Posted by: Dr Churchill | July 10, 2017

What Would Winston Churchill Do? (Chapter 24)

Winston enjoyed his new existence in the Indian Raj to the fullest. He was a Master of his domain and lived in the most liberal city of India where everything goes…

Nevertheless he found himself beginning, to think of more serious things, and for the first time he became painfully aware of the fact that he was badly educated.

Years later he likened his education to a Swiss cheese: “Smooth on the surface
but too many holes in it.” He wrote to his mother and asked her to send him some good serious books.

Then he gradually he developed the habit of reading for three or four hours each day. He read Plato’s Republic, Aristotle on Politics, Schopenhauer on Pessimism, Malthus on Population, Darwin’s Origin of Species.

But the books that interested him most, first for their wonderful English and second for their thrilling subject matter, were Gibbon’s “Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire” and Macaulay’s “History of England” and all the works of Rudyard Kipling.

He read and re-read these authors, revelling in their wonderful, rolling phrases and memorizing long passages by heart. He tried to pattern his own writing on their style and subconsciously even began to phrase his thoughts in their polished language.

Winston in Bangalore found many other things besides the India harems, and their fleshpots, along with his deep romantic love with the triple timing English filly Pamela. Happily her Love was not unrequited, but at the end always a bit traumatic for Winston’s still tender heart, because he found out that she was triple timing him with a few other Gentlemen to increase her odds of marrying a rich titled baron and above…

Here is where he came to ponder upon the human condition and he also became deeply philosophical, as he espoused the main tenets of Buddhist philosophy, and made every effort to learn the precepts of meditation, compassion, and kindness.

Bangalore is chock-a-block with temples in every corner of each and every block in the main streets and finding a buddhist sanctuary would not have been difficult, in this multiethnic and multi-religious city.

Buddhists are very much stoics and maybe Socratic adherents, and Winston felt right in. Naturally as a true Socratic adherent, he started by asking the rich and meaningful questions, challenging his own well developed sense of meaning and purpose, even while stationed in happy go lucky Bang-a-lot Bangalore…

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But some more serious thoughts must have come forth as well…

There are sacred truths to be found in questioning one’s self, because “Know Thyself” was high up on the list of Winston’s priorities since self improvement and Leadership were his metier…

So far more important questions bubbled up during the dangerous time of midnight wakefulness…

Questions like who am I?

Who is the Thinker behind the thinker?

Why do Men need Love?

What is worth living for?

What is worth dying for?

How can I find contentment?

Where is the meaning in Life?

Who Are We?

What is our purpose here on God’s good green Earth?

What is the Spirit and what is Sacred?

Are we some kind of mysterious beings of some supernatural mysterious origins?

Or are we simply created from Adam and Eve as the Church of England would have you believe at that time?

Ultimately this is what Winston Churchill’s personal philosophy came to be summed up as.

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Yet Winston was also a fast proponent of the theory of Evolution as he had personal knowledge of Charles Darwin and his writings…

He firmly believed that we appeared on Earth, looking as we do today, after an evolutionary process that took millennia and then about 200,000 years, some 30 world age cycles, and two ice ages ago, presto, here we are.

Yet although evolution was writ large — our bodies bear also the unmistakable signs of an intelligent design. We come into this world ‘speaking’ the silent language of the heart that communicates with the fields that give birth to and connect to all things, and to all others in the thing called Global Brain. Telegraph for Winston Churchill was now the big thing, much like Internet was in the more modern times, but we know that humans were the architects of advanced civilizations that date at least to the end of the last ice age, and probably before. We are peaceful beings who become violent when we fear for our lives, our families, our communities, or our way of life.

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Yet only during the last 5,125 years of the current world age have we developed the habit of large-scale war. The unsustainable conditions of our world have led us to the crisis points where we must either recognize the truth of our origins and history, and choose our highest destiny; or deny these truths and succumb to the depths of our darkest fate.

Now that we’ve answered the question of who we are, the next big question relates to our future. What is the legacy that you and I will leave to those who will call us their ancestors? Will our children’s history books look to us and say that we valued cooperation over competition, and that we learned to love instead of fear?

“Or will they look to us and say that we missed the greatest opportunity of 5,000 years of human history – the chance to replace the false beliefs of our past with the truth that empowers us to achieve our destiny?

