Monday, January 23, 2006

# Posted 7:13 AM by Patrick Belton  

CHURCHILL ON THE VIRTUES OF NAPPING: This from my former student, Jon Silver, a consummate gentleman and my host in Jerusalem. It is transcribed from a conversation Churchill had with the American inventor, Gfoerer, who had made a dictation machine for him to permit his secretaries to go home at night.
Churchill: What is your day in America like (looking Mr Gfroerer straight in the eye)? What time do you get to your office and when do you stop working?

Gfroerer: I'm at my desk every morning at 8 and leave at 530. At noon I have a short break for lunch. We do that five days a week, and sometimes I go around to the office on Saturday mornings to read the mail.

Churchill: My dear man, you don't mean it. That is the most perfect prescription for a short life I've ever heard.

Graebner recalled how Gfroerer, 'a little frightened and somewhat staggered by Churchill's sudden probing into his private life, then confessed that his wife also did not approve of his hours at all, and would certainly be delighted to hear the views of Mr Churchill.' The conversation continued:

Gfroerer: Mrs Gfroerer hates to get up at 645 and have breakfast so early. Then she doesn't see me again until 6 in the evening. We have dinner early, and by 10 I'm so tired that I fall into bed and am asleep in two minutes. I know I've got to slow down. That's what Mrs Gfroerer is always telling me.

Churchill: You must sleep some time between lunch and dinner, and no half-way measures. Take off your clothes and get into bed. That's what I always do. Don't think you will be doing less work because you sleep during the day. That's a foolish notion held by people who have no imagination. You will be able to accomplish more. You get two days in one - well, at least one and a half, I'm sure. When the war started, I had to sleep during the day because that was the only way I could cope with my responsibilities. Later, when I became Prime Minister, my burdens were, of course, even greater. Often I was obliged to work far into the night. I had to see reports take decisions and issue instructions that could not wait until the next day. And at night I'd also dictate minutes requesting information which my staff could assemble for me in the morning - and place before me when I woke up.

Churchill relit his cigar, poured himself a little more brandy, passed the bottle to Gfroerer and continued:

But a man should sleep during the day for another reason. Sleep enables you to be at your best in the evening when you join your wife, family and friends for dinner. That is the time to be at your best - a good dinner, with good wines (champagne is very good), then some brandy - that is the great moment of the day. Man is ruler then - perhaps only for fifteen minutes, but for that time at least he is master - and the ladies must not leave the table too soon.

Gfroerer: I must slow down. My wife has been telling me that for years, but something is always happening at the office. Mrs Gfroerer will agree with everything you've said when I tell her.

Churchill: Do you always get up for breakfast?

Gfroerer: But of course.

Churchill: Your wife too?

Gfroerer: Why, yes.

Churchill: My, my! My wife and I tried two or three times in the last forty years to have breakfast together, but it didn't work. Breakfast should be had in bed, alone. Not downstairs, after one has dressed.

His eyes twinkling, Churchill added: 'I don't think our married life would have been nearly so happy if we both had dressed and come down for breakfast after all these years.'
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