Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist


If the adjective "Churchillian" implies gravitas and bulldogs and unchanging tradition then Churchill wasn't Churchillian at all. He was a mercurial sort of a chap- a  little ball of energy who bounced all over the first half of the twentieth century, changing his party alliegance not once but twice, annoying his colleagues, alienatiing whole tranches of the electorate, being witty and mischievous, mismanaging several great offices of state and doing all sorts of harebrained and often disastrous things. He was a politician for pity's sake- a chancer, an adventurer, a Jack the Lad.

He had his hour. No-one can take that from him. But...

He died 50 years ago. Expect to be reading a lot about him this year.

I came across an article yesterday- I forget who it was by- that linked his demise with Britain's loss of its role in the world. You know the drill. And I thought, O give us a break.

Just as Churchill was never really Churchillian- except in a few speeches where he was brilliantly faking it- so Churchillian Britain- land of Empire and tradition and chaps in gold braid with feathered hats- never really existed either. We're a nation of pushy buggers (Churchill being a good example of the type) who lucked into an Empire and then lucked out again. We were never Rome. We're a people who are very good at exploring and inventing and making believe and nicking things (it's no accident weve got such a great theatrical tradition) and our very few years of being top nation were a brilliant triumph of bragging and blagging and riding our luck. We always knew it was a bit of a con (see Gilbert and Sullivan). The Empire was an aberration- and far from having lost our role when it fell apart we've gone back to who we always were- a nation of pirates and poets and dodgy entrepreneurs. The fifty years since Churchill went up the river have been brilliant years for us- think of the outpouring of British talent from the Beatles to J.K. Rowling- not forgetting our invention of the World Wide Web and the reinvention of the City of London as Wide Boy Central.

Still seeking a role? Rubbish. More like business as usual.
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