Posts Tagged ‘Winston’

Winston Churchill refused to pay £197 tailor’s bill, archives reveal

December 3rd, 2015

The 130 handwritten books detail hundreds of high-profile clients and their orders, from British aristocracy to European royalty, actors, authors and the toast of high society.

File photo: Alex Cook performs a fitting at Henry Poole on Savile Row in central London, 2010

Thought to be the longest surviving record of any tailor in the world, it includes orders from General de Gaulle, Prince Otto von Bismarck, Benjamin Disraeli, Napoleon, Queen Alexandra and Wilkie Collins.

Surviving an oil bomb falling on Savile Row in 1940 and left to gather dust for decades, they have now been rebound and are to be open to the public for the first time.

Among the records are details of Sir Winston’s wardrobe, after Henry Poole began making his clothes as a child at Blenheim Palace.

He went on to order formal apparel as the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies, a Privy Councillor, President of the Board of Trade, Home Secretary, First Lord of the Admiralty, Secretary of State for War, Chancellor of the Exchequer and an Elder Brother of Trinity House.

By 1937, however, his outstanding bill was at £197.

James Sherwood, the historian tasked with examining the archive, said: “We continued to make clothes for him until just before the Second World War, when he fell foul because he didn’t want to pay his bill.”

Mr Sherwood added Henry Poole was not the only establishment which struggled to get Sir Winston to pay, added: “He said it was for morale, it was good for us to dress him and he wasn’t aware we were short of cash.

File photo: Tailors work on bespoke suits at Henry Poole on Savile Row in central London in 2010

“He never did pay, and never came back – he never forgave us.”

Sir Winston was not the only customer who did not pay on time, with Henry Poole leaving so much debt when he died that his belongings had to be auctioned off.

The company ledgers reveal that Edward VII, then the Prince of Wales, also made “infrequent payments on account that accumulated over years” for clothing, including the prototype short dinner jacket he commissioned for informal evenings at Sandringham.

King Edward VII, as Prince of Wales

After Poole’s death, a bill was sent to him at Marlborough House who paid the balance but, so offended, he withdrew his custom for 22 years until his 1901, when he patronised Poole’s Livery Department.

The Henry Poole & Co archive shows each and every garment made since 1846 for clients including Count Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Bram Stocker, Lillie Langtry and Serge Diaghilev.

Actress Lillie Langtry

The 5th Earl of Carnarvon took a Henry Poole three-piece-suit with him to explore Egypt, Emperor Napoleon III gave the shop its first Royal warrant, Queen Alexandra bought her family gifts, and Buffalo Bill was dressed up for Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee.

Records for Lillie Langtry, the actress, show that her orders were to be paid for by a Mr Frank Gebhart, the millionaire thoroughbred trainer with whom she was having an affair.

The archive also includes the signatures of some of the most famous faces of the day, from actors to authors.

Charles Dickens, not famous for his own dress sense, is known to have paid off the debts of his eldest son Charles Dickens Jr, after he had run up a substantial bill with the tailors.

Charles Dickens Jr

His authenticated signature can be found on a cheque from his Coutts & Co account.Other authors visiting the shop include Bram Stoker, who first appears in the records in 1895 while he was writing Dracula, and Wilkie Collins, who places orders from 1863.

Actors appearing in the records include Sir Henry Irving, who regularly used the tailor. He was captured for posterity in a Henry Poole frock coat for a sculpture by Sir Thomas Brock RA .

Other unusual additions to the records include Madame Tussauds, which used Henry Poole to make all its uniforms and livery for waxworks of the European Royal families.

The archive, said to chart the “rising and waning fortunes of Henry Poole’s illustrious clients”, will be available to view by appointment on Savile Row from today.

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How Britain will commemorate the 50th anniversary of Sir Winston Churchill’s death

January 21st, 2015

Morning: John Bercow, the Commons Speaker, will speak at a special remembrance service at the Houses of Parliament.

11:50: A wreath (specially made at the Royal British Legion Poppy Factory in Richmond) is carried from the Church of St Peter, within the Tower of London, to the Havengore, the vessel that carried Sir Winston’s body along the Thames in 1965

13:03 Havengore will salute, and have the salute returned by HQS Wellington.

