By BARRY SINGER
On Christmas night 1929, Winston Churchill delivered a speech from Chartwell, his country home in Kent, broadcast to the nation by the BBC. Churchill had accepted an invitation from the British Wireless for the Blind Fund to solicit donations. This little-known speech (not even included in the eight massive volumes of Churchill’s Collected Speeches) demonstrated Churchill’s mastery of the medium more than ten years before he became Prime Minister. Here follow extracts:
Ladies and Gentlemen, I hope you have had a happy Christmas Day. I hope you have remembered some old friends and forgotten some old grudges and have gathered the family around a cheerful table and a warm fireside.
I have been asked to say a few words to you on behalf of those who have not been able to see their friends or kith and kin today, and will not be able to see them on any day, however long they live.
A Fund has been started known as the “British Wireless for the Blind Fund.” Its object is to provide (so far as is practicable), that every blind person in the land shall have a wireless set.
All the British societies working for the welfare of the blind population and in touch with their wishes are agreed that this is much the best thing to do for blind people at the present moment.
The Prince of Wales himself—our Prince has become the President of the new Fund and the British Broadcasting Corporation, who are helping in every way they can, have given us this opportunity—a most valuable opportunity as you can well imagine—of talking it over together on this night of all nights; on this night when everyone feels they would like to do something to make the world better, and to make our island better—be it only a little better—for those who dwell in it.
Let me say a word about broadcasting. When all is said and done it is a miracle! At any rate to those who have not been brought up to it. Here I am, sitting in my home in Kent and talking to you, all of you—millions—I do not know how many millions—perhaps four or five millions, also sitting in your homes with most of those who are dearest to you in the world close by, I can talk quite easily to you and tell you about this plan which we think ought to be carried out now without delay, and can quite easily be carried out now without delay, if we just make up our minds about it.
We can almost do a miracle ourselves this Christmas night. We cannot say “Let the blind see” but we can say—and it is the motto of this fund—“Let the blind hear.”
Barry Singer is proprietor of Chartwell Booksellers in New York City and author of Churchill Style (2012).
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