Wednesday, 10 April 2013

1925-2013

Two days ago we arrived in France, took in the two-thousand Pont du Gard in perfect light along with its boob-heavy, garcon-silencing supplementary educational film, and then headed back to Puisallicon to find out she was dead. Firstly, my reaction was "Ah. Oh." Now I'm at a computer here's the other thoughts. Feel free to join in.
I always thought it curious as a nipper how none of the caricatures looked like her. She didn't have a nose like a scythe. She had a high, wonky forehead. But when I came to caricature her in my visual notebook - along with the rest of the cabinet, many of whom I'd never seen outside of Spitting Image or Steve Bell - I went along with it.

 
The exception. Note: normal sized nose.

Thirdly, I found it odd to have a government whose message so flatly contradicted the basic demarcations of right and wrong being instilled in me as a future adult - to have a PM so boldly mean and incurious. I don't know what I thought a government was for, but when they started privatising the utilities it reminded me of Tom Sawyer charging kids to paint his fence.
Fourthly, it also bugged me to hear politicians on the radio when I was being driven into school say "We can't just wave a magic wand." Nobody was proposing that. They're doing it again and it's still annoying, which leads me to my sixth thought but first -
Fifthly, I was educated in a Church of England school in Tory Wandsworth, then Westmister Prep and Public Schools - I know, lucky me - and in every one of those conservative establishments nobody liked her... Nobody... Actually, by the time I was fifteen that's probably not true. There were of course a few vocal tory children, whose arguments have remain unchanged in over twenty years, "fully-formed" as some describe Michael Gove, or just ungrown-up. And it's possibly a fault of my upbringing but I could not begin to understand where they were coming from. I still don't. I do try. It's something to do with ninety-five per cent of capital being invested in property or something, yes? Anyway, my point is that when she was finally ousted, just round the corner from us, the glee resounded up and down our toast-scented corridors pretty much unopposed.
Sixthly... and yet, somehow, nowadays, "being taken serious politically" seems to mean operating on her terms. So she can't have started the fire (self-interest isn't transmitted from above). But don't tell me she didn't know the meaning of the word "can't". For many she embodied "can't". Her talent was for recognising strength and siding with it. I'd say sticking to those kind of principles is pretty easy. She served her idea of justice by doing everything within her power to sell this country to her heroes. And that idea hasn't really gone away. This is still the eighties and Thatcher's passing seems like just another of those endlessly replicating shadows cast be street lamps as you walk home, hence perhaps the feeling of "Ah. Oh." And her heroes are dicks.
Seventhly, her funeral procession, from Westminster to Saint Paul's via St. Clement Danes - the procession we can definitely afford because, in spite of my sixth point, we can afford anything we like if there is the political will, of course we can - will follow exactly the route of the Ghost Bus Tours. Tickets here.
Finally, I keep thinking of something Clive James wrote in 1975: "In real life, Mrs Thatcher either believes that everybody can help himself without anybody getting hurt, which means she is unhinged; or else believes that everybody who can help himself ought to do so no manner who gets hurt, which means she is a villain; a sinister prospect either way." I don't know if he still stands by this remark, but I can't see why he wouldn't.
This is also good.

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