Troutbirder II

Troutbirder II
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Saturday, April 21, 2018

Winston Churchill: A Quick Riposte


Some years back, I briefly reviewed Volume II of William Manchesters astonishing The Last Lion trilogy. This is biography at its very best. The life of Winston Churchill has been covered perhaps hundreds of times. Manchester brings him alive as no one else has ever done. Of course, Churchills personality and foibles were unique. Here are a tiny sample of his quick wit in action.

Isadora Duncan the famous dancer was seated next to Churchill at a dinner party

Duncan - "Just think Winston if George Bernard Shaw and I had a child. With my talent and beauty and his brains....."
Churchill -" but what if it was the other way around?"

Lady Astor was the first woman elected to the Parliament replacing her husband upon his ascension to the House of Lords. . She was known as a fierce debater. There is a famous exchange between Winston Churchill and Lady Astor when they were both staying at Blenheim Castle. The two politicians had been at each other's throat all weekend when Lady Astor said, "Winston, if I were your wife I'd put poison in your coffee." Whereupon Winston said, "Nancy, if I were your husband I'd drink it."

Churchill was a guest at the White House in 1942 planning war strategy with Roosevelt. His bedroom was in the upper family quarters where, believe it or not, there were shared baths. Never known for his modesty, political or personal, he was late to bed and late to rise. At home, he often dictated to his secretaries while immersed in a bubble bath. Returning to his room, nude from a bath, he met Roosevelt in his wheelchair coming down the hallway. The president, embarrassed for Churchill, tried to apologize. Churchill, always quick on the uptake, replied "as you can see, the Prime Minister has nothing to hide from the President."

The scene is the mens bathroom outside the chamber of the House of Commons. Churchill enters the empty facility but is followed shortly thereafter  by lead of the Socialist/Labor party Mr. Atlee. Upon seeing Atlee, Churchill moves to the far end of the bank of urinals.
Atlee: "Feeling rather standoffish today are we Winston?" he asks amiably.

Churchill: "Well, considering you socialists want to nationalize it, every time you see something big" was the reply.

He was a wit indeed. Here's another, after he left office:
“The Americans will always do the right thing… after they’ve exhausted all the alternatives.”

Playwright George Bernard Shaw invited Churchill to the premiere of a new play, enclosing two tickets: “One for yourself and one for a friend — if you have one.” Churchill wrote back, saying he couldn’t make it, but could he have tickets for the second night — “if there is one.”

Unfortunately, they don’t make Conservatives like that man any more with the possible exception of William Buckley........:)


  1. Oh, thank you for these clever bon mots. I laughed out loud at several of them. :-)

  2. Lover the coff3ee quote, too funny.Been reading sue kidd

  3. I have never read a Churchill biography so I'll have to find one.

  4. You have taken me back a few years... I remember WC very well. He wasn't the sort of man you could approach if he happened to visit your area. He definitely had a dry humour.

  5. The tea drinking comment is a real favourite of mine - as it was my father's. They really dont make them like that any more.

    Sorry its taken me so long to visit, things have been pretty hectic here!

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  6. I am a huge admirer of Churchill's wit and understated humor. I had heard a couple of those but others were delightfully new to me. Thank you.

  7. That Winston Churchill was quite the character.Thanks for the anecdotes! They're all new to me

  8. Dear Troutbirder, I can see that I'm going to have to get hold of Manchester's trilogy about Churchill and read it. I can read only ebooks no, so I'll check the library to see if they have "the Last Lion." thank you for telling us about this biography. Peace.