The joke Margaret Thatcher never told

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The Independent Online

From Major General Sir Roger Lodger

Sir, Can it really be a hundred years since the blessed Maggie was born? Every newspaper I have opened this week has had her picture adorning it, and as we know, this never happens to anyone unless they have a) been sold to Real Madrid b) criticised Tony Blair c) or reached their centenary, so I can only conclude that the blessed Maggie has reached her 100th birthday. May I propose a toast to her, the saviour of our nation?

I would also like to say that if she is 100 years old, she will have received a telegram from the Queen today. I would give a hostage's ransom to see what was in that telegram. It is no secret that there was little love lost between the Queen and Maggie, both of whom thought they ruled the country. I would wager the message ran something like: "Dear Margaret, I'm Still Here, Where Are You? Yours, Her Real Majesty".

yours etc

From Detective Inspector Oliver Nandralone (retired)

Sir, In my career I have helped to guard many of the most famous people, and although I am prevented by the Official Secrets Act from mentioning that these include Princess Diana, Martin Amis, Tim Henman and Kylie Minogue, I have to say in all honesty that of them all, Margaret Thatcher was the cream.

When I arrived on the job she would make me a cup of tea, make sure I had enough sandwiches for the evening, then ask me in for a chat about the state of the world, which would last anything up to four or five hours. She would pull her knees up under her chin, look at me from under the long lashes that so entranced Alan Clark in his diaries and go off on one of those long rants which made you realise she was not just a pretty face.

yrs etc

PS Did I say Margaret Thatcher? I meant, of course, Salman Rushdie.

From Mrs "Lady" Herbert Baker

Sir, Can it really be 50 years since Margaret Thatcher's voice broke? When I first met Margaret Roberts, as she then was, her voice was quite high and exhausting. The next time I met her, it was some 40 years later, after she had married, become a MP, and outwitted Edward Heath. (Though as she said to me at the time, if General de Gaulle could outmanoeuvre Edward Heath, then anyone could.) By this time her voice had sunk nearly an octave, but when I referred to this, she said: "Ah, yes, but people make the mistake of thinking that because I sound low and slow, I am there for the taking. By the time they have found out their mistake, they have a bullet through the brain. So watch it, choochie."

Later, of course, General Galtieri made the fatal mistake of making fun of her voice ( a "backbench bass baritone", he called her ) and we all know what revenge she took on him.

yrs etc

From Mr Ken Heseltine (no relation)

Sir, Is it really 100 years since I first met Margaret Thatcher? It certainly seems like it. And it must be at least 100 years since she told a joke. I know this for a fact because I was one of her speech-writing team, and she told us proudly that she had never made a joke in any of her speeches, or indeed at any other time, so it would be a waste of time even offering her one.

That was a challenge we couldn't ignore, so it became a matter of pride to sneak jokes into her speeches. We put money in a pot each week, winner to take all each time she used one of our jokes. But she never did. She had an inbuilt Geiger counter that made her remove anything resembling a gag.

I remember once putting a line in which read, "It is time for us all now to put our differences aside and embrace those things we have in common, as the bishop said to the actress," and she omitted it. I asked her afterwards if she thought it had been a bit near the bone. She said she didn't know what that meant - she just didn't like the idea of quoting any bishop, as it would only encourage him.

After eight years the pot had reached £1,700. I think we despaired of any of us ever winning it and gave it to charity.

yrs etc