Yesterday felt like the end of a chapter I did not even know needed closing. Margaret Thatcher’s funeral brought back so many memories. For one, the fact I refuse to call her anything but ‘Mrs T’ because that was how we knew her in our family. My mother first got to know when she was a bright, hardworking MP at a Conservative Conference in Blackpool. I have been trying to work out which year it might have been – no one in our family ever kept diaries for posterity – but I know that I had been released from the agonies of boarding school to go to the local convent so I would have been over 10 and less than 13 years old. For my mother it was the excitement of leaving the housewifely cares behind to spend a few days talking politics that she loved. I, on the other hand, spent yesterday ironing in memory of Mrs T’s portrayal of herself as ‘the nation’s housewife’. Never have I had so empty an ironing basket and so full a cupboard of clean and pressed clothes ready for the change of seasons.
Ma was the Chairwoman of the South West Norfolk Conservative party when she met Mrs T and felt that she was finally stretching her Cheltenham Ladies College trained brain that had for years been bound like Chinese women’s feet as a dutiful armed forces wife and frustrated mother. “Peaches and cream.” That was how my mother described Mrs T’s skin and colouring in an awestruck tone, which was quite something for her to say as she had the most wonderful soft pale Irish colouring, nearly black hair, violet eyes and the most perfect nose – which, until I can upload photos without problems to this blog you will have to take my word for it. These attractive, lively women got together and made anything seem possible with hard work and conviction.
When Mrs T became leader of the Conservative Party then the party won the general election my father heaved a sigh of relief. He announced that now there was a Conservative majority in the House of Commons, in the local County Council and sitting on the highly emotional and politically charged Parochial Parish Council (PPC) there was no excuse for not turning the fortunes of the country around again. I think he rather hoped Ma would be less involved – that took a different kind of event to sever her relationship with politics. She clucked a lot when Mrs T being ousted, but died a year later so never knew about new Labour or the subsequent ‘wars’ that the British forces were involved in. She would have had a lot to say about those……………