at which he was to receive the Medaille Militaire (a signal honour for an Englishman). Her advice was succinct:

I would like to persuade you to wear civilian clothes during your Paris visit. To me, air force uniform except when worn by the Air Crews is rather bogus. And it is not as an Air-Commodore that you conquered in the War but in your capacity & power as a Statesman.

All the political vicissitudes during the years of Exile qualified you for unlimited & supreme power when you took command of the Nation. You do not need to wear your medals to show your prowess. I feel the blue uniform is for you fancy-dress, & I am proud of my plain Civilian Pig.
Churchill didn’t wear the Air-Commodore uniform but …

Gilbert concludes: [Churchill wore] the uniform of the 4th Queen’s Own Hussars, his old regiment, certainly a more suitable uniform for a military ceremony and award, but still not a “plain Civilian Pig.” (pgs. 203-204)