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Thought for the Week – 23.04.18

“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm”

SIR WINSTON CHURCHILL (1874-1965)

Winston Churchill was an inspirational statesman, writer, orator and leader who led Britain to victory in the Second World War. He served as Conservative Prime Minister twice – from 1940 to 1945 (before being defeated in the 1945 general election by the Labour leader Clement Attlee) and from 1951 to 1955.

Winston Churchill was born on 30 November 1874, in Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire and was of rich, aristocratic ancestry. Although achieving poor grades at school, his early fascination with militarism saw him join the Royal Cavalry in 1895. As a soldier and part-time journalist, Churchill travelled widely, including trips to Cuba, Afghanistan, Egypt and South Africa.

Churchill was elected as Conservative MP for Oldham in 1900, before defecting to the Liberal Party in 1904 and spending the next decade climbing the ranks of the Liberal government. He was First Lord of the Admiralty (the civil/political head of the Royal Navy) by the time of the disastrous Gallipoli campaign, which he created. Heavily criticised for this error, he resigned from this position and travelled to the Western Front to fight himself.

The interwar years saw Churchill again ‘cross the floor’ from the Liberals, back to the Conservative Party. He served as Chancellor of the Exchequer from 1924, when he controversially opted for Britain to re-join the Gold Standard. Following the Tory electoral defeat in 1929, Churchill lost his seat and spent much of the next 11 years out of office, mainly writing and making speeches. Although he was alone in his firm opposition to Indian Independence, his warnings against the Appeasement of Nazi Germany were proven correct when the Second World War broke out in 1939.

Following Neville Chamberlain’s resignation in 1940, Churchill was chosen to succeed him as Prime Minister of an all-party coalition government.

Churchill, who also adopted the self-created position of Minister for Defence, was active both in administrative and diplomatic functions in prosecuting the British war effort. Some of his most memorable speeches were given in this period, and are credited with stimulating British morale during periods of great hardship. However, Labour leader Clement Attlee’s unexpected General Election victory in 1945 saw Churchill out of office and once again concentrating on public speaking. In his 1946 speech in the USA, the instinctive pro-American famously declared that “an iron curtain has descended across the Continent”, and warned of the continued danger from a powerful Soviet Russia.

By his re-election in 1951, Churchill was, in the words of Roy Jenkins, “gloriously unfit for office”. Ageing and increasingly unwell, he often conducted business from his bedside, and while his powerful personality and oratory ability endured, the Prime Minister’s leadership was less decisive than during the war. His second term was most notable for the Conservative Party’s acceptance of Labour’s newly created Welfare State, and Churchill’s effect on domestic policy was limited. His later attempts at decreasing the developing Cold War through personal diplomacy failed to produce significant results, and poor health forced him to resign in 1955, making way for his Foreign Secretary and Deputy Prime Minister, Anthony Eden.

Churchill died in 1965, and was honoured with a state funeral.

 

Thought for the Week – 16.04.18

“Opportunity does not knock, it presents itself when you beat down the door”

KYLE CHANDLER (b.1965)

Kyle Martin Chandler (born September 17, 1965) is an American actor, best known for his role as Gary Hobson on Early Edition and as Coach Eric Taylor in the drama series Friday Night Lights, for which he won a Primetime Emmy Award in 2011. He has starred in the films King Kong (2005), The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008), Super 8 (2011), Argo (2012), Zero Dark Thirty (2012), The Wolf of Wall Street (2013), Carol (2015), and Manchester by the Sea (2016). In 2015, he began starring on Netflix’s drama series Bloodline, for which he received his fourth and fifth Primetime Emmy Award nominations.

 

Thought for the Week – 26.03.18

“Gratitude is the sign of noble souls”

AESOP (c.620 – 564 BCE)

Aesop (c. 620 – 564 BCE) was a Greek fabulist and storyteller credited with a number of fables now collectively known as Aesop’s Fables. Although his existence remains unclear and no writings by him survive, numerous tales credited to him were gathered across the centuries and in many languages in a storytelling tradition that continues to this day. Many of the tales are characterised by animals and inanimate objects that speak, solve problems, and generally have human characteristics.

Scattered details of Aesop’s life can be found in ancient sources, including Aristotle, Herodotus, and Plutarch. An ancient literary work called The Aesop Romance tells an episodic, probably highly fictional version of his life, including the traditional description of him as a strikingly ugly slave who by his cleverness acquires freedom and becomes an adviser to kings and city-states. Older spellings of his name have included Esop(e) and Isope. Depictions of Aesop in popular culture over the last 2500 years have included many works of art and his appearance as a character in numerous books, films, plays, and television programmes.