Sunday, February 01, 2015

Drinking With Churchill

I have at last embarked on a long anticipated reading of the three volumes of the Manchester Churchill Biography, starting with "Alone", 1932-1940.

I've read much about Churchill, but knew these would be special and I can already tell I am in for a real treat. A mere 100 pages into the book I am again reminded of the greatness of the man and the obstinacy of the man and the times he lived in -- his warranted, the position of everyone else, not.

EVERYONE knew that Hitler was "a man of peace". As Walter Lippman -- advisor to Woodrow Wilson, founding editor of the New Republic wrote in '33 after talking to Hitler:
"We have heard once more, through the fog and the din, the hysteria and the animal passions of a great revolution, the authentic voice of a genuinely civilized people."
BTW, Lippman coined the term "stereotype" and wrote a great deal -- he was NOT stupid! Just "always certain, frequently wrong", which is the essence of "the expert".

What modern "certainty" would we most like to imagine? "We are out of oil", "Climate Change is settled science", "The USSR will be around as long or longer than the US?" ... the list is endless. Even a short perusal of history lets us know that the hubris and certainly of much of the elite is a constant -- as is their hatred of an honest prophet like Churchill.

What I really found entertaining though -- as opposed to enlightening, was this.
…the leg­end that he is a heavy drinker is quite untrue. Churchill is a sen­si­ble if unortho­dox drinker. There is always some alco­hol in his blood­stream and it reaches its peak in the evening after he has had two or three scotches, sev­eral glasses of cham­pagne, at least two brandies, and highball.
The "always" started right after breakfast with a "light Scotch and water" and that was his companion all day and until he retired at 3 or 4 AM. His "work day" was from 11PM until he retired. So now we know what a "heavy drinker" ISN'T!

A quote from him that I had heard before, but is worth a repeat -- "I have taken more out of alcohol than alcohol has taken out of me". Which is true of both he and the human race -- killing germs mainly, but certainly a lot of enjoyment to balance the heartache it can also cause.

From times before Biblical times, alcohol was the main weapon  against microorganisms in water -- beer, wine, spirits mixed with water, all were ever present. A low level of alcohol in the system was a constant factor of life for those able to avail themselves of it until sanitation and chemicals could provide generally safe water.

Churchill was a throwback to the 19th century, and this was just one more aspect of that. Our founding fathers were the same -- whiskey in water was a common favorite.

Winston also managed to go through 10 or so cigars on a typical day. Just the description of his typical day at Chartwell (his home) is absolutely fascinating -- what a unique and interesting man!

I may be "going to ground" for a few days here. Ah, the joys of retirement!

No comments:

Post a Comment