It won't let me read the whole article. Any chance of pasting the whole thing?
Sorry Bev. When I posted the link, you could read the whole thing, but they must have blocked it.
My life under Margaret Thatcher
by: Caitlin Moran
From: The Times
April 16, 2013 12:00AM
IT'S an odd thing - being told to mourn. Being told to feel sad. Being chided into reverence.
When the news of Margaret Thatcher's death broke, Twitter became as always the village well: the place of announcement and discussion. At first, everyone stuck to a very simple "Margaret Thatcher has died", or "Baroness Thatcher, RIP", or "It has finally happened". The first communications were the simple reporting of news.
After half an hour or so, people started to talk about their emotional reactions to the news. And whenever someone from the Left said anything non-reverent - or even joyous - about her passing, several thousand people from the Right would be on hand to scold: "Show some respect!", or "An 87-year-old woman has died!" or "Can you not feel some compassion? Can you not act with kindness? Can you not bow you head, just for today?"
And this was interesting, because those who supported Margaret Thatcher appeared not to believe that otherwise reasonable, considerate people could legitimately feel like this. The Right could not understand why, even for a day, some on the Left could not bow their heads and make a civilised attempt at deference.
But as someone who comes from a council estate in a town that rioted in the 1980s (Wolverhampton. The McDonald's was left intact. Even as we rioted, we protected the chips), but who now mingles with the elite (I've been snubbed by David Cameron at a garden party: my echelons are "upper"), I know why those feelings exist. How it is perfectly possible for kind people not to be capable of mourning the death of an old lady. Why your bones can boil against someone who should, ostensibly, be assessed as a hard-working public servant. And I also know that that is wrong.
As a class-jumper, I would say - as a sweeping generalisation - that politics can never mean as much to the professional classes as it does to the working class or the underclass.
What is the worst - the very worst - that government policy can do to you if you have a job in an industry with a strong future, live in a pleasant and well-equipped part of the country and have enough money to have always thought of shoes as a necessity rather than a luxury?
Push the highest rate of tax for a few thousand people to 90 per cent and let the bin-men go on strike. Annoying but not fatal. If you are generally secure, a government can inconvenience you, make you poorer or make you angrier - it can, let's be frank, be a massive, incompetent, depressing, maybe even immoral pain in the arse - but you, and your family, and your social circle will survive it. It is unlikely that the course of your life will be much different under one government than the next, however diverse their ideas.
By way of contrast, what's the worst - the very worst - that a government policy can do to you if you're poor? Food-bank poor? Dependant-on-the- government poor? Well, everything. It can suddenly freeze, drop, or cancel your benefits - leaving you in the panic of unpayable bills and deciding which meals to skip. It can underfund your schools and hospitals - death in a corridor; no exams passed; no escape route into private hospitals or tutors, when your purse is full only of buttons and old bus tickets. It can let your entire industry die - every skill learnt and piece of knowledge earned left useless. It can leave your whole city to "managed decline", as Geoffrey Howe's recently published suggestion for Liverpool revealed.
You know when middle-class people feel "absolutely devastated" by the government's policy on the EU? They aren't devastated. They're annoyed.
You know when poor people are "absolutely devastated" by the government's policy on housing benefit? They are absolutely devastated. They are in a hostel with their children. It's not just words to them. It's the reporting of a fact. It's their future. It's their ruin.
Because if you are in the wrong town, in the wrong job, in the wrong class, the policies of a government make you disintegrate. And all those around you too - so that you are all in fear. I don't know if you ever went to a former manufacturing town in the 1980s - somewhere northern and working-class - but that's how they felt. The sadness and fear was everywhere. It saturated estates like greasy fog. It saturated the people like greasy fog.
Even now, I can catch the faint smell of it on the coats of those who left those towns decades ago. Even when the coats are new, and we are standing in a grand room, escaped. But for those who cannot remember this, because they weren't in towns like this, here's what it was like to have lived there: whenever people reminisce about the Eighties they always mention how the prospect of nuclear annihilation was a palpable thing. We were thoroughly and repeatedly talked through what it would be like to live in a post-nuclear wasteland: the lack of resources, the lack of hope, the panic. We were all conversant with what would happen when the wind blows. We knew what waited for us if diplomacy failed.
As a nine-year-old when Threads - with its bomb blast and melting St Paul's and evaporating citizens - was broadcast, I had that hazy, childish thing of half believing, half not believing that the dropping of the bomb had already happened.
In Wolverhampton, it looked like diplomacy had failed. So much of what was promised for the apocalypse appeared to have come to us, bar the radiation burns.
We would drive into town, and my father would start the same rattled monologue: "When I was a kid, at this time of the day, all you'd hear was the tramp, tramp, tramp of people's feet as they walked to the factories. Every bus would be full, the streets would be seething. This town had something to do and money in its pocket. People used to come here for work and get it the same day.
"Look at it now," he'd say, as we went right through the centre: boarded-up buildings, buddleia growing out of windows. "A ghost town. Where have they gone? Where have they all gone?"
We were here to shop, at the cheapest place in town - the big, empty supermarket by the retail market where someone had thrown up shelves inside what used to be a factory and piled goods high and sold them cheap.
