Randolph Remembered

The Daily Beast has published a memoir of Randolph Churchill by Clive Irving. This is in response to Randolph’s relative neglect in the wake of all the attention accorded to his father following two recent successful film treatments and several books. Irving met Randolph in the early 1960s:

I was leading the Insight investigative reporting team at the London Sunday Times as we covered the unraveling of the Tory government led by Harold Macmillan. One afternoon I got a phone call, out of the blue, from Randolph. He wanted to compliment the team for our coverage but insisted that we did not really grasp the plot that was unfolding within the Tory party to remove Macmillan.

He goes on to recount that Randolph was thereafter a frequent source of news for the relatively short remainder of his life. He also provides a brief description of Randolph’s friendship with Evelyn Waugh, whom he describes as:

…a man with whom Randolph had a lifelong love-hate relationship, someone who, when he first met him at Oxford university he described as “this extraordinary and formidable little man” – Evelyn Waugh. At Oxford they were both famously debauched. Waugh turned the experience into the stuff of great novels, most notably in Brideshead Revisited.

In 1944 the pair were bizarrely thrown together in a special forces unit that operated in Nazi-occupied Yugoslavia, fighting alongside Communist partisans. …Thrown into close quarters with him, Waugh despaired in his diary: “He is not a good companion for a long period, but the conclusion is always the same – that no one else would have chosen me, nor would anyone else have accepted him. We are both at the end of our tether…” After the war they frequently feuded, but the relationship seemed to mellow by the time Randolph moved to East Bergholt, when, both as country landowners, they shared a passion for gardening in regular correspondence…

 Irving concludes with a frequently quoted Waugh comment about Randolph:

In 1964 doctors removed a tumor from one lung, suspecting cancer but the tumor proved to be benign. Hearing this, Waugh told friends, “How typical a triumph of modern science to find the one part of Randolph which was not malignant and to remove it.” Randolph took that in good spirit, but he had only four more years to live.

Perhaps the best quote about Randolph is the one Irving cites earlier in the article from Noel Coward: “One thing you can say about Randolph is that he remains utterly unspoiled by failure.”

In a recent issue of The Times, Waugh is mentioned in connection with an exhibit at the Victoria & Albert Museum relating to A A Milne and Winnie the Pooh. In the article by Catherine Nixey, Milne’s wife Daphne is described as having “the air of one of those Evelyn Waugh wives who treats all struggles, including her own, as a tremendous bore.” The exhibition Winnie-the-Pooh: Exploring a Classic will be open from 9 December until 8 April at the V&A London.

In a recent excerpt from a book about philanthropy that it is about to republish in a 4th edition, the Capital Research Center starts with this quote from Evelyn Waugh as one of two epigraphs:

Money is only useful when you get rid of it. It is like the odd card in ‘Old Maid’; the player who is finally left with it has lost.

This comes from Waugh’s 1949 article “Kicking Against the Goad” first appearing in Commonweal magazine and reprinted in EAR.

Finally, the Guardian writes about France’s hope that French will become the dominant international language due to growth in the African Francophone population. The writer of the article Stephen Poole disagrees and concludes with this:

French will always retain its allure to literary and romantic types. It is still the language of elan, of insouciance, of existentialism. As Evelyn Waugh said: “We are all Americans at puberty; we die French.” Perhaps if Macron’s dream of the global primacy of the French language doesn’t succeed in this world, it will in the next.

The quote comes from Waugh’s Diary entry for 18 July 1961 in which he jotted down from his papers numerous items in his archive worth noting as he began writing his autobiography.

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