The funeral of Margaret Thatcher

I watched the funeral procession of Baroness Thatcher today on TV. I do not propose to write about her politics here; she did things during her premiership of the UK with which I agreed, and also things with which I did not. But I could say the same of almost any politician who has held power on either side during my lifetime.

The threatened protests in London were minimal but the BBC contrived, by art or by happenstance, to look another way at a moment when, we were later told, protestors had thrown something at the horses that drew the gun carriage on which Mrs Thatcher’s coffin was borne. I saw only flowers cast into the street as the procession passed; a mark of respect, as I interpret this action, like the applause that I heard.

But I also heard boos. The thing I want most to observe about this is that however distasteful or objectionable the protests of those who openly celebrate the death of an elderly lady, I am very glad that I live in a country where we can so protest if we choose. I observe that in this we are under constant threat. We must be vigilant against the powers that be who persistently chip away at our civil freedoms little by little and tell us it is for our own good – chief constables who constantly press for greater powers and politicians who bombard us with new laws and sneakily disguised forms of taxation, for example. Protests against that I would support. As Mrs Thatcher said in a related context, “No! No! No!”

On a lighter note, I found most inspiring and dignified the uniformed Chelsea Pensioners, men and women a generation or two older than me, who manned the steps of St Paul’s and stood smartly to attention for longer than I am sure I could if I tried. I see them every year in the poppy day parades and always marvel that in spite of all handicaps they somehow manage to stiffen the sinews and march. How wonderful! I hope I may have such fortitude at their age.

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