Friday, August 17, 2007

The Churchill Series – Aug. 17, 2007

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

Even if you didn’t know what I’m about to say, as soon as you read it you’ll likely say something like, “Of course.”

Churchill loved to sing.

Many of his contemporaries recorded in diaries and letters times they came upon the Great Man unaware and singing. The staffs at Chartwell, Downing Street and Hyde Park Gate all knew “those sounds” meant “he’s in the tub now.”

He was a poor singer as far as melody went but his knowledge of lyrics was phenomenal.

Many historians describe his musical tastes as low-brow but I don’t agree. That’s likely because I have some of the same tastes. He loved music hall ballads, military marches and Gilbert & Sullivan operettas. So do I.

In H. M. S. Pinafore, G&S ridicule the process by which Britain selected it’s First Lords of the Admiralty. G&S's “First Lord,” Sir Joseph Porter, explained it all to the audience in “I Am The Monarch Of The Sea.”

Churchill, twice First Lord, loved the song.

I’ll end this post with Sir Joseph’s “explanation” of how he rose to “the top of the tree” to become “Ruler of the Queen’s Navee.”


When I was a lad I served a term
As office boy to an Attorney's firm.
I cleaned the windows and I swept the floor,
And I polished up the handle of the big front door.
I polished up that handle so carefullee
That now I am the Ruler of the Queen's Navee!

As office boy I made such a mark
That they gave me the post of a junior clerk.
I served the writs with a smile so bland,
And I copied all the letters in a big round hand--
I copied all the letters in a hand so free,
That now I am the Ruler of the Queen's Navee!

Of legal knowledge I acquired such a grip
That they took me into the partnership.
And that junior partnership, I ween,
Was the only ship that I ever had seen.
But that kind of ship so suited me,
That now I am the Ruler of the Queen's Navee!

I grew so rich that I was sent
By a pocket borough into Parliament.
I always voted at my party's call,
And I never thought of thinking for myself at all.
I thought so little, they rewarded me
By making me the Ruler of the Queen's Navee!

Now landsmen all, whoever you may be,
If you want to rise to the top of the tree,
If your soul isn't fettered to an office stool,
Be careful to be guided by this golden rule--
Stick close to your desks and never go to sea,
And you all may be rulers of the Queen's Navee!

Folks, I hope you don’t have to spend too much time this weekend close to your desks.