Sunday, September 19, 2010


Recently I have written separate pieces about New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd and Sir Winston Churchill, which I suspect lead me to a dream last evening.

Both are legendary prolific writers who have a magnificent command of the English language with a writing style that appeals to a multitude of readers, however during distinctly different times in history. Both authors have at times exposed their ability to sting with their words, and maybe that is why they came into my dreams.

Can you imagine Maureen Dowd and Sir Winston Churchill being dinner companions? In my dream they were dining during one of Sir Winston’s frequent travels to the Colonies. Maureen leaned over to Winston and said “If I were married to you, I’d put poison in your coffee.” Winston replied, “If I were married to you, I’d drink it.”

At that point I woke up with a start, and sleep was completed for the night. That exchange did occur, but not between Dowd and Churchill. It is reported to have occurred between Lady Astor and Winston.

Checking into this quotation I have learned for the record that the attribution is further questionable. (1920 – Churchill biographer Sir Martin Gilbert said this exchange was more likely to have occurred between Lady Astor and Churchill’s good friend F.E. Smith, Lord Birkenhead, a notorious acerbic wit. But both Consuelo Vanderbilt (The Glitter and Gold) and Christopher Sykes (Nancy: The Life of Lady Astor) say the riposte was by Churchill. The argument was rendered moot when Fred Shapiro, in the Yale Book of Quotations, tracked the origins of the phrase to a joke line from a 1900 edition of the Chicago Tribune.

Whatever, I thought I would share my dream and that wonderful exchange no matter who actually said what to whom.


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