Monday, 8 April 2013
I'd already left the UK when Thatcher came to power. I was living in Germany. One of the jibes from Germans was the one recent English word that every German knew.
Before that, I'd been living in a basement flat in Kensington, outside of which the rubbish sacks were piled to the sky because of the various public service disputes.
We'd only get power three days a week and I can still remember the regular scene of the Earls Court Road lights switching off as the next power cut was enforced.
This was consequential of the preceding Teddy Teeth regime and was around the time that I decided to see what it would be like living somewhere else in Europe.
Boeblingen, near Stuttgart, became home within the wealthy southern German Swabian area. Car manufacturers (Daimler-Benz and Porsche) and computer companies (IBM and Hewlett-Packard). Many small and medium sized enterprises and a surprising diversity of locally produced goods. There was a pretty full spectrum of jobs on offer and a managed programme of Gastarbeiter (imported) labour.
There were still the quirks of langer Samstag (the occasional Saturday when the shops remained open) and the weirdly short lunch breaks measured in tenths of an hour (you had to be clocked out for 36 minutes minimum at lunch-time).
By the time I returned to the UK, things were changing. The bins had been emptied, but the infrastructure of the manufacturing and production economy of Britain was being dismantled. The south was getting new work from the progressively deregulated financial services industry, but the 'making things' mentality was dissolving. Quick money was being made from selling things in public/state ownership back to the part of the public that could afford it.
I used to think that Thatcher was an unstable bully although the madness storyline didn't get much presence at the time. There was too much fighting in the streets/pits/factories/tax offices/oceans to allow time for that kind of reflection.
I also didn't think Thatcher had reasoned solutions, more that she was the one in position when things needed urgent change. The hardcore route she selected wasn't the only one available and unfortunately her choices cost the country decades of damage.
Most of the media has been jammed with related stories and pre-canned television shows. I decided to switch off twitter until it subsides again.
We'll get the televised event next Wednesday in Central London, with a sort of irony related to a state funeral for the arch privatiser.
Someone said the one word summary of her was conviction.
I say it was division.