13.05-13.15: Havengore will continue past Festival Pier (the end of the original funeral route) towards the Houses of Parliament.

13.15 The event will culminate in a short service and wreath-laying in the waters of the river opposite the Palace of Westminster.

13:35: The service concludes.

Evening: After evensong a commemoration will take place at Westminster Abbey, where leading politicians and historians will join well-wishers to pay their respects. A wreath will be laid at the Abbey’s green-marble memorial stone unveiled by the Queen shortly after Sir Winston’s death.

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The death of Winston Churchill was the day the Empire died

January 20th, 2015

Another famous writer, the novelist V?S Pritchett, thought he could discern, “an undertone of self-pity. We were looking at a past utterly irrecoverable.” (To what extent is illustrated by a 2014 survey of British teenagers, 20 per cent of who thought Churchill was a fictional character.)

On learning of Churchill’s death, the man responsible for organising his funeral, the Earl Marshal, the 16th Duke of Norfolk, Bernard Fitzalan-Howard, put into effect a plan that was codenamed “Operation Hope Not”. Ever since Churchill had suffered a stroke while at No 10 in 1953, meticulous arrangements had been made for his funeral.

The Queen instructed Norfolk that the occasion should be “on a scale befitting his position in history”, thus guaranteeing that it would be the grandest state funeral for a commoner since that of the Duke of Wellington in 1852, even overshadowing William Gladstone’s in 1898.

The arrangements for the funeral had to be constantly updated due to Churchill’s great longevity. Lord Mountbatten joked of how “the problem was that Churchill kept living and the pallbearers kept dying”.

Churchill himself played relatively little part in planning the event, although he promised Harold Macmillan, “there will be lively hymns” and said to his private secretary, Anthony Montague Browne: “Remember, I want lots of military bands.” He got nine.

Churchill’s body lay in state in Westminster Hall for three days and nights, his coffin draped with a Union Jack on which rested his insignia of the Knight of the Garter. No fewer than 320,000 people filed past the catafalque that was guarded by members of the Services who stood statue-still, their heads bowed in respect and homage.

Even more people might have come had the thermometer not dipped below zero. Indeed on the day of the funeral itself, there were even casualties among the police horses on duty. The Salvation Army and Women’s Volunteer Service handed out soup, tea and sandwiches, further inspiring memories of wartime.

Across the country, flags flew at half mast, newspapers printed lengthy obituaries, black armbands were worn, football matches were rescheduled, shops closed, the National Association of Schoolmasters even cancelled a strike. Nothing was allowed to spoil what everyone knew would be an extraordinary historical occasion.

No fewer than 28 wartime bombs had fallen on St Paul’s Cathedral, one of them a massive five-hundred-pounder, yet Sir Christopher Wren’s masterpiece miraculously survived, partly due to its courageous and committed fire-watchers. The famous photograph of its dome standing undaunted above the fire and smoke of the Blitz still has the capacity to move Britons, and the church that survived Hitler’s bombers was the obvious place to stage the ceremony.

One break with precedent was the decision of the Queen to attend personally, a special mark of royal favour as sovereigns do not usually attend non-family funerals. In all six sovereigns, six presidents and 16 prime ministers were present that day.

On the morning of the funeral, Big Ben struck 9.45am but thereafter remained silent for the rest of the day. The great procession left New Palace Yard on its slow journey via Whitehall, Trafalgar Square, the Strand and Fleet Street up to St Paul’s. The gun carriage on which the coffin rested was pulled through the streets by 120 Royal Navy blue-jackets, a reminder of Churchill’s two terms as First Lord of the Admiralty. The sight as it left the Palace of Westminster was likened by one spectator to that of a great warship leaving harbour. Other troops in the procession, which included detachments of no fewer than 18 military units, marched carrying their rifles reversed. It took four majors of the Queen’s Royal Irish Hussars to carry all of Churchill’s orders and decoration behind the gun carriage.

The funeral service in St Paul’s Cathedral

As the cortège passed the Cenotaph in Whitehall, 100 flags carried by men and women of the wartime resistance movements of France, Denmark, Norway and Holland were raised in a final salute. (After the coffin had passed, a group of Danish under-cover soldiers laid a wreath of lilies at the Cenotaph. When asked for their names by a journalist, one answered, before slipping back into the crowd, “We were unknown at war, it must be the same now.”)

