Monday, August 31, 2009

Lady Astor and Sir Winston Churchill

In her comment on one of my recent posts, Tammy wrote that she had become intrigued and then spent "waaaaaay too much" time delving into stories about Lady Astor.

I'm often guilty of doing this type of thing myself. In fact, oftentimes I'll get started on a post and then find myself completely sidetracked by my research, memories, thoughts, imagination - something, so I fully understand what Tammy meant.

She found one story about when Lady Astor and Winston Churchill met at a social function. (They had a history, it seems, of not getting along very well.) Lady Astor went up to him and said, "Sir Winston, if you were my husband, I'd poison your coffee." To which he replied, "Madam, if you were my wife, I'd drink it."

That one reminded me (here I go again!) of some others I've heard over the years. I'm not sure if all of them can be attributed to Winston Churchill or not, but they definitely tickle my funny bone!

[I was going to say which of the following stories is my favorite, but I don't have a favorite. I like them all.]

It seems that Sir Winston was walking down the street one day and paused to admire and perhaps say a word about an infant in a baby carriage. He was taken aback at the ugliness of the child and was, for a few moments, at a loss for words. Finally, however, he came up with, "My, that IS a baby!"

Another time, at a party, Sir Winston had been imbibing a bit more than usual and was showing the effects. One of the other guests - a woman not on his list of favorites - came up to him and said, "YOU, sir, are drunk!" To which he replied, "And you, madam, are ugly, but tomorrow I shall be sober."

[I love to hear the English language spoken by someone who knows how to say in just a word or two exactly what they mean. Years ago, when Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister, I clung to her every word. Similarly, I used to listen with interest to members of Parliament go on and on, often insulting - accompanied by keen wit - their colleagues. Great fun!]

This last story is a result of Winston Churchill being criticized for ending a sentence with a preposition. (Altho I first heard this more than 50 years ago, I've never forgotten it, and I still find myself going back over sentences I've written just to make sure they don't end with a preposition. Ha! Think I might have gotten lax about this lately, however.)

Anyway, Sir Winston was upset over the negative remark and responded loudly, "Criticism is one thing up with which I will not put!"


Craig Peihopa said...

what wit, what skill and what a wonderful human being.

Anonymous said...

Winston was to put it mildly a "character". I think as a writer I would have trouble imaging a fictional character as interesting as he was.


Goldenrod said...

"Putting it mildly?" Yes! I have always found him somewhat difficult to listen to and understand, Steve. His enunciation was - to my ears - a little less than clear, but the stories that are told about him and what he said? Oh, my! (Actually, come to think about whatall I've heard that he said, I doubt if I would have 'taken to' the man.)

Btw, whatever happened to the short story that you were sending in for submission? Hope you get at least ONE positive response! (?)

Tammy said...

Love it!

steven said...

hi goldenrod, i remember churchill's funeral vividly. it was the end of an era. his life was extraordinary but for real adventure, read about his exploits during the boer war!!!! made into a film entitled "young winston". have a peaceful day. steven