Winston Churchill Day opens up many topics for today’s blog, from the Second World War, to the insurance company namesake, whose dog spokesperson loves to say “Oh yes!”. In the end I’ve chosen something that I’d never even heard of until recently, but which Winston often used: paraprosdokians.
A paraprosdokian is a figure of speech in which the latter part of the sentence is surprising or unexpected, causing the audience to reinterpret the first part – yes, I pretty much nabbed that description from Wikipedia. Excellent examples come from Groucho Marx (“I’ve had a perfectly wonderful evening, but this wasn’t it”), Aristotle (“On his feet he wore… blisters”), and even Homer Simpson (“If I could just say a few words… I’d be a better public speaker”), and Churchill shared a few beauties in his time too.
I think my favourite of his must be “There but for the grace of God — goes God”. Then there’s the one that supposedly referred to Clement Atlee: “A modest man, who has much to be modest about”. Finally, and most riskily when you consider the large audience that Days of the Year has across the Atlantic, we have this one: “You can always count on the Americans to do the right thing – after they have tried everything else”. (Remember, they’re Churchill’s words, not mine.)
So to finish off, instead of saluting to Churchill on his day, I’d like to raise a brandy glass in one hand whilst holding a cigar in the other, and say the following words:
Years of war left a bitter taste in Churchill’s mouth, a common side effect of sugar rationing.