13 June 2012
55 East 52nd Street - In the lobby
Writer, Churchill-expert and owner of Chartwell Booksellers (see above), Barry Singer has a new book out. 'Churchill Style' is a primer of Churchill's food, wine, cigars, women, books and good country houses. Churchill is what John Fairchild would call, "A Civilized Man." I admit to never reading Churchill but I have read a couple biographies.
Somewhere in those books... or was it a London pub? -- I heard my favorite Churchill quote: "The definition of a Greek -- is a Turk -- trying to be an Italian." Singer made my day, hell, he made my year, by confirming that attribution. But - he saddles the famous Lady Astor/ Churchill rebuff, "I may be drunk, madam, but in the morning I'll be sober and you'll still be ugly" to Sir Frederick (F.E.) Smith, a close friend of Churchill but not of his wife, Clementine, "who believed him to be a bad influence on her husband as a drinker and as a gambler. He was, however, in every sense, Winston's equal."
In appropriating a style - you could do a helluva lot worse - Joe Stalin and Mao Tse Tung come to mind. Those Commie world visions have clearly soared off course as their descendants grab capitalism like a gibbet around a neck while making JP Morgan look like a girl scout selling do-si-dos outside a grocery store.
But Churchill is still English and the English are still Churchill. Thank God.
I'll review the book tomorrow. It's perfect for Father's Day. Even if Dad has to buy it for himself. Beats the crap out of a tie -- Unless it's a navy polka dot bow tie from Turnbull & Asser. Bloody hard to go wrong with that pairing.