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The Lady's not for remembering

I am delighted to say that while she was in London I managed to persuade Baroness Thatcher to come into the office and tackle some of the many problems and inquiries that the readers have wanted her to answer. It is not often that Margaret Thatcher agrees to descend from Olympus, as it were, and we are very grateful that she deigned to accept the very substantial fee that she demanded for the service. All yours, Maggie!

It has often been pointed out that your entry in 'Who's Who' makes no reference to your mother, only to your father. As everyone writes their own autobiography in 'Who's Who', this must mean that you have deliberately omitted any mention of your mother. Would you care to enlighten readers of the 'Independent' as to why this is? Did you not in fact have a mother? Did you appear to your father by virgin birth?

Baroness Thatcher writes: As far as I can remember, I had no mother. This does not mean that I did not have a mother - rationally, I must have been the offspring of someone - only that I do not actually remember having one. When I conjure up a visual picture of life at home, I can only remember men - apart, that is, from me.

Above all, I can remember my father, the Alderman, of whom I have a distinct and very strong visual image as he bent forward listening to me, as I told him how the family unit should be run - advice, I am glad to say, that he always listened to.

Whether my mother was present on those occasions it is hard for me to say. If she was, she was not there strongly enough for me to remember her. If she was not, then perhaps she was not one of us.

After you left your family unit in Grantham, did you keep in close contact with your parents, or, perhaps, parent?

Baroness Thatcher writes: When I finally left Grantham to go to university and then be called to the Bar, I was often asked back to Grantham to give an annual lecture on the state of the family, which I always did gladly if I could fit it into my busy calendar. But of course when one has left a post of authority, the people left behind sometimes tend to ignore basic principles and let things go a bit.

Are you referring to your father there? Or to your mother? Or to John Major? Or ...

Baroness Thatcher writes: If you cannot decide which question you want to ask, perhaps we could have another questioner.

In 'Who's Who', you give as your recreations "music and reading". What instrument do you play?

Baroness Thatcher writes: Who ever gave you the idea that I played an instrument?

Well, you said you were interested in music ...

Baroness Thatcher writes: I haven't got time to play the stuff, fool! If I said I were interested in books, would that mean I had written any?

But you have written books!

Baroness Thatcher writes: Have I? Oh, yes, my years in Downing Street and all that. Well, I did not strictly write all those myself. I simply haven't got the time to bother myself with the day-to-day details of operations. I am more interested in the broad sweep, the master strategy, the big outline, the underlying principles. I am a conductor, not an orchestral player.

You mean, you WERE a conductor. You no longer have an orchestra.

Baroness Thatcher writes: On the contrary. I have an orchestra in every country. I am a guest conductor. I fly in, tell people how to run their country and fly out again.

Do you get paid in cash?

Baroness Thatcher writes: I get paid. How, is my business.

Do they take any notice of how you tell them to run their country? Do they follow your advice?

Baroness Thatcher writes: I have no idea. I do not stay around long enough to find out. I have a crowded schedule.

You mean, you take the money and run?

Baroness Thatcher writes: Next question, please!

Here is some money. Would you go away and not come back, please?

Baroness Thatcher writes: Certainly.