Winston Churchill: Bulldog with a Playful Side
Were you ever surprised to learn your impressions of a famous person really weren’t accurate? It happened when I researched the life of Winston Churchill, England’s famous statesman of the last century.
My initial impression had been that Churchill was boring and stuffy. I recalled historical pictures of him, cigar stuffed into the side of his mouth, giving the V-for-Victory sign during World War II. But reading several biographies of Churchill changed my opinion forever.
I learned that as a child, “Winnie” was a red-haired, blue-eyed handful (some would classify him as a brat). He was born in the coat room of a fancy ball, which his high-society American mother insisted on attending. His proper British father tried hiring different nannies to care for little Winnie throughout his childhood. He was such a discipline problem, however, that most nannies soon quit. Until he met Mrs. Everest, the one who became like a second mother to him. She knew how to win his heart.
Little Winnie didn’t like school, and consequently, was sent to different boarding schools as a child. When older, he failed the first three entrance exams for military academy. But he possessed a dogged determination which would serve him well in later years as Prime Minister.
Churchill had a mind for adventure. His military unit was one of the last to use equestrian warfare, and it suited the lad well. As a newspaper war correspondent, he became a prisoner of war and traveled nearly 300 miles to escape to freedom.
It was in private that Churchill had a playful side. One historian said he liked to splash in the bathtub of his upstairs suite, cascading water all over the floor. Once while taking a bath, he rang the bell for a servant, and none came. He stalked from his bath to the top of the stairs, glowering pink and dripping—minus towel or clothes. When the maid appeared below and saw him, she shrieked, ran from the house and refused to return.
Britain's famous statesman had varied interests. He experimented with painting outdoor scenes, and even tried bricklaying. Historians say he sometimes wrote his memoirs while clad only in his birthday suit. Those who knew this man never could accuse him of being boring.
Great Britain achieved military victory in World War II largely due to the Prime Minister's brilliance and bulldog determination. He urged the implementation of tanks in warfare; Britain had first used them in WW I under his leadership. The growly-voiced statesman urged his people on to victory with his famous, “We shall fight on the beaches” speech.
Yes, Churchill, despite his eccentricities, was brilliant, the man of the hour, serving his country in a time of world crisis. He was courageous, witty, sometimes sarcastic—but never boring.
What about you? Any thoughts on your impressions of famous people? Feel free to comment below.