Thursday, August 09, 2007

The Churchill Series – Aug. 9, 2007

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

Churchill was a gambler. And I don’t mean only that he often took huge political and government policy risks.

I mean he loved the casinos. There are many accounts of his spending most of the night at the casino tables in Nice, Cannes and Monte Carlo.

Here’s one of them. It was dictated by Churchill’s son, Randolph, and recorded and later published by Martin Gilbert in In Search of Churchill: A Historians Journey (John Wiley & Sons, 1994):

In 1935, while staying at the Chateau de l’Horizon in the South of France, I want one night with my father to the Casino in Cannes. By five in the morning I had won 200 (pounds) and my father 500 (pounds).

We left the casino, but could not find a taxi. “Let’s walk back along the beach, it is only four or five miles,” my father said, and off we went, reaching the Chateau at half past six.

My mother, who had never approved of my father’s gambling, was asleep. Father went into her bedroom, woke her up, and showered her bed with 1,000 franc notes. (p. 25)
Gilbert calculated the combined winnings of father and son were the 1994 equivalent of 18,000 pounds.

I don’t know how to convert that sum into a 2007 pounds equivalent, but I can tell you that at the current pounds to dollars exchange rate, it’s a bit more than $36,000.

See you in Cannes.