Saturday, September 26, 2020

Churchill's Funeral and the Cranes


"It is totally plausible that Churchill planned his own funeral; it was, after all, the most gorgeous display of pageantry this side of a coronation. Surely nobody but Churchill could have thought that his body should be taken by barge, like a Tudor sovereign, from a pier near to St. Paul's Cathedral to a pier near to Waterloo Station, where it would be borne by train to the Marlborough burial plot at Blenheim. In the event, however, the most heraldic feature of this departure was none of Churchill's doing. As the barge progressed down the Thames, the dockside cranes all dipped as it passed. The sight of these bowing cranes moved a nation (and me) to tears. For dockers, stevedores, are a nation's most Bolshie workers. In Britain, certainly, none of them ever could have voted for Winston Churchill. Yet they, these proud proletarians, by their own bidding, on a day off, and not on the orders of their employers, lowered their cranes like guardsmen making an arch of their swords over the passing of a monarch."

- Henry Fairlie

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