Friday, July 30, 2010

Churchill and the bottle

One of the books I'm taking on my vacation is the first volume of William Manchester's monumental biography of William Churchill, The Last Lion (1983), a book that one of my coworkers loves so much that he practically tears up when talking about how much he envies me for the fact that I still get to look forward to reading it for the first time.

Thus far, all I've read is the introduction, which, as advertised, is masterly and captivating. Today I'll just share a brief note about Churchill's drinking:
[H]e continued to build the image of a tireless embodiment of machismo who ate, smoked, and drank, all to excess. It survives to this day. Actually, most of the stories of his alcohol intake are myth. It is true that he started each day with a scotch and soda. What is not generally known is that he made that drink last until lunch, and that the amount of liquor he put away over a twenty-four-hour day was surprisingly modest. You would never have known it to hear him talk. He wanted to be remembered as a two-bottle man, like Pitt, and he cultivated the yarns about his drinking with characteristic aplomb. Once he asked Frederick Lindermann--"the Prof," a scientific wizard who later became Lord Cherwell--how many boxcars could be filled with the champagne he had drunk in his lifetime. The Prof replied: "Only part of one." Churchill sighed. He said: "So little time and so much to achieve."
My ambitions, fortunately, for my health, are much smaller.

1 comment:

  1. I'm a huge history buff and haven't read this book yet... sounds interesting! Thanks for bringing it to my attention :)