Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Magpie 39


This week’s Magpie prompt hit me with a sudden memory of what is probably the most famous “chicken” speech ever made.
Picture this: it was December 26th, 1941, just a couple of weeks after Pearl Harbor. These were the darkest moments of World War II.

It was on this date that Prime Minister Winston Churchill made an address to the American Congress. He certainly felt he had a right to be there; he was part American. His mother had been Jennie Jerome, born and brought up in Brooklyn, N Y.

Churchill: “I wish indeed that my mother, whose memory I cherish, could have been here to see. By the way, I cannot help reflecting that if my father had been American and my mother British instead of the other way around, I might have got here on my own. In that case this would not have been the first time you would have heard my voice.
“The United States have been attacked and set upon by three most powerfully armed dictator states, the greatest military power in Europe, the greatest military power in Asia-Japan, Germany and Italy have all declared and are making war upon you, and the quarrel is opened which can only end in their overthrow or yours.”

Just a couple of days later, in Ottawa, Churchill made his famous “chicken” speech. He said the military leaders of France were misled by their generals at the time of the French collapse, adding that when he warned them that Britain would fight on alone, their generals told their Prime Minister, "In three weeks England will have her neck wrung like a chicken.”
You can catch the speech on YouTube. Churchill’s mastery of the art of public speaking, how and where to pause and how to deliver a punch line, was very much in evidence.
After he quoted “England will have her neck wrung like a chicken,” he paused dramatically.
“Some chicken!” he shouted. The audience burst into applause.
Churchill waited carefully till all sound had died down. “Some NECK!” he thundered.
That brought the house down with cheers and a standing ovation.

33 comments:

Kristen Haskell said...

Berowne,
I love all that I learn from your site. Thank you.

Kay L. Davies said...

He certainly was a great speaker, and you're right, his sense of timing was perfect.
Very interesting that today's prompt should have made you think of his chicken speech. It's been a long time since I've read or heard any mention of it. Thank you.
-- Kay

Kay, Alberta, Canada
An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

R. Burnett Baker said...

I just watched a clip of that speech. If only the leaders of today could or WOULD speak with such directness and honesty! Politicians of today seem to be all chicken and NO neck.

Rick

sabrina said...

Awesome - best chicken story ever! I simply adore Churchill. Thank you!

Angie Muresan said...

I admire anyone who can hold a crowd as I am horrible at public speaking. I tend to over-explain myself or try to be funny. It's a disaster.

Strummed Words said...

Hadn't heard about the chicken speech! Great quotes!
Here's my Cock of the Walk

ninotaziz said...

Dear Sir Berowne,

This is my favourite post of yours. And the best chicken story today for sure!

Shari Sunday said...

Well, I learned a lot from your post. Thank you. Very interesting!

sukipoet said...

well, thanks for this. never heard of it before.

willow said...

Some neck. I love it. What? No Willie the Shake this week?

Berowne said...

ninotaziz: "Dear Sir Berowne,this is my favourite post of yours."
Thanks, nino, but the actual knighthood papers haven't come through yet. :-)

Berowne said...

Kristen H: "I love all that I learn from your site."
What a nice comment -- thanks.

Berowne said...

sabrina: "Awesome - best chicken story ever!"
Does it even beat that one about crossing the road? :-)

Cezar and Léia said...

Bonjour Berowne,
First of all thanks for your kind comment and visit in my kitty blog LUNA ( We love Luna ), she is purring here very happy by my side!
I need to say congratulations because you have a wonderful blog here, full of interesting "subjects and ideas", you have a huge talent to write, very interesting posts!
I also love you "P"Paris post, different and I'm always learning with blog friends, it's wonderful!
Merci beaucoup,
hugs
Léia - Bonjour Luxembourg

Gabriela Abalo said...

very interesting

A great take on the theme :)

Rene/ Not The Rockefellers said...

I'm always so fascinated by your maggies...they're just stuffed with such spicy, savory info :)

Berowne said...

willow: "Some neck. I love it. What? No Willie the Shake this week?"
No, I thought Winnie the Churchill would do just as well. :-)

Berowne said...

Cezar et Leia: >>congratulations because you have a wonderful blog here, full of interesting "subjects and ideas"<<
Merci, C et L, et bonjour a Luna. :-)

Berowne said...

Rene: "your maggies...they're just stuffed with such spicy, savory info."
Thanks; that's why they have become known as "tacos of the internet." :-)

Tumblewords: said...

Some things we remember forever and only need an image to bring it to the front. Nicely done!

dana said...

Churchill not only didn't need writers,(like the politicians of today) he would have felt disdain if someone else tried to put words in his mouth.

Paul C said...

Some chicken,..some neck... You described this story perfectly, almost as good as Churchill himself.

Doctor FTSE said...

Some speech! Sure. But Britain would have had her neck wrung as quickly as France and the Low Countries, had Hitler not reneged on his pact with Russia and tried to do what Napoleon failed to do. Operation Barbarossa was surely the beginning of the end for Germany.

Berowne said...

Doc FTSE: "Britain would have had her neck wrung as quickly as France and the Low Countries, had Hitler not reneged on his pact with Russia."
Not sure I agree. Britain had something France and the Low Countries didn't: the English Channel, which has been described as "the greatest tank barrier ever constructed."

Lyn said...

An amazing recall, on your part! The right words, with the most gifted speaker of the time, lining up punch lines!!

Joan Tucker said...

thanks or that tidbit

Claudia said...

wow! thank you so much for the history lesson
churchill was a talented speaker - and you're a talented writer - great magpie!!

OJ Gonzalez-Cazares said...

Nice history lesson, I wish you were my teacher back in the day. "Some Magpie!!...Some WRITER!!"
=0)

chiccoreal said...

"tordu le cou comme un poulet" or "étouffer votre poulet" probably translated to the later more insulting verse (ps dont say the later anywhere at all...c'est ne pas beau!)
Why I never heard before I moved up north! What with the way chickens can get so insulting? I just don't get it! (maybe I am being to understand now, however..."This is our finest hour" of chicken-ese understanding!

Berowne said...

Tumblewords: "Nicely done!"
Claudia: "Great magpie!!"
OJ Gonzalez: "Some Magpie!!...Some WRITER!!"
A few much-appreciated comments -- thanks!

Carrie Burtt said...

Berowne...always love your Shakespeare take on things, but you are fabulous with Churchill as well....you are a writer and a teacher all rolled into one...this is brilliant! :-)

kathew said...

Bravo Winston! Great post! Cheers from sunny Mexico where we are for a few weeks.

Margaret Bednar said...

LOL! I don't know much about Churchill, but this was great. I will have to run to the library and do some reading. That chicken does have a bit of the Churchill eye, I do believe! Enjoyed your Hamlet post, one of my son's favorite Shakespeare plays.

 
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