I want to be Margaret Thatcher. Just for a few minutes.
I want to be the head of the conservative party. I want to be the first woman Prime Minister of Britain. And let it happen in my fifties. I want people to call me the Iron Lady and mean it. I want to get tough with the Soviets and pal around with the Reagans. I want to fight a little war in the Falklands.
I don’t have to agree with all of Mrs. Thatcher’s politics to appreciate her. Here’s a woman who played an enormous role in public life. Smart, accomplished, tough.
Just let me have a few short minutes as Mrs. Thatcher. A few carefully chosen minutes:
Someone introduces me to a writer.
I recognize his name: he’s that cheeky fellow who quipped in the New Statesman, in an off-hand way, that he finds Mrs. Thatcher surprisingly sexy.
Everyone was outraged. Everyone was amused.
Pleased with himself, isn’t he?
And now here he is, picking a fight with me about Rhodesia? I fight back, and eventually, he concedes the point with a slight bow. A bow that says: I concede, but I still know I’m right.
“Bow lower,” I say. And he does.
“No,” I say, “much lower.” And he does.
And I swat him on the behind with the parliamentary order paper, rolled in a cylinder behind my back.
Then, with a slight roll of the hip (or so Mr. Hitchens will have it in his version of the story), I turn and walk away.
Did I mouth the words “Naughty boy!” over my shoulder?
It makes a nice story. If he wants to tell it that way, why not?
That’s it. That’s all I want out of a being-Margaret-Thatcher fantasy:
A little banter with Christopher Hitchens (1949-2011).