David looked at Gwen from his place with his head on her shoulder, cringing at the worry on her face and the panic in her eye. He could hear bits and pieces of what the person on the other line was saying, something about an ambulance being dispatched right away before Gwen hung up.
“Don’t worry, Davey,” she began to comb her fingers through his cowlick, the action soothing him immensely. “The ambulance will be here soon and you’ll get to the hospital and you’ll get all fixed up and it’s all gonna be okay.”
“Gwen,” he cut her off before she could stop rambling from anxiety. Once he felt that he had her attention, he began talking.
“There’s something I need to tell you.”
“If it how you feel out your tree, I really want to fucking know, David!”
David worried at his lip, his eyes slowly trailing down to where their fingers were laced together. Her thumb was tracing over his knuckles, another attempt to calm him, and David wished he could look at her completely, but this would have to do. Taking a deep breath, David began.
“I don’t know how you found out about me ‘crushing hard’, but I just want to say….it’s true. I have a crush on you, Gwen. When you asked me about it, I didn’t think you’d ever find out and I just…I just panicked. I ran away. I didn’t want to face what i was feeling at all. I’m sorry Gwen. I should I have told you the truth in the first place and this wouldn’t have happened.”
David forces himself to sit up, moving off her shoulder with the hardest grimace he’s ever done.
“My point is that I, David, am in love with you, Gwen. I understand if you don’t feel the same way…”
Before the 1960s, the basic wealth management problem for every high-income Briton was that capital gains weren’t taxable, but income was. If you earned money from selling services, then it’d be taxable income, but if earned money from the sale of capital, then it wouldn’t be taxed at all.
David Lough No More Champagne: Churchill and His Money (Head of Zeus, 2015) tells the delightful story of Winston Churchill and his lawyers’ long battles to evade tax on his personal income, including one ridiculous attempt to get the receipts from his syndicated newspaper articles characterized as sales of capital rather than as income.
In 1941, the Chairman of the Inland Revenue advised the Chancellor the Exchequer that Churchill’s lawyers had been “unable to produce any evidence which could lead me to the view that these were not taxable.” There was no reason it should be: the contracts were for a fixed sum and didn’t involve the entire copyright, so the receipts were transparently in the nature of income, not sales of capital. “He wants to argue that each excerpt was a capital transaction in itself: but it seems to me a hopeless contention,” the Commissioner advised his staff. “However we must listen.”
On May 19, 1942, weeks after the fall of Singapore, Churchill spent the afternoon away from the House of Commons speaking with his newly-hired solicitor about the prospects of an appeal:
I was warned that he would probably give me ten minutes, that I must be very brief and that I must tell him (if such was the case) that he had two or more courses open to him. Thereafter he would instantly make up his mind which course he would pursue… I was ushered into the Cabinet Room… and started off and said my piece which I had carefully prepared. [Churchill] after a short time got up and started walking around the table, talking as he did so, with the result that, when he arrived at each end he was completely out of earshot. … “If I appeal, will it be entirely private; can anyone get to know about it?’ I replied that it would be entirely private before the Commissioners, but if we won, they could appeal further and then the hearing would be in public. … And so it went on. My “ten minutes” was eventually turned into one and a half hours, but when I left I came away with instructions to lodge an appeal. I remember walking down Whitehall and buying an evening paper, the headline of which was “Why wasn’t Churchill in the House Today?” and at least I felt that was a question which I could answer with some conviction!
Churchill won that battle, even though he really shouldn’t have – the appeal was decided by Inland Revenue’s general commissioners, who ruled in Churchill’s favor at the end of September 1942 – but the earnings from those articles were small compared to Churchill’s copyright in his books. Churchill cleared £50,000 – untaxed – from assigning the copyright in his Life of Marlborough to Filippo Del Giudice’s production company, Two Cities, and another £50,000 – untaxed – from assigning the copyright in his History of the English Speaking Peoples to Sir Alexander Korda and MGM.
The great battle would be over Churchill’s memoirs. He postponed writing them for years; he couldn’t figure out how to make them pay. Even after the war, the top rates on personal income would be punitive – 97.5 per cent during the war, 92.5 per cent in the October 1945 budget, and back up to 97.5 per cent in the April 1946 budget – so Churchill needed some way to transform income into capital.
