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John H. Mather (Bowie, MD USA)

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Churchill's Secret [DVD]
Churchill's Secret [DVD]
Dvd ~ Michael Gambon
Price: £10.99

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Medicall: a Joke, 5 April 2016
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This review is from: Churchill's Secret [DVD] (DVD)
Finally, after wading through this dramatization, adapted from the book "The Churchill Secret KBO" by Jonathan Smith, I am no less appalled by this production although somewhat entertained. Like economists, on the one hand I had a good chuckle but on the other hand I was disgusted with the perversion of history. As Lady Soames has said of her father, and an adage of The Churchill Centre, we should "keep the memory green", hardly achieved here except for TV sensationalism, and "the record accurate" of her father. Certainly the latter is far from it, if really ever achieved in this glitzy production. To be fair it is based on some supposed historical "givens" but it is a far cry from the likes of the novelist, Lord Michael Dobbs, and his charming 4 books of fiction involving Churchill, who with rare exceptions, is faithful to the historical record.
So what is one to think of all of the gaffs in this production and why is it important to puncture the myths it espouses? First of all while the "stroke" Churchill suffered in 1953 was kept a well organized secret, it has hardly been a secret ever since 1966 when his physician, Lord Moran published his "Diary" of the 25 years when he was Churchill's primary physician. Immediately there is a glaring error as there is no mention of Lord Brain at all. He had been Churchill's neurologist since 1949 when Churchill had had his first "stoke" in the South of France. He had also seen him in the interim for episodes of Transient Ischemic Attacks (TIAs) or brief interruptions of the blood circulation to the brain.
These transient episodes were not known at that time. In June 1953 with his second "real' stroke (the first stroke in 1949 was also brushed aside) the cover up was not primarily a creature of his physicians (Lords Brain and Moran) but rather his political entourage, including Lord Salisbury, Rab Butler and Christopher Soames his son in law. They amended and downplayed the substance of the Medical Bulletin originally prepared by Brain and Moran, eliminating any allusion to an impairment due to a reduced circulation of blood to his brain. Then the media was corralled, Churchill's "cronies" as Clemmie called them, Lords Beaverbrook. Bracken and Camrose, to maintain his political colleagues 'fiction'. This production covers this well but again does not adequately expose the collusion of so many political "operatives" in this 'song and dance show'. Anthony Montague Brown had become Churchill's permanent Private Secretary in 1952 and where was his detective, Sergeant Ed Murray, who performed a vital service in keeping the suspicious reporters at bay outside Chartwell's front gates.
There are many scenes in this production that are very disturbing and space here does not permit a full exposure of all of its "errors". For instance, the role played by Anthony Eden, who was actually medically indisposed himself, as he never did go to Chartwell at this critical time when Churchill was thought to be at death's door, according to his widow, Lady Avon. The perseveration of Winston and Clemmie on the premature loss of their daughter Marigold to septicemia or was it actually diphtheria. The squabbles amongst his children are wildly overplayed, when there is evidence that the expressions of their anxieties were much more muted.
The portrayal in the film of the 1953 stroke (including the dragging of Churchill’s left foot as he is carted into Chartwell) far exceeds the severity supported by the medical files of Lords Brain and Moran. The medical record shows that Churchill had a steady and relatively quick recovery and was never in a prolonged state of a left hemiparesis (loss of power and sensation of the left arm and leg.) Certainly he never suffered total paralysis as implied by this production. And the notion that Churchill’s brain was so befuddled that he then did a lot of humming of nursery rhymes during his convalescence is completely contradicted by the medical evidence recorded by both his physicians.
Perhaps the most objectionable feature of this dramatization is the creation, out of nowhere, a nurse, Ms. Appleyard who is from St. Mary's hospital (Lord Moran had been Dean of the medical school there until 1935) although it is not evident how she was chosen. Her performance is high drama and yet we know that it was a team of nurses who were brought in to take care of Churchill's basic medical needs and activities of daily living. Maybe it was necessary for a compelling story but unfortunately this re-writing of history is very unhelpful. One nurse as the archetype of all the platoons of nurses who were brought in forgets that Churchill had had other nurses before then when he had had and then recovered from his first stroke. Soon after this 1953 episode, Ivan Shepherd and his wife Elizabeth, and then the indefatigable Roy Howell, joined the nursing staff in ongoing care for Churchill.
Eventually Churchill is shown to have recovered from this stoke by his indomitable will (hence the KBO) and sheer determination, so that four months later at the Conservative Party's Annual Conference in Margate he is able to give a towering performance with smiles all around. Fine, but Lord Moran had previously tested him with a dose of amphetamines to see if it had any adverse effects. It did not. So, Churchill was buoyed by another administration on the day of his speech, commenting to Moran, "It was a great success. It cleared my head and gave me great confidence".
So what might we conclude? Watch the DVD tape and enjoy it as entertainment, and maybe have some fun finding other gaffs, but do not get overly wrought up about its inadequacies. It is media hype, maybe not at its worst, but close.

HRH The Duke of Kent: A Life of Service
HRH The Duke of Kent: A Life of Service
Price: £9.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Duke: indefatiguable, 10 Jan. 2016
This "not run of the mill" biography of a living and very active in so many spheres of a very hard working member of the British Royal Family, the Queen's cousin no less, is a welcome respite from the biographies that so clearly set out to find all of the quirks and shortcomings of those having a high profile with the public at large. The biographical information is sufficient for the task and the ensuing Chapters delineate in equisite detail the various organizations, charities and many other interests of the Duke. I found it difficult to plough through it from the beginning to the end and found myself picking up on which Chapter of his life interested me at a particular time. It is difficult to imagine how all the pieces of the Duke's life fit together with so much going on yet clearly able to represent the monarchy to great effect. Over the years it has been my abiding image of him as the presenter of the trophies to the winners of the Wimbledon tennis tournament. He comes across as genuinely interested in the players and their experience of the tournament which is completely consistent with his support of so many worthy causes and institutions. Certainly he is not at the end of his expected life span and so the last word has not been written about his industrious supporter and, dare one say it, a caring gentleman.

A Daughter's Tale: The Memoir of Winston and Clementine Churchill's youngest child
A Daughter's Tale: The Memoir of Winston and Clementine Churchill's youngest child
by Mary Soames
Edition: Hardcover

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tererrific personaL account, 13 Oct. 2011
This book has been anticipated for a long time from Lady Soames. It is an engrossing and delightful read. I hope she is able to finish the rest of the story of her later years after her marriage to Lord Christopher Soames.

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