You can’t get good help anymore…

You can’t get good help anymore…

Mov­ing right along, the 1911 Cen­sus has just been released in Eng­land. No address was “pri­vate” in those days: Win­ston Churchill is list­ed at 33 Eccle­ston Square (sev­en­teen rooms) with Clemen­tine, Diana and eight ser­vants. The help com­prised a cook, nurse, lady’s maid, house­maid, par­lour­maid, under-par­lour­maid, kitchen maid and hall boy). —A.J., NSW, Australia

Ah for the days when help was cheap. I once tried Churchill’s method of get­ting two days out of one by copy­ing his dai­ly rou­tine at Chartwell: an hour or more of sound sleep in mid-after­noon, a lit­tle dic­ta­tion, bath #1, din­ner, film show­ing, seri­ous work from say 11pm to 3am, break­fast at 8am, dic­tate let­ters and read all news­pa­pers includ­ing the Dai­ly Work­er, in bed all morn­ing, bath #2, lunch and an after­noon amble before start­ing all over again. I found it works fine if you have a staff of fif­teen. My wife was not amused.

Enter­tain­ing aside: Per­cy Reid, a news­pa­per stringer keep­ing an eye on Chartwell had an infal­li­ble way of know­ing if Churchill was not in res­i­dence: the Dai­ly Work­er was still for sale at the West­er­ham news­stand. The pro­pri­etor took only one copy, since his only cus­tomer was Churchill. Reid’s remem­brances are in his rather rare lit­tle paper­back, Churchill: Towns­man of West­er­ham, which real­ly should go online some­time, because it offers a unique per­spec­tive on his coun­try life, and many exam­ples of why he was beloved by Ken­tish folk, who are severe judges of character.

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