We’ve already answered these questions with our words. Now we must live what we’ve spoken.

Will we base the emerging new world on the deep truths of our existence?

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We won’t have to wait long to find out, because in order to heal the ancient battle between darkness and light, we ought to clearly define our relationship to both, and that is how Peace can be borne anew.

Because in my mind Peace is the greatest amongst all Public Goods and Politicians must strive to attain that at all costs. Having said that, I must add a caveat, that Peace should be always our paramount aim, except when it is an ignoble peace that requires us to pursue a dishonorable course.

Because indeed peace is of the greatest importance in our world today, but it is not the only way, and whenever the inimical opponents of Peace, Safety, and Stability, know this — they will respect us — and somehow keep the Peace, because they will know that in the absence of peace, they will lose all of what they have gained.

Whereas in the presence of peace, all things are possible for them (our enemies), as indeed for all of us: Wealth, progress, popularity, full employment, poverty alleviation, middle class enlargement, near universal health, growth or well-being, good governance, democracy, liberty, freedom, love, compassion, and even plenty of forgiveness.

Peace is the source of all these things, that are all vastly curtailed when War breaks out.

Therefore, I would ask the people of the world to first and foremost find peace within themselves, so that their peace may be then exported and mirrored in the rest of the people and indeed the world.

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People do not fight because they are wicked….

People fight when the imbalances are too grave. War is waged primarily for the sake of what is central to Life. Central and important things like food and bread for the hungry masses. Help for the needy. Food for the hungry. Shoes for the children. Shelter for the homeless. Care for the needy, health for the infirm, support for the elderly, and services for all who needed them. That’s the true calling for the Politician who understands the value of Leadership and offering service to his people. Because it is the measure of how we treat our elderly, our sick, and our invalids that gives the true measure of our Society and of our Civilization.

We all know that if we assuage the pain of those who are hungry, and take care of the unemployed, and the infirm — then, this is the best means of avoiding civil conflict, and preventing war, and also securing a long lasting Peace. Yet in the end, Winston’s philosophy always came back to Love, but that was not enough to fulfill his fantasy life or his life’s purpose…

And although Winston admitted the deficiencies of his education, he was careful not to allow anyone else to draw attention to them. He was as cheeky as ever. He could not refrain from criticism and advice, and was seldom able to deliver either with tact. An old Field-Marshal, who was serving as a captain in India at the time, told me of an occasion when Winston and several of his fellow officers were invited to dinner at the Viceroy’s Palace. Pomp and ceremony blazed at such functions, and rules of procedure were observed with meticulous care. Yet these rules of social etiquette obviously couldn’t apply to Winston Churchill now. Who were these people and why they would expect him to behave himself, was beyond his comprehension…

Blast it all — he thought…

The well choreographed social maneuvers, were a real study in the Army’s operational and strictly regimented caste system, separating the young Officers seen as plebs, with the High Command Generals, seen as Masters of the Universe. On one side the young Army officers were kept at the end of the great reception hall, while the great ones of India, the governors and princes, or “Heaven Born” as they were called, talked politics at the other distant end on the far side of the reception hall — leaving a great swath of empty space in between. This vast emptiness was only traversed by the liveried servants, the waiters, and the ‘authorized’ ADCs of the Generals, and the attendants of the Princes. For a while, Winston Churchill the young lieutenant subaltern, hang out and listened impatiently to the banal conversations of his contemporaries, and when thoroughly bored — he strode down the length of the room, pushed his way into the celebrated circle of “Heaven Born” and began to give them advice on how to run the country…

Much later the Field Marshal said: “This clearly, did not contribute to his popularity.”

And yet if Winston could be rather bumptious & annoying, he could also be rather charming & disarming, because although he was aware of the unfavourable impression he created, and was usually indifferent to it — his indifference was never cold, for he was incapable of holding any malice. He had the rare quality of never resenting the resentment of those to whom he had been rude, and often took his enemies unawares by offering a sudden warm apology. Once sufficient time had elapsed to give him perspective, he had the gift of surveying himself with humour and detachment.

