To his colleagues and inner circle of secretaries, Churchill seemed to be increasingly feeble early in 1954. In February Malcolm Muggeridge published in Punch, which he edited, a cruel cartoon of Churchill and an article about a Byzantine emperor who could not decide whether to retire, or when.1 According to Shuckburgh, Eden’s private secretary, Jane Portal, told him that the Prime Minister was ‘getting senile and failing more and more each day… Life is a misery to him; he half kills himself with work, cannot take in the papers he is given to read, and can hardly get himself up the stairs to bed.’ But she added: ‘Yet he thinks he has a mission on three subjects — Russia, Egypt, and the atomic bomb’.2 On 11 March he told Eden that he might retire in May, when the Queen returned from her Commonwealth tour, or at the end of the session, ‘depending on his health’.3 And next day he told Butler that he felt ‘like an aeroplane at the end of its flight, with the petrol running out, in search of a safe landing’.4
KeywordsPrime Minister Foreign Minister United Nations Security Council Bomb Test Hydrogen Bomb
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