April's meeting at La Toque Blanche, Les Rosiers sur Loire, was enlivened by a talk by Allen Packwood on Churchill. Allen, who is Director of the Churchill Archive Centre at Cambridge and a Fellow of Churchill College, was accompanied at the meeting by his wife and two young daughters.
The meeting followed the branch's customary format, starting with aperitifs, followed by the talk and a question session, and concluded by dinner and general conversation. Allen was a little concerned that the after dinner speech had been moved to a spot before the dinner, but later agreed that it made for a more relaxed meal. He may have worried that if his talk was not well received then dinner might have been strained, but need not have worried, the talk was given with the enthusiasm and vitality that can only be done by someone who is both fully conversant and passionate about his subject.
Allen addressed many of the different aspects of Churchill's life and works, from childhood to his latter days. He gave particular emphasis to Churchill's relationship to France and the French people, starting with his school days and progressing to his often difficult relationship with General de Gaulle. The talk was illustrated by a slide show showing documents and pictures from the Archives at Cambridge.
The talk concluded with a question and answer session which was handled with the same enthusiasm with which the talk was given. The only question which seemed to surprise him slightly was asked by one of his daughters. Whether this was surprise at the quality of the question or the fact that she had been paying attention, was not revealed. Finally, Bev Coleman, with the aid of a borrowed pair of glasses, thanked our guest for a most enjoyable and informative talk.
On completion of these formalities we all proceeded to the restaurant where we enjoyed a pleasant meal and interesting conversation until the end of the evening.