Sunday, April 14, 2013

Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead

My male staff, Badger, Paolo the budgie and I are looking forward to the first weekend in May. My female staff is flying to Sydney (No, not on a broomstick.) to attend a belly dance workshop, whatever that is. The word workshop conjures up images of big sheds full of noisy machinery such as drills and saws and stuff, with clouds of sawdust hanging in the air and slicks of oil on the floor. Somehow it just doesn't gel with reality, which is a bunch of female humans being taught how to wiggle their bellies in new and interesting ways. My male staff doesn't have to be taught. His belly has a natural talent for wiggling and it displays this talent at every opportunity; when he walks, when he sits down, when he eats, when he sleeps. It's constantly wiggling, so much so that it gives poor Badger motion sickness just to watch it, and when he sits on my male staff's belly he has to have an airline sick bag handy at all times.

Anyway, the point is that with my female staff's absence us boys will be "batching" that weekend. We will be short term bachelors with all that that entails. There will be footy on the telly every night, accompanied by beer and pizza and possibly even a spot of peeing in the sink - you never know. Then half an hour before my female is due home there will be a mad scramble to tidy the place up. Mountains of dirty plates will be washed, floors will be vacuumed, guinea pigs will be brushed and given strict instructions not to mention the sink peeing contest. The bed will be made for the first time in four days and enough empty beer cans to build a soviet era Tupolev airliner will be crammed into the recycling bin and hidden with a pile of newspapers piled on top of them. My male staff will have his first shower since my female staff's departure and deodorant will be squirted copiously under his arms. Teeth will be brushed and gallons of mouthwash will be swilled in order to mask his beer breath. Then as she steps through the door, Badger, Paolo the budgie and I will be winked at and he will tap the side of his substantial nose indicating to us that what happens on a "batching weekend" stays in the "batching weekend" and is never mentioned again.

It is unkind to celebrate someones death, although my male staff would probably make an exception for Robert Mugabe, who has single handedly wrecked Zimbabwe which only a few years ago was one of Africa's most prosperous and seemingly stable nations. Now Margaret Thatcher has shuffled off and half of Britain is in mourning while the other half has bought, downloaded, or whatever you do these days, a copy of the song from The Wizard of Oz - "Ding Dong the Witch is Dead". And that just about sums Maggie up doesn't it? You either loved her or you loathed her. She was one of the most divisive Prime Ministers ever and did one hell of a lot of damage to British society during the "Greed is Good" era of the nineteen eighties. In fact one of her most famous quotes was "There is no such thing as society." In other words, if you are poor and down trodden tough titties mate. It's every man and woman for themselves.

Maggie was unbending, bloody minded and pig headed and people mistook these qualities for leadership. She took on the unions, especially the mining unions and won - all but destroying them. There's no doubt that the unions had far too much power back then. Their leaders were used to having beer and sandwiches at 10 Downing Street with Labour Prime Ministers Harold Wilson and the avuncular Jim Callaghan. So when they turned up on the doorstep when Maggie had moved in it came as quite a shock to be invited into the parlour and then soundly thwacked over the head with a powder blue handbag and poked firmly in the gonads with a rolled up copy of the Conservative Party manifesto.

Many mines were closed, many needed to be closed. They were unprofitable, but Maggie made absolutely no attempt to assist the poor sods who had worked all their lives in those mines to find other jobs. In fact she made it harder for them but privatising anything thing that moved, and as we all know, if you privatise something jobs will be lost, and that is exactly what happened.  Maggies rode to power on the back of the election slogan - LABOUR ISN'T WORKING - There were posters everywhere decrying the Labour government's record on unemployment. The unemployment figure was 1.4 million. After five years of Margaret Thatcher's disastrous policies that figure had climbed to in excess of 3 million - or one in eight of the workforce. Whole communities were destroyed, especially in Northern England and Scotland. It was a horrible time to live in Britain and never was the gap between rich and poor greater since the Great Depression years.

Maggie's campaign poster. Five years later under her tender care unemployment more than doubled.
Then of course she tried trickle-down economics along with her friend Ronald Reagan across the pond. That didn't work, never has, never will. Give big business and the super rich tax breaks in the hope that they'll employ more people and they'll disappoint you every time. They just take the tax breaks as extra profit and distribute it to their (mostly already well off) shareholders, and who can blame them. I would do the same. Meanwhile the Labour Party opposition was tearing itself apart with internal ructions and infighting, leaving Maggie to ride roughshod over parliament at will.

Then just as it looked as though Maggie had made herself so unpopular that she was going to lead a one term government, Argentina - under the not terribly bright leadership of General Galtieri invaded first South Georgia and then the Falkland Islands proving once again that military intelligence is a contradiction in terms. It was a monumental miscalculation by the junta. All they had to do was wait a year or two and they could have negotiated a peaceful handover of the Falkland Island with a Labour government who would have been much more amenable to that sort of thing. But no, the silly buggers had to go in with all guns blazing. They never really stood a chance - a bunch of poorly conscripts against what was and probably still is the world's most professional and efficient fighting force.

Poor old American envoy General Haig was clocking up the air miles with his shuttle diplomacy, trying to negotiate a peaceful settlement, but Maggie of course sensed a political windfall and had no intention of settling anything peacefully. BANG! Down went the aging warship the General Belgrano - sunk by a British submarine inside the British imposed exclusion zone around the Falklands and that was it. It was on for young and old. Maggie's obnoxious mouthpiece - the Sun newspaper shouted "Gotcha!" on it's front page as well over three hundred of the almost twelve hundred crew were killed.  To this day we still don't know whether or not the sinking of the Belgrano was a deliberate attempt by the British government to scupper General Haig's efforts.

 Possibly the worst, most tasteless and obnoxious headline in history. 
Bad even by the Sun's appalling standards.

In any case the outcome of the war was that Maggie won the next election in a landslide, riding on the crest of a wave of patriotism and jingoism that left my male staff and millions of other Britons feeling rather uncomfortable. Anyway, at a time when Great Britain should have been rolling in money from the newly opened up North Sea oil fields it was squandering it all on needless wars and unemployment benefits. In short, there are few people less deserving of the honour of a state funeral than Margaret Thatcher. Well, Robert Mugabe maybe.

I think I would have liked Margaret Thatcher. She seems like the kind of woman who would have looked after her feet properly.



  1. Badger you do worry me, I believe Thatcher's feet were welded to her shoes for ultimate practicality, very much not a woman to admire.

    Love trickle down theory, not one iota of evidence to support it & far easier to go directly to those in need. Sooo much conservative government around robbing workers of rights, I live in fear of just how bad it can get & then Thatcher reminds me!

    1. In Germany it´s been the "left-wing" government of Federal Chancellor Schroeder who divided the country in 2003 - though not as hard as Thatcher did to the UK. [Keyword #Agenda2010] Due to this many people were robbed their civil rights - paper doesn´t blush - indirectly as kind of "parallel laws" been established for those who lost their jobs. This all went along with a governmental campaign which claimed all unemployed people as stupid,lazy and boozy ... the former Minister of Labour even called them "Parasites". To shorten it - it worked and it´s still working.

      Badger, I bet Thatcher had athlete's foot ;)

  2. Badger, her feet were concreted into her shoes. 'The Lady's not for turning' you know. Even her home town of Grantham is divided - the braindead Tories who still think she was great, and the rest of us, who don't want to pay for such a silly send-off.

  3. Billy I think you need to run the world!! What smart clever piggie you are.