“A Happy And Joyful Day”
Christmas can be slow, news wise. Then comes January and a few tasty nuggets are tossed our way. First there comes the annual honours list, which doesn’t really float my boat to be honest. However, the emergence of thirty year secrets never disappoints.
For me there is the expectancy that something damning will be revealed. I never expect to be told something I didn’t suspect or guess anyway, but there is usually a smug sense of satisfaction in being proved right. Even when the information is infuriating, there’s often the consolation of being able to say we told you so.
We had that when it was revealed that the cabinet actually discussed abandoning Liverpool to “managed decline” and moving its population to other cities, in a previous round of revelations. I imagine former miners leaders will be both apoplectic and vindicated at the same time, with the revelations that Scargill was actually right.
In similar fashion Irish Catholics will be disgusted but not surprised, that establishing a “Walled Catholic Ghetto” was proposed and considered in detail by Thatcher in the mid 80’s. The idea was of course rejected on the basis that “human rights arguments may prove an obstacle.” No shit Sherlock!
I have to say though that Liverpool, at least as far as I can see gets off fairly lightly in the annual deluge of secrets and lies. There is only smallest of crumbs for us, and it takes the form of a “secret” visit to our city in 1984.
Apparently Thatcher took advantage of the fact that the Labour cats were away (at their conference) and decided to come and play in our city. Of course she took in the Garden Festival (Hessletines solution to earlier riots in the city). She also paid a visit to a pensioner in Toxteth, and was shown around her house.
Now Prime Ministers don’t visit pensioners on run down estates without milking the event of every drop of publicity available. She may have wanted to avoid angry confrontations and demonstrations, but she did tip off the editor of the Liverpool Echo on the morning of the visit. A photo opportunity was guaranteed.
It was by all accounts an emotional visit to the home of Mrs Catherine Langton, who graciously gave Thatcher a tour of the dwelling. The Echo refers to it as a rotting Toxteth tenement. The pensioner was said to be in tears, and pleaded with the PM to get her a house fit to live in. She must have been reassured by her guest because she saw the premier off with a tearful kiss on the cheek.
So what did Maggie make of this? Was her icy heart thawed, even a little? At the time we were never told of the impact the encounter had on Thatcher. Today we now know exactly what she thought of her day out. I guess most decent people would have been humbled and deeply troubled by the meeting, what about the prime minister though?
Well now we know. In her own handwritten words we can read for the first time, “For me it was a happy and joyful day, and one I shall always remember.”
January 3rd, 2014