Soon enough, Churchill’s lawyers figured it out. Winston Churchill would gift his personal papers to a trust administered by his wife, Clementine, and his son, Randolph, whereon the trust would sell the copyright in the papers to the publishers. Then the publishers would hire Churchill to edit the papers – that is, write the memoirs – for a nominal sum. And it worked!
… it was an offer from the Eton-educated American newspaperman Marshall Field III that gave Churchill’s advisers the kernel of the idea which they eventually used to avoid a large measure of tax. While offering Churchill a five-year deal worth $1.25 million for newspaper articles, Field mentioned that his Chicago Sun would also be part of a consortium bidding at least $1 million for the memoirs. He then suggested that, before writing anything, Churchill should gift his personal papers to a trust for his children and grandchildren. The trust could then sell the book rights before employing him for a much lower sum to ‘edit’ the text – only this last link in the chain would attract tax.
‘They certainly disclose an interesting situation in America, if only it were possible for us to take advantage of it,’ Churchill confided to Lord Camrose.
By mid-February Charles Graham-Dixon had prepared a detailed tax scheme for Churchill’s memoirs. He had discounted the safest option, the so-called ‘tin-box’ scheme that would delay publication until after Churchill’s death, on the assumption that Churchill or his family would need the money during his lifetime. Instead, he advised, Churchill should gift his papers to a family trust before he started writing his memoirs; then the trustees should sell the copyright of the papers, for a lump sum, to a publishing group; finally that group should make its own separate arrangements with Churchill to write the memoirs for a lesser sum.
The effect of divorcing the documents’ ownership from the memoir’s authorship, he contended, would be to leave the publisher’s money in the trustees’ hands as capital, while only Churchill’s fee as an author would attract any tax. He stressed two points: Churchill must gift the documents before writing a word; and the trustees, not Churchill, must settle the publishing contract. The prospects for success, Graham-Dixon thought, were ‘reasonable’.
Arriving back in Britain in late March, Churchill continued to claim publicly that he had not made a final decision whether to publish his memoirs. Within a week, however, he had asked Bill Deakin to help him write them and his solicitor Anthony Moir to establish the trust for his papers. Moir’s first draft suggested that the trust should include all papers from Churchill’s birth up to the end of the war; that Churchill should appoint the trustees; that they should be able to publish only with his permission; and that, at his death, the trust’s capital should be divided equally among his children. A firm believer in primogeniture, Churchill changed Randolph’s share to a half.
The Chartwell Literary Trust came into being on 31 July 1946 with Clementine, Brendan Bracken and Professor Lindemann (now Lord Cherwell) as its first trustees. Its official objective was to safeguard Churchill’s papers for posterity, without any mention of the tax advantages: to this end, Churchill expressed his wish that the trustees should eventually pass the papers on to Randolph or Randolph’s own son Winston, one of whom he hoped would write his official biography. Churchill was aware that the duke of Marlborough was considering selling Blenheim in the aftermath of war, so he wanted to make sure that the papers would ‘remain intact at Chartwell and it may well be that my son or grandson will ultimately give them to the National Trust, should Chartwell itself be vested in that Body’.
Meanwhile [in 1948] the Inland Revenue was on the point of deciding whether or not Churchill’s complicated tax scheme to shelter the majority of the income earned by The Second World War was sound. On their decision rested a much greater sum of money than Churchill had lost through the farms. The local tax inspector, a Mr Boarland, had asked to see a copy of Churchill’s contract with The Daily Telegraph and any other ‘relevant’ document, which Anthony Moir took to mean the parallel agreement between the newspaper and Churchill’s Literary Trust. After consulting Churchill Moir decided against volunteering any extra documents, but instead he disclosed to Boarland:
“In July 1946, Mr Churchill created a Settlement of cash, a large number of personal records and memoranda covering his life both public and private during the period of approximately 1906 to 1945, papers formerly belonging to Lord Randolph Churchill and a casket containing letters from the First Duke of Marlborough, which are of considerable value and were given to him by the Queen of the Netherlands at the close of the War. Under this Settlement no benefit, whether pecuniary or otherwise was reserved to Mr Churchill and this document is not in his possession or under his control.”
