With the threat of a return to a Conservative government hanging over us once again we've been reminiscing about the bad old days and in particular Margaret Thatcher: the woman who stole our milk, but never our hearts. Of course it wasn't all sinking fleeing Argentinean battleships and snuggling up with the likes of Pinochet. Without Thatcher Spitting Image would have been without a leading lady and the miner's strike at least gave us 'Monty Mole' for the 48k Sinclair Spectrum...
So we were surprised to read today that the Iron Lady had yet another side to her character - a, dare we say it, womanish side. Well we did see her shed a tear when she finally took leave of Number Ten and we even felt a tad sorry for the old dear when her long suffering Dennis went to a better place, but until now we've never thought of her as anything but inhuman while in power. You know, pure Evil with a capital E like David Warner in Time Bandits. Russia's Kommersant reports otherwise about her meetings with Gorbachev:
"they sat down in arm-chairs at a fireplace, Thatcher took off her patent-leather shoes, tucked her feet under her chair and got out her handbag... She reminded him that they had met under tragic circumstances - at Andropov's burial. "I remember how you took care of me. It was frosty and I was wearing thin stockings and a light suit... They never wear furs in England. But when she met him she would always have some new fur. Thatcher had a definite womanish feeling towards Gorbachev..."
Thatcher... thin stockings... womanish feelings... Our eyes are burning.
Of course this sudden femininity may have been just another weapon in her arsenal used to get Gorby to bend the way she wanted - so to speak. Than again Leonid Zamyatin also recalls that Thatcher could be characteristically blunt and on one occasion threatened Russia if aid to our own miners was not stopped:
"Your trade unions are helping our coal-miners with money. They have been on strike five months already. The strike continues. It is doing a great damage to the economy of England. For the time being I take that quite calmly. But I request that your trade-unions should cease the financial support otherwise we will resort to sanctions.
Now that's the Maggie we are more familiar with. And it wasn't only the miners she had it in for. German reunification? Not on her watch:
"The thing is that England still hates a united Germany because it cannot stand the economic competition against it. This was why Thatcher - a pragmatic in her economic policy - always proceeded from the understanding that a divided Germany was more acceptable for England than a united one. On the eve of the fall of the Berlin wall Shevardnadze flew to London and told Thatcher: "England and the Soviet Union are one on the German issue. We need to put off the unification of Germany for as long as possible. Thatcher answered: This coincides with our interests".
All old news of course, but Michael Howard learned a lot at Thatcher's thin stocking clad knee...
Go read the whole fascinating interview. It also has a couple of gems about Reagan's presidency and the fact that once he had memorised a couple of Russian gags there was no longer any room in his head for politics.
The more the world changes the more it stays the same...