Monday, January 05, 2009

The Churchill Series - Jan. 5, 2009

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

Readers Note: Welcome back. I hope you all had a very nice holiday season.

I was delighted recently to hear from Corwin, a long-time friend of this series I hadn't heard from in many months.

Some of you have asked about Defender of the Realm, the working title of what's to be the third and final volume of William Manchester's life of Churchill, which before his death Manchester arranged for another author to complete. I'll have more to say about the work in progress Friday.

The short answer is don't look for Defender's publication any time soon.

To start the 2009 Series with a smile, I've picked a post first published three years ago. I hope you enjoy it.


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, Detective Inspector Walter Thompson, were making the short walk from Parliament to 10 Downing Street. As Thompson tells it:

Approaching …(us) was a boy of about thirteen years of age, hands in pockets, newspapers under his arms, whistling loudly and cheerfully.

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.
I think Churchill chuckled because in his mind’s eye he saw something of himself in the boy.
Tom Hickman,
Churchill's Bodyguard. (pgs, 116-117)