In all, some 350 million people watched on television worldwide; indeed the American TV audience was larger than for President Kennedy’s funeral 15 months earlier. No fewer than 112 countries were represented at St Paul’s. Only China refused to send an envoy, while the Republic of Ireland chose not to broadcast the occasion live.

Laurence Olivier contributed to the ITV coverage, but it was Richard Dimbleby’s commentary on the BBC that won the most plaudits. After the ceremony, President Eisenhower and the Australian prime minister Sir Robert Menzies made impressive broadcasts to the American people and the Commonwealth respectively.

Just as Churchill had promised, there were indeed some “lively” hymns. Hymns were not sung at Wellington’s funeral because they were considered unsuitable for solemn occasions, but 113 years later they were a central feature in Churchill’s. His half-American parentage, as well as his belief in the potency of the English-speaking peoples, were reflected in the choice of The Battle Hymn of the Republic”, while his lion-hearted personal and political courage were recalled by Who Would True Valour See and Fight The Good Fight With All Thy Might. At the end of the service, the congregation sang the National Anthem, heard the Last Post and then the Reveille, and the Dead March from Handel’s Saul was played on the organ. The coffin was carried out of the Cathedral to the withdrawal hymn, O God, Our Help in Ages Past. The pageantry was solemn, superb, sublime.

One of the most evocative images of the day was of “the Captains and the Kings” standing on the West steps of St Paul’s watching the coffin of the Great Commoner being taken on to its next destination, Temple Pier on the River Thames. Charles de Gaulle standing tall in his military greatcoat and kepi, Prince Philip in his Admiral of the Fleet uniform saluting the coffin, the gorgeous gold uniforms of Garter King of Arms and his fellow heralds, the massed ranks of world statesmen: it all made an unforgettable historical tableaux. As one of the papers put it: “It was an act of history in itself.” (And one that cost the taxpayer £48,000, the equivalent of £650,000 today.)

Churchill’s coffin transported through Parliament Square towards St Paul’s Cathedral

Because, unlike Nelson and Wellington, Churchill had chosen not to be buried in St Paul’s Cathedral, the coffin was taken aboard the launch Havengore, to the booms of a 19-gun salute. As it set off upstream, pipers played the haunting lament Flowers of the Forest, and then 16 RAF Lightning aircraft swooped low in a fly-past. From Temple Pier, the coffin was taken to Waterloo station, and from there it travelled to Hanborough by train. The private burial took place in Bladon in Oxfordshire, near to Blenheim Palace, where Churchill was born in 1874. (Lady Churchill had gently talked him out of his original intention, which was to be buried on the croquet lawn at his country house, Chartwell, in Kent.)

In 1965, London was still one of the world’s greatest seaports, its docks served by vast cranes stationed on innumerable quays. When the Havengore passed these giant structures at Hay’s Wharf, on the South Bank, their operators dipped the tops of each in turn, as even these enormous machines bowed their heads in tribute to the nation’s dead chieftain.

For many, it was the most moving moment of the day. When Noël Coward saw it he burst into tears – for him, the whole funeral was “a great and truly noble experience”. In his history of the funeral, Churchill’s Final Farewell, Rodney Croft records how the 36 crane drivers involved had willingly given up their time without asking for overtime pay. Sir David Burnett, the managing director of the company that owned the machines, arranged to cover their expenses anyway.

American visitors to Britain were shocked at the supposedly buttoned-up Britons crying in public. The writer Laurie Lee observed: “Not since the war has there been such emotion.” John Lukacs, an American historian who visited Britain specially for the spectacle, also recorded how, “in the crowd lived the spirit of 1940, there was a great democratic upsurge of Englishmen, with men in bowler hats and elegant women standing with the cockneys and stevedores”.

The pallbearers did not, in fact, carry the coffin at any stage – Clement Attlee was 82 years old at the time and several others were in their seventies – but they did march before it down the aisle. (The casket itself was hewn from English oaks on the Blenheim estate, and it took 12 white-gloved Guardsmen to carry it up the West steps of St Paul’s.)

