Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Margaret Thatcher was a "Daddy's girl"

Which goes a long way towards explaining her self-assurance

The four years that separated Margaret Hilda Roberts from her elder sister, Muriel, are perhaps one reason why, despite Margaret's public protestations, they were never close.

Muriel was closer to her mother, Beatie. By contrast, and it is perhaps the best-known fact about Margaret's early life, the younger daughter was her father Alf's favourite, and he hers.

Perhaps Alf had wanted a son. Certainly, the kind of attention he devoted to her and the values and ambitions he inculcated in her would suggest so.

Much has been made by practitioners of psychobabble of Margaret's attitude towards Beatie. They draw attention to the  daughter's refusal to say anything notable about her mother at all.

Yet the assumption that this wall of near-silence concealed hostility seems wide of the mark. Margaret Thatcher would never be very interested in people's personalities as such, only in their actions - and specifically those of their actions that directly concerned her.

When it came to psychology, on the individual level at least, she was profoundly unimaginative, and this applied in respect of her family just as much as it did in respect of her colleagues.

The truth is that when she was asked what she thought of Beatie, she simply did not know, for the very good reason that the two had no common tastes or interests, at least beyond Alf Roberts's welfare.

It has been suggested that Beatie starved her younger daughter of affection and that this explains Margaret's apparent chilliness. But there is no evidence that this is so, nor did Margaret's later  private conversation ever hint at such a thing.

It is, indeed, most unlikely. Beatie was a kind and sweet-natured person, with a strong sense of duty to her husband and both her daughters. Margaret did not dislike her mother. Rather, she pitied her.

Beatie's life seemed to her daughter an example of everything she intended in later life to avoid. `Drudgery' was the word that most often came to her lips to describe it; `poor mother' she murmured in unguarded moments, whenever the subject was raised.

And what of her father? Alf  Roberts was tall, blond and blue-eyed and had a certain presence. Born poor, yet intellectually precocious, he had once wanted to be a teacher, but his family could not raise the money to keep him long enough at school.

So he had to take jobs where he could find them. Being extremely industrious - and very thrifty - he saved enough money to buy that now celebrated Grantham grocery store. Margaret was born in the flat above the shop.

More than any other British  premier, she was made what she was by her early life, and she knew it. She never forgot her origins and often alluded to episodes in her childhood.

The deeper truth, however, was that she reacted against her background more than she reflected it. Once she had the chance to leave, she rarely returned. She escaped to a better life than the one she knew as a child - and in her heart she rejoiced in it.

One of the qualities that made escape possible was her extraordinary strength of purpose. From the time she went to school to the time she left Downing Street, people were astonished at Margaret's unrelenting drive to impose her will, to attain her goals. She learned this from her father.

The key to his philosophy, and later hers, was hard work. For both of them, work was a `virtue', not just a means to an end. Alf's motto was `never waste a minute' and he applied it to everyone around him.

From an early age, Margaret was weighing out goods in the shop, taking orders from customers and accompanying her father on deliveries.

The store was open from early morning until late into the evening; to ensure the business never faltered, Alf and Beatie always took separate holidays, albeit usually in the same place, Skegness.

The broader outlook she gained from Grantham and from her father was a strong sense of individualism. She remembered vividly his scorn for following the crowd. `Don't do something just because everyone else does' he imbued in her. Think for yourself. Rely on yourself. Strive harder than anyone else. And make no excuses.

Yet, for all that she admired him and was inspired by him, life under his roof could be remarkably grim. Alf Roberts may have had a healthy income and high status in the town - he served as a councillor for 25 years, including a term as mayor - but he was extremely mean.

The family lived in uncomfortably constricted accommodation, which could possibly be excused by the demands of living over the shop. Even the outside lavatory was not unusual at that time. But the failure to install running hot water and the meagreness and dullness of the food they ate were her father's choice, not necessity.

Alf prided himself on selling quality produce, but the quality was enjoyed by his customers, not by his loved ones.

Conspicuous consumption was frowned upon, too, by the family's severe brand of religion. Among Methodists like the Robertses there was a kind of competition to avoid waste.

Even the cotton used to tack up the hems of the girls' dresses was re-used and to say that someone `lived up to the hilt', that they spent everything they earned and more, was a deadly insult.

Mrs Thatcher later applied the same frugal philosophy in Downing Street, to a sometimes ludicrous extent. She refused to have the carpet under her desk repaired though her feet had worn a hole in it. She had a patch inserted instead.

It was widely remarked of her as an adult that she had no sense of humour. That is not strictly true - she could enjoy a joke, but unless it was obvious it had to be explained to her.

She also had a capacity for mimicry, and liked on occasion to imitate the upper-class accents of men she thought feeble.

