Tuesday 24 October 2017

The day I said goodbye to Churchill

Brought up to admire Winston Churchill, Charles Lysaght was there when Britain’s war leader made his final journey

Photo dated 30/01/65 of the gun carriage carrying the coffin of Sir Winston Churchill through Trafalgar Square, London (PA Wire)
Photo dated 30/01/65 of the gun carriage carrying the coffin of Sir Winston Churchill through Trafalgar Square, London (PA Wire)
The grave of Sir Winston Churchill at St. Martin's Church in Bladon, Oxfordshire
The statue of Sir Winston Churchill in Parliament Square, Westminster, London, as the 50th anniversary of his funeral will be marked tomorrow with a memorial service
The statue of Sir Winston Churchill in Parliament Square, Westminster, London, as the 50th anniversary of his funeral will be marked tomorrow with a memorial service
The statue of Britain's former Prime Minister Winston Churchill is silhouetted in front of the Houses of Parliament in London. Today marks the 50th anniversary of the funeral of Churchill, Britain's wartime leader

Charles Lysaght

Unlike many Irish children of my generation, I was brought up to admire Winston Churchill. My father, although nationalist enough, always uttered his name with reverence. He regarded Churchill as our saviour as well as Britain’s in World War II. The wartime orations received at home on our crackling Telefunken had made a deep impression.

All that might not have impinged on my childhood mind had I not had an unfortunate lisp. This exposed me to teasing at school. “Lysaght, you speak like a baby,” some boys told me hurtfully. “Don’t mind them,” my father reassured me, “Winston Churchill also has a lisp and, apart from James Dillon, he is the greatest orator in the world.’”

To encourage me, my father gave me recordings of Churchill’s speeches. I listened to them over and over again and absorbed their rolling rhythm. I learned passages by heart and used phrases from them at school debates. Churchill became my unlikely hero.

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