Yesterday was Margaret Thatcher’s funeral. You could almost hear Paul Dacre weeping as he masturbated. You could actually see George Osborne doing the very same thing during the service, live on national television.
London felt cold and hermetic yesterday. The sun dutifully refusing to break through the slate sky that Maggie made her final journey under. The usual modes of governance seemed to cease for the day, no PMQs, no toiling of Big Ben – instead the hawkish buzz of news copters and the sallow blue uniforms of the police and military lit by up by gunmetal. The minutes before and during the procession were a ten million pound suspension, a time machine, old Maggie allowed to hold office one last time. For a couple of hours Britain was a necrocracy, a mausolocracy.
A old P.E. teacher of mine, a former marine, had a story about Maggie coming to their base and inspecting the troops – “My back has never been straighter” he would say proudly. According to him she was the strongest, the toughest Prime Minister we ever had, strength being the only quality he seemed to really appreciate. Yesterday I wondered whether he was near me somewhere on Fleet Street, ready to straighten that back again in respect and admiration for a final inspection.
Those who lined the route yesterday were called Thatcher’s ‘supporters’ by the media. This was partly true. There was a fat man in a dark suit sitting atop a red telephone box, legs outstretched like a parachutist, shouting and yelling and clapping “GO ON MAGGIE”. What a patriot. As if her passage to St. Pauls and then to be cremated was some necrotic team sport. Cheering the little box as it went by seemed inappropriate to me regardless of any political opinions.
I wasn’t there as a ‘supporter’, like most others I came simply to observe the spectacle, to pay homage not to Thatcher but to the death of the kind of politician she represented. In a world of suits, deference and consensus her species has ceased to exist, the politician with conviction who allows it to drive decision making. The number of pictures taken and films made yesterday along the barrier at Fleet Street is a testament to this feeling.
In the last week we have been told countless times that we are ‘Thatcher’s Children’, but she was a matriarch not a mother. The applause as she rolled past yesterday was scattered – the applause given to one who is respected, not loved. How very British it was to depart the world in such a way, to such strained and muted politeness.