Churchill had sold his early copyrights after the war while ‘retired’ as an author, Moir added, but since resuming his writing career on 1 September 1946 Churchill had received twelve payments. Most of them, he contended, were ‘capital moneys’ for the Secret Session Speeches. However, Moir ended his carefully worded letter by offering the tax inspector one small morsel: Odhams Press had paid £500 to reproduce sixteen of Churchill’s paintings in a new version of Painting as a Pastime, which he admitted could possibly be construed as a royalty and therefore subject to tax. ‘If the point is pressed Mr Churchill will submit, without prejudice, to an assessment in respect of this sum,’ he offered.
There followed a ‘very friendly’ meeting at the tax inspector’s office, during which Moir insisted that Churchill’s prime motive for setting up the trust had naturally been to safeguard these ‘vitally important documents’. For more than a month the most senior minds at the Inland Revenue, including the chief inspector of claims (Intelligence Section), pored over Moir’s letter and the documents, but they could find no ‘catch’.
Churchill’s solicitor was confident of the final outcome and in February all five members of the Inland Revenue Board signed a piece of paper that allowed Boarland to confirm that ‘no liability to Income tax arises under the present law in respect of the £375,000 payable by The Daily Telegraph to the Trustees – either on Mr Churchill or on the trustees.’
These days, of course, legislation has reduced the tax preference on this transaction – it might even have made it unworkable – but it’s a stirring story. If Winston Churchill was, as A.J.P. Taylor called him, “the savior of his country”, then his lawyers were the men who saved the savior of their country – well, saved him a lot of money, at least.
You fumble with a pearl earring as Tom peaks his head in the
“Something wrong?” He asks noticing the nervous energy that
kept you from getting the earring in the little hole.
“Yes, I’m nervous. This is the Oscars, what if I fall.” You
finally snap the back of the earring in place.
“You won’t fall and if you do I will pick you back up.” Tom
says kissing your lips.
“Are you nervous? Do you have your speech?” You ask trying
to shift the topic of interest from you to him.
“Yes and do you have your’s.” Tom asks patting his jacket
“I didn’t write one. Tom, there is no way I’d win.” You say grabbing
“You are nominated for four awards, all of which you have a
chance of taking home.” Tom grins smugly.
“What, no Tom I am there to support you, David and Benedict.”
You say draping the shawl around your shoulders.
“Fine.” Tom says leading you out to the car.
Oh the red carpet, the
time where you get asked what you’re wearing and try to repeat French words and
still sound educated.
With Tom on your shoulder you step out of the car and onto
the carpet, not missing a step.
Flashes of cameras and earfuls of people talking about roles
and fashion assault your senses.
After the fashion question you catch up to Tom, David and Benedict
at your seats.
“I bet you’ll win all of them.” David whispers as the show
You smack his chest shaking your head.
“There’s no way, absolutely no way.” You say taking a sip of
Jokes about the newest celebrity scandals raddle on and tear
filled speeches are given until it comes to your first category: Best Director.
“And the award goes to Y/N L/N-Hiddleston.” The presenter
reads off the card.
You look around at the three men at your table and then back
at the stage. The camera and everyone’s eyes were on you.
“Are you sure?” You ask to no one in particular as you stand
up with Tom’s help and walk to the stage to accept the award.
“Um, hello. I honestly didn’t plan anything. I want to thank
my family and friends and Tom of course. Everyone involved with the film, everyone
that saw the film, even everyone that saw the trailer. I love you all.” You say
quickly accepting the award.
You sit back down at your table still amazed. You set the
award down on the table and look at the boys around you.
David takes a sip of his drink and says “One down three to
You roll your eyes.
More jokes and then Tom and David’s category: Best Actor.
“And the award goes to David Tennant.” The presenter says.
David looks just as surprised as you were and makes his way
to the award and makes a speech that makes most everyone in the audience cry.
Costume and Make-up awards were given and then it came back
to another category of yours: Best Original Screenplay.
You take a deep breath holding Tom and David’s hands.
Benedict reaches his hand on top of the pile of hands.
