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:
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.