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The story goes that Winston Churchill, towards the end of his life, was discussing the arrangements for his funeral with the various officials who were organising it. One of these gentlemen was a high-ranking official of British Rail, as was, who was involved in planning the journey that Churchill's body would take from London to Bladon where it was to be buried.
Churchill was adamant that this train should leave from Waterloo station. The British Rail man explained that this would be very difficult to organise, and that it would be much simpler for the train to go from London Paddington. Churchill remained adamant, and the British Rail man intransigent.
Eventually, the BR official asked Churchill, ``Why are you so keen for the train to leave from Waterloo? What difference does it make?''
Churchill responded, ``If De Gaulle dies before I do, I don't give a damn where the train leaves from. Otherwise, it has to go from Waterloo.''
Now, this isn't entirely plausible, on a number of levels. In particular, trains certainly now run directly from Waterloo to Long Hanborough (see the time table), and it would be very surprising if the service had improved since 1965.
Copyright (c) 2001 Chris Lightfoot. All rights reserved.