“And the award goes to Y/N L/n- Hiddleston, damn she’s on a
roll.” The old presenter says.
You froze looking at your friends and soulmate. This time
all three of them pushed you up to the stage. A couple of people laughed as
your legs shook under you.
“Wow, I really don’t know what to say. I poured a lot of
myself into this script. The story itself for Plastic was inspired by an unfortunate
event in college, where my self-confidence took a hit, and instead of turning
to a darker path I chose to put everything I felt down on paper. Not to put a
damper on this but to anyone out there that is being pulled down that path,
please don’t. Those scars stay with you. Channel it somehow into something positive.
It doesn’t have to be a script or a movie. Anything.” You finish as the music
began to play.
Going back to your seat you realize that many people began
crying during your little speech.
David opens his mouth to say something but you cut him off.
“Don’t say it, this is the end. I’m sure.”
You sit and hold Tom’s hand laughing as the show went on.
Benedict went to present an award for sound and came back a
little later than expected because of the speech of the winner.
Then your category came again: Best Picture.
You take a sip of your drink as the winner is announced.
“And the winner is Y/n L/N- Hiddleston, Hope your shoes are
comfortable.” The presenter says.
You spit out your water covering Benedict. You immediately
cover your mouth. Eyes bugging out of your head.
You quickly sprint to the stage.
“Okay first thing first, I’m sorry Benedict for spiting the
water on you. This is starting to get weird. I came here without a speech so bear
with me for the third time. Um I don’t want to repeat myself but I do want to
give a message for anyone who wants to get into this business. Do it, we need
new blood, sweat and tears going into this machine called show business.” You
end your speech.
You rush back to the boys trying to help Benedict with cloth
“I’m so sorry.” You say handing him yours.
“Y/N it’s fine. You were shocked just don’t drink anything
when they announce anything.” Benedict pats himself dry.
David smirks sipping his champagne. “Three down one to go.”
“Shut up.” You say as another comedian goes to present.
Tears and joke were to follow.
Actresses and actors go up and make their speeches. Mothers
are thanked and children are told to go to sleep.
That’s when it hit you.
You had to tell Tom that you are pregnant.
How is he going to
react? We spoke of having children. Both of us for it, but what if he changed
Tom and David go up to present the last of your categories:
Best Visual Effects.
He throws some witty jokes into the introduction of the
category with David.
They have this comedic timing and could bounce of each other
“Alright now let’s find out who won. Even though I think I have
an idea of who it is.” David says winking at you.
“Okay, the winner is, “Tom’s eyes scan the envelope.” Y/n L/N
Hiddelston, darling I told you.”
You take the award from Tom standing in between them both.
“Um wow, this is amazing and such a milestone for me. I
never thought I’d be up here. Movies take a long time to make and whole team.
So do miracles, Tom,” You face Tom and instantly forget about the cameras and
hundreds of people,” You and I have made our own little miracle. You’re going
to be a father.”
You look back Tom and he smiling and crying.
David’s shocked and people are clapping.
The three of you make your way back to your seats. You are
now a blubbering mess with four trophies.
“Are you okay?” You ask thinking he’s upset about losing.
“I’m wonderful, absolutely wonderful.” He says kissing you.
Both of your faces wet.
I don’t know what that Method is. Acting is life, to me, and should be.
- Vivien Leigh
Alan Webb said to me that if you found yourself naked with Vivien in the Sahara Desert with absolutely nothing, twenty-four hours later you would be coming out in a Rolls-Royce, covered in minks and drinking champagne.
- David Conville.
In the thinking now of that moment the recollection of her evokes all sorts of images: quicksilver; elegance and composure, like a small Siamese cat; and the tinkling charm of a Chinese lantern.
- Olivia de Havilland
What to say.. Vivien, dear Vivien… exquisite actress, thoughtful, fearless, gracious and enormously kind… a little pink cloud floating through the lives of all her friends, hovering over the setting sun, and thinking of everyone else but herself.
- Katharine Hepburn
Vivien, you’re going to be a great star - as great as Garbo.
- John Gliddon to Vivien, 1935.
Happy 101sth birthday to Vivien Leigh, one of my most favourite actresses and a true inspiration.