(One of a series of weekday posts about the life of Winston S. Churchill.)
Did you know Churchill disliked whistling?
His aides did and made sure not to whistle when he was around.
But there was a London newsboy who didn’t know about Churchill’s dislike. What’s more, when he learned of it from Churchill himself, the boy didn’t care.
The incident happened one day as Churchill and his bodyguard, Scotland Yard's Detective Inspector Walter Thompson, were making the short walk from Parliament to 10 Downing Street. As Thompson recalled it:
Approaching [us] was a boy of about thirteen years of age, hands in pockets, newspapers under his arms, whistling loudly and cheerfully.I'll bet Churchill chuckled because in his mind’s eye he saw something of himself in the boy. ______________________________________________________ Tom Hickman, Churchill's Bodyguard. (pgs. 116-117)
When the boy drew near, Winston hunched his shoulders, walked towards the boy and said in a stern voice: “Stop that whistling.”
The boy looked up at the Prime Minister with complete unconcern and answered: “Why should I?”
“Because I don’t like it and it’s a horrible noise,” growled Winston.
The boy moved onwards a few steps, then turned round and called out: “Well, you can shut your ears, can’t you?” With that he walked on.
Winston was completely taken aback , and for a moment he looked furious. Then, as he crossed the road, he began to smile and quietly repeated to himself the words “You can shut your ears, can’t you?” and followed it up with a hearty chuckle.