In the final volume of The Last Lion William Manchester1 related this anecdote when describing Winston Churchill’s wont to take breaks on his own terms.

Once years before, recalled Inspector Thompson, during a train journey in North Africa, Churchill (then a cabinet member) decided he wanted a bath. He ordered the train stopped. Then he ordered a tub he had spotted in the baggage car removed and set out in the sands. It was filled to brimming with hot water siphoned from the locomotive’s boiler. And there, as the train let off steam, Churchill “bathed with half of Africa agape.”2

I have a new goal in life: be so good3 they’ll let me take a bath in the desert. The presence of a train is optional.

  1. After suffering a pair of strokes, William Manchester lost the ability to write. The brain being a mystery, he retained his faculties generally, although in poor health overall. Paul Reid had become a friend in the late nineties, and in late 2003, Manchester asked him to write the third volume; he would edit. Their collaboration would not last long, however, because Manchester died June 1, 2004 at the age of 82. He had completed his research and wrote the first 100 pages, but Reid labored a further 8 years completing the final volume. That work notwithstanding, I will refer generally to Manchester as author. ↩︎

  2. Manchester, William, and Paul Reid. The Last Lion Winston Spencer Churchill, Defender of the Realm 1940-1965. New York, NY: Little, Brown & Co, 2012. Kindle link ↩︎

  3. One of my favorite career-type books is Cal Newport’s So Good They Can’t Ignore You, so I’m playing off that. ↩︎