Monday, April 14, 2008

The Churchill Series - Apr. 14, 2008

(One of a series of weekdays posts about the life of Winston S. Churchill.)

I hope this post leaves you smiling.

Churchill ends his autobiography, My Early Life, with the oft quoted words: “until September 1908, when I married and lived happily ever afterwards.”

It was a wonderful marriage, with Clementine’s love, judgment and loyalty sustaining and enriching Churchill in both the domestic and public parts of his life.

But as in even the best of marriages, there were those “moments.” Churchill’s long-time bodyguard, Scotland Yard Detective-Inspector Walter Thompson tells us about one of them that occurred in the late 20s.

The Churchills were about to drive in an open two-seater from London down to Chartwell. Winston drove. Thompson sat in the back in what the Brits call the dickie seat (our rumble seat).

Thompson carries the story from there:

[Clementine] appeared dressed in a most gorgeous black dress decorated with gold thread. Winston voiced his delight. “Clemmie,” he said, “you look beautiful. What a lovely dress.”

“I am so pleased you like it, darling,” she replied, as she took her seat beside him.

It was not until we were out in the country that the dress was again mentioned . Winston gazed sideways and quietly said: “And what did it cost?”

She replied: “I dare not tell you.”

“I thought not, he said. “I am sure it was very expensive.”

“I will tell you later, Winston,” she replied.

“But there is no harm in knowing now, in view of the fact you have bought it.”

The car almost came to a standstill when she said: “Two hundred guineas.”

“I suppose,” he said, “you have not paid for it yet?”

“Let us talk about it later,” she replied.

Dead silence followed and not another word was said.
Tom Hickman, Churchill's Bodyguard. (p. 219)