Maggie month

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The Independent Online
Goodbye, October, welcome Thatchember - for it's time to change the name. The whole of this month has seen the greatest living Englishwoman celebrating her 70th birthday. At No 10 she celebrated with the Majors. At Claridge's she celebrated with John Redwood and Jeffrey Archer. In the Hendon Hall Hotel, Hendon, she celebrated with Finchley Conservatives. And on Monday night, at Union Station in Washington, she celebrated with America. That's a whole lotta birthday.

And nothing could demonstrate better the superiority of her vision than to contrast the style and ambition of her transatlantic affair with a pathetic attempt by the sclerotic Germans to hold a party of their own. Herr Kohl's bash was to mark the 40th birthday of the Bundeswehr (the German army) and took place on Thursday in Bonn.

These Burgers in uniforms paraded out on to a lawn near the university, each one clutching a sparkler. For half an hour a brass band pumped out a medley of Rod Stewart numbers, as adapted by the kommandant of the band school. Then everyone went home. Another failure for big government.

Just three days earlier Baroness Thatcher had shown how much better the unfettered forces of private enterprise do these things. For a start, her valuable work for a cigarette conglomerate meant that her party was sponsored to the tune of a million bucks. The Philip Morris Mrs Thatcher Birthday Show was a reward for her work in spreading the benefits of smoking to places like Azerbaijan (where they need something to keep their minds off the war with Armenia).

And the guests at the party each paid a $1,000 to be there. (This is a brilliant idea, but it doesn't always work at home: Mothercare didn't feel it was "appropriate" to let me have pounds 100 towards my partner's party, despite the amount of money that we've spent there. And a nominal charge of a measly 10 quid to close friends has resulted in an inexplicable exodus for unseasonal holidays on the date in question.)

Oh, what an occasion Mrs T's party was! Charlton Heston was there, strapped to his chair. Newt Gingrich was projected as a hologram into the seat between Nancy Reagan and the birthday girl; and famous American anchorwomen paid tribute to Margaret. Barbara Walters recalled the vital relationship with President Reagan: "Reagan and Thatcher are names linked together like Rogers and Astaire, Arding and Hobbs, Toulouse and Lautrec."

Then Maggie - as the simple friendly folk of America call her - stood up and spoke from the heart. Thank you, she said. Thank you for always being there not long after we needed you. But in particular, she said, "thank you for the Reagan-Thatcher years". Some may scoff at the apparent naivety of thanking a whole country a) for a historical epoch and b) for yourself. Not me. My own speech to the (sadly rather depleted) guests at my spouse's party will pick up this theme, expressing gratitude for the Peloponesian Wars (a very interesting period) and the David-Sarah years.

It does strike me that one thing was missing from these Thatcher celebrations: the Disney film. Pocahontas is fine, but if there are to be heroic stories loosely based on real events then surely Ronnie and Margaret deserve cartoon treatment. He would be strong (if a tiny bit slow), she would be beautiful (with slightly protruding eyes and teeth). His inevitable animal friends would include Cap the irascible eagle and Quigley the astrological beaver; she would be accompanied everywhere by Parkinson the amorous rabbit and Whitelaw the portly owl. Together they would take on the Evil Empire of the wicked Brezhnev (all ice, nasty bears and cold winds), triumph (sudden spring, flowers, cute squirrels and Lloyd Webber songs) and live happily ever after. And the merchandising - the little rubber Ronnies and malleable Maggies in the toyboxes - a tangible and lasting reminder of the triumph of freedom.

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