I Shall Play This Only Once

Sitting on the sofa last night the news is clearly and crisply delivered:

‘Margaret Thatcher has died from a stroke’.

My husband turns to me with a look of what? Relief maybe or just a weary cognisance of the machinery of inevitability chewing steadily forward.

This morning an email from my mum with a link to an article pounding irresponsible persons from congregating in George Square to mark her passing. They unleashed the horses and police in riot masks at us there, once upon a time in the days when university education was still paid for by the State and we still felt that activism could make a difference.

There was a time when the very mention of her name brought up an irrational anger in me.

My days of anger are mostly behind me now. Yesterday morning and well before the news broadcast, however, I was irrationally out of sorts. A young woman running for the traffic light nearly barrelled into me as I crossed the road heading towards the yoga studio. Stuck between her forward trajectory and a slightly stationery car, my shoulder instinctively turned and I buffeted her physically away from me.  An entirely over the top defensive movement – she gasped in shock more than pain (I hope).  As I walked away I looked at the reaction. Why on earth suddenly was I so frigging angry?

Not that I am blaming Maggie or her demise for my actions. I can choose how to feel, how to behave. I am a grown up and a yogi after all or so I would like to think.

How can you possibly blame one woman for the wreckage of social justice, the slow dissolution of the welfare state? She was probably no more than an emetic for the aspiration of greed.  A crusader for salvation through home ownership, a pinup girl for free market forces the zeitgeist she brandished like an axe polarised allegiances more effectively than any war ever could.

It is clear to me now that I was always going to be one of those destined to stand on the outside watching as others cranked the wealth machine inside still and dusty corporate factories.

Today I live in a suburb that is a veritable Australian shrine to her legacy. Multi-million dollar homes built by self-made men and women. Amongst these people I am a renter, a lower caste to each and everyone one of my neighbours. Renting is a dirty word round these parts. Such is my destiny that it is more likely than not that I will never own my own home either in part with the bank via a stonking great mortgage or outright. How will that change my life? All I know is that not to have the same goals of acquisition as others puts me in the precarious position of relying on charity in my dotage or hoping my kids will put me up (and put up with me).

Maggie did not create the schism that places on either side of the wealth divide but she grabbed a palette full of residual fears and anxieties and painted a broad social canvas of indifference and self service with it.

I will never say that I am happy that someone else is dead. Death is but a dissolution of a life force that chugs on unabated in her absence. I will only be happy when that frissure that she worried open is filled or the carapace onto which I  presently cling splits away entirely letting me drift away with it.

Maybe true freedom will follow?

RIP Margaret Thatcher

The Parable of the Iron Lady

8 thoughts on “I Shall Play This Only Once

  1. Wow! Powerfully expressed. I do remember how angry just the mention of her could make you. And I do remember the demo in George Square and the police horses.

  2. I have been raging for the last two days. The ONLY reason I can think of is that hearing the name ‘Thatcher’ so often and thinking about her has opened old wounds and tapped into violent, horrible feelings buried for twenty years. I’ve alienated myself on one online forum by being the only person to dare to say something unpleasant about her. Shan’t EVER be going back to that Tory shite hole.

    Russell Brand, of all people, wrote a great article on MTTC in The Guardian here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2013/apr/09/russell-brand-margaret-thatcher
    His article as almost as entertaining as yours. Almost.

    • I read that article with interest thank you Geoff.

      While I like that Brand personalised his experience of Thatcher, I felt that his distance from her (age related) makes the horror of her policies seem less – potent somehow.

  3. Your post has magazine quality – you know what I mean? You really write so well – but who am I to say that, I am sure you know this! I did see people dancing in Glasgow, stepping on the covers of newspapers announcing Mrs Thatcher’s death. I immediately thought, but again, who am I to think “whatever”, that despite the fact that Thatcher was known (and liked it) as “Iron Lady”, she was a mother and grandmother to someone. And maybe these people are sad and mourning now. Every human being is something good to someone, I suppose. But I also think people have the right to express what they are feeling, so the dance was valid to a certain extent… I just don’t know, death leaves me in a state of confusion.

    • ‘death leaves me in a state of confusion’

      There is a lovely depth in the words that you choose. For this (and many other reasons) I look forward to reading your comments.

      In the same way that Top 10 singles act as auditory markers of our teenage years the big news events create a snapshot of a place in time.

      Perhaps there was a lot of anger in my life during the Thatcher years. Perhaps there has always been anger around us and that the only thing that changes is our ability to move our souls away from it?

  4. I have left space with responding to the bitch. Also my iPhone died. I am your husband and your friend I grew up in a area of Glasgow that was feared and ignored by the Thatcher era. I personally witnessed the horror that women inflicted on normal families. Some people have to take ownership of their actions that women never did. I as a survivor of that time smiled when she died. She is in the hands of God now or not.

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