Monday, March 24, 2008

Swimming With Winston



I've chosen Martin Gilbert's Churchill:A Life as my spring break reading material. I was reading it the other night in bed, and had decided that I'd turn in after 'the next paragraph'. The next paragraph contained an excerpt of some of Churchill's writing that contained some really good imagery.

He and his brother Jack had taken a boat out on a lake in Ouchy, Switzerland. This was while he was on break from Sandhurst. They had jumped from the boat to swim, and a strong wind took the boat away from them. Churchill tried to catch up to it, but it kept getting blown away. The boys were getting tired, and this is how Churchill described the scene:

"Up to this point no idea of danger had crossed my mind. The sun played upon the sparkling blue waters; the wonderful panorama of mountain valleys, the gay hotels and villas still smiled. But now I saw Death as near I believe as I have ever seen him. He was swimming in the water at our side, whispering from time to time in the rising wind which continued to carry the boat away from us at about the same speed we could swim."

I got a chill when I read that. I don't know if it had anything to do with the tumbler of scotch I had imbibed, or the late hour, but I know that I smiled at the good writing, and then took a cursory glance around at the shadows in my lamp-lit room.

1 comment:

Mark Daniels said...

I'm betting it was more Churchill than the Scotch or the late hour. He was a wonderful writer, for my money, second only to Lincoln among politician-as-writer.

Mark Daniels