The film, The Iron Lady is released here in Britain today and for the past couple of weeks I’ve seen images of Meryl Thatcher glide before me on the sides of buses. It is being screened at the fabulous Tyneside Cinema an independent theatre housed in a beautiful Art Deco building. I must admit it is my cinema of choice because surroundings are important to me and I abhor soulless Multiplexes. The Tyneside screen a high proportion of world cinema films as well as a variety of well-chosen commercial offerings. Their choice to screen The Iron Lady has, however, caused great consternation amongst its visitors if their Facebook page is anything to go on. There is no doubt that during Margaret Thatcher’s time as Prime Minister she decimated the North East of England and it would appear that Tynesiders have neither forgiven nor forgotten. Nevertheless I was still surprised at the undiluted hatred that even a fictionalised version of the woman can create.
The film apparently concentrates on the present day eighty six year old Thatcher. Frail and dementing we view her life through flashbacks. Is this woman doddery and befuddled? I wonder.
My lasting memory of the now Baroness Thatcher, is her leaving Number 10 Downing Street for the final time. It was the first time she showed any emotion; she was in tears. The following is a piece of creative scribbling inspired by that moment.
They didn’t want to leave her alone. Why? What were they afraid she might do? Finally she had had to raise her voice until at last, no more phone calls. No more interruptions from simpering, shuffling members of staff. She was alone. Alone in an office that had been home for eleven years. It was to be so for just fifteen minutes more.
Sitting still didn’t come naturally to this woman. The high back of the leather desk chair had seldom felt the warmth of her body. But it felt right to settle in to its embrace, to slip off her stiffly moulded navy blue court shoes, and curl her legs up under her. This was time for the Iron Lady to reflect.
Her thin lips curled upward in a rare genuine smile and she breathed out in a calm measured sigh. As she rested her head against the wing of the chair her hair, so thickly coated in lacquer, crackled in protest. She gazed out of the window at the darkening November sky.” What a difference to this country I have made” she thought and the almost naked limbs of the horse chestnut tree nodded in agreement. Breathing in deeply yet again she filled her very soul with self satisfaction. Geoffrey Howe; who will remember that name in fifty years? Breaking cricket bats indeed! She would have happily broken one over the bumbling mans head. And Michael Heseltine; what a buffoon. How she’d love to take some scissors to that fringe. She would live on and they would perish. She had taught the people of this country to stand on their own two feet, to not rely on handouts from its government. Single handedly she had sold off and closed down almost all state owned companies. And if that hadn’t been possible, withdrawn subsidies from the rest thus reversing a National decline. This was once more a great Nation, if only they realised it. Like a God she had risen from the rubble of The Grand Hotel, led them to victory in war and enriched the English language with a new word; Thatcherism.
A solitary, inky black crow landed in the branches of the tree and flapped its wings as it sought a perfect balance. Both woman and bird stared beady eye to beady eye. The creature regained composure, uncurled her legs from beneath herself and eased her feet back into her shoes. Time to leave. She rose from the chair, bent to retrieve a smart neat leather handbag from the floor then, just before leaving the room, paused in front of a large gilt framed mirror. Taking a Yardley lipstick from the bag she applied a smear of rose pink to her lips. She then stared intently at her reflection. Tears welled up within those hooded eyes quicker than she could have hoped. Practice definitely made perfect.
Perhaps just a quiver of the lower lip?
She was ready to face the people of her country one last time.