The 10 official pallbearers included such important wartime figures as Field Marshal Sir Gerald Templer, General Lord Ismay, Marshal of the RAF Lord Portal, Admiral of the Fleet Lord Mountbatten of Burma, Field Marshal Lord Slim and Field Marshal Lord Alexander of Tunis.

The split-second timing of the ceremony left even De Gaulle impressed, who spoke with genuine feeling about the efficiency with which the Earl Marshal had organised the vast enterprise. Churchill’s widow, Clementine, in the opinion of everyone present and the words of one reporter, “carried herself like a queen”. As she retired to bed after that exhausting, hugely emotional day, she told her daughter, Mary Soames: “It wasn’t a funeral, it was a triumph!”

By the end of the week, no fewer than 100,000 people had filed past the grave at Bladon churchyard in Oxfordshire, an astonishing number considering how freezing it was. Buried between his parents and his brother in the Spencer-Churchill family plot, his grave is still visited by thousands of people from around the world every year.

Invited to mourn with the Spencer-Churchill family was Churchill’s last private secretary, Anthony (later Sir Anthony) Montague Browne. The whole occasion brought on in him, “black melancholy thoughts of the decline and decay of so much of what Churchill had stood for. Well might the nation mourn him.”

As if to underline this moral decay, when Montague Browne got back to London after attending the private family burial at Bladon, he discovered that his flat had been burgled.

For more information on Churchill 2015, visit; and on Winston’s living legacy:

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Sir Winston Churchill honoured with £20 commemorative coin

January 16th, 2015

Ahead of the collectors’ item going on sale, Sir Winston’s great-grandson Randolph Churchill, with his seven-year-old son John, visited The Royal Mint in Llantrisant, south Wales, to strike one of the solid silver coins.

He said: “This year marks 50 years since the death of my great grandfather and 75 years since his finest hour on becoming wartime Prime Minister.

“It is fantastic to see so many and such varied activities taking place to celebrate everything that he achieved during his long life.

“We need to ensure that his legacy is sustained for the benefit of future generations.

“It is an honour to have the opportunity to play a part in these commemorations, and I am delighted to strike one of these special coins which will serve as a unique reminder of a great man.

“To do so with my young son is a special honour which encapsulates the important link between past, present and future.”

Shane Bissett, The Royal Mint’s Director of Commemorative Coin and Medals said the mint first produced a commemorative coin bearing an image of Sir Winston Churchill to mark his death in 1965.

He added: “Churchill holds a significant place in Britain’s history as a great leader, soldier, artist and writer, not only acting as Prime Minister on two occasions but also leading the country twice through the dark days of war.

“His image, reputation and legacy are instantly recognisable all over the world; therefore it is only fitting that he takes pride of place on The Royal Mint’s third £20 for £20 coin.”

The mint’s coin comes as part of Churchill 2015 – an international celebration of the life and legacy of Sir Winston Churchill.

Organisers say they hope it will keep his memory alive as well as educate and inspire future generations.

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Boris Johnson: the woman who made Winston Churchill

October 12th, 2014

He would behave like a spoilt child; by the age of 14, he had already persuaded one of his schoolchums to take down his dictation while he reclined in the bath. As Churchill’s sister-in-law Lady Gwendoline “Goonie” Bertie put it, he had a tendency to “orientalism”, and was never so happy as when a servant was pulling on his socks.

He may have shown outstanding bravery when he went to the trenches, but his luxuries were astonishing. To the Front with Churchill went a private bathtub, large towels, a hot-water bottle, food boxes from Fortnum & Mason, large slabs of corned beef, Stilton cheeses, cream, ham, sardines, dried fruit, and a big steak pie, not to mention peach brandy and other liqueurs.

“You must remember,” his wife once told his doctor, “he knows nothing of the lives of ordinary people.” He never took a bus in his life, she said, and had only once been on the London Underground. He got lost, and had to be helped to find his way out.

He was also a tyrant with his staff. Churchill would not only keep them up all night while he dictated; he could get quite testy if they got things wrong. “Where were you educated?” he would shout. “Why don’t you read a book?”

