Today I had a lovely lunch with Dawn. We were originally going to the Mill but were defeated by a little sign which declared that it was going to be closed until 4pm.
This caused a lot more distress to a man who pulled up in his mini. He sat in the entrance to the car park, holding up traffic as he sat and stared at the sign. Eventually he parked and emerged from his car. He wandered over to the entrance, reading the sign for some sign of hope. He even went to the door and tried to open it.
When Dawn arrived, I hopped into the car and we drove over to the Royal Oak instead. As lovely as the Mill is, the Royal Oak is everything a country pub should be. Low ceilings, seats built into old fireplaces, strange selections of books, old men reading the paper at the bar…we happily sat down with a drink and lunch (ham, eggs and chips) for a lovely couple of hours chatting and catching up.
That’s where we heard the news that Margaret Thatcher had died of a stroke. While we didn’t discuss her reign as Britain’s first (and only to date) female Prime Minister, this single event managed to dominate everything for the rest of the day.
Growing up in Australia, I was not particularly aware of Ms Thatcher and her premiership. Since moving here, however, I have become aware of the firmly divided opinions of her time in office and lasting legacy.
According to her supporters, she should be sainted. She was the best thing that could ever have happened to this country. Strong willed, politically astute and unassailable, the Iron Lady swept Britain into a future of prosperity, reaffirming this country’s power on a world stage following years of hopelessness and doom.
According to her critics, she was evil and intent on the destruction of democracy in Britain. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of them have called for her head to be placed on a spike on Tower Bridge as a warning to other evil dictators.
To underline this latter view, a few impromptu street parties were suddenly organised to celebrate her death. Even on Blip, a world usually dominated by conservative happiness and light, a few members visually cheered her demise while photographing images from TV screens and the Internet.
Regardless of political affiliations or past actions, Ms Thatcher was a human being and she died. She was a wife, a mother and a grandmother. People loved her. I think celebrating her death so quickly is nothing more than bad taste and morally disgusting.
To quote Jessica Dovey on the death of Osama bin Laden:
I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy.
And to follow up with a quote from Martin Luther King Jnr:
Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.
We all die, it comes to us all. A life, no matter how it’s spent, is still precious, the loss of which is the worst thing that can ever happen. A lot of people need a dose of empathy.