I have been watching TV reports and reading with interest all the brickbats and bouquets being thrown at Margaret Thatcher the former British Prime Minister who died last week.
She was a formidable woman of strong principles who had a clear vision of what she thought Britain should be. During her eleven and a half years in office she changed Britain for ever, and she also had a profound effect on the rest of the world. Needless to say, some of the actions she took enraged sections of the population who still regard her as tantamount to the devil incarnate. Much of the criticism is based on ill-informed mythology but some of it is very understandable.
I was not one of her supporters, but neither was I one of her detractors, and I clearly recall what life in Britain was like in the mid 1970s, and how she injected some much needed vigour into the political process. Latterly she introduced policies with which I profoundly disagreed, but even so I consider her to have been one of Britain’s most remarkable leaders.
Last Friday morning at crack of dawn the DH and I took a taxi to Beijing South Railway station as we were off to Shanghai. The taxi driver was a pleasant chap – probably in his forties or fifties – who spoke nary a word of English, but was very chatty. He asked the usual opening questions: were we Americans? no. Where were we from? Britain. How long were we visiting Beijing for? we live here. Were we teachers? no. Were we diplomatic staff? no. Finally I explained that my husband was a business man working in China. After a while he suddenly turned to us and said (in Chinese) ‘Maggie Tattcher died’, I told him that we knew that. After some thought he turned again – gave a big thumbs up and said ‘Maggie Tattcher good woman, very strong’.
So there you have it Margaret Thatcher’s epitaph from a Beijing taxi driver !