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:
- He ordered that his coffin had to leave London from Waterloo station just to annoy General de Gaulle.
- John Lennon, Gary Lineker and Denis Healey were all given the middle name Winston in his honour.
- He insisted on secretaries using silent typewriters to take down his dictation, so his thoughts wouldn't be disturbed.
- He had to be ordered by the King to abandon his plan of taking part personally in the D-Day landings.
- He was the first person to use the word ‘summit' to describe a meeting of political leaders.
- 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).
- Among the TV shows postponed by coverage of his funeral was one on how to speak German.
- 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'.
- He was so famous for so long that Madame Tussauds had to replace his waxwork 6 times.
- He was a keen bricklayer, capable of 60 bricks an hour.
- To counter his speech impediment he practised the phrase ‘the Spanish ships I cannot see for they are not in sight'.
- He was related to Princess Diana (hence ‘Winston Spencer Churchill').