In his book “My Early Life” he produces a literary cat’s paw, when describing another occasion, shortly after his arrival in India, where he was in one of his most aggressive moods. The Governor of Bombay, Lord Sandhurst, entertained Winston and a brother officer at dinner and Winston wrote that: “We truly enjoyed a banquet of glitter, pomp, and iced champagne.” That’s not all of what he wrote. “His Excellency, after the toast to the health of the Queen Empress had been drunk, and dinner was over, was good enough to ask my opinion on several matters, and considering the magnificent character of his hospitality, I thought it would be unbecoming in me not to reply fully. I have forgotten the particular points of British and Indian affairs upon which he sought my counsel; all I can remember is that I responded generously. There were indeed moments when he seemed willing to impart his own views; but I thought it would be ungracious to put him to so much trouble, and he very readily subsided.”

Although Winston enjoyed the Officer’s charming life in Bangalore, and particularly the thrilling polo matches, and his romantic interludes — he began to grow restless. The more he read and the more he talked, the more certain he became that he was intended for great things. A sharp driving ambition was growing within him that seemed to be increasing each day; and at the age of twenty-two he felt there was no time to lose. He must establish a name for himself as quickly as possible. But how could he show the world the stuff he was made of if his regiment remained in idleness?

What chance was there for him to win his spurs in peaceful Bangalore?

 

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Lucky for him — the Great Game was in full swing. Those days Russia was bribing the Pathans and the other tribesmen of the Northwest frontier in today’s Afghanistan and Pakistan, to revolt and cause a handicap to the British Raj and to the Empire by occupying vast numbers of troops there. Troops that could not be used elsewhere…

Winston mindful of that fact — was in an impatient mood in the summer of 1897 when he had travelled back to England, on military “leave” and had found out about the insurrection on the frontier, because while in London, one morning, he picked up a newspaper and read that fighting had broken out on the Northwest Frontier and General Sir Bindon Blood was in charge. Immediately he connected the dots, because Sir Bindon was a descendant of a notorious character named Colonel Blood who had tried to steal the Crown Jewels from the Tower of London in the reign of Charles II, and Winston remembered that he had made friends with the General, at a social function in England the year before, and also that the latter had agreed, that if any trouble broke out on the frontier he would let the young subaltern join him. Churchill promptly sent him a telegram reminding him of his promise, and the reply came back that although there were no vacancies on his staff, if Winston could get a job as a war correspondent — he would be pleased to have him with him.

Winston left for India in a high state of excitement He persuaded the editor of an Indian paper, the Allahabad Pioneer, to employ him, and even more important, persuaded the Colonel of the Queen’s Own Hussars to grant him leave from his regiment. He then rushed to travel more than two thousand miles from South to the North of India in order to go fight in that frontier. That is the Northwest frontier that has been called the graveyard of Civilization, or otherwise known as the graveyard of the Empires. And indeed this is today’s Afghanistan and the birthplace of that indomitable warrior race of the Pashtun people…

Upon arrival in the Northwest frontier —  joined the command body that was known as the Malakand Field Force, whose task was to suppress an uprising among the fierce Pathan tribesmen on the frontier. They had to fight their way in gorge type valleys, amidst high rock faces and stone walled passages, and narrow pathways, leading to high peaked rugged mountains. They moved serendipitously amidst small villages made up of clusters of mud bricked houses, overlooking the broad arid mountain plateaus, and upland plains. Here Winston Churchill was allowed to attach himself to a mixed brigade of cavalry and infantry which had been given orders to march through the Mamund Valley and clear the field from insurgents. Naturally the snaking column of soldiers started forth in warlike formation preceded by a squadron of Bengal Lancers, and was then broken up into smaller and more agile field force sections.

 

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On the very first day of their march through the valley before the day was out, and just before dusk settled — Winston’s split group of cavalry and foot soldiers — came into contact with a band of fierce Pathan savages. Hostilities commenced immediately upon contact, and the Adjutant field officer of his regiment was wounded, a few yards from Winston, who saw up-close, the fierce Pathan tribesman who rushed the stricken officer laying prostate on the ground, and decapitated him with a slash of his sword. Then the savage Pathan, picked up a stone and hurled it full force at Winston while waited for his reaction, brandishing his sword. Churchill pulled out his trusted sidearm, a heavy duty Colt revolver, and fired several shots at him. As the Pathan fell, it was then that Winston realized that he was all alone and fully surrounded by the enemy… He immediately ran as fast as he could, and took cover behind a knoll where he found a handful of his own
soldiers taking cover laying in waiting for the enemy to rush them. From then on, the fighting continued and lasted several more hours. In the midst of the heat of the battle — Winston with the assistance of his men, bravely risked the field, and salvaged the wounded, by carrying two wounded officers, and six wounded Sikh warriors back to safety behind the knoll, where his small band had barricaded themselves.

