Never in the field of human trivia ...

My favourite facts about Winston Churchill

The 50th anniversary of Churchill's death has produced some very moving pieces about the great man's role in history. Quite right too, of course - but we shouldn't forget that he was also a one-man trivia factory, leading a life crammed full of fascinating details. Here, in no particular order, are a dozen of my favourite Churchillian facts:

Never in the field of human trivia ...

1. He ordered that his coffin had to leave London from Waterloo station just to annoy General de Gaulle.

2. John Lennon, Gary Lineker and Denis Healey were all given the middle name Winston in his honour.

3. He insisted on secretaries using silent typewriters to take down his dictation, so his thoughts wouldn't be disturbed.

4. He had to be ordered by the King to abandon his plan of taking part personally in the D-Day landings.

5. He was the first person to use the word ‘summit' to describe a meeting of political leaders.

6. The statue of Churchill at the British Embassy in Washington has one foot on American soil and the other on British soil (to symbolise his mother and father's nationalities).

7. Among the TV shows postponed by coverage of his funeral was one on how to speak German.

8. While MPs cheered his ‘we shall fight on the beaches …' speech he whispered to a colleague ‘… and we'll fight them with the butt ends of broken beer bottles, because that's bloody well all we've got'.

9. He was so famous for so long that Madame Tussauds had to replace his waxwork 6 times.

10. He was a keen bricklayer, capable of 60 bricks an hour.

11. To counter his speech impediment he practised the phrase ‘the Spanish ships I cannot see for they are not in sight'.

12. He was related to Princess Diana (hence ‘Winston Spencer Churchill').



William Ferguson
Posts: 4
My favourite facts about Winston Churchill
Reply #1 on : Mon October 24, 2016, 14:12:27
Apparently he was the only PM to belong to a Trade Union. The bricklayers, of course.

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Big Ben

On a visit to Big Ben, I was told that if you stand at the bottom of the tower with a portable radio and listen to the chimes on Radio 4 (they still transmit them live), you hear them on the radio before you hear them ‘for real’. I couldn’t believe it – but was intrigued enough to try it for myself. And you know what? It’s absolutely true. The bongs come out of the radio a fraction of a second before they reach your ears from the top of the tower. It’s something so silly, so counter-intuitive, that you have to tell people. (Well, I did.) Researching the explanation, I found that it’s because radio waves travel at the speed of light (186,000 miles per second) rather than the 700 or so miles per hour at which sound waves travel. The signal travelling down the wire from the microphone to the BBC goes at the speed of light too. Hence the radio version overtaking the real one.

I realised that this would be the perfect way to teach the principle in school physics lessons. Instead of a boring teacher droning on that ‘radio waves travel at the speed of light’, illustrate it with this beautiful and quirky little fact. The kids will remember it then. I certainly would have done if my physics teacher had taken this approach. As it was I had to wait until I heard a piece of so-called ‘trivia’ in my thirties.