Mice would run from the sacks of rice. Ghosts seemed to live up in the roof, in the tangle of industrial pipes they'd simply painted over, in a sickly, unlikely turquoise.
It was only driving back home that you'd see where everyone was - queuing outside the Job Centre, heads down. The old fellas, like my dad, who had always thought they would work jobs wet with sweat, who could only sign their names with an X and who knew they were, in the re-settling of the economy, f***ed eternally. The younger men looked poleaxed by knowing that 2,999,999 people had signed on before them - although part of their discombobulation could have been their jeans, which were still, at the time, worn very tight and without the mercy of a Lycra mix.
I was, accidentally, in the town centre when the riots happened - when it seemed like every man in the city ran down the main road, screaming. The police vans boxed us in and our dad pulled us into a doorway and pushed us to his chest. I remember the sour smell of his sweat as he panicked and tried to hide us from screaming men under his padded Burton's anorak, in the town he'd spent his whole life in.
And then, in times of calm, the attempts at pleasure. We went to West Park - Wolverhampton's green space - once. We were the first people in the park that day. As we walked through the gates, the muddy banks of the lake animated and the water began to churn, and there was a chittering sound that made you want to wipe your hands clean over and over and over again. Hundreds and hundreds of rats were fleeing at our approach. They were swimming out to their nests on the island in the middle of the lake while emitting odd rat-screams. That summer, the council had run out of money to control them and they had over-run the entire park: it had turned into a city of vermin.
In 1902, West Park had hosted an Art and Industrial Exhibition, with a concert hall, two bandstands, a restaurant and a funfair with a waterchute. Now, the ornate Victorian bandstand looked like it had fallen from a different planet.
So that's where I grew up. The riots and rats and ghosts and sad, silent queues. It seemed as if diplomacy had failed in Wolverhampton. Like some kind of bomb had dropped.
And when an entire city falls - when you live somewhere that feels like the ruins of a civilisation that was, once, much more pleasant; when your elders tell you, with a look of shock that is still new, that it did not used to be like this: that things were better, that things were pleasant, but not in your lifetime; and you see that they mourn the childhood you are having; are ashamed of the childhood you are having and want to cover it up with their big, hard hands - you look, as all ruined, bombed cities must, to your leaders, to see what their reaction is to your unhappiness. You look to see if they know how bad it is. You look to see what their solution is.
And the government of the Eighties did not come and help. I sound as pathetic as a child when I say this now, but that's how we all felt. It was made clear that governments do not help in these matters - that the spores of private enterprise blow as they may, and that everything else was down to the individual. That if your city was ruined, it was because not enough citizens were being dynamic and opening wine bars, or starting up tech firms, or trading on the Stock Exchange. If a city was inferior it was simply because its people were inferior. We were the problem. We - in Liverpool and Sunderland and Glasgow and in the Welsh Valleys - were just ... wrong. We should have turned into something else, and we hadn't. And, as a consequence, we were disliked by our own government.
I grew up knowing that Margaret Thatcher would have hated me: a family of eight children in a council house; union-leader dad; home-educated; bohemian; scared of arguments; immersed in gay culture; with Welsh mining relatives sitting in the front room, talking about picket lines. We were the kind of people holding Britain back.
In recent years, I've been frequently told that my childhood dislike and fear of Mrs Thatcher was deeply ironic - as I am, in actual fact, a classic child of Thatcher. "Look at you! Self-made! Working since you were 13, from a council estate in Wolverhampton! Pulled up by your bootstraps! You are the absolute proof of everything she was saying! Mrs Thatcher made you!"
To which I always reply, very quietly: "Yes. But look around. How many others like me made it out? How many ascended into a world of boys from Eton and Cambridge and the Home Counties, at ease with walking into big rooms and making things happen?" By and large, you will find the power in exactly the same places it was in 1979.
So this is where all that anger started - the anger that confused so many, on the announcement of Baroness Thatcher's death. All those people childishly downloading Ding-Dong! The Witch is Dead or throwing parties, "celebrating" her passing. Among many commentators there was bewilderment over the fireworks that were set off and the champagne - put away in cupboards for so many years for this day - being drunk. Why would you celebrate a death? The death of someone hard-working, old and confused? It is, surely, unnecessarily crude. It is just not classy.
But for all those who were left behind, to mourn their own towns, the sadness and the fear had turned to anger, as it always does - all anger is just fear, brought to the boil. And that is when so many impotent but determined entries were made in diaries. Entries made when a factory closed, or Section 28 was brought in, or a relative came back from a protest, bleeding. Entries made when politics seemed to get very, very personal. Entries when politics became dangerous and destructive.
And they will all have been written differently, on different days, in different pens in a thousand different ways, but what they all boiled down to was this: "I can't do anything else, now, but outlive this. Outlive you. All I can do is outrun you."
And that is what all the cheap, unworthy, yet ultimately heartfelt jubilation was on April 8. It was the simple astonishment and relief of people - in the Valleys, on the estates, in the hostels and on failed marches - who felt they had, against all their own predictions, survived something.