52 Poems for 2013, 15/52: Bringing up Thatcher


Yes, I remember the day Thatcher resigned. I had just woken up to a murderous hangover and found two unidentified drunks in my flat. I was half-way through a suicidal fried breakfast. Someone put the TV on and suddenly there it was: everyone was talking about HER past-tense, preparing political obituaries, puzzling over possible successors. Reporters were hanging around outside Number Ten, like a party of excited school children.

And then something happened. I took a mouthful of orange juice and my whole body stiffened. Was it the fried food or the incredible information my brain was receiving? In any case, all my senses rebelled. After a short three-metre sprint I found myself on my knees in the toilet clutching the lavatory seat like some lifebelt in a raging sea. At the risk of offending both Christian and Conservative, I must say that what followed next I still regard as a semi-religious experience.

Behind me the television blared out its astonishing revelation, while my stomach muscles knotted into painful convulsions. “AN ISOLATED FIGURE WHO ALWAYS SEEMED TO LACK COMPASSION”. That did it: up came the mushrooms and tomatoes and beans on toast. “HER ANTI-EUROPEAN STANCE HAD INCREASINGLY BEGUN TO BE SEEN AS AN ALBATROSS AROUND HER PARTY’S NECK”. Now it was diced carrots and scotch broth. “THE RECENT POLL-TAX RIOTS IN LONDON AND WIDESPREAD PUBLIC REACTION AGAINST AN UNFAIR TAXING SYSTEM…” Yes, I was in full flight now, giving it Technicolor yawn from a roaring lion.

It seemed to me at that moment that I was rejecting her and everything she stood for. As my stomach heaved and the TV commentary raged on, my mind was reeling with pain and confusion: but step by aching step I was bringing up each of the eleven years of my life which that damned woman had poisoned. As I prayed so devoutly, head bowed before the porcelain altar, I felt healthier every minute, spiritually cleansed: hoping for a brighter, more honest, and decent future. Three terms of evil were re-wound and erased, hospitals un-closed, jobs un-lost, Argentinians un-murdered.

As I talked to God on the big white telephone, I laughed and wept and thanked him for our deliverance: mine and that of the British people; confessing that greed had been the cause of both of our afflictions.

Douglas Thompson is the author of Mechagnosis.

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Filed in Stories on April 8, 2013