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Maggie

I was born in 1973 so Margaret Thatcher was PM for my formaive years.

I very vaguely recall “Sunny Jim” and have no recollection of that fat treachorous oaf Ted Heath or of that deranged buffoon Harold “bloody” Wilson. He thought MI5 were gonna kill him. If only…

So she was my PM. In eleven years you can do much good and much bad and a heck of a lot that is just expedient. She of course did all three but overall she was more on the side of the angels. I am not going to eulogise her here because that has been done both here and elsewhere.

Instead I shall make some random points about my experience as a kid under Maggie. And about the BBC coverage of her death.

When she took over it, Britain was on it’s arse wearing trousers you could x-ray with a petrol station flash-light. Something I don’t remember but experienced was my Mum and me (I was in a pushchair) shopping in Newcastle’s great department store, Fenwicks by candle-light. In Newcastle, in the 1970s. Jesus Christ! Try telling that one to the youth of today. The trash wasn’t collected, the dead weren’t buried and it was kinda like Mogadishu with a worse climate.

Like it or not something had to change. Otherwise I’d be eating dung.

Previous commentators on stuff here about MaggieT (that’s her blog-name that is) have said basically “Know someone by their enemies”. So true.

But also know them by their friends.

Now I’m not sure how conservative I am. I am not sure how patriotic I am. I’m British for fuck’s sake! I don’t need to be patriotic. Being patriotic would be an indulgence. As Margot from “The Good Life” (the character was based on Thatcher) might have said, “Enough with these Latinate histrionics!”. Do I need to explain British achievements? Nah, didn’t think so. The Argentine Emisary is not cracking out the Ferroro-Roche for the funeral. He or she shall be sadly missed.

No, I’m not celebrating Britishness (though we have much to celebrate) but Maggie was British to the core and it came as no surprise that at her funeral this will be played:

watch?v=7MG27BKwjaI

But her reign meant so much more to me. It meant colour TV, a microwave and a ZX-Spectrum. It meant things moving out of the horror-show of the ’70s. The era of Thatcher and Ronnie meant a scantily clad nymph capering about the fore-deck of a Panamax* battleship** and straddling a 16″ gun and leaving very little to the imagination of me, you and hundreds of sailors. We weren’t gonna lose the Cold War after that!

And the movies were so good and up-beat! It was a different world to now. It was a world of immense leaders and great fun and a massive hope for the future. The future was not feared. Think of the movies of the time! They didn’t play Les Buggeurs Risible about ersatz “moral ambiguity”. No, they said life was good and getting better.

The past was another country. It was better and that was Maggie’s country. And Ronnie’s country.

I wish I could turn back time.

In some ways.

I certainly don’t want a full-scale Cher comeback!

*The Iowa class fast-battleship was built with 18″ clearance for the Panama Canal. Now you might think parking at Tesco is tricky in a Ford Focus but…
**The USS Missouri. Interestingly enough the warship upon which the Japanese signed their surrender in 1945.

11 Comments

  1. mactheknife says:

    “The USS Missouri. Interestingly enough the warship upon which the Japanese signed their surrender in 1945. ”

    Just as well Cher wasn’t capering around that morning. Kanji needs a very steady hand after all…

  2. Sam Duncan says:

    “that deranged buffoon Harold “bloody” Wilson. He thought MI5 were gonna kill him. If only…”

    Steady. We don’t want to sink to their level. Mind you, I will repeat what Madsen Pirie has been pointing out in various places over the weekend: more miners lost their jobs under Man-of-the-People Wilson than Thatcher.

  3. Westerlyman says:

    I was born in 1960 and the 1979 election was the first time I voted. Having lived through the 70′s as a teenager I couldn’t wait to vote against the Labour party. Living near Tunbridge Wells at the time my vote made no difference at all but it felt good. Not that any of us knew what was in store for us in the 80′s. Our whole universe changed so much under Maggie.

    So many of the people criticising Maggie’s achievements were not alive during her premiership and certainly not during Callaghan, Heath and Wilson, so what do they know? Britain was a shithole and an international joke under Callaghan and that idiot Healey.

    Unfortunately most people never remember even recent events and are completely manipulated by the MSM. We are going to repeat it all again. It is happening now and the economically illiterate, which also applies to most politicians, are driving us straight back to the 70′s. This time however it will be even worse because we are carrying so many uneducated and unemployable people who believe they are entitled to the fruits of the productive by right.

