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

Austen Lloyd: Employment Solicitor

£30000 - £60000 per annum + Excellent: Austen Lloyd: Employment Solicitor - Ke...

Argyll Scott International: Risk Assurance Manager

Negotiable: Argyll Scott International: Hi All, I'm currently recruiting for t...

Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: HAMPSHIRE MARKET TOWN - A highly attr...

Ashdown Group: IT Systems Analyst / Application Support Engineer (ERP / SSRS)

£23000 - £30000 per annum + pension, 25days holiday: Ashdown Group: An industr...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Bill Cosby speaks onstage at the Thurgood Marshall College Fund 25th Awards Gala on 11 November 2013 in Washington  

Bill Cosby: Isn’t it obvious why his accusers have stayed silent up until now?

Grace Dent
 

Our political landscape is not changing anywhere near as much as we assume it is

Steve Richards
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital
In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

The young are the new poor

Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

Greens on the march

‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

Through the stories of his accusers
Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

The Meaning of Mongol

Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'