Historically, the two parties have not much gotten along. The BBC has taken delight in trying to tear Thatcher down, having never accepted her as either an instrument of the people or ever a harbinger of good will. Rumors are that its latest program on her, The Long Walk to Finchley, will depart from these hangups.
The first picture of Lindsay Duncan as Margaret Thatcher has been revealed. I have to say that it looks like she almost captures her essence. It still looks a bit summoned and unnatural. Perhaps too calculating. Thatcher had a plaintive iron quality, for it was not by nature just “iron” all the time. Her fire came from her ideological passions, not from some desire to break people as it almost seems from this picture. We shall see, I suppose. The drama features some top names as members of the Thatcher cabinet, and I am anxiously awaiting the program’s debut. ( Might I also note that Duncan’s Thatcher is more reminiscent of Opposition Leader (4:47ish) and newly-elected Thatcher than early-90s Euroskeptic Thatcher? Odd depiction if you ask me, but I always preferred the other hair anyway. )
I hope that the piece does her justice. Even the biographers who have attempted to do so sometimes miss important elements of her persona. For instance, how very feminine she sometimes desired to be. I’ve always thought this excerpt from Sir Nicholas Henderson’s diary, on the occasion of Thatcher’s first visit to Washington after Reagan’s inauguration, was poignant and more than a little dramatic:
Likewise with us on the Friday night following the dinner for the President. It had been a long day, starting with two live TV programmes at 7 a.m. and 7.30 a.m., visits to two factories in the morning, a speech at Georgetown University at lunchtime, discussions at the Pentagon in the afternoon, followed by a press conference, a reception for the Commonwealth and then the party for the President. Rather to my disappointment the President did not ask Mrs T to dance though we had provided plenty of what we thought was appropriate music, such as ‘Dancing Cheek to Cheek’ and ‘Smoke Gets in Your Eyes’. […]
The Reagans remained chatting, rather than dancing. I am not sure why. It is possible that he may not have known in advance that dancing would be going to take place and did not therefore know whether it would have been in order to have started. Oddly, at the White House party the previous evening, he had accompanied the Thatchers to the door to say goodbye and had then returned to the party to dance with Mrs Reagan.
After the Reagans had left the Embassy party a number of guests departed but Mrs Thatcher stayed chatting and watching the dancing. She had said to me in London beforehand that she hoped people would not rush away, which was why we had arranged to have a band. Nobody[fo 3] asked her to dance. So I went up to her and said, ‘Prime Minister, would you like to dance?’ not an opening that would have been available to men in the courts of old, at Versailles or the Hofburg or, to move to more modern times when women Prime Ministers have become known, that would have been inspired by Mrs Golda Meir or Mrs Bandaranaike , or, surely, have been permitted by Mrs Indira Gandhi .
Mrs T accepted my offer without complication or inhibition, and, once we were well launched on the floor, confessed to me that that was what she had been wanting to do all the evening. She loved dancing, something, so I found out, that she did extremely well. Long afterwards I read that one of the few frivolous things she did as an undergraduate at Oxford was to learn ballroom dancing. The band showed great brio and I think Mrs T was happy. After the dance was over and we returned to the end of the room I hoped that someone else would ask her to dance, but alas, this did not happen. Were they all too shy, too much in awe? In retrospect, I realised that I should have encouraged Jim Symington to dance with her; or at any rate I should have arranged something rather than simply leaving it to chance. Meanwhile many others had moved to the dance floor and the party got into a swing. Denis approached and told Mrs T that she must go home to Blair House to bed. I asked her if she would like one more dance and she said she would like to waltz. ‘Yes, come on,’ she said, and we took the floor eagerly. It was with some difficulty that Denis eventually managed to extract her. She had expressed a wish to see some of the floodlit Washington monuments, but Denis put his foot down crying, ‘bed’.
Who would have thought, given the Left’s attempted dehumanization of this great liberator, that Margaret Thatcher loves to dance?