Former Prime Ministers do sometimes quite like to talk to the press as Russell Galbraith
revealed last week. The one I met was Mrs Thatcher. In 1992, I got an invitation to go on a facility visit to a trade exhibition in Dubai. To persuade the editor to let me accept it, I pointed out that the Iron Lady was going to open the show and speak at a local chamber of commerce lunch – she was engaged in raising funds for the Thatcher Foundation at the time. So I got permission. That meant I had to get hold of the Lady as the newsdesk was now expecting a Thatcher story, not platitudes about a trade show.
I persuaded the trip organisers to ask for us to meet her and she agreed. Mrs Thatcher, who had been touring the stands with son Mark, was sitting on a bench at the side of the hall, and looked very tired and somehow diminished from She who stalked the Commons
, but not displeased by the fact she could still draw the hacks. She said the expected words about trade and boosting Britain, ignored the other questions, as politicians do, and that was that. Not much of a story then, especially as the organisers of the lunch she was waiting to attend had refused to let us listen to her speech, and there was no handout text.
Mark, not a man noted for tact, was an all pervading presence and my friendly PR confided that his rude and hectoring behaviour while mummy had been going round the show had been appalling and reduced the show's PR lady to tears. So I wrote a story saying Mrs Thatcher was in the Gulf doing her best for Britain and Mark was doing his worst. Mission accomplished. It was followed up by the red tops the next day and I forgot all about it until some years later at a Foreign Office party, talking to a diplomat who had been there, I recalled the visit and writing the story. 'Oh, we blamed that one on the local stringer,' he said.
The end of day brings a lustrous light,
Foreboding as the day's intent,
The light's passive hue brings hope for the end of evening
Who knows what tomorrow will bring,
Laughter, tears, joy or grief
Tonight is on the cusp of renewal, like the night before,
Thankful as we are for another awakening
Opening your door: a manual
It is nearly time – we don't know exactly
when – to open your front-door.
Firstly, find the door.
Do you remember where it is?
The door you need to open.
There it is.
You never even locked it!
But there was no need,
as there were no visitors.
Stand in front of the door.
Remember which way it opens?
To you? From you?
(Front doors mostly open into buildings
unless you are in Denmark,
where they open outwards
but you are probably not in Denmark).
Assess the handle, and what sort of grip is required.
Half step towards the door;
the body is declaring its intention.
Reach with arm towards handle.
Place hand over handle,
the door's hand.
Close your hand. Tighten hand
in anticipation of turning.
The door is now ready to open.
Shift your weight back.
It is the body that opens the door, not the hand.
Root the back foot to the floor.
Pull towards you.
The door used to open easily
but it is out of practice
and might require more pull than normal.
The door opens.
You can step forward now, through the frame.
You are crossing the threshold of your house
that you want to be outside of
or no longer inside of.
(Are you looking forward to this or dreading it
relaxed or a little tense
breathing or not breathing at all?)
Don't forget to close the door, unless
you are planning an about turn
like a cat who fears the rain.
Either way you must let go of the handle,
you must let go,
you can't take the door with you.
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