Archive for March 25th, 2009
Churchill, “We shall alight then, on the beaches “

Sir Winston ChurchillWas Sir Winston Churchill misquoted, was he in fact referring to visiting the beaches of the Canary Islands? Well he could have been, it’s 50 years since the great leader popped out this way and stopped off at La Palma and Gran Canaria. Yesterday there was a commemoration ceremony in Las Palmas marking his visit to Pio land. So what’s the story morning glory? Pull up a sand bag and I will tell all, careless talk costs nothing these days.

Why on earth he wanted to see Gran Canaria (CD Tenerife weren’t playing there that day) I can’t imagine, so lets look at his stop off in La Palma. Winnie was on the yacht, Christina, named after the wife of its owner, Aristotle Onassis,also on board were dancer Margot Fontein (real name Peggy Hookham) with her hubby Robert Arias, Inspector Edmund Murray of Scotland Yard and his wife Clementine.

The story goes, that the yacht came into port and the Captain, Amaro Carillo Gonzalez Regalado, hired a local taxi driver to take them around, well Winnie was 84 years old by then. The group stayed at a stylish hotel, but taxi driver Nelson Pestano offered some good old fashioned Canarian hospitality, and invited them all to visit him at his house. When they left La Palma, a very grateful Sir Winston, still blessed with a sharp wit, presented the driver with a box of his favourite cigars, inscribed “from Churchill to Nelson”.

The whole story strikes a chord with me being an Oxford born boy, Churchill was born at Blenheim Palace, a few miles away in Woodstock. I remember being dragged around the palace on a school trip, and somewhere at my parents, I still have a Churchill crown (5 shillings) from 1965.