If I try – really try – I can remember Margaret Thatcher.
I have to cast back to my dim and distant childhood, but I remember the news that she had been replaced by John Major. I remember being vaguely glad about this, but only out of a toddler’s sense of gender loyalty; nobody, after all, could want a girl in charge, surely?!
I was five.
In that sense, I didn’t really live under Thatcher at all. Certainly not for any of the formative parts of my life except the big, basic ones (walking, talking, being born.) But history has a knock-on effect. I don’t need to be of my grandparents’ generation to be both appalled and indirectly affected by what Hitler did, any more than I need to be an American baby boomer to be quietly glad that Kennedy didn’t go to war over Cuba. Thatcher still had an influence on my generation; we grew up in the shadow of her ghost. She was the reason the trains didn’t run on time.
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With all this in mind, and now in possession of a brain that doesn’t equate politics with ownership of a pre-pubescent penis (or lack thereof) it would be easy to slate her politics and list my objections to her ideologies.
Easy, but disingenuous, because although I loathed her political beliefs, that’s not always enough to make me hate someone. I disagree vehemently with many people on politics. I don’t like Schwarzenegger’s politics, but I like his movies. I disagree with a lot of what Penn Jillette says, but I’m still a fan. I can even see the charm in Reagan, hateful and belligerent as his actions may have been towards his fellow human beings.
Ultimately, this is why I could never mourn Thatcher. Not because of her callous gutting of infrastructure or obvious contempt of the working classes, but because of her fundamental soullessness. I could never imagine her enjoying a film, or laughing at a magic trick, or even charming anyone. Anyone at all. She remains in my mind’s eye as well as in archive footage a fundamentally joyless person; an icy, grasping, loveless figure.
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Hunter S. Thompson said that Richard Nixon hated “sex, music and football in that order and was no fun at all,” but even Nixon, for all his sleaze and paranoia and criminality, seems a bastion of charm and warmth when compared to Thatcher.
Like her namesake, the Iron Lady was cold and hard and lifeless even when in motion; she was her own blunt object, used to batter the poor and capable of wiping herself guiltlessly, emotionlessly clean afterwards. A bloodless automaton whose only ability to experience anything close to love seemed rooted in numbers and profits.
I honestly don’t think there’s any archive footage I’ve seen in which she laughs – I mean really laughs. Even her tears on being removed from power seemed sterile and mechanical.
All politicians suffer from a strange inhumanity; they all seem like they’re trying to either stifle or imitate natural human emotions. Thatcher never even seemed to be trying. She just didn’t look like she had natural emotions. If I had to guess at her three most common moods, I’d say “displeasure,” “irritation” and “asleep.”
So I can’t listen to people who tell me I should mourn the passing of a fellow human being, because I’m really not sure I could bring myself to list her as one.
Even if – somehow, impossibly – the frosty facade was just an act, and there was a warm, tender person beneath it all, she still would have had to have deliberately cultivated the image of the rigid, unfeeling, stone-hearted matriarch. This means she deserved to be treated in death the way she wished to be perceived in life, and in the way she treated so many others; without kindness or pity of empathy.
Maybe that makes me selfish and heartless, but that’s surely to be expected.
I mean, I was born under a Thatcher government.
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