Starting the Chautauqua Process

So, I’m asked to play Churchill; I accept the challenge: what’s next?

For me, the next thing was a Google search of the images I first associate with Churchill – cigars and brandy.  As a Chautauqua scholar I want to be able to climb into his skin, so I like to start with the image.

Einstein’s hair spoke volumes about his iconic status, his relations with others, and his personal life.

Houdini’s physique, black, dyed hair and voice gave me a handle on his mind set and the era that forged it.

So what did a quick Google search for Churchill’s brandy and cigars reveal?  His cigar habit began on a 19th c. trip to Cuba to watch Cuban revolutionaries efforts against the Spanish empire.  He smoked Romeo y Julieta, and when not smoking, he gnawed it.  Premium smokes . . . declining empire . . . adventure . . . good start.

The brandy – Armenian cognac named Dvin – a gift from Stalin at Yalta – purchases by the case – plus champagne – story of a doctor’s prescription for 250 cc. of alcohol.  Intriguing stuff.

When Churchill is offended by Mussolini out comes a cigar in Il Duce’s face.

When hosting a Muslim guest his cigar and brandy provided a BEAUTIFUL example of cultural tolerance (?).

As my readings continue, the little fragments of a life, like individual mosaic tiles, may stand alone as fascinating bits of color, but over time and taken together, the pieces reveal a clearer picture of the person I am studying and the world in which that person lived.