Country mouse remembers Churchill

The bulldog and the poodle.

This week is the 50th anniversary of Sir Winston Churchill’s funeral. Last week, his death was commemorated in the cellars of The Stafford London hotel in St James’s, SW1, a place he may have liked because of its American connections. It was an appropriate venue to talk about a man whose capacity for fine wine, brandy and Champagne is legendary and his great-grandson, Randolph Churchill, praised his ancestor in the room where they bottled fine clarets and Ports from the barrel until the 1960s. Churchill enjoyed other sumptuous watering holes in this part of London, but he favoured the RAC on Pall Mall for its Turkish baths.

Bathing aside, I have been particularly gratified to discover what a soft spot the man with the bulldog spirit had for his two poodles. The first was called Rufus and, when he was run over by a car, his replacement was named Rufus II. He accompanied Churchill to Buckingham Palace and had dinner in the same room with him. Juno, a miniature poodle—black, rather than the reddish brown of Rufus II—has recently joined our family. She doesn’t display the killer characteristics of our Jack Russell, but Juno is incredibly loyal and affectionate. I can understand the great man’s devotion, but concede that ‘poodle spirit’ doesn’t have quite the same intransigent ring.