The Iron Lady got her nickname from
the Iron Duke for whom this square was named
in eighteen thirty, Wellington, commander
of the multinational army which
had beaten Bonaparte at Waterloo.
His Georgian square adjoins theKing's Road where
in the nineteen sixties, Mary Quant
invented miniskirts at her boutique Bazaar
(now Joe the Juice). The Duke of Wellington
was not just Field-Marshal but the Prime
Minister as well and Tory too
just like the Iron Lady. He came here
because his brother Gerald was the priest
around the corner at the parish church.
The Reverend Gerald Wellesley left his mark
on Chelsea by commissioning St Luke's,
a church of huge proportions to replace
the Chelsea Old Church by the Thames.
The Duke stayed at the Cottage here it seems,
though 'cottage' is misleading in a home
which has a price today of four point five
million pounds. Mrs Thatcher had in fact
mis-read a piece about her written by
a Russian journalist following a speech
delivered to the Chelsea Tories when
she labelled it as 'terrorism' that control
of every aspect of a person's life
exerted by the Communist regimes.
The Russian paper Red Star covered it
and made comparison of Margaret Thatcher
not with Wellington the Iron Duke,
but Herr Von Bismarck Iron Chancellor
in nineteenth century Austro-Germany.
No matter. Mrs Thatcher was well pleased
and waved the Red Star column at her fans
in Finchley, London, whose M.P. she was
and had been since the nineteen fifty-nine
election: 'I am standing here tonight
in my Red Star chiffon evening gown,
my face softly made up, my fair hair
gently waved, the Iron Lady of
the western world. A cold war warrior...
Yes I am an iron lady, and
it wasn't bad to be an iron duke.
Yes if that's how they interpret my
defence of values and of freedoms which
are fundamental to our way of life....'
How the Finchley voters cheered the fire
that Mrs Thatcher breathed as she accused
the left of wanting to destroy what they
held dear, their traditions and their homes
like these delightful residences here
in this lovely quiet Georgian square
of stucco'd terraced houses, balconies
and sweet communal garden round a pond.
Communal garden! Like the communists!
The wealthy got to communism first.
Maggie had a sense of humour.
'To borrow and to borrow and to borrow,'
she said was like an actor struggling through
Macbeth afflicted by a heavy cold'.
And when somebody asked her what she'd call
the book about life just after she
had been ejected not by voters but
her cabinet, she answered,'undefeated!'
And then there was the time in Switzerland
as my aunt Suzanne in Zurich can recall.
They shared the same hotel in Lenzerheid',
a ski resort known mainly to the Swiss.
At a dinner at a lakeside schloss,
Margaret and Dennis exchanged roles
when the coffee and cigars appeared
and the women disappeared. 'Now this
won't do,' she said. 'So Denis, off you go
and powder your nose with the womenfolk
while I stay here and talk economy
with the gentlemen.' Guffaws all round
at the unconventional idea.
Her first appointment as Home Secret'ry
was the jovial Willie Whitelaw whom she praised
by saying, 'Every prime minister needs
a willie!' though it's not entirely sure
she was aware that she had made a joke.
She'd wit, authority and she was sharp.
The Church of England leaders wrote a tract,
Faith in the City, it was called,
criticising Thatcher's view of wealth.
They pointed to the Good Samaritan
who helped the wayside victim. crying out.
But Margaret Thatcher was a Methodist
and knew her Bible better than the rest.
The point about the parable, she said
to the archbishop, is that Samaritan
had the cash to pay for all the weeks
of care the battered victim had.