High life

My friend Margaret Thatcher

14 December 2019

9:00 AM

14 December 2019

9:00 AM

By the time you read this it will all be over, but will it? I’ve had a bad feeling all along about those who opposed the result of the 2016 referendum. When they don’t get what they want, they play dirty — just look what they did to Lady T 29 years or so ago. And speaking of the greatest prime minister ever, Charles Moore’s biography of Maggie, a magnificent achievement, has left me open-mouthed at his scholarship and ability to write 3,000 pages in such a relatively short time.

It should be required reading in schools, but that, in turn, would require students to be able to read and concentrate, something the little darlings cannot be expected to do nowadays, what with Twitter and other such diversions that keep them occupied and as dumb as planks. Reading the book sure brought back lots of memories — of the three-day week when I first arrived to live in Britain, and the winter of discontent.

After Lady T had fixed the country and been repaid by types like Heseltine, she came to Switzerland and we fast became friends. She once asked me where all the heroes had gone. I should have said that she should know, she was the last one. I didn’t, out of shyness and not wanting to grovel. But I regret it to this day because the lady deserved it. She was definitely the last Brit hero — I use the masculine noun deliberately. She saved the bloody country, after all.

In a long review of Charles’s book in a Yankee weekly, a bitter sort of Brit complains that she showed no inner life: ‘…in all of Moore’s thousands of pages, there is not the slightest stirring of interiority.’ I say: why should she have? It’s the difference between style and substance, and she was all substance. She was too serious a person to bother about an inner life. Her goal was to change Britain from the sick man of Europe into what it is today, and she did it. Who gives a damn about interiority?

Heroes should be judged by their heroics, not by whether they were good judges of an opera or appreciative of a great painting. Homer instilled Achilles with the supreme warrior gift, and did not bother to tell us whether Achilles cried watching Greek tragedies. He raged against Agamemnon for pinching his slave girl and stopped fighting, then changed his mind when his buddy Patroclos died. What baloney we come up with these days. It’s not enough that Maggie beat the unions, the militant wing of the miners, runaway inflation, the Argies; made it possible for people to own their own homes; and turned Britain into a powerhouse. Some Brit idiot reckons that because she’s missing a hinterland, she’s a failure.

I am not reviewing Charles’s book here, just reminiscing about a lady I was lucky to know and have stay with me in good old Helvetia. And talking about the lack of an inner life, when I invited her to Gstaad she told me that another friend was sending an aeroplane for her and Denis, so she would stop over and stay four nights as the plane was based in Geneva and she could then continue on to Austria at no extra cost to the owner or to me. My friend Julian Seymour can confirm all this because he’s the one who arranged it. What I can say about her is that she never lowered herself to using charm to curry popularity with her audiences. She was all business when giving lectures, and I found her extremely nice when lunching alone with her. She did not make small talk, something that would render most people I know deaf and dumb.

Brought down by those creeps who would lead us the way of Hayek’s Road to Serfdom, she will of course go down as one of the greatest —if not the greatest — prime ministers. I so admired her guts, falling out with Commonwealth leaders over South African sanctions, and world leaders by defending Pinochet, both stances I enthusiastically agreed with and was belatedly proven right about. But those petty men managed to bring her down (just like the worms of the plague that killed Pericles).

Never mind, small-minded men and women will always gnaw away at great ones. But thank god for toxic masculinity when it came to the men, including a very brave Pole, who took down the cowardly Usman Khan. Imagine if they had listened to those ridiculous feminist complainers and suppressed their inner fighter.

And last but not least, I liked very much what Willie Shawcross wrote about The Crown in these pages. The programme is dangerous because falsehoods are accepted as truths by viewers. Costumes aside, the only part that was true and well handled was the brief flutter of flirtation between ‘Porchie’ Carnarvon and the Queen. Otherwise, the more the BBC tries to blacken the British royal family with that Panorama so-called exposé, the more likely it is that the public will believe the stories of a moronic prince’s accusers. Low-lifers of the world, get ready. You are now the rulers and have been for quite a long time.

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