callmemadam (callmemadam) wrote,

Chips with Everything: part two

Channon continues his hectic social life, when the diaries come to a halt, just as important events in his life take place. I couldn’t make out whether he stopped writing during these years or the diaries had disappeared. When we pick up the story again, he has married Lady Honor Guinness and become very rich indeed. He has made no secret of his desire to be rich or of his secret longing to be a peer. The marriage is not a success, although he says he loves Honor and worries about her. They have a child, Paul (later a minister in Margaret Thatcher’s government), whom he worships; he absolutely dotes on ‘my baby boy’. He would love lots more children but, after three years of marriage, Honor not only refuses to have another child but tells him that ‘conjugal relations’ (his words, not my euphemism), are off. This upsets him and he blames it for his renewed indulgence in what he calls ‘lechery’, i.e. gay affairs. Neither wants a divorce but all they seem to have in common is a love of buying houses (one in Belgrave Square and a country house, Kelvedon), doing them up at great expense and filling them with incredibly expensive antiques and bibelots. How he loves jewels, both for himself and his wife!

The other important event is that he becomes MP for Southend. He despises his middle-class constituents but loves the male atmosphere of the House of Commons, which he compares to Oxford. Politically, he is wrong about absolutely everything. He is pro: the Duke of Windsor, Franco, Mussolini and Hitler and considers the pro-French/anti-German politicians mad and hysterical. He visits Germany, where he is completely taken in by the Nazis, whom he admires. He regards Winston Churchill as a dangerous warmonger and rejoices when ‘pink’ Anthony Eden resigns. Obviously, he hates socialists on principal but it’s interesting that Attlee is first described as ‘a worm’, progresses to being ‘Major Attlee’ and later is Mr Attlee, who speaks ‘adequately’. I find it amusing that his enemies Churchill and Attlee would run the country during the war and Anthony Eden would be Foreign Secretary.

Having had a ringside seat for the abdication, he now has one for appeasement and, eventually, Munich. He is made PPS to Rab Butler at the Foreign Office and revels in the secrecy and excitement of it all, while complaining all the time of exhaustion. It really helps you understand what appeasement was all about when you realise that Chips would prefer any outcome to the European crisis rather than war. He considers Hitler justified in claiming the Sudetenland with its largely German population and, shockingly, declares that the Czechs ‘should never have existed’ and are certainly not worth fighting for. In his view, Hitler is saving Europe from ‘Bolshevism’. His heroes are Lord Halifax (Honor’s uncle) and Chamberlain, whom he comes to love and even describes as ‘the greatest man since Christ’!

Disappointingly, this volume ends just as Chamberlain is about to go to Munich for another meeting with Hitler. There is an interesting appendix in which Chips writes his own description and assessment of the events surrounding the abdication. He likes Wallis Simpson and emphasises that she begged Edward over and over again not abdicate. The King, however was literally madly in love, completely crazy, mishandled events and was out-manoeuvred by his enemies. Chips still believes that he would have made a wonderful, modernising king, whereas the new King & Queen are dull; throwbacks to George V and Queen Mary.
I look forward to Volume II but I’m not prepared to fork out £35.00 for it. I checked the catalogue of Libraries West and they don’t even have the first volume! Can this be right? It’s just the sort of book you’d expect libraries to have.
Tags: diaries, history

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