Friday, April 10, 2009

The Churchill Series - Apr. 10, 2009

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

As August 1929 drew to a close, Churchill, with his eighteen year old son, Randolph, his brother, Jack, and Jack's son, Johnny, neared the end of an almost month long trip across Canada, after which the party planned to visit the U.S. for two months. For Churchill, the trip was a mix of speaking, writing and holidaying.

On September 1 he wrote Clementine :

Tonight we reach Vancouver where alas I have to open an Exhibition and make a speech. ...

I have reluctantly consented to make another speech at Victoria [on Vancouver Island], as it is said to be the most English of all Canadian towns, with a large colony of retired officers of the Army and Navy whose pensions apparently go further here than at home. ...
All went well in Victoria until a cleric, who was supposed to simply return thanks, did what some clerics often do. Churchill told Clementine about it in a letter dated September 12 :
I addressed an enormous luncheon, 700 or 800 men, the cream of Victoria, for an hour. Thanks were proposed to me by the Dean - a foolish Cleric with Socialist leanings, who asked a number of cheeky questions and maundered on unduly, so I put up Randolph to reply and he, in a brief, admirably turned debating speech of five minutes completely turned the tables upon the Dean, to the delight of the audience and also to their amazement. ...

I could not have done it so neatly myself.
Churchill saying he could not have done it so neatly himself is high praise indeed.

Monday there are tense moments at the Customs Inspection station as Churchill's party - he called it "the troupe" - crosses into prohibition-era America and the Custom's inspectors insist on searching the luggage.

I hope you all have a restful and blessed Easter weekend.