Mark Steel: Thatcher's funeral is over. Can we go back to normal now, please?

It’s essential for the nation that we quickly revert to our normal madness levels. Somehow we became so doolally last week we banned a song from The Wizard of Oz

Share

I’m still not entirely sure it’s over, if it’s safe to turn on a television without seeing Phillip Schofield saying: “Now we’re going to discuss Baroness Thatcher’s favourite biscuits. With me in the studio to share their Custard Cream memories of the ex-Prime Minister are her friends Henry Kissinger and King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.”

For some time, there will be items on the news such as: “A growing number of Conservative Associations have formally requested that, to mark her passing, the South African government reintroduces apartheid for one day.”

The day of the funeral must have seemed terrifying to some people, as it felt that the police would announce they’ve arrested 46 people in Central London for not looking solemn enough, and were treating with suspicion anyone whose eyes weren’t moist.  Even the chimes of Big Ben were stopped, but that won’t be enough. The Daily Mail will complain: “Why did no one in the Government stop the tides during the funeral of Britain’s greatest ever leader? After all she did for us, bringing the movement of the sea to a halt for a few minutes was the least we could do, but as usual it was too much trouble for the bloated mandarins of Whitehall. Who wouldn’t sympathise with Timothy Poodleton, Conservative councillor for Weston-super-Mare, who said: ‘It made me physically sick to watch the waves just coming in and out as normal, even at the moment of the cremation, as if it was any other day. You’d think the English Channel might be arrested for showing such disrespect, but I suppose it would start bleating on about its tidal rights and get away with it anyway’.”

It’s essential for the nation’s mental health that we quickly revert to our normal madness levels instead of the psychosis of the past week. Somehow we became so doolally we banned a song from The Wizard of Oz. Normally, at this point, every phone-in presenter would scream “Have you heard about THIS??? They’ve BANNED a song by JUDY GARLAND. It’s political correctness gone MENTAL.” Then they’d spit out so many exclamation marks that everyone’s radios would catch fire.

At one point, the police asked anyone planning to turn their back on the funeral to “let them know in advance”. Was there a special form? And what if you were planning to turn sideways slightly, did you have to let them know about that? What if you turned round to tell the person behind “Bloody hell, I’ve just seen Shirley Bassey”? Did it apply to everyone, even if you were driving through Swindon and could no longer face the same way because of a no entry sign? The police needed to be much clearer about this.

Then this thoroughly political event was shown all day live on the BBC, the broadcaster that’s perpetually moaned about by supporters of the deceased for being biased against them. Next time, the BBC gets a complaint that it hasn’t been impartial, the Director-General should reply: “Now you come to mention it, you’re right. So all day tomorrow we’re going to show a recording of the funeral of Hugo Chavez.”

Presumably, the other channels were respectful in their own way, with the Shopping Channel presenter saying: “Next up, something we’ll all be needing today, a battery-operated tear-drier. This is ideal for when we recall those touching moments, such as her country walks with General Pinochet, and we can’t help a little sob. It comes with two handy settings, wistful weep and open floodgates, and in no time at all you’re nice and dry.”

But despite all the coverage, and the Daily Mail website claiming that a “vast crowd lined the streets”, the area of the procession seemed no busier than normal, and one BBC report claimed there were around 4,000 people. I suppose the term “vast crowd” is vague, but, to be consistent, the Daily Mail will now have to refer to any crowd of 4,000 as vast, such as “Vast crowd watches Exeter versus Wycombe Wanderers”.

In a way, this is fitting because she was only ever adored by a few, and many of those changed their minds towards the end of her reign. She resigned because her party knew it couldn’t win another election with her, possibly because many of those who’d bought her promises now disliked her most of all.

This has been mostly forgotten this week, as all have agreed she transformed the country with her iron will and always got her way. But while she won many battles, she didn’t win all of them. There’s still a welfare state, instead of Clause 28 there’s gay marriage, there’s a minimum wage and no poll tax. The procession of Tebbits, Hurds, generals and ex-criminals most prominent at the funeral seems meaningless and distant to most people under 40. Her attitude towards apartheid is utterly discredited, as is her attitude towards Rupert Murdoch, and towards Jimmy Savile.

Even her funeral was a display of state intervention she’d have thoroughly disapproved of. It would have been far more appropriate if the whole affair had been sponsored by the privatised companies. The pall-bearers could have been arranged courtesy of Virgin trains, maybe cancelling the first journey so they had to carry two coffins crammed on top of each other for the second, and announcing every few seconds that, for the benefit of customers in the cathedral, they could offer a wide selection of snacks.

And the bishop could have informed everyone present that the cremation was made possible by npower, though they had put the price up since the service began so everyone would have to chip in, then they could go round afterwards saying: “Excuse me, Mr Kissinger, are you aware that we could supply your electricity as well?”

Twitter: @mrmarksteel

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Project Manager

£45000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Shopfitter

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a successful an...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Sales Account Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Digital Sales Account Manager...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Sales Account Manager

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Trainee Sales Account Manager...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Police officers attempt to stop illegal migrants from jumping onto trucks headed for Britain in the northeastern French port of Calais on October 29, 2014  

Tighter security in Calais won’t solve the problem

Nigel Morris
 

Football needs its Martin Luther moment, and soon

Boyd Tonkin
US immigration: President Obama ready to press ahead with long-promised plan to overhaul 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?

Immigration: Obama's final frontier

The President is ready to press ahead with the long-promised plan to overhaul America's 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?
Bill Cosby rape allegations explained: Why are these allegations coming out now? Why didn’t these women come forward earlier? And why has nobody taken legal action?

Bill Cosby rape allegations explained

Why are these allegations coming out now? Why has nobody taken legal action? And what happens next for the man once thought of as 'America's Dad'
Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain

You know that headache you’ve got?

Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain
Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?

Scoot commute

Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?
Paul Robeson: The story of how an American icon was driven to death to be told in film

The Paul Robeson story

How an American icon was driven to death to be told in film
10 best satellite navigation systems

Never get lost again: 10 best satellite navigation systems

Keep your vehicle going in the right direction with a clever device
Paul Scholes column: England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil

Paul Scholes column

England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil
Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win says defender as he prepares to return with Hull

Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win

Hull defender faces his struggling former club on Sunday ready to show what they are missing. But he says he will always be grateful to Tottenham
Frank Warren column: Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game

Frank Warren column

Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game
Synagogue attack: Fear unites both sides of Jerusalem as minister warns restoring quiet could take 'months'

Terror unites Jerusalem after synagogue attack

Rising violence and increased police patrols have left residents of all faiths looking over their shoulders
Medecins sans Frontieres: The Ebola crisis has them in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa

'How do you carry on? You have to...'

The Ebola crisis has Medecins sans Frontieres in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa
Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Residents in what was Iraq’s safest city fear an increase in jihadist attacks, reports Patrick Cockburn
Underwater photography competition winners 2014 - in pictures

'Mysterious and inviting' shot of diver wins photography competition

Stunning image of cenote in Mexico takes top prize
Sir John Major: Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting

Sir John Major hits out at theatres

Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting
Kicking Barbie's butt: How the growth of 3D printing enabled me to make an army of custom-made figurines

Kicking Barbie's butt

How the growth of 3D printing enabled toy-designer to make an army of custom-made figurines