Autumn 1950 (Age 76)

“My dearest Pamela…I cherish your signal across the years…”

In October Churchill celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of his election to the House of Commons. That same month, in a felicitous coincidence, the House of Commons returned to its pre-war Chamber in Westminster, which had been destroyed ten years earlier by Nazi bombs and was now rebuilt, at Churchill’s direction, to its identical, albeit cramped, configuration. Churchill remarked: “I am a child of the House of Commons and have been here, I believe, longer than anyone. I was much upset when I was violently thrown out of my collective cradle. I certainly wanted to get back to it as soon as possible….It excites world wonder in the parliamentary countries that we should build a Chamber, starting afresh, which can only seat two thirds of its Members. It is difficult to explain this to those who do not know our ways. They cannot easily be made to understand why we consider that the intensity, passion, intimacy, informality and spontaneity of our Debates constitute the personality of the House of Commons and endow it at once with its focus and its strength.”

In October Pamela Plowden, his first love, now Lady Lytton, wrote to him reminding him that fifty years earlier he had, unsuccessfully, proposed marriage. His gracious reply is still affecting today: “My dearest Pamela…it is not till now that I can tell you how much I cherish yr signal across the years, from the days when I was [not only] a freak always that but much hated & ruled out, but there was one who saw some qualities, & it is to you that I am most deeply grateful. Do let us meet again soon. The Parl. will be sitting in November & perhaps you wd come & Lunch one day. Clemmie will telephone a plan. Fifty years! how stunning! but after all it is better than a hundred. Then there wd not be memory. With my deepest thoughts & love. From Winston.”

For his birthday on 30 November, Churchill addressed the House of Commons on the differences between the aftermaths of the two world wars: “After the First War, when the victors had disarmed the Germans and their allies, no powerful organised army remained upon the scene except the French Army. After this war, the armed might of Russia emerged steadily year by year, almost month by month, as a rock shows more and more above an ebbing tide. The second difference, which arose out of the realization of the first, was that the United States, instead of retiring into isolation, instead of demanding full and prompt repayment of debts and disinteresting herself in Europe…has come forward step by step as the knowledge of the situation has dawned upon her and has made the great counterpoise upon which the freedom and the future of our civilization depends.”

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