What is worse than being a spoilt and irascible bully? How about the general charge that he didn’t really have real friends – only people he “used” for his own advancement? Or what about the charge of ratting on his friends – in many people’s eyes, the ultimate crime? When he made his famous escape from the Boer jail in Pretoria, there were two men who were meant to go with him, called Haldane and Brockie. The suggestion was that Churchill had welched on the agreement, and scooted off by himself.

A spoilt, bullying double-crosser: what else can we add? The final charge is that he was too self-interested, too wrapped up in himself to be properly human. Suppose you were a young woman ushered into a dinner party, and found yourself sitting next to the great man. The allegation was that he was really fascinated by only one subject, and that was himself. As Margot Asquith put it: “Winston, like all really self-centred people, ends up by boring people.” So that is the case for the prosecution, Your Honour.

Let’s now call the counsel for the defence – a role I am also happy, for the sake of argument, to play myself.

Take first the assertion that he was a bully. Yes, of course he pushed people hard, and it is certainly true that poor Alan Brooke, his military adviser, was driven more or less round the bend in the war – silently snapping pencils in an effort to control his feelings. But think of the stress that Churchill was under, co-ordinating a war that we showed no sign of winning.

Yet on the death of Violet Pearman, one of his most faithful and put-upon secretaries, he made sure that her daughter got money from his own pocket. He also sent money to the wife of his doctor, when she got into difficulties. And when a friend of his was injured in the Boer War, Churchill rolled up his sleeve and provided a skin graft himself – without anaesthetic.

Was this the action of a selfish tosser? “When you first meet Winston, you see all his faults,” said Pamela Plowden. “You spend the rest of your life discovering his virtues.”

Let us turn now to the allegations of his luxury amid the squalor of the trenches. It is true that there was a certain amount of dudgeon when he arrived at his command in January 1916. Who was this politician? grumbled the Scots Fusiliers. Churchill began by launching a savage rhetorical attack on the louse, Pulex europaeus. He then organised for unused brewery vats to be brought to Moolenacker for a collective delousing – and it worked. Respect for Churchill climbed.

He reduced punishments. He dished out his luxuries to all who visited the mess. Read With Winston Churchill at the Front, published by “Captain X” (in reality, Andrew Dewar Gibb), who saw what happened with his own eyes.

If a man left that mess “without a large cigar lighting up his mollified countenance, that was because he was a non-smoker and through no fault of Col Churchill”. He did the same with the peach and apricot brandy. Yes, there was a bath – but plenty of other people used it.

Churchill got the troops singing music-hall songs. He urged them to laugh when they could. One young officer, Jock MacDavid, later recalled that, “After a very brief period, he had accelerated the morale of officers and men to an almost unbelievable degree. It was sheer personality.”

Did Churchill really “rat” on his friends? Regarding his conduct towards Haldane and Brockie, his two would-be fellow-escapees from the Pretorian jail, it is clear from all the diaries and letters that when it came down to it, on the night, they just wimped out. Churchill went into the latrine and jumped over the wall, and then waited for them for an hour and a half in the garden, risking detection. But they never came: he can’t be blamed for that!

Let us deal lastly with the general charge of selfishness: that he wasn’t much interested in other people, that he wasn’t much fun at parties – except when bragging about himself. Of course he was self-centred and narcissistic – a fact that he readily acknowledged. But that does not mean he had no interest in others.

Read his letters to his wife, Clementine, worrying about such things as whether the baby is going to lick the paint off the Noah’s Ark animals. Think of his kindness to his mother, who had actually cheated him of his £200,000 inheritance. Note his endless generosity towards his younger brother Jack, who lived with Churchill in Downing Street during the war.

All the evidence suggests that Churchill was warm-hearted to the point of downright sentimentality. He blubs at the drop of a hat. He weeps at the news that Londoners are queuing to buy birdseed to feed their canaries during the Blitz; he weeps when he tells an ecstatic House of Commons that he has been forced by fate to blow up the French navy. He was openly emotional in a class and society that was supposed to be all about the stiff upper lip.

He had what the Greeks called megalopsychia – greatness of soul. Churchill was not a practising Christian. He never believed in the more challenging metaphysics of the New Testament. His abiding interest was in glory and prestige – both for himself and for the “British Empire”. But he had a deep sense of what it was right and fitting for him to do.

