Margaret Thatcher, former British Prime Minister and the first woman to hold the post, has died.
I remember the day she finally left office in November 1990. I remember because it was during my gap year and I was working as a Research Assistant for an MP in an office in the House of Commons.
I didn’t keep a diary but I made sure I wrote my own account of what happened that day (on paper – it was the days before the Internet kids!) I’ve always kept it and I’ve just dug it out after hearing about Baroness Thatcher’s death. The following is what my 18yr old self wrote that day:
Thursday 22nd Nov. 1990!
It was like watching a school society debate but this was different, this was REAL. The day had started with bewildering chaos as the news spread like wildfire that the Prime Minister had resigned. Then later she stood at the despatch box, vigorously defending her Govt’s record. This was truly spectacular stuff. This was HISTORY.
I instinctively knew that something was wrong that morning. I heard frantic whisperings and the word “resignation”. No names were mentioned but the reaction of one woman in the Commons postal room gave me a clue:
“Good God, when did that happen?”
There were more hurried whispers, the reply came back
“So what happens now?”
I picked up John’s [the MP I worked for] post and hurried to the office. I turned on the t.v. – nothing! So I carried on with opening the post, feeling increasingly bewildered because I had no confirmation of my suspicions.
David P. [the full time Research Assistant] walked in.
“Hi” I said in my normal cheery tone. “Has anything dramatic happened this morning?” I explained what I’d heard.
“Well, you’d know about it if the PM had resigned”.
David then received a phone call which confirmed everything. David turned to me and said:
“She has resigned”
I went into shock,
“Oh my God!”
From then on it was like a dream. No one did any work, we were all numb from disbelief.
At that point Mrs Thatcher had been PM for over half my life. It was a very surreal feeling to see her finally ousted from office and even weirder to be where I was on the day it happened!