Toby and Winston Churchill
Churchill had many animals, including budgies. One budgie named Toby, was often seen perching on Churchill’s head while he wrote his memoirs.There is this from Alistair Lexden:
It was not only at meal times that Churchill’s budgie Toby left his mark (“Entertainer Churchill’s dinner table budgie trick”, Dec.13).
This much loved creature slept in a special cage in Churchill’s bedroom during his peace-time premiership in the 1950s. The cage was opened when ministers gathered for matutinal confabulations before the great man got up. In his diary, Churchill’s Private Secretary, Anthony Montague Browne, gives an affectionate account of Toby “ flying round the room ,pecking at Cabinet papers, taking nips from the whisky-and-soda at the Prime Minister’s bedside and settling upon the domed head of the Chancellor of the Exchequer with the inevitable consequences”.
Rab Butler came to these meetings with a special silk handkerchief which he used to mop up after Toby, murmuring “The things I do for England”. From his master Toby received only kisses, never rebukes.
Toby was allowed to peck at Churchill’s cigar and play on the dining room table. He was taught to carry a salt spoon, and tip over the salt – a trick which delighted his grandchildren. Toby joined Churchill on a holiday to Nice and to Monaco. He was free to fly around the suites, but unfortunately, flew out the window. Gardeners searched in vain, and some came with budgies for the offered reward, but none were Toby.
In his final years, Churchill gave his nurse notes on his daily routine – which included how to care for his budgie. “Whisky and soda, specs, cards; bird to be brought into dining room near his chair. Tweeds; hanky in top pocket; boiler suit — slippers” and “after dinner… put bird to bed!!”