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How I Killed Margaret Thatcher

How I Killed Margaret Thatcher - Anthony Cartwright I didn't watch her funeral. I don't read newspapers. And, until her recent demise, I had forgotten all about the Heart-of-Iron-Lady and how miserable it felt growing up in a country being brutally divided by a woman whose first concern was always "is he one of us?" On the day of her funeral, the current, pitiful excuse for a Prime Minister, claimed we were all Thatcherites now. No, Dave. Some of us could never be 'one of us' - we were always just 'one of them'.It's 1979. Sean Bull is nine years old (four years younger than I was at the time). He lives in Dudley, in the West Midlands (a key electoral battleground at the time), and his dad has voted for the Tories. "The country's got to change" he says. "Things can change for the worse, yer know, as well as the better" is his wife's reply. She's a wise one, Sean's mother. I don't know her name. I don't think it is mentioned in the book. That's one of the things wrong with the world: the women who have to pick up the pieces, try to keep their families together through adversity - the backbone of a nation - are left behind in anonymity while the Thatchers of this world have millions of words written about them. "To keep wanting more's no good," Mrs B tells her husband, "it just goes on and on." A very different world-view to Mrs T, whose words are quoted between chapters. ("Oh, but you know, you do not achieve anything without trouble, ever.")Here, in what would otherwise be just another run-of-the-mill, growing-up-in-middle-England-in-the-late-70s/early-80s novel (like [b:Black Swan Green|14316|Black Swan Green|David Mitchell|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1320562118s/14316.jpg|2166883], [b:The Rotters' Club|41038|The Rotters' Club|Jonathan Coe|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1320495527s/41038.jpg|2951664] and, of course, [b:Adrian Mole|114950|The Adrian Mole Diaries|Sue Townsend|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1347344294s/114950.jpg|2911907]) Anthony Cartwright vividly and accurately chronicles what it felt like to be on the wrong end of the Thatcher 'miracle'. Here are some of the things Sean says about her:"She must really hate us, I think. You can see if you watch her on telly or even if you hear her voice coming outof the radio that we make her angry. At least, someone makes her angry. Even when she said that Saint Francis stuff, it was like she was telling everyone off.""From then on she was always there, a picture on the television hundreds of times over; sometimes only her voice, nagging away across the allotments and gardens and factories; the meanness of it, her voice, working away at you like rust."The anger echoes The Grapes of Wrath:"It was like a plague had come. It was what you'd do, I suppose, if you had a plan, if you set out to destroy a place: close the big works first, one by one, create waves that spread out from their closing, factory after factory, shop after shop; later on the brewery, the rail yard, passenger trains had long since finished, even the football ground, the cricket ground, which both slid into the old limestone workings. Johnny was right about the hill being hollow, a whole town was disappearing, caving in. If you had a plan, you'd tell people they're no good, finished, if they haven't got a job, right after you've taken theirs from them; tell them they're no good if they don't own their house and then try to sell their house back to them; tell them that all that really matters are houses and cars and money, as theirs begin to slip away from them. You'd set people against each other, some of them will applaud what you are doing, some of them will want their thirty pieces of silver or pay you yours, depending on who the betrayer is - it's not always clear, after all. Some people will do very well, and that's what you'd understand and exploit.""Thirty years or more is what you need, I think, if you really want to destroy something; community, society, whatever you want to call it. It takes a long time for things to die. It's what you planned for, if there was a plan.After the first shocks, keep the pressure up. Sell off what you can, every last scrap. Maintain this permanent crisis; turn the world upside-down. You rob from the poor you've made and give to the rich. And you keep going, unrelenting. The revolution is permanent, after all.""They loved rubbing our noses in the dirt."Anthony Cartwright was not chosen by Granta for their recent list of the twenty best British novelists under forty. Zadie Smith, who was, said that this novel "shines a light brightly for regional fiction" - a comment which sounds a tad snobbish to me, implying 'regional' fiction to be inferior to 'metropolitan' fiction. The ambiguity may have been unintentional but, like the Granta editor's reference to Leeds as being "completely out of the literary world", revealing.