Winston calls it, as ever, like it is


I love this. If it’s familiar to you already, it’s worth re-reading. If it’s new (as it was to me) read on.

I’ve just completed Mary Lovell’s book on the extended Churchill family (The Churchills, published by Norton). She recounts a story about Winston Churchill’s use of language, which goes like this. He was asked to read the draft speech of an American general.  In Churchill’s opinion, there were too many passives and too many zeds (as in organize – I won’t get into that debate here, for which those who know me will be thankful).

Churchill went on to explain: ‘What if, instead of “We shall fight them on the beaches” I had said “Hostilities will be engaged with our adversary on the coastal perimeter”?’

Isn’t that brilliant! And I’ve worked with many clients, and a few colleagues, who have used that second, longer version (albeit talking about new software or services, rather than Dunkirk). Let’s adopt the Churchillian stance at all costs!

About alansmithoz

Head of Strategic Business Communications at Australian social analytics technology company Digivizer, with a background in corporate public relations and marketing. I do what I do because I believe communications can make a difference.
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2 Responses to Winston calls it, as ever, like it is

  1. AllanB says:

    But surely Winston would have considered “like” to be an adjective, not a conjunction and so would have written “as it is,” Aaron Neville to the contrary.

    • alansmithoz says:

      Mm, good point. I guess that’s why we have a play called “As You Like It”, rather than, er, “Like You Like It” (how very now that would have been!). At the risk of stretching the metaphor beyond its limit, to update or not update my heading, that is the question…

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