At Chartwell, which he bought in 1922, Winston kept his own stable of polo ponies. This expensive country house in Kent was often the subject of finan cial “discussions” between Winston and Clemen tine, after many of which Winston would go on a well-meant but only briefly kept economy program. In one of these schemes be suggested to Clementine that Chartwell be rented while they were in London, and that all livestock except the two polo ponies, be sold.48 This was around 1926 –the polo ponies were still sacred!
Quite a few photographs exist of the mature Chur chill engaged in bis favorite sport, always with his right arm strapped to his side.47 He wipes his brow
after a chukka at Roehampton (12 March 1921), takes a drink during a break in a Lords vs. Commons match (June 1922). A famous photo shows him playing with the Prince of Wales in 1924. A group picture taken on 18 June 1925 shows Churchill with fellow players Capt. G.R.G. Shaw, Capt. Euan Wallace and Capt. the Hon . P.E. Guest, after Churchill’s Commons team defeated the House of Lords. Winston and Clementine are seen arriving at Hurlingham the same year, to watch the British Army play polo against an American team.
Winston’s last game had the longest gestation of them all. Plans for it began in the autumn of 1926, when Admiral of the Pleet Sir Roger Keyes invited Churchill, who was planning a holiday cruise in the Mediterranean, to inspect the fleet . They were old friends, having met during polo around 1904, accord ing to Keyes’ biographer: in those days young Keyes and his colleagues “would drive down to Wembley and play polo on hired ponies from 8 to 9 am. Often, before they finished, a party of young Members of Parliament would arrive to play from 9 to 10 am and it was at Wembley that [Keyes} first made the ac quaintance of Winston Churchill.”48
Responding to Keyes’ invitation Winston replied on 15 November, “As to Polo, of course I should love to have a game. It is awfully kind of you to offer to mount me. It would have to be a mild one as I have not played all this season. However I will arrange to have a gallop or two beforehand so as to ‘calibrate‘ my tailor muscles [sartorius) Anyhow I will bring a couple of sticks and do my best. If I expire on the ground it will at any rate be a worthy end!’ “9 Taken at a gallop, be must have reasoned, it would be a very good death to die . . .
The enthusiastic Sir Roger replied immediately: “Don’t bother to bring polo sticks; you will find all kinds and lengths here. What is your Hurlingham handicap? –We’ll get up a four cbucker [sic) match for one day after you’ve had a bit of practice. I expect 4
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