Historically, mothers have been blamed for their children’s psychological problems, ignoring the major part fathers play in the development of a youth’s self-esteem. Two new releases highlight the impact a father’s interaction with his children can also have on a child’s world view and self-efficacy.
In “Churchill and Son” (Dutton, 2021) Josh Ireland explores the relationship between three generations of Churchills. Winston Churchill’s father, Lord Randolph Churchill, barely gave his son the time of day and took every opportunity to berate him. In notes to his son he predicted he would become a “mere social wastrel,” called him laughable, and asked not to receive any further letters from him. Determined to never treat his own child like this, Churchill took the opposite tact and doted on his son. The younger Churchill dined in the company of his father with powerful leaders of state and was given unparalleled opportunities aimed at begetting a qualified leader. Instead, it produced, according to Ireland, a narcissistic, spoiled drunkard who accomplished little for England and even less for his family. This is a sad and brutally honest look at the Churchill family and at powerful people at their most vulnerable.
Likewise, in Jonathan Lee’s new novel “The Great Mistake” (Knopf, 2021) it is Andrew Haswell Green’s father who sets his course for greatness, not through belief in his son’s capability, but just the opposite. Green was sent to New York City to earn money for the family as an apprentice in a general store in 1835. Living in the store’s abhorrent basement with bed bugs and rats, his driving thought was to be successful enough to just draw an approving glance from his father. He more than made up for his father’s lack of confidence in him, going on to develop Central Park, the New York Public Library, the Natural History Museum, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art as one of the early civic fathers of the city. The book opens as he is shot in front of his home and floats back and forth in the action. An interesting read for fans of New York City’s most famous institutions.
Copious research into Churchill’s insatiable appetite for good food and drink is available on the Internet. One place to find recipes created by his longtime cook, Mrs. Landemere, is on the Churchill Centre’s webpage. Recipes from No. 10 was a longstanding column written by Barbara Langworth in Finest Hour, the institute’s digest. Here are a couple of old-fashioned, but elegant dishes from the column.
Skin and seed one pound of tomatoes by dipping tomatoes into boiling water for about 10 seconds, then drain. Remove the core with a sharp knife and peel off the skin. Cut the tomato in half horizontally and gently remove seeds. Cut each tomato into 8 pieces. Put in a dish with a sprinkle of sugar, salt and pepper.
Dressing: 4 tablespoons oil, 1 tablespoon tarragon vinegar, 1 tablespoon chili vinegar, 1 teaspoon prepared mustard, 2 tablespoons chopped chives and 2 tablespoons snipped tarragon leaves. Put the tomatoes into the dressing and leave to stand for 2 hours before serving. Serve on a bed of lettuce, if desired.
4 hard-boiled eggs, sliced
6 small tomatoes, skinned, seeded & sliced
4 oz. chopped cooked ham
2 small shallots, finely chopped
6 tablespoons curry sauce (see below)
4 oz. cooked rice
Salt and pepper
Butter a one-quart baking dish well. Using half the amounts, place first a layer of tomato, then of eggs sprinkled with shallot, pepper and salt, next a layer of curry sauce and of chopped ham. Repeat these layers and cover the top with boiled rice and knobs of butter. Bake in 350 degree oven for 1/2 – 3/4 hour.
3 medium-sized onions, diced
2 oz. butter
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 clove garlic
Scant 4 tablespoons flour
10 oz. chicken broth
Salt and pepper
Fry onions in melted butter until soft. Add curry powder, garlic, flour and seasoning and fry slowly until it leaves the sides of the pan. Gradually stir in stock and cook for 30 minutes. Strain [use coarse sieve] and use as required. A delicious homemade curry sauce. All recipes can be found at https://winstonchurchill.org/publications/finest-hour.