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French Blood
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French Blood

The late Harold Macmillan was Prime Minister of Britain from 1957 to 1963.  His grandson tells this fascinating anecdote of problems behind the public scenes.

“As a young man, I had the privilege of watching some of the great post-war politicians from close quarters when they visited my late Grandfather at his residence in Sussex. One of these was the late General de Gaulle.

I remember the final preparations for that great man’s visit to us.  My Grandmother bustled in and announced crossly, ‘Harold, I’ve just been rung up by a young man from the Foreign Office who wants to know where we are going to put the General’s blood.’

My Grandpa took a moment to digest this, and who wouldn’t?  ‘My dear,’ he replied, in his most reasoned and reasonable voice, ‘why have we got to put it anywhere? Doesn’t he keep it in his veins like other mortals?’

It transpired that the French President had a very rare blood group – not surprisingly when you think about it - he couldn’t have had a common one.  At any rate, in view of the ever-present risk of assassination, there had to be a supply at hand.  This precious essence had to be kept cool.

Clutching at straws, my Grandfather suggested that the receptacle, suitably disguised to avoid arousing the more hysterical members of the staff, should be placed in the kitchen fridge.

‘Good heavens, no,’ cried my Grandmother. ‘Cook will give notice in an instant if she has to have human blood in her fridge – and foreign human blood to boot.

Anyway, there’s no room.  It’s full of sausages and haddock and things for Monday’s lunch.’

In the end the Ministry of works found a fridge.  Of course, the only plug that fitted was in the squash court.  And there it sat, solemnly guarded by a lugubrious French security man, to avoid the risk of Anglo-Saxon contamination."

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It has been said that there is no fool like an old fool, except a young fool. 
But the young fool has first to grow up to be an old fool to realize what a damn fool he was
when he was a young fool.
Harold Macmillan


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