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The Vintage Guide To London | November 21, 2017

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Eat, drink and be merry - have a Churchill inspired Christmas

Dinner was the highlight of most days, usually lasting for two hours, after which he would play two games of backgammon with his wife Clementine before recommencing work. In a marvellous account of a dinner at the Savoy Hotel, Churchill enjoyed: champagne and oysters – pea puree and a glass of sherry – poached turbot in cream sauce with several glasses of Poully Fuisse – Beef Wellington with carrots and scalloped potatoes accompanied by a bottle of Burgundy – crème brulee and a glass of Madeira – Stilton and a glass of port – coffee – cigar and brandy.

It always makes me laugh when I see a hospital named after Churchill, the man famous for saying “I took more out of alcohol than alcohol ever took out of me”. Churchill believed quite rightly that he was entitled to live exactly as he chose. He was warned by doctors aged 20 that he would be dead within five years if he persisted in smoking cigars and drinking champagne. Winston simply shrugged his shoulders and continued as normal. He smoked an estimated 4,000 cigars a year and was rarely seen without one. When his war-time colleague Montgomery declared “I don’t drink and I don’t smoke and I am 100 per cent fit”, Churchill came back at him with “I drink and smoke and am 200 per cent fit.”

On Christmas Eve 1941, with England still very much in the throes of war, he made this address from the White House: “Here then, for one night only, each home throughout the English-speaking world should be a brightly lighted island of happiness and peace. Let the children have their night of fun and laughter. Let the gifts of Father Christmas delight their play. Let us grown-ups share to the full in their unstinted pleasures before we turn again to the stern tasks and formidable year that lie before us. Resolved that by our sacrifice and daring these same children shall not be robbed of their inheritance or denied their right to live in a free and decent world.”

Let us raise a glass to Churchill this Christmas and all he did for us. Cheers!

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