[Marxism] Anthony Powell on Margaret Thatcher (priceless)

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Apr 11 07:30:13 MDT 2013


Margaret Thatcher: Love Throb of the Tory Literati
By James Wolcott
April 10, 2013

I speak of Anthony Powell, the author of the 
still-too-little-acknowledged comic masterpieces Afternoon Men and From 
a View to a Death and more famously for the twelve-volume novel cycle A 
Dance to the Music of Time, which bequeathed us perhaps the greatest 
bitch in English literature, Pamela Widmerpool, but that's by the by.

In the first volume of his Journals, covering the years 1982 to 1986, 
Powell recounts a fancy-do dinner at 10 Downing Street where he is 
seated on one side of Thatcher, V. S. Naipaul on the other.

	I continue to find Mrs Thatcher very attractive physically. Her 
overhanging eyelids, hooded eyes, are the only suggestion of mystery (a 
characteristic I like in women, while totally accepting Wilde's view of 
them as Sphinxes without a secret). Her general appearance seems to 
justify Mitterand's alleged comment that she has the eyes of Caligula 
and the lips of Marilyn Monroe; the latter a film star I never, in fact, 
thought particularly attractive. Mrs Thatcher has a fair skin; hair-do 
of incredible perfection, rather a dumpy figure, the last seeming to add 
a sense of down-to-earthiness that is appropriate and nut unattractive 
in its way. She was wearing a black dress, the collar rolled up behind 
her neck, some sort of gold pattern on it. On her right hand was a large 
Victorian ring, dark red, in an elaborate gold setting. She only likes 
talking of public affairs, which I never find easy to discuss in a 
serious manner... Mrs. T. is reputed to have no humour. I suspect she 
recognizes a joke more than she is credited with, if probably jokes of a 
limited kind, confined to those who know her well.

	David Pryce-Jones told me Fitzroy Maclean reported himself being 
present when Mrs Thatcher was on an official visit to Jugoslavia as a 
member of the Opposition. There had been a dinner before meeting Tito, 
at wich a superlatively good-looking Jug of about thirty five had rested 
his hand on her knee. Mrs T allowed this to remain throughout one 
course. At the next course his hand began to move up. She took it in 
both of her own hands, removed it, and said: 'Perhaps one day. Not now.' 
When she met Tito on this same jaunt he was in a bad temper, having just 
rid of his third or fourth wife. he told Mrs Thatcher that women should 
not meddle in politics. She replied: 'I am politics.'

"I am politics": indeed, she seems to have been nothing but politics, so 
little else of life filtering in. That's what made her so formidable. 
The monomaniacal and fanatical are less given to fatigue, their vanity 
and willpower operating as twin engines. They almost never tire, but 
their supporters tire of them, which is why even among the party 
faithful Mrs. T eventually wore out her welcome.

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