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Lunch with Winston Churchill


London to Paris by Spitfire
John Julius Norwich Writer
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Anyway there my parents were ensconced in the embassy which is the grandest and the most beautiful house in the whole of Paris and certainly the most magnificent embassy of any embassy in the world. I mean, it was owned by Napoleon's sister Pauline. It was bought from her by the Duke of Wellington when he was made ambassador himself just after Waterloo and it was a palace by any standards. And I got there in time for Christmas, my Christmas holidays. Very excited because the war was still on so how did a schoolboy get from London to Paris when the war was still on? I'll tell you how a schoolboy got from London to Paris when the war was still on. His father came over and he went back with a squadron of Spitfires under escort. That was the way things happened. And it was three days and three nights of my father and me sharing a twin bedded room in the Dorchester until the weather was good enough for the RAF to fly us to Paris. Three days before Christmas, you know. And during those three days, we were told never to leave the hotel for more than a couple of hours because at any moment there might be a little window in the cloud or something like that.

John Julius Norwich (1929-2018) was an English popular historian, travel writer and television personality. He was educated at Upper Canada College, Toronto, at Eton, at the University of Strasbourg and on the lower deck of the Royal Navy before taking a degree in French and Russian at New College, Oxford. He then spent twelve years in H.M. Foreign Service, with posts at the Embassies in Belgrade and Beirut and at the Disarmament Conference in Geneva. In 1964 he resigned to become a writer. He is the author of histories of Norman Sicily, the Republic of Venice, the Byzantine Empire and, most recently, 'The Popes: A History'. He also wrote on architecture, music and the history plays of Shakespeare, and presented some thirty historical documentaries on BBC Television.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is an independent documentary producer who has made a number of films about science and scientists for BBC TV, Channel Four, and PBS.

Tags: Paris

Duration: 1 minute, 32 seconds

Date story recorded: 2017

Date story went live: 03 October 2018