    The next 5-10 years are going to be very ‘interesting’ and probably bloody frightening some of the time. Will we get another strong leader? One who will really roll the state back and not get betrayed by her ‘friends’ like Maggie did? I doubt it.

  4. RAB says:

    Just a couple of quibbles Nick. Colour tv came in in 1967, not a lot to do with Maggie there. And I seriously doubt that Margo Leadbetter was modelled on Maggie either, possibly the other way round. The series began in 1975 and finished in 1978, before Maggie became PM even. The parallels were uncanny though. Both Margo and Maggie were staunch Conservatives who did not suffer fools gladly and were unlikely to back down.

    But both seriously lacked a sense of humour. Remember the episode of the Good Life when the Leadbetters xmas went tits up due to Margo’s intransigence with the tradesmen, so they are thrown back on the hospitality of the Goods and she gets smashed on pea pod wine, or some such. margo didn’t even get the feeble humourous offerings from the xmas crackers let alone something more meaty. She had to have jokes explained to her, and Maggie did too.

    I must say that had I been a friend of Maggie I would have found her very hard work. There would I be knocking out double entendres every 45 seconds and her not knowing what the hell I was talking about.

    She was by a long way the best UK Prime Minister of the 20th Century though, and despite all her failings did what had to be done to turn this country round.

    I will watch her funeral tomorrow as I did Churchill’s back in 1965, and raise a very large and expensive glass of single Malt in her memory. She would approve, she liked a wee dram herself.

  5. John Galt says:

    “No, they said life was good and getting better.”

    It might amuse you to learn that Ted Heath’s 1970 campaign slogan was “Tomorrow will be better than today”. Your dimly recalled memory was probably of the dying Heath’s administration in January / February 1974 during the 3-day-week.

    In the end, Maggie T’s greatest achievement was to curb the power of the unions. They are virtually unknown in private workplaces. Shame she didn’t abolish the ones inside central and local government.

    Like RAB I will tilt a large glass of scotch at the old bird at the end of the funeral service tomorrow. This is not for love of what she did particularly, but in respect of someone who fought socialism, stuck by her principles and showed courage in the face of both IRA terrorism and Argentina warmongering.

    Good luck old girl. Have a snifter on me.

  6. Mr Ed says:

    Anyone who has voted for the Labour Party does not, in evoutionary terms, deserve not to starve to death, create that environment at your own peril, but you ought not to imperil others.

    The death cult of socialism brought us the unburied dead and rubbish and power cuts of the 1970s, lorry drivers striking causing food distribution problems (and school closures). Mrs Thatcher spoke up about the problems, and annoyed the socialist thugs.

    As a child of the 60s, in England, I assumed that on Guy Fawkes night, we were celebrating what might have been had the deed been done, since with Wilson and Heath as realistic choices for power, Mr Fawkes appeared to have been prescient. There was also in the 1970s petrol rationing and prolonged high inflation. A pint of beer in 1970 was around 11p, now more like £3.20p.

    In comparison, in the 1980s, things seem to be improving by 1983, despite Mrs Thatcher’s tax increases.

  7. Tim Newman says:

    There would I be knocking out double entendres every 45 seconds and her not knowing what the hell I was talking about.

    Nigerians are like that. They just don’t get banter at all. At the moment, my piping engineer Derek (a Scotsman) is designing a bespoke piece of kit which is best described as a flushing ring (there is no proper name for it). I’ve taken to calling it a flushable ringpiece in meetings, and asking people to check Derek’s ringpiece. Blank looks all ’round, except for the expats.

  8. Jon says:

    It was my eighteenth birthday on the day that Margaret Thatcher got elected so I have always had a link between Thatcher and my personal milestone.

    For me Thatcher took over when no-one was in control of a country which was going rapidly downhill. Thatcher certainly took control and gave the country a clear direction. Sometimes she was right and sometimes horrendously wrong but all-in-all she made a big contribution to the development of this country as a credible member of the G7.

  9. Lynne says:

    TV back then was pretty crap much like it is now. However, I do like to read and during the black-outs I wasn’t allowed to read by candle light in case I “strained my eyes”. The upside was that I didn’t have to suffer either Crossroads or Coronation Street because invariably, the lights went out during the early evening aka 70s peak-time TV.

    So Dad taught us kids how to play poker instead (for Smarties and Chocolate Buttons) and guess what – no eyestrain. Not many sweets either. Heh.

  10. Paul Marks says:

    Good post and good comments.

    As for the future….

    Not good – but is not the fault of Mrs T.

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