For the next fortnight, this part of the Malakand Field Force carried out a punitive expedition through the valley which provided Winston with more face to face fighting and more stories for his writing of the newsprint articles. When the operation finally came to an end Sir Bindon Blood stated in dispatches that the officer commanding the forces had “praised the courage and resolution of Lieutenant W. L S. Churchill, 4th
Hussars, the correspondent of the Pioneer newspaper, who had made himself useful at a critical moment.”

After this thrilling adventure Winston had no wish to return to the routine life of sedate South India in Bangalore. Meanwhile, his mother had been busy on his behalf in London and had landed him a job as correspondent to the Daily Telegraph.

He tried energetically to secure a permanent appointment to the Malakand Field Force, but suddenly operations came to an end and the command was disbanded. This was disappointing but at the same time news came that another force was being organized to carry out a punitive expedition in Tirah, another trouble spot on the Northwest Frontier. Winston began to pull strings, but by this time influential generals and colonels had
formed a strong prejudice against the bumptious young officer. He could not resist offering them advice and lecturing them on strategy and he even had the effrontery to criticize them in his articles. Who did the young whippersnapper think he was, anyway? They would show him, and as a result Winston found his path firmly blocked. Sorrowfully he was forced to return to the uneventful life of Bangalore where his brother officers made it plain that they thought it high time he attended to his primary regimental duties, to his polo ponies, and to his “Sloane pony” the pretty Pamela Plowden, who was certainly not waiting for him… yet for the right amount of effort — she would be happy to place him in rotation amongst her other regular lovers and aspiring gentlemen slaying themselves at the feet…

 

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If this sounds too much like his Mother Jennie, it truly is, and the old saw that says that boys seek to marry someone like their Mother — truly holds fast & true here. So Winston tried to marry this filly, only to earn a well deserved heartbreak, and to learn the lesson that he should stay as far away from women like his Mother, as humanly possible. He certainly should not attempt to marry them, but perhaps focus on having his dose of romantic fun, but no other entanglements. Sadly this lesson did not arrive for Winston in time, and perhaps he missed the Memorandum that must have gone out about it, but at any rate, he fell for Pamela, and he fell hard, because he had fallen in love at first sight with her when he was visiting the “British Resident” in Hyderabad in November of 1896. He wrote to his mother: “She is the most beautiful girl I have ever seen.” Pamela, a few months his senior, was the daughter of Sir Trevor Chichele-Plowden, at that time the Resident in Hyderabad. She was the first significant love of Churchill’s life, and his mother, Lady Randolph Churchill, wrote to him before his return from South Africa: “Pamela is devoted to you and if yr love has grown as hers – I have no doubt it is only a question of time for you 2 marry.”

Story goes, that after Winston Churchill had proposed to Pamela Plowden, who was already recognized as a society beauty, when he was in an interlude between his early battles in the Northwest frontier, and had returned to Bangalore, she accepted. And the two were secretly and informally engaged. from then on, they wallowed in romantic bliss, and plenty of steamy erotic sex, in the hours of sweet love for Bangalore, those cool evenings after 11pm, or early in the morning, before sun rise. Yet he was sold down the river, for just two years later she married Victor, Earl of Lytton, the son of the Viceroy of India. … Poor Winston was uncontrollably sad and the “black dog” of depression started circling him. He had been able to remember that he said to Pamela: “Marry me – and I will conquer the world and lay it at your feet” but didn’t remember her saying that she will stay honest to him…

And indeed as History provides, he was once again betrayed by the Woman he loved most in this World. He said that he loved Pamela, even more than he loved sweet sugar plums, whatever that means… Indeed, Winston Churchill suffered serious heartbreak when his hopes of marrying the first great love of his life were dashed by her lack of fidelity, and his lack of money and fame, because Churchill was smitten by the GD Pamela, and he would always hold her blameless. Yet his story is not unique because Gold-diggers abound, and tend to be some of the most beautiful wretches.

