Monday, April 8, 2013

On the Passing of Margaret Thatcher

News reached me this morning of the death of Margaret Thatcher.  She lived an important and consequential life, and we are better off for having had her live it.  I wrapped up William Manchester's magisterial three volume biography of Winston Churchill last week, and the word that comes to mind this morning to describe Maggie Thatcher is "Churchillian".  I can render no higher compliment.

I have one, small Margaret Thatcher story.  I flew to London on the evening of September 10th, 2001, arrived on the morning of the 11th and went to my room at the East India Club to nap for a while, anticipating the evening's dinner with a friend who was stationed nearby.  I called his office before heading off for my nap and left my number, asking for a few hours respite before he called to firm up the evening's plans.  The ringing of the phone woke me up from sound slumber, and I awoke in such a daze that I could not tell where I was and really did not know what time it was (not knowing where the clock radio was in the damn room).  When I answered the phone, my friend told me that we had been attacked, thereby beginning what we now call the "post-9-11 era".  We postponed our dinner plans for a few nights.

I went down to dinner in the Club that night instead.  Clubs such as this have what is called the "Club Table" sometimes, a place set aside for those on travel/in transit who wish to sit and talk with others.  At that moment, I really needed to be in the company of others. I made a good choice, as I was surrounded by men from across the British Empire who were thoroughly pro-American and thoroughly pissed off and ready to grab a bayonet.  

During dinner, Margaret Thatcher entered the room with her husband Denis.  I was transfixed.  I was in the presence of political royalty, the HMFIC of the world conservative movement after the death of Ronaldus Maximus--I was like a schoolgirl at a Beetles concert.  I said to one of my dinner companions, a Brit from the Northlands in London on business, "This is a really cool moment.  I'm eating dinner on one of the worst night's in American history in the club of one of America's closest, most steadfast friends." To which my companion piped up in his perfect Queen's English, "Oh no dear boy.  She's not a member.  She's a woman.  There are no female members here.  This is Denis' club". 

And that's my Margaret Thatcher story.

1 comment:

"The Hammer" said...

The British press always treated Denis like a laughingstock, which I considered unfair. The thing you have to remember about Europeans is, they are wedded to tradition and the past. Their institutions and way of life is sacrosanct, and they are much more conservative in certain ways than Americans will ever be. They may give lip service to progressive this or leftist that, but they are basically traditionalists. For the Brits, a woman as PM was totally unacceptable.

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