Friday 26 April 2013

Two Funerals…

1.    It’s what she would have wanted

I have no truck with the notion of an afterlife. If you do then good luck to you, but being of a somewhat lazy tendency myself I’ve always had to fight against my natural urge to put off until tomorrow what I really should be doing today. The prospect of putting off until the next life what I should be doing in this one strikes me as a step too far – I’d never get anything done.

That said, even if you do believe in a life hereafter – heaven and hell, limbo and nirvana, reincarnation, enlightenment, and all the rest – I’d hope we could both agree on the observation that funerals say more about the living than the dead; that they’re not really for those who have gone so much as those left behind.

This is obviously prompted by the death of Margaret Thatcher and all the associated hullabaloo. I know it may all seem a little too British and a touch parochial but don’t worry, I’ll be moving to a more global scale eventually (it’ll get worse before it gets better, mind).

A while back I had cause to link to the website To call it a One Trick Pony is something of an insult to mono-skilled equines everywhere, but the fat lady has thoroughly mixed her metaphor and isthatcherdeadyet recently had call to make its first and presumably, hopefully, only update. The people who run the site then, predictably enough, received death threats on Twitter. Equally predictably there were spontaneous street parties in Brixton and Glasgow when the news of Maggie’s death broke. It’s probably a little redundant for me to say that for all that both these occurrences were predictable, I feel they were a little out of line.

No point gilding the lily.

My personal politics are slightly but firmly to the left of centre. I held no affection for Mrs Thatcher and think that her sum impact upon the country was unquestionably and massively negative. But she left the scene when I was barely out of short trousers and however much her legacy may have influenced the subsequent years, that ‘legacy’ was only enacted through the efforts of other people. When she died it was hard to care one way or the other, to be honest. If something’s lost relevance whilst it still exists, it’s hard to see how it could suddenly gain it again merely by ceasing to be.

Should she have got a funeral of the scale and expense as the one she received? No, not really. Not least given her anti-state, “there’s no such thing a society” stance. She’d have been turning in her grave if it wasn’t for the fact she wasn’t quite yet in it. But she was the first British woman to be democratically elected as Head of Government, and that if nothing else deserved to be marked in some way.

Certainly, in my eyes, more deserving than the brief period of national wailing which the UK plunged into after the death of Princess Diana. For all her (many, many, hideous) flaws Thatcher was, in some very clear respects, a genuine trailblazer. She certainly achieved more concrete things with her life than simply having the good luck to be born into a family blessed with massive heredity privilege, and having the bad luck to marry into another cursed with even more.

I can think of nothing to go here that isn't in
incredibly poor taste...

I still can’t quite fathom what went on in the UK 16 years ago. Maybe it just tapped into a dormant part of the national consciousness: a part which still believes in the inherent superiority of the class system, divine right, and destiny over effort, application, and ambition, and that all every little girl really wants is to find that she’s secretly a princess with her own pony (multi-talented or otherwise). Maybe it was the silent majority of Middle England finally finding its voice. It’s just regrettable that voice sounded like nothing more than “the shrieking grief of twats.”

You’ll have also gathered that, in tune with those left-of-centre leanings, I’m also a low-grade republican (small ‘r’). If you were designing a system of government from scratch then choosing a Head of State based on whose ancestor was the most ruthless arsehole a few centuries back would clearly be a poor choice. That said the UK has more immediate problems to address, and I suspect always will have. Besides, we’ve tried having a revolution before and that didn’t really take.

End of Part One.


  1. Looking forward to part 2. My only real knowledge of Thatcher was a Monty Python sketch where someone announces, out of the blue, "Margaret Thatcher's naughty bits," and later, "The naughty bits of an ant."

    Fortunately, I mostly missed the Diana debacle as well. Sometimes it's nice to be buried deep in the W. United States mountains.

    1. Yeah, part 2. For the first time since I've started this blog, I've not got a backlog of 'proper' posts waiting to go up. Usually when I split things it's for length, but this time it's also because I've just not finished it. Friday. It'll be done by Friday. Hopefully.

      It'll also, I'm afraid, be bringing it a bit closer to home for you as well ;)

  2. If something’s lost relevance whilst it still exists, it’s hard to see how it could suddenly gain it again merely by ceasing to be.

    Good, very good.

  3. I don't have much to say, because there are many who more more eloquent while living through the bitch's reign. Hell, even that twat Morrissey was:

    On my own blog I found it better to quote others:

    The only thing I will add is not about her, but the funeral. If Britain's Conservatives wanted to use her funeral as an advertising campaign, shouldn't the party foot the bill?

    1. The best piece I read was by Russell Brand, surprisingly enough. It's linked to in the 'one way or another' quote above. Definitely worth a read.

      Didn't see any of the funeral, but dunno how it would have worked as advertising. She was never exactly a 'big tent' politician, and I reckon people watching would already have been pretty well-disposed towards her/them as it is.