It was 1979. The memory of the three-day week and blackouts was still fresh in my mind as I sat in the Aston University Students Union lounge. On TV was a woman. I was listening to what she was saying because, to me, it made a whole lot of sense.
Raised in Hull – a working class town if ever there was one – I rejected the bitter class warfare that passed for socialism and I found myself the butt of snide remarks for it too. Comments like “who the hell does he think he is going to college and all – he should get a bloody job like the rest of us”. Some so called school friends never spoke to me again for going to college and betraying my ‘class’. Funny, because until I moved to the US, I never actually fit into the upper middle class environment my professional life found me working in either. Here, I was that jumped up guy with the horrible working class Hull accent! The US was bliss… there I was just English and everyone loved my accent…..
Anyway, I digress. Margaret Thatcher galvanized me. She made me understand that I could DO whatever I wanted if I had the ability, drive and passion. She changed my life in so many ways. I went out on the streets of Birmingham and I campaigned for her back in 1979. It was amazing to see her become PM. Again, I was an outlier. A student supporting the Tories when it was so fashionable to a leftie.
Funny, I recall a conversation with my best friend back then – he knows who he is – he was labour through and through. I told him, wait, a few years now and you will change. About 7-years later, I was knocking on doors for him too in a council election where he was standing as the Tory candidate! It was just so trendy to be a leftie back then – maybe still is.
Mrs. Thatcher started well, was good for several years but then, surrounded by weak yes men, she made some mistakes. That’s life. we all do. I know some folk hated her. She was a change agent. Most folks hate change too. They will fight it and resist it to the bitter end. Yes, people lost their livelihoods in the pits mining coal no one wanted to buy. I know she wasn’t good for everyone but she changed the UK and she changed Europe and she even changed the world – for better or for worse, she had an impact. She was the first woman to hold that office too.
Today she passed away. This article isn’t to extoll her virtues or lay praise on her doorstep. It is simply to say that I do not understand what has happened to my country. How people can make the vitriolic and hateful statements they make about an old lady’s death. Have some respect people. She was someone’s Mother, Aunt, Grandmother etc. She lived her life and did her best. What has happened that people can be so sick. Today, I unfriended someone on Facebook for their sick and hateful comments – someone who most of the time talks spirituality too!
Which brings me to my last point I guess. I havn’t lived in the UK for over 20-years. I don’t see myself anymore as British or working class or Tory or any of those other labels we all like to use so much to find reasons to hate one another. I am simply a human being trying to get on with my life, enjoy it, and hopefully have an impact on others through my interaction with them. I am UNIQUE. I always have been…….