Postcard from... Madrid


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The Independent Online

For a tricky pub quiz question, try this: what do a street in the Armenian town of Gyumri, a street in the Nigerian capital of Abuja and a square in Madrid all have in common? The answer is they are three locations outside the UK named after the late Margaret Thatcher -  in Madrid’s case, announced recently.

Gyumri honoured Mrs Thatcher in thanks for British donations following a massive earthquake in 1988. And 26 years later, a local Madrid councillor explained that the Plaza Margaret Thatcher, a tiny, previously un-named square in the well-heeled Salamanca district, is a fitting tribute to “one of the most important political personalities of the second half of the twentieth century.” But not all local residents agree.

“All due respect to the person herself, but it is completely stupid to do this,” snorts Juan, who runs the plaza’s one newspaper kiosk. As he points out, “This square is basically an extension of the Plaza Neptuno,” - a much bigger and more grandiose affair, humming with traffic, which directly runs along two sides of the Plaza Thatcher and completely dwarfs it.

“It doesn’t make sense to give it a name,” Juan adds.

No “Maggie T” plaques as yet grace the square, anyway, and few people, apart from Juan, seem aware of its impending new title. “Plaza Margaret Thatcher? Never heard of it,” one parking meter attendant says as she inspects a nearby line of parked cars. “Maybe it’s some place downtown.”