Friday, March 19, 2010

Churchillania

Several people were reminded of good Churchill stories, by the previous post.

The accuracy of these stories is MOST questionable, and in any case they are examples of much older jokes, attributed to Churchill. Still, it IS fun.

1. Shortly before George Bernard Shaw’s 1913 play Pygmalion received its first English performance at His Majesty’s Theatre in London (on April 11, 1914), Shaw sent the following telegram to Winston Churchill :
AM RESERVING TWO TICKETS FOR YOU FOR MY PREMIERE. COME AND BRING A FRIEND – IF YOU HAVE ONE.
Churchill sent this telegram to Shaw in reply :
IMPOSSIBLE TO BE PRESENT FOR THE FIRST PERFORMANCE. WILL ATTEND THE SECOND – IF THERE IS ONE.

2. Lady Nancy Astor: If I were your wife I would put poison in your coffee!
Churchill: And if I were your husband I would drink it!

George Thayer (who worked as research assistant to Randolph Churchill on the latter's biography of Winston), wrote in 1971 that this anecdote was false. In any case, this joke appears to be an old one. The January 3, 1900 issue of the Chicago Tribune printed the following: “‘If I had a husband like you,’ she said with concentrated scorn, ‘I'd give him poison!’ ‘Mad'm,’ he rejoined, looking her over with a feeble sort of smile, ‘If I had a wife like you I'd take it.’”

3. Bessie Braddock: Winston, you are drunk, and what's more, you are disgustingly drunk.
Churchill: Bessie, my dear, you are ugly, and what's more, you are disgustingly ugly. But tomorrow I shall be sober and you will still be disgustingly ugly.

This exchange was confirmed to Richard Langworth by Ronald Golding, a bodyguard present on the occasion (as Churchill was leaving the House of Commons in 1946).
Note : in the 1934 movie It’s a Gift W.C. Field’s character, when told he is drunk, responds, ‘Yeah, and you’re crazy. But I’ll be sober tomorrow and you’ll be crazy the rest of your life.’

4. Young man (seeing Churchill leaving the bathroom without washing his hands):
At Eton they taught us to wash our hands after using the toilet.
Churchill: At Harrow they taught us not to piss on our hands.

5. Churchill: Madam, would you sleep with me for five million pounds?
Socialite: My goodness, Mr. Churchill... Well, I suppose... we would have to discuss terms, of course...
Churchill: Would you sleep with me for five pounds?
Socialite: Mr. Churchill, what kind of woman do you think I am?!
Churchill: Madam, we've already established that. Now we are haggling about the price.'

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

i'd heard #4 told about "a harvard man" vs "a yalie"
#5 is very reminiscent of some dialogue in pygmalion / my fair lady

Carpe Web said...

#5 sounds more like Wilde than Churchill; #4 seems to have a history with just about any pair of rivals one can imagine.

Unknown said...

This was excellent.

terrapin said...

I first heard #4 with Navy and Army.
There was a another Churchill story that made it into Manchester's The Last Lion. In his maiden speech a young Labour MP called Churchill some names that were forbidden by the traditions of the Commons. When the whips sent him up to Chartwell to apologize, Churchill's valet announced his arrival to his master who was upstairs. Sir Winston called down: "Tell him I'm on the toilet and I can only take one shit at a time!."

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