An old woman, nearing the point of death, her memory lost and her faculties severely compromised, is visited at her hotel suite by one of her former employees, a trusted friend. He knows his old boss is nearing the point when she checks out - literally and metaphorically - and can think of only one way to lighten the mood. He takes out his iPad and shows the frail old lady a film of his eight dachshund puppies.They are doing the things that puppies do, and even in her final hours, the video inspires a watery smile, which turns out to be her last. A few hours later, she dies.
Those who feel a deep antipathy to Margaret Thatcher might not find this a particularly touching tale. The idea that the flintiest of hearts is melted at the very last by some cute puppies is not going to cut any ice with opponents of the former Prime Minister. But what about those who care not for Mrs Thatcher, but who have a deep affinity with dachshunds? I would count myself in this category, and I have to admit that, while not changing my opinion of her policies and her systematic destruction of the nation's industrial heartland, this story does make me look at her in a slightly different way.
Anyone who finds dachshunds charming and humorous immediately goes up in my estimation. Simplistic and naive, I know, but we dachshund lovers are as loyal and idiosyncratic as the dogs themselves, and we recognise the same qualities in other devotees.
This story becomes even more complicated when it emerges that two of these dachshund puppies are on their way to Tony Blair. The dogs in question belong to Carla Powell, the wife of Lord Powell, Mrs Thatcher's former private secretary who visited her often at her suite in The Ritz. The biscuit-coloured puppies - for the cognoscenti, I'm afraid I cannot record which of the six varieties of dachshund they are - are the offspring of Talitha, Lady Powell's own pet, and she herself helped deliver the litter two months ago.
At Mrs Thatcher's funeral, Lady Powell - whose friendships cross party boundaries and who is such a close friend of the Blairs that she accompanied them when they met The Pope - sealed a deal with Britain's former first couple to take two of the pups for their family home(s).
So what do I think about Tony Blair, a man who prosecuted an immoral, unjustified and probably illegal war that condemned thousands of Iraqi civilians and British soldiers to death, nuzzling the downy tummy of a cheeky little dachshund? I knew Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair had things in common, but I never thought it would be an appreciation of the unique appeal of a dachshund. Maybe these new arrivals in the Blair household will offer him a road to redemption. Instead of flying off to do a multi-million deal with a dodgy Middle Eastern potentate, he'll stay at home and be taken for a walk by his single-minded dogs. He'll find their jokes diverting, and their presence calming. And they'll provide him with a companionship to offer proof that there are some things money can't buy.Reuse content