When the family of Sir Winston Churchill left the family’s country estate, Chartwell, in the care of England’s National Trust organization in 1966, there was an important condition: there must always be a marmalade cat with a white bib and four white socks, and the cat’s name must always be Jock.
Jock V recently retired to the Scottish countryside when his person, a staff member at Chartwell, retired. Jock VI just took up residence.
I’ve been reading a biography of Winston Churchill, The Last Lion, by William Manchester. The man who stood up to Nazi tyranny when the situation seemed hopeless had a very unhappy childhood. His parents, Randolph Churchill and the American Jennie Jerome, were socially and politically prominent–and they had very little time for their son. They wrote him off as a dullard, not even fit for university. Instead he went into the military–a choice that later served him well. As a child of only seven years old, WInston was put on a train all by himself and sent off to an expensive but abusive boarding school where he was miserable. He only escaped two years later, when he had a chance to show his beloved childhood nanny the welts he carried from regular beatings. He rebelled against authority all through his childhood and young adulthood, even as he pursued his own political ambitions.
When Sir Winston had his own family, he wanted to create a happy home life. Jock the marmalade cat was part of that secure, loving home Sir Winston wanted to provide for his own family. I’m hoping to meet Jock VI when I travel to England soon. I’ll salute the man whose own struggles taught him to be both tough and tender.