Of Peregrine, Winston’s Minutes and Cat Stevens

This album was seminal -- it captured, as far as one record can, the essence behind the birth of a new era.

Years ago, the phone rang at about 4:30 a.m. “Dr. Johnston, this is Editor of the Darwin Letters Project at Cambridge University Library, and I have a favor to ask.” I shook out the cobwebs, failed to correct him in that I am not possessed of a PhD, and said, “Shoot.”

“Would you be willing to take on another British client?”


“Thank you. I will call you back.” The line went silent, and I slipped back into a waiting slumber. Within half an hour, the phone rang again.”

“Will you be in the UK in the near future?” As it happened, Catherine and I had a business trip planned.


“May I ask when?” I provided, and he said, “I’ll call you back.”

Within ten minutes, we received a third call.

peregrine and yvonne 1950s_sm

This is Peregrine and Yvonne in the 1950s. They were a lovely couple, possessed of true, gentle but sophisticated class and understanding. Both are fled this mortal funhouse, Peregine in 2002, and Yvonne in 2010. We are the richer for having known them.

“You have an appointment to meet with Peregrine and Yvonne Churchill at Fair Dawn, their home in the south of England. Peregrine is the last living board member of the Winston S. Churchill Family Trust, and we are recommending you to help him in formulating an electronic publishing strategy for Sir Winston’s papers. And that is how we became privy to not only Sir Winston’s works, but those of Lord Randolph Churchill and the preceding Dukes of Marlborough (I believe there were nine).

Stories from this business relationship abound (like holding the Guest Book of the opening of the family house in St. James Court, where the signatures of Czar Nicholas and Czarina Alexandra  followed only those of the reigning King of England. To be  honest, I cannot remember if it was George V or Edward VII.

To be continued …


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