May 22, 2013

Finest Hour 147, Summer 2010

Page 7

Around and About


Nick Clegg, a Liberal Democrat largely unknown until recently, is the most popular party leader since Winston Churchill, a Sunday Times poll declared. Clegg’s party garnered fifty-seven seats in the general election, a net loss of six but enough to create a hung parliament and a coalition between the Lib-Dems and Conservatives. We’re not sure where it fits, but somehow we are reminded of WSC’s quip when a Tory Member went over to the Liberals: “The only instance of a rat swimming to a sinking ship.”

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John Tory, former Ontario premier and now a radio host, interviewed the editor on May 10th, asking about Churchill’s experience with hung parliaments. WSC supported coalitions in both World Wars and times of acute emergency, but thought them less efficacious at other times. But perhaps Britain’s state today is a national emergency?

The Massachusetts Historical Society is displaying a collection of Presidential Letters, one of interest to Churchillians, Gregory Smith informs us: “On 15 February 1939, Roosevelt wrote Harvard University history professor Roger B. Merriman: ‘What the British need today is a good stiff grog, inducing not only the desire to save civilization but the continued belief that they can do it.’ Perhaps FDR’s wish was fulfilled on 10 May 1940 when the grog became Prime Minister.” You can see the letter at http:// xrl.us/bhkvik.

Following the success of The Gathering Storm, starring Albert Finney and Vanessa Redgrave, and Into The Storm, starring Brendan Gleeson and Janet McTeer, Hugh Whitemore has written a new play about Clementine Churchill, My Darling Clemmie. Previews at the New End Theatre, Hampstead, began on 4 May, with support of our Patron, Lady Soames.

Clementine Churchill is played by Rohan McCullough, described by The Scotsman as, “a fantastically talented and moving actress.” She began her career in the musical Hair, and has since worked in theatre, film and television, known for her one-woman productions, extensively touring The Testament of Youth (based on Vera Brittain’s celebrated book). Another one-woman show about her relative, Beatrix Potter, has toured Britain, America and Japan.

My Darling Clemmie is directed by Gareth Armstrong, a one-person show specialist, well known for various roles played in The Archers on BBC Radio 4. Playwright Whitemore wrote Pack of Lies, Breaking The Code, The Best of Friends and the film 84 Charing Cross Road, as well as the aforementioned Churchill dramas.

According to The Times of India, 13 March, quoting declassified documents, Britain’s wartime flying chief Arthur “Bomber” Harris chalked out a “brilliant” plan to assassinate Italy’s fascist dictator Benito Mussolini during World War II, but Prime Minister Churchill rejected it. (See our website news page or set your browser to http://xrl.us/bhnvu8.)

Many would say WSC did the right thing, given Musso’s value to the Allied war effort. As Churchill said when Hitler escaped his bomb in July 1944: “…certainly it would be most unfortunate if the Allies were to be deprived, in the closing phases of the struggle, of that form of warlike genius by which Corporal Schicklgruber has so notably contributed to our victory.”

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