Being Margaret Thatcher (with one Hitch)

16 Dec

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).

16 Responses to “Being Margaret Thatcher (with one Hitch)”

  1. Andreas Kluth December 17, 2011 at 10:21 am #

    Your fantasy is to swat naughty boys on the bum, provided they’re witty and naughty. Hereby it is announced.

    Witty naughty boys: form an orderly queue and wait your turn in a civil manner.

    • jenny December 18, 2011 at 6:57 am #


      Witty naughty boys do not form a queue for anything. It’s not in their nature. Even for a swat on the bum. And it probably would take all the fun out of it if they did.

      Now, I have to add that I did have a purpose beyond the flexing of sass here: How do you write an appreciative send-off for a person when EVERYBODY is writing an appreciative send-off?

  2. Cyberquill December 18, 2011 at 1:03 pm #

    Hitchens said everyone had a book in them and that’s where it should stay most of the time. You think he meant blog posts, too?

    • jenny December 19, 2011 at 5:59 am #

      Yeah, same goes for blog posts, I’m sure. I hear what you’re saying, Cyberquill. I think it myself most days.

      Don’t put your daughter on the stage, Mrs. Worthington.

      • Cyberquill December 19, 2011 at 8:58 am #

        Her bust is too developed for her age.

  3. Paul Costopoulos December 18, 2011 at 3:26 pm #

    I wasn’t familiar with Mr Hitchens until he died. From what I have now read about him, I can not feel sorry for not knowing him nor his writings.

    • dafna December 18, 2011 at 4:14 pm #


      then there are two less appreciative send-offs to worry about. it seems to me he was more like an abrasive cad than a naughty boy.

      maybe jenny, you could enlighten as to why he was so appreciated?

    • jenny December 19, 2011 at 6:45 am #

      Paul and Dafna,

      Many people felt this way about Christopher Hitchens. Those send-offs are out there, too.

      Sometimes I found him snide, and sometimes I didn’t like what he was saying. Most of the time, though, I admired him for all the predictable reasons: smart, daring, clever with words.

      Martin Amis calls writing the war against cliche. I see that in Hitchens. That’s what I like.

  4. Andreas Kluth December 19, 2011 at 10:45 am #

    Paul, he was a great “man of letters” in the Enlightenment sense, a gadfly to everybody including himself. He would infuriate you into a higher awareness. That’s a lot, isn’t it?

  5. Philippe December 20, 2011 at 4:17 am #

    What explained Christopher Hitchens’ popularity in America? I suggest two things: a posh-sounding English accent and Neo-Con views.

    That he had a way with words, knew how to promote himself and play to the gallery, also helped.

    But, will anything Christopher Hitchens said or wrote be remembered five years or less from now by the great news-consuming public? I doubt it.

    Will Hitchens, himself, be remembered five years or less from now by the great news-consuming public? I doubt this too.

    He deserves to be remembered, though, not for what he said or wrote, but for the great courage he showed in facing the illness from which he succumbed.

    Who will now replace him as the darling of the great news-consuming public? Niall Ferguson?

    • jenny December 20, 2011 at 6:18 am #

      You’re right. He was brave about dying.

      • dafna December 21, 2011 at 5:39 pm #

        he was beyond brave…

        i read he imagined himself fighting some noble cause instead of a disease. his cancer had a very low survival rate and also the knowledge that it was somewhat self-induced could not have escaped his mind.

        i pity anyone who dies in pain, physical or otherwise.

    • Paul Costopoulos December 20, 2011 at 6:58 am #

      Ferguson I know and I much appreciated his “Colossus, the rise and fall of the American Empire”.

      • Philippe December 20, 2011 at 1:28 pm #

        @Paul – For a withering piece about Niall Ferguson and what he writes, you can do little better than read this recent essay by *Pankaj Mishra in the London Review of Books*, as well as the acrimonious letters between Ferguson and Mishra that followed – that the punditocracy is talking up as the opening shots of a literary feud par excellence.

    • Cyberquill December 20, 2011 at 10:23 am #

      Neo-con views? What exactly might those have been? His sledge-hammer atheism? His assertion that Reagan was “dumb as a stump” (if I recall his choice of words correctly)?

      • Paul Costopoulos December 21, 2011 at 6:30 pm #

        Philippe, one can read anything one wishes into anyone’s writing or saying. I most strongly disagree with effendi Mishra,

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