malvinas/falklands: maggie and me


I’m eight and a half. The Iron Lady stands firm against the miners and lingering threats of three day weeks. She represents order, electricity and rubbish collection. She is not for turning. In our house, knowing your mind, sticking to what you said you would do is a good thing. Changing your mind is a sign of weakness. We watch the ships journey across oceans, and we hold our breath.

At ballet school mime is my thing (my arms are too stiff for fluid movements and positions). After class, just as on the bedroom landing, I do my impression of her. Handbag included, mixing in some Kenny Everett for camp value.

I set my sites high. I will be prime minister one day, just like Maggie T.

I am on a lake, high high above the world. The sky-water is an intense azul. Into the boat crowd a group of students. We sail out onto Lake Titicaca and they pass round a gourd and bombilla – they offer it to me and it seems unfriendly not to accept. The herbs are green and bitter, but the water hot through the silver straw. They advise me to wear sunscreen, they may even have given me more. We are high up, the sun is fierce. We arrive at la isla del sol, the sun island, and fan out over the rocky paths, searching for ruins and sun gods. Fourteen years, one dictatorship, hundreds of dead, hundreds more suicides, and un mano de Dios later, I met my first Argentines.

Last January, three days after arriving in Buenos Aires, a new friend tells me the Argentine liberals cheer 'Gracias a Thatcher' with some irony and some truth. Thanks to Maggie, thanks to the whole mess, the opposition to General Galtieri gained momentum. Two years later, the regime ended. My world turns once more.

Today I live here, in this 'city of faded elegance.' I'm even an official resident with a DNI to prove it. Who'd of thought it 25 years ago, when I was one of Thatcher's children?

I no longer believe strength lies in arrogance.
I no longer believe our loyalties can be wrapped in a flag.
I no longer believe war is easy.
I no longer believe we can choose not to speak of our past.


This is the first of a series of posts about the 25th anniversary of the Malvinas/ Falklands war.

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