Comfort and Joy

7 December 2015

It seems some of our students believe their generation invented abbreviated language. I point out that Winston Churchill was the first person to use the (now overused) common abbreviation was in a letter to Lord Fisher on 9 September 1917. I'll store this handy fact away for future reference (and healthy sibling one-upmanship) when I speak to my (wildly intelligent) oldest brother on the telephone (also not invented by this generation).

In Winston Churchill there is much to admire. I understand he was a keen painter; I didn’t know that. Encouragement to persevere with his hobby stemmed from an amateur prize which he won for "Winter Sunshine, Chartwell," a bright reflection of his Kentish home. Churchill favoured a pseudonym (Mr. Winter) in 1947 when offering works to the Royal Academy, so his fame in other spheres was not exploited. The renowned painter Sir Oswald Birley: "If Churchill had given the time to art that he has given to politics, he would have been the world’s greatest painter."

This week we are having an exhibition of our own at USH; our Year 10s most recent work;I’m looking forward to it. 

On the subject of Churchill, I recently re-read excerpts of his Christmas message from 1941 and wondered (given recent world events) how much it still resonates in 2015.

‘Almost the whole world is locked in deadly struggle, Ill would it be for us this Christmastide if we were not sure that no greed for the land or wealth of any other people, no vulgar ambition, no morbid lust for material gain at the expense of others, had led us to the field. Here, in the midst of war, raging and roaring over all the lands and seas, creeping nearer to our hearts and homes, here, amid all the tumult, we have tonight the peace of the spirit in each cottage home and in every generous heart. Therefore we may cast aside for this night at least the cares and dangers which beset us, and make for the children an evening of happiness in a world of storm. Here, then, each home throughout the 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 task and the formidable years 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. And so, a happy Christmas to you all.'