A frail old Lady died on Monday. She divides the country in death as much as she did in life. Would she have gloried in the saturation coverage of her life, death and prospective Big Funeral? It seems ironic that so much Taxpayers’ money is being poured into it. I bet she would have hated that.
I loathed her for much of my life. Growing up in a staunchly Labour household I was bound to, I guess. My Dad was a casualty of the 1981 recession and his 9 months of unemployment changed his personality beyond repair. From time to time going through his things I come across the wretched hand-written CVs, copied out in tiny capitals that slanted across the page. He could hardly see, you see, let alone type and yet he tried to get another job and eventually took one for less than half the pay. Each morning he’d get on the bus to Orpington, no longer the train to town, to racist taunts by schoolmates with whom I’d share a study room a couple of hours later. I don’t know whether he ever knew this, but I did.
Ten years later I was the victim of the next recession. After the Tian An Men square MASSACRE, foreign companies withdrew from China. Can you imagine that? I GOT ON MY BIKE, Lord Tebbit, and retrained at my own expense – I took out a Student Loan – with skills that I thought would be in demand. Only to find that I was now too qualified. Or too female. Or too brown. Or too settled. I don’t know.
Was this the fault of the Lady? I don’t know that either. Having grown up a little and loathing tribalist politics now almost as much as I loathed her then, I can see that some of the things she did were logical and necessary for the country. So why does my distaste persist? Because, as is often the case with task-oriented people, she seemed to have had no compassion, no humanity for the casualties of her policies. Miners in (possibly uneconomic) pits. Unions of all sorts. Homeless people in doorways. Northern manufacturing industry. Real people with human frailties not lucky enough to be insulated by wealth or status were simply swept aside as collateral damage. And she seemed to relish and revel in the confrontation and I found that unbearable. I still do.
And her “I’m right, you’re all fools,” attitude to those fighting against Apartheid, and her xenophobia and Wartime anti-German mentality. It would have been laughable had it not been so hateful. How can ANYONE be so sure of their Rightness? Her pride and stubborn, unshakeable faith in herself lead to her increasing isolation. Her obvious revelling in “The Lady’s not for turning,” and “No, no, NO!” don’t indicate someone who is open to the reasonable discussion and compromise that good human relations require.
I’m not rejoicing in her death any more than I would rejoice in anyone’s death. I think the parties and the jokes are vile and rude in anyone’s terms. I think that it is all too easy to let oneself be brutalised and behave in a way that one would castigate in other people. In the end she was a frail old woman who died. And that is sad. For me, there is no more to be said.