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The ‘Drunk and Ugly’ Churchill Story Never Gets Old

Of all the stories about Winston Churchill relayed at Wednesday’s Statuary Hall ceremony dedicating his bust, it was great to hear the one that truly never gets old, which is best referred to simply as “Old Drunk and Ugly.”

Secretary of State John Kerry relayed the Churchill
Kerry got to relay the Churchill “Old Drunk and Ugly” story Wednesday. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call.)

Secretary of State John Kerry got to recount it, and he did a pretty good job as part of his speech taking note of Churchill’s “withering” retorts to friends and enemies alike:

“It was Churchill, after all, at a late-night party long past its rightful expiration date, who encountered a scold from his own party, who exclaimed in horror, ‘Winston, you are drunk. You are very drunk. You are very, very drunk.’ And Winston, without missing a beat, went back and said, ‘You. You are ugly. You are very ugly. You are very, very ugly. And what’s more — tomorrow, I shall be sober.’”

This is just one version of “Old Drunk and Ugly.” Another one has the scolder identified as Lady Astor, and it omits the “verys,” going somewhere along the lines of this:

Lady Astor: “You, sir, are drunk.”

Churchill: “Yes, madam, I am. And you are ugly. But tomorrow I will be sober.”

It brings to mind another statement attributed to Churchill, that a gentleman is only rude intentionally.

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