ON CELEBRATING WINSTON CHURCHILL’S 138th BIRTHDAY
by Barry Singer
Winston Churchill celebrated his birthdays in a great many places:
At Blenheim Palace, where he was born on November 30, 1874.
In Dublin, where he was raised until the age of five.
In Brighton and at Harrow, where he went to school.
At the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, where he became a soldier.
Churchill celebrated his 21st birthday on a battlefield in Cuba where, as he later wrote in his autobiography, MY EARLY LIFE, “for the first time I heard shots fired in anger and heard bullets strike flesh or whistle through the air.” He passed at least two birthdays in India as a young subaltern and, in 1899, stoically commemorated his birthday in captivity, as a Boer War prisoner of war held in Pretoria, South Africa. “I am 25…” he wrote that day to a close family friend, “it is terrible to think how little time remains!”
In 1909, Churchill celebrated his 35th birthday with his new wife, Clementine, in their new London townhouse at 33 Eccleston Square; wearing the floated remnants of an exploded party favor on his head throughout dinner and later sitting on the sofa holding hands with Clemmie. He spent his 41st Birthday as a Major on the Western Front trenches in France. During his Wilderness Years of the 1930s, Churchill marked most birthdays at Chartwell, his beloved home in the Kent countryside. As Prime Minister, he celebrated more than a few at No. 10 Downing Street, and one at Chequers, the P.M.’s secluded country residence, during the Blitz in 1940.
In 1943, Churchill accepted birthday toasts from Stalin and FDR at the Teheran Conference.
Winston Churchill celebrated his 90th and last birthday quietly at home. Before luncheon, on November 30, 1964, his secretarial, nursing and domestic staff gathered in his bedroom at 28 Hyde Park Gate to toast him with champagne. Birthday cake was served. Recently, a descendant of that secretarial staff presented me with a slice of this cake wrapped in plastic and preserved in an old jewelry box. It is a gift I have not yet chosen to open.
Hosted by The Anglosphere Society at 3 West Club (3 West 51st Street) in NYC , the evening will feature New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly as guest Churchill lecturer. I’m delighted to share an invitation with you. Cocktails will be served at 6:30 p.m., with Commissioner Kelly’s lecture at 7:30 p.m. , followed by dinner and dancing. Just mention my name for a significant discount ($250 vs. $600 per person) when you RSVP to: Dennis Barham at 917-208-0519 or firstname.lastname@example.org.