In her memoirs, Mary Soames wrote of the great service of thanksgiving at St. Paul's Cathedral five days after V-E Day, 1945: "Such was the mood that we were allowed to sing the second verse of the National Anthem (usually a real no-no), bidding God arise to scatter the King's enemies ('Confound their politics / Frustrate their knavish tricks'). Well, at a Churchill Conference in 2000, we entertained her by singing all five verses of God Save the Queen, including that one. She was sure we were going way over the top.
Self-trained, he had unorthodox techniques. On a steep hill, the standard tactic is to shift up two cogs and stand up, adding your body weight to the downstroke, using your arms to wiggle the bike from side to side to help the upstroke. We never saw Arrington stand. Instead he would hunker down in the saddle and simply power his way over the hill. And he always left us in the dust. I was hoping to watch this technique in the White Mountains when he and Hazel were to visit us in New Hampshire.
"Today, looking back over a long life, I can honestly say that almost the only things in which I take any conscious pride or esteem in one way or another is my association with Winston Churchill. After the war I was lucky enough to be a member of his Government and also, with my wife, to be asked every now and then to Chequers or Chartwell to join him and his family in their noisy, affectionate, hilarious, often uproarious family life. That, as a friend said to me the other day, was something that left you both wiser and also warmer at heart." —Sir Fitzroy
Randolph Churchill had sacked Robert from his research team on the Official Biograhy, and Robert never forgave him (or his dislike of Eden). He maintained that Randolph just repeated the “case for the defence” Sir Winston had already made in his own books. Robert always said exactly what he believed—in the most forceful terms available to a gentleman. In an age of prevaricating phonies of Left and Right, such a character is rare. Winston Churchill would have loved him.
"He made himself useful at a critical moment." Nigel arrived at one of those periodic crises of the Old Guard. The Churchill Centre UK Branch had unexpectedly lost its chairman, and we were at a loss over whom to send for. Celia Sandys had the answer: a retired Army colonel. We expected a severe taskmaster, perhaps even an officious mandarin. We found instead a warm-hearted collaborator and devotee of the Churchill saga.
Mary Soames taught us all the most important rules any Churchill scholar must follow: never to proclaim what her father would do today; and strive to “keep the memory green and the record accurate.” She also taught us magnanimity—that what really matters is friendship, and trust. She was our guiding light—the person we sought to please with word committed to print on behalf of her great father.
It fell to Winston Churchill to define “this fair and youthful figure…heir to all our traditions and glories... Gazing at her photo “in a white dress and with long white gloves, displaying that enchanting smile which lights up her face as if a blind had suddenly been raised,” he mused: “Lovely, inspiring. All the film people in the world, if they had scoured the globe, could not have found anyone so suited to the part.” Admiration grew to attachment, attachment to adoration. Every week during their meetings her private secretary reported “gales of laughter” coming from the audience room: “Winston generally came out wiping his eyes.”
Antoine Capet brought his quality of cheery pedantry to every subject under the sun, and we will vastly miss his skillful advice, always delivered in the politest terms without the slightest hint of rebuke. Combined with his comprehensive knowledge of the Churchill saga, those are rare qualities. We miss him already, for he has left an unfillable hole among the friends who loved him.
Catherine’s particular interest was Sir Winston’s paintings. She had studied art history at the British Institute in Florence, worked in the Victorian paintings department of Sotheby’s and the Director’s Office of the National Arts Collection, now the Art Fund. She brought these credentials to the research and cataloguing of Churchill's art.
Parry Thomas was buried in the graveyard of Byfleet, near Brooklands, the great oval racetrack where he built his fame. His marker reads: “Life is eternal and love is immortal, and death, which is only the horizon, is nothing save the limit of our sight.” A wreath of violets, anonymously sent, carried the legend, “Ride On, Ride On, in Majesty.” Ride On, Don, Dave and Randy.