I Met Her Once….

by Lorne Mitchell on 11/04/2013

I met her once.  We had been waiting expectantly for half an hour.  She was late.  When she finally entered the room, she surfed on a wave of power and authority – like the entrance of the Queen of Sheba without the music.

Calm, collected, nose in the air, she frowned with complete disdain for the cohort of journalists who were between us and the doorway.  The flash-guns had fired like a set of uncoordinated fireworks as soon as the door had opened.

I remember vividly the soundman for the BBC camera crew who had a long, extended microphone covered in a sausage-shaped, fluffy sound muffler.  He was lying on the floor to get out of the way of the cameras that were pointing at her.  She virtually kicked him and made a comment (I can’t remember the exact words but it was something like) “that’s where you guys belong – on the floor”.  She could easily have said “scumbag” – but I don’t think she did!  It was all part of the drama.

She gave her short speech for the evening news and the twenty or so journalists were ushered out of the room with the sense of urgency that a hassled mistress of the house would want when letting her servants  sweep the floor after a spill or a mess had been made by the dog.

Thatcher

She said “Are they all gone?”  There was silence.  A few nodded their heads to affirm they had all left.  The atmosphere changed immediately.  Less formal.  Yet still quite tense.  She was on a mission.  She wanted answers to questions.  She was impatient.  Dennis just wanted a drink.  He relaxed everyone by saying something like “Good, let’s have a drink”.

She was born the same year as my father, in another era, another age.  What was important then is now no longer so important.  What was pressing then is now, in hindsight, much less pressing – even trivial.   Yet, at the time, she had the power.  She had the authority.  She had the sense of purpose.  She got the attention and wanted change.  Yet, for all the words, my longest-lasting memory was the feeling I had when she entered the room.  Words cannot describe the electric presence she exuded.  I’ve seldom had that feeling from anyone, man or woman, either before or since.

 

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Nigel Witham April 11, 2013 at 15:30

In 1979, when I was 16, the English master came into class and announced that she was the new prime-minister. The country was in a dire mess. In 1990, when she was ousted, I was 27 and I had my own cottage and my own business and everyone I knew was making money and having a great time. I don’t agree with all she believed, I don’t like the way she went about everything, but her electric conviction was remarkable. Today, I yearn for remarkable, colorful politics again yet all we get is sickening beige. I hope it is not too long before someone with her bearing and brains emerges again but I fear it may be and that she was a one off.

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2 Mike Corrigall April 17, 2013 at 20:42

I think you had to have lived through the political and economic shambles of the 60s and 70s to truly appreciate what she did. I wish I had met her but your article does shine some light on her power of character.

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3 Lorne Mitchell April 17, 2013 at 21:45

Thanks, Mike. It was another time and now seems so long ago.
Strong feelings combined with memourable events are never forgotten,
yet are so difficult to retell – particularly to my children who were born in the 90s.

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