Roy Exum: Twenty From Winston

Wednesday, December 6, 2017 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

Up until recently, the only thing I knew about arthritis was that I couldn’t spell it off the top of my head. I suddenly am far, far more versed about what it can do to worn-out knees and, if you see me walking funny, not even my particular sense of humor thinks it’s funny. I beg you – have nothing to do with it; it does not fight fair. I have another disease I picked up a long time ago (osteomyelitis) that prohibits me from an artificial joint and we are trying injections in my knees in hopes everybody in my boney aged legs will be friends again.

If this type of high-test doesn’t work the next option – I swear this is true – is a series of joint injections that includes quite these special juices that are derived from that wiggly thing on top of a rooster’s head. While I wonder how the druggists actually harvest those wigglers and who on earth would squeeze a “comb” like an orange, I’m ready to play tomorrow. Wake Forest sports medicine say “viscosupplementation” really works but the experts must study my infection risks much deeper before I’ll become part of a rooster.

Where your luck begins today is that I am limping around so badly my creative juices are muted by pain medicine, which causes me to reach into my bag of “spares.” I picked one I think you’ll really like. One of my heroes in the back-half of my life is Sir Winston Churchill, the marvelous but also peculiar man who held Britain together during World War II, among other things. Sir Winston and I have depression in common and my greatest blessing is today they have such marvelous medicines I never give it a second thought.

If I don’t take my marvelous medicines it morphs into “the black dog” that Churchill and many millions of others curse as it comes slinking around. I mention it only in the hope you will use me as an example of how happy you can be if you’ll only seek help. Mental illness is a disease. Doctors can treat it skillfully and give any one among us who suffers a better life.

Back to Winston Churchill. Some months ago I came across a collection of his 20 best quotes. At the time I put them aside, eager for the opportunity to share his wisdom and so here we are. These were hand-picked by a writer and researcher named H.E. “Hattie” James of Boise, Idaho.

* * *


One of his most well-known exchanges, supposedly with a woman named Bessie Braddock, went as follows:

Braddock: “Sir, you are drunk.”

Churchill: “And you, Bessie, are ugly. But I shall be sober in the morning, and you will still be ugly.”

* * *

* -- “To build may have to be the slow and laborious task of years. To destroy can be the thoughtless act of a single day.”

* -- “To improve is to change, so to be perfect is to change often.”

* -- “The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see.”

* -- “Never hold discussions with the monkey when the organ grinder is in the room.”

* -- “Personally I’m always ready to learn, although I do not always like being taught.”

* -- “Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.”

* -- “History will be kind to me for I intend to write it.”

* -- “Attitude is a little thing that makes a BIG difference.”

* -- “You have enemies? Good. It means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.”

* -- “Politics is the ability to foretell what is going to happen tomorrow, next week, next month and next year. And to have the ability afterward to explain why it didn’t happen.”

* -- “Those who can win a war well can rarely make a good peace, and those who could make a good peace would never have won the war.”

* -- “What is adequacy? Adequacy is no standard at all.”

* -- “There is only one duty, only one safe course, and that is to try to be right and not to fear to do or say what you believe to be right.”

* -- “In the course of my life I have often had to eat my words, and I must confess that I have always found it a wholesome diet.”

* -- “The greatest lesson in life is to know that even fools are right sometimes.”

* -- “If we open a quarrel between the past and the present we shall find that we have lost the future.”

* -- “It’s not enough that we do our best; sometimes we have to do what’s required.”

* -- “Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak, it’s also what it takes to sit down and listen.”

* -- “Continuous effort — not strength or intelligence — is the key to unlocking our potential.”

* -- “If you have an important point to make, don’t try to be subtle or clever. Use a pile driver. Hit the point once. Then come back and hit it again. Then hit it a third time — a tremendous whack.”

* * *

Forgive me. I should have included two more marked similarities that Sir Winston and I delightfully enjoy: cigars and Scotch.

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