Farewell, Margaret Thatcher
Hm. I guess I’d always thought I’d have my shit together more as a writer by the time Maggie Thatcher died, so I’d be able to say something more profound than either “goodbye, worthy adversary,” or “bitch got things done,” or “I loved the fake Dear Bill letters in Private Eye,” so here’s all I’ve got:
1. Until a year or so ago, I took the occasional dressage lesson (HA HA HA HA HA SO RELATABLE THIS MORNING) from a brilliant, unhinged ex-pat Englishwoman who would yell things at me like: “pretend you’ve got a huge magnificent cock in you and you don’t want it to escape!” and had broken literally every bone in her body multiple times. And I’d never seen her blink, including when horses would go nuts and try to kill her (which they did fairly often, because she loved the crazy ones and did three-day eventing). And she was super-fierce, and the only two signs of human frailty she ever showed were a) if she’d had a really shitty day, I’d find her in my horse’s stall with her arms wrapped around her neck, because my horse is a love-sponge, and b) I asked her if she’d seen The Iron Lady, and she said she’d gone to see it with another ex-pat friend, and they’d sat there in absolute floods of tears, because it was their youth. They’d loathed the woman, but watching her life was watching their own youth, and even the stock footage was too much for them.
2. The second season of Sherlock (SPOILERS, but seriously, it’s not a major one, and watch the show already, it’s on Netflix), there’s an episode called “The Hounds of Baskerville” in which Sherlock and Watson have an extremely limited amount of time to guess the computer password of a blustery patrician high-ranking official at a secretive military installation. And Sherlock looks around, and there are like eighty biographies of Winston Churchill, and various unrelated bits of nationalist gear, and types “Maggie” into the terminal. And, voila.
Which is, I think, the thing with Margaret Thatcher: that she had a lot to do with how a certain generation of men and women defined themselves, either in opposition or in affiliation, and that’s what will probably shake out down the centuries. “She made me proud to be an Englisshhhhhhhmannnnnnnn” or “the reason Billy Elliot’s dad was so fucking grumpy all the time.”
So, hm, probably The Guardian has something good and balanced. The Daily Telegraph is mostly trying to use as many positive adjectives as possible (half of the articles are calling her “Baroness Thatcher,” the other half are going with “Lady”), and somewhere the Queen is thinking “well, I’ve outlived another one,” and feeling a little sad and old, even though, of course, They Did Not Get On.