Thursday, July 12, 2007

The Churchill Series – July 12, 2007

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

Over the years I’ve found few instances of Churchill using foul language. But in October, 1918, while Churchill was serving as Minister of Munitions and visiting the Western Front, a trying episode provoked him to use the “f” word.

In Martin Gilbert’s Winston S. Churchill (Vol. IV), The Stricken World, 1916 - -1922 (Houghton Mifflin, 1975), Gilbert quotes from Churchill’s principal private secretary Eddie Marsh’s account:

First a tyre burst with one of those loud reports which make one think one has been assassinated – and then in the village itself, Winston gave the chauffeur a wrong direction, left instead of right, at a cross-road.

The chauffeur . . . preferred not to back but to go on till he could turn the car – and on we went in the dark, on and on literally for kilometers between the close hedges of the roadside, it must have been the original “long lane that has no turning.”

It’s impossible to imagine anything alternately more comical and provoking. The climax of Winston’s cursing was, “Well, it’s the most absolutely f---ing thing in the whole of my bloody life.”(p. 154)
But all ended well as Marsh recounts they soon came to a place to turn and were headed in the right direction again.