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Discovering the Norman culture of Sicily


Dinner parties with the Prime Minister
John Julius Norwich Writer
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I got to know him [Harold Macmillan] really quite well, because he was a great friend of my mother. They'd been together in Algiers in 1944, and she'd always backed him as a future Prime Minister. And she always called him 'my horse', 'He's my horse'. And he was therefore known as The Horse. And he used to come to lunch with her quite often. My mother by this time had left France, having given up all hope of me being posted there, and moved into another house in Little Venice, only about a couple of hundred yards away from my own, around the corner, in Warwick Avenue. And she settled in there, and she used to give a series of dinner parties. And Uncle Harold, again, as he was sometimes called, was a regular and was wonderful company. I mean, he shuffled in, bleary-eyed, you know, and you would think, well, good God, this is going to be terrible, he's past it. And then he'd suddenly sort of wake up and start talking, and he was a wonderful talker, reminiscing about the different oratorical styles of Lloyd George and Winston Churchill. He was very, very, very good company. And so, anyway, that was... I sort of settled down in Blomfield Road to an ordinary life.

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: Harold Macmillan

Duration: 1 minute, 30 seconds

Date story recorded: 2017

Date story went live: 03 October 2018