That is why I am here at this graveyard in east London. The lady before and beneath me is Churchill’s nanny. “Erected to the memory of Elizabeth Ann Everest,” says the inscription, “who died on 3rd July 1895 aged 62 years, by Winston Spencer Churchill and John Spencer Churchill.” The story of how it came to be here is in some ways an awful one, but also a physical testimonial to the fundamental goodness of Churchill’s nature.

Churchill’s mother, Jennie, was a remote and glamorous figure, swishing in panther-like in her skintight riding gear to kiss him goodnight; otherwise not much involved. It was Mrs Everest, a largish and middle-aged woman from the Medway towns, who gave Churchill the unstinting love he craved.

“My nurse was my confidante,” said Churchill. “Mrs Everest it was who looked after me and tended all my wants. It was to her I poured out my many troubles.” He called her “Woom” or “Woomany”, and we have many lovely letters from her to him: urging him to take heroin for his toothache, to watch out for the east wind, not to try to get on moving trains, to avoid the hot weather, and debt, and bad company.

On one famous occasion, neither of his parents could be bothered to come to his Speech Day at Harrow; so Mrs Everest came, and Churchill walked around town with her, arm proudly in arm, while the other boys snickered. That showed moral courage; and more was to come.

When Churchill was 17 and Jack was 11, it was decided that the nanny was no longer needed; and though there were plenty of posh English families that retained their superannuated nannies, Churchill’s mother made no provision for Mrs Everest. She was to be out on her ear.

Churchill was incensed and protested. As a compromise, work was found for her at the London home of his grandmother, the Duchess. But two years later that job, too, came to an end. Again Churchill was angry that she was being treated in this way – dismissed by a letter! He accused his mother of being “cruel and mean”.

It was no good. Mrs Everest went to live in Crouch End, and Churchill helped to support her from his own relatively meagre income. She continued to write to him, and while he was at Sandhurst she sent him some encouragement. “Be a good Gentleman, upright, honest, just, kind and altogether lovely. My sweet old darling, how I do love you, be good for my sake.”

By 1895, Mrs Everest’s health was failing, and on July 2 he received a telegram saying that her condition was “critical”. He arrived at Crouch End, to find her only concern was for him: he had got wet on the way there. “The jacket had to be taken off and thoroughly dried before she was calm again.”

He found a doctor and a nurse, and then had to rush back to Aldershot for the morning parade – returning to north London as soon as the parade was over. She sank into a stupor and died at 2.15am, with Churchill by her.

It was Churchill who organised the funeral and the wreaths and the tombstone, and indeed it was Churchill who paid for them all, out of his own exiguous resources. He was only 20.

It is hard to know exactly how much the world owes Winston Churchill’s nanny. But if anyone taught him to be good and kind and by and large truthful, it was surely her.

Once, at the age of seven, he was walking with his nanny in the grounds of Blenheim. “We saw a snake crawling about in the grass,” he wrote to his father. “I wanted to kill it but Everest would not let me.”

She it was, I reckon, who helped him to that vast and generous moral sense.

‘The Churchill Factor: How One Man Made History’ (Hodder & Stoughton, £25) can be ordered for £22 plus £1.95 p&p from Telegraph Books (0844 871 1515; Boris Johnson will be taking part in a Q&A with Gaby Wood on October 23 at Imperial College London. Tickets are £40 (including a signed copy of ‘The Churchill Factor’) and are available from

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Kevin Spacey to play Winston Churchill

March 31st, 2014

Kevin Spacey has enraptured thousands of House of Cards viewers with his portrayal of machiavellian congressman Frank Underwood, and now the American Oscar winner is going to take on Winston Churchill in a new film.

Captain of the Gate will follow the former Prime Minister ahead of his first term, as he campaigned in Parliament to defend Britain from Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich in the run-up to the Second World War.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the film will have a budget of around $ 20 million and will be produced by StudioCanal, the producers behind films such as JFK, Frost/Nixon and Inside Llewyn Davis.

Although the project is yet to find a director, it has been written by Ben Kaplan, who wrote the screenplay for a History Channel biopic of the late President Ronald Reagan.

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