Sunday, 5 May 2019

Forty Years On

It's incredible to me, though not to you, gentle reader, that forty years have passed since Mrs Thatcher became British Prime Minister. That day is memorable for me also because my sister and I were taken by our parents to see our childhood favourite Burl Ives sing in Gravesend.

I canvassed
 in 1979 with enthusiasm for Paul Channon (son of Chips and our MP, impossibly grand and very wet in both sensesand for Norman St John Stevas in Chelmsford in 1983 because he was so anti Thatcherite. He told me, while we canvassed,

We must disenfranchise the unemployed. They'll be the majority next time.

I always strongly disapproved of Margaret Thatcher in her day. Now I miss her badly, though I regret the mass unemployment and destruction of so much of our industry. But the Tory left that I liked morphed into social liberal fascists like Amber Rudd, Ruth Davidson, Anna Soubry and Theresa May. Which suggests that as the fruits are evil the roots must be.

Forty Years On was the name of the wonderfully funny play that Alan Bennett wrote. I took a girl to see it revived in 1985 just after I went down. An unknown Stephen Fry, who is five or six years older than me but overlapped with me at college, played the schoolmaster. Now it's forty years on for us too.

It mocks a world that still existed in the early 1960s when it was written but had long gone by 1985 and contained some great lines, like the Headmaster (Sir John Gielgud in the original, Paul Eddington in the revival) talking about
'the wonderful equality of death' 
'Have you ever thought, Headmaster, that your standards might perhaps be a little out of date?'
'Of course they're out of date. Standards always are out of date. That is what makes them standards.'

In Twenty Years On, D'Artagnan and the three musketeers at forty seemed very old, though they would since I read the book at the age of eight. It was the only book my paternal grandmother possessed apart from the Bible. As I mentioned before on this blog, they returned in their early fifties in the Vicomte de Bragelonne and put Charles II on the throne of England. So there is still time for fiftysomethings. Just.

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