 

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But he would never blame her for anything, and that shows how free of malice Winston Churchill was, because as a letter he wrote in 1899 proves, he was acutely aware that his own financial situation was an unsurmountable obstacle to marriage, and nothing that Pamela said or did could be considered her fault.

The fault must have surely been with his star, and the fact that he was a poor relation to the other wealthy members of the ducal Marlborough clan…

Writing from Calcutta in March of that year, he began thus: “My dear Pamela, I have lived all my life seeing the most beautiful women London produces … Never have I seen one for whom I would forgo the business of life.”

 

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Indeed this time around Winston was so much head over heels in Love that he thought he found an Angel in human form, who could really take care of him.

So he continued his letter saying: “Then I met you” … “Were I, a dreamer of dreams, I would say: ‘Marry me – and I will conquer the world and lay it at your feet.’ Yet for marriage two conditions are necessary – money and the consent of both parties. One certainly, both probably, are absent. And this is all, such an old story.”

In the March 1899 letter, Churchill contemplates a future without Pamela: “I look to the consolations of life. I enjoy health, brains, youth and the future … God has taken pleasure in inventing an imperfect world. What a God…”

 

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It is remarkable how easily he forgave and perhaps forgot, but surely he was free of any lingering malice and resentment, because in 1902 Churchill was graciously & honestly congratulating Victor Earl of Lytton, on his engagement to Pamela Plowden, in another letter, writing: “I am wishing You, all the happiness & good fortune which wit & beauty deserve, when they combine to share the inheritance of the future, and trusting I would always be counted among your most devoted friends.”

Six years later, Churchill sends another letter marked ‘Secret till Saturday’ where he announced: “I am going to marry Clementine… you must always be our best friend.”

Now he had learned the lesson and found a woman that was the exact opposite of his mother Jennie, who was always the prettiest and well decorated filly in the stables, but with the mores of a gnat, and the distinction of being a great Spirit, and the Best of Courtesans, and Socialites, in this amazingly stratified society… as seen with her son Winston in this staged photo bellow.

 

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But back in his suddenly darkened Bangalore days, in the midst of depression and romantic rejection of his requited, unrequited, and yet again requited, Love — Winston did not abandon his efforts to fight more battles, and thus earn the important distinction that ever elusive decoration of a Victoria Cross, given out only for bravery in battle. So he still cast wistful eyes towards Tirah, and with his mother’s help in London he exerted all the pressure he could to advance his aims.

He wrote letters, sent telegrams, inveigled, and implored. Finally a letter arrived from an old friend, Colonel Ian Hamilton, informing him that a certain Captain Haldane was A.D.C. to Sir William Lockhart, the Commander-in-Chief of the expedition, and advising him that if he could impress himself sufficiently on Haldane, the latter had sufficient influence to get him an appointment on the General’s staff. Once again Winston obtained leave from his Colonel and once again he travelled across India. He was received by Captain Haldane who listened to his story and said he would have to discuss the matter with his chief. Ten minutes later he reappeared and to Winston’s great joy, announced that he could give him an appointment as an extra orderly officer on the Commander’s staff.

This was such a stroke of good fortune that Winston strained every nerve to continue his good behaviour. For once he was neither bumptious nor cheeky. “I behaved and was treated,’ he wrote, ‘as befitted my youthful station. I sat silent at meals or only rarely asked a tactful question.”

Captain Haldane obviously had no idea, what an effort this was for Lieutenant Churchill, because many years later, when he was an old, distinguished, and retired as a general — he wrote in his memoirs that: “Although Churchill was widely regarded in the Army as super-precocious, indeed by some as insufferably bumptious, neither of these epithets was applicable. On the contrary, my distinct recollection of him at this time was that he was modest and paid attention to what was said, not attempting to monopolize the conversation or thrust his opinions and clear cut opinions they were on many subjects on his listeners. He enjoyed giving vent to his views on matters military and otherwise, but there was nothing that could be called aggressive or self assertive which could have aroused antagonism among the most sensitive of those with whom he was talking.”

Either the general remembered a different Churchill, or it was all a giant character edifice, carefully constructed by Winston Churchill, that proved that the young Lieutenant Churchill fully knew how to conduct himself, and was able to harness his nature rather well — that is, if he were to put his mind to it, or when his personal interests were at stake. However, his well-laid plans, his blameless behavior, and his justifiable hopes for a VC, were to come to nothing. Because quite suddenly, Peace broke out, and the expedition was abandoned. Once more Churchill had to return forlorn back home to Bangalore, in the tropical Indian South…

While Winston was in Bangalore trying to attach himself to the Tirah expedition, he was not idle. His dispatches on the fighting at the frontier had been colourful and amusing and he suddenly decided to write a book entitled “The Malakand Field Force.” He worked furiously and at the end of two months had produced a lively and detailed account of the campaign.

The book soon found a publisher and when it came out a few months later the critics were friendly and the public enthusiastic. The Prime Minister, Lord Salisbury, read it, and the Prince of Wales (Winston’s earthly father) did too, and then he also wrote to the young author a heartfelt letter of congratulation. Everyone was delighted except the Army. The generals noticed with annoyance and anger that 2nd Lieutenant Winston Churchill had been very free with his authorial expression, with his pen, and with his censure of military matters best left to the Generals — or so they seem to think…

 

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And their anger was of course misplaced because Winston’s criticism was valid, since he criticized the “short service” system of recruitment; the fact that soldiers were not equipped with enough food, sausages, and/or chocolate, on their marches; the fact that retreating and retiring companies were not covered by continuous fire; the fact that civil officers were encouraged to collect military information from the enemy, and so much more that was rightfully to be blamed for many deaths and injuries amongst the regular soldiers and their commanders. And then Winston ended undaunted: “There will not be wanting those who will remind me that in this matter my opinion finds no support in age or experience. To such I shall reply that if what is written is false or foolish, neither age nor experience should fortify it; and if it is true, it needs no such support.” [A Soldier’s Saga: General Sir Aylmer Haldane]

Winston was so encouraged by the success of his book, that he promptly sat down to write another. This time he decided to try his hand at a novel. While his brother officers were taking siestas on the hot Indian afternoons, he worked. His theme was a revolt in Ruritania with a hero who overthrew the Government and was then threatened with a socialist revolution. The climax centred in an iron-clad fleet firing on the capital to quell
the murderous radicals. The story was called Savrola aud although it was not hailed as a masterpiece it was serialized in Macmillan’s Magazine and earned the author 700 quid. Winston was quick to see its literary defects and decided never again to attempt fiction. “I have consistently urged my friends to abstain from reading it” he wrote in later years.

Winston felt in his bones that he was meant for the battlefield. But he was not content to lead a minor campaign. He wanted a career along the lines of the Duke of Marlborough, John Churchill, or Napoleon Bonaparte, the Corsican corporal that upended Europe and became the best Emperor of France, but in 1898 people were saying emphatically that the major wars, with their vast army movements, and the heroic battles, were truly and certainly a thing of the past.

Thus reluctantly Winston came to the conclusion, that if Fame was to be his Quarry, he must change his course. The more he studied his family father’s life Randolph Churchill’s fast and furious exploits — the more it stirred him. The House of Commons offered excitement, and the prizes were great. Besides, there was no bar to youth and he was in a hurry, since Lord Randolph had reached the Cabinet at the age of thirty-six, and perhaps he hoped that he could do the same.

Therefore, Winston made up his mind to enter Parliament as soon as possible, and to leave all other less important things for a time when the Blue Moon would shine upon him, because for now he had to trust his Star holding up firmly and shinning down on him, in order to mark his path, towards a useful, and perhaps a great, and famous Life.

 

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He exerted a huge and focused effort, because at this time, he knew that he would be unable to return home and win an election in order to secure even a minor and marginal parliamentary seat amongst the conservatives, without sufficient amounts of money and a great reputation — of which he had neither — and he wasn’t going to get easily unless there was a blue moon…

Yet he was confident that he could maybe win both, by the masterful use of his pen, and his sturdy silver inkwell, that travelled everywhere with him.

As for the “Art of Battle” and his first love, “Soldiering,” Winston felt that it hadn’t served him well.

Indeed he was now thinking about being a professional Author, because belatedly it had dawned on him, that if Britain’s distant battles, and small regional wars, would provide him with the field to exhibit bravery and therefore earn distinction — and would in turn give him exciting material to write about, and thus catch the public eye, he could win it all.

Because only then, the road that his Star promised, would be fully revealed and opened to him, so that he would be able to gallop along at full speed… to meet his Destiny.

 

 

To be continued:


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