But she distrusted frivolity and thought prolonged bouts of humour a distraction: she would cut them short by telling people to get back to serious matters.

That said, as she grew into her teens, it must have been increasingly galling to live at such close quarters with the family in such spartan conditions, with such an excess of religion and such a dearth of fun.

That is why the prospect of Oxford, rather than nearby Nottingham University, proved so attractive to her. It is why in her 20s she so quickly and so thoroughly cut herself off from Grantham and most of those she had known there.

SHE went on a scholarship to the fee-paying Kesteven and Grantham Girls' School.

A hard-working pupil, considerate and generous, she was also  perhaps a bit too eager and intense, inclined to be a know-it-all, her hand always up first in class, but not so outstanding as to inspire jealousy. An inspiring science mistress, Miss Kay, was instrumental in her decision to specialise in chemistry. It was an unusual choice for a girl, but Margaret, determined not to end up like her mother, knew she wanted to pursue a career, and chemistry offered the prospect of a job in industry.

She narrowly failed on her first attempt to get into Somerville  College, but then a vacancy unexpectedly arose and she went up to Oxford in October 1943. She was barely 18 and had no real idea of what to expect.

Initially, life there was thoroughly uncongenial. The college was a cold, austere place and many of the people she met seem to have been prigs who looked down on her.

Miss Roberts was regarded as a bore, and worse still a Tory bore. She was ridiculous and quite incomprehensible to those at ease with the prevailing self-satisfied, socialistic atmosphere.

Her chemistry tutor at Somerville, the Nobel-Prize-winning  scientist Dorothy Hodgkin, thought her competent though uninspired. Nonetheless, Hodgkin was helpful in obtaining for her various grants - in later years Mrs Thatcher did not like to admit that she had needed them.

The truth is that without such help she would have been in some financial difficulty. She received  little help from home. Her mother sent cakes, but her father, true to his principles and his prejudices, does not seem to have sent much money.

In her last two years at university, she shared lodgings with two other girls rather than living in college, and was better able to appreciate Oxford's social life. She proved an excellent ballroom dancer.

If there were no boyfriends in the usual sense of the term, let alone any sexual liaisons, there were  certainly men friends - and not surprisingly, for, though slightly plump, she was undeniably pretty.

Beyond work, the main focus of her university life was Conservative politics.

Fired by her father's principles, she became a member of the Oxford University Conservative Association (OUCA) as soon as she arrived, and in her final year became its president. At home during the vacation in that last year, she made a momentous decision.

As she was holding forth on some political topic, someone remarked to her that she ought to go into Parliament. The monologue stopped, because suddenly she knew that this was indeed exactly what she wanted.

By then she was looking to a future that did not include Grantham. She was in the process of leaving her home town behind - including even, finally, her father.

Alf, for his part, campaigned and even spoke for her when she was a Tory candidate in Dartford a few years later in 1950. But her parents disapproved of Denis Thatcher, the businessman she met there, who was a divorcee. Relations cooled after her marriage to him in 1951, and Margaret Thatcher's children barely knew their grandparents.

Alf remained proud of his daughter's political success and was listening to her speaking on the radio when he died in 1970. Significantly, though, he left her nothing in his will. The old magic of their bond had vanished long before. She had outgrown him, and she had outgrown Grantham.

When she left, she was quick to lose her Lincolnshire accent, adopting a tone that the uncharitable described as posh. But her roots were not so readily denied.

In particular, the impact of the Methodism she grew up with remained very deep, though not perhaps in the way that might have been expected.

It did not leave her an obviously spiritual person, and she did not feel any obligation to forgive, for example, Michael Heseltine for what he had done to her. But it did make her extremely moral, by giving her a set of rules by which to live.

At home in Grantham she had as a child a religious publication called Bibby's Annual, which had been given to her by her parents. Its improving verses remained a favourite of hers, and there was one in particular she liked to recite:

One ship drives east, and  another west,

By the self-same gale that blows;

'Tis the set of the sail, and not  the gale,

That determines the way she goes.

The conclusion was clear: we make our own lives out of the circumstances that prevail; circumstances do not make us. It was pure Grantham and pure Thatcher.


Social services search mother's home after nasty bitch reported her for 'not doing enough when her child suffered coughing fit'

When her daughter started coughing while she shopped in Boots, Kiya Pask thought little of it, taking baby Amelia out of her pram and comforting her until she calmed down.

Little did she know that an over-zealous pharmacist was taking note and that the episode would lead to social services searching her home and investigating her ability to look after her child.

Although she has now been cleared of any wrongdoing, Miss Pask is furious at the way she was treated, saying it is unacceptable that Boots passed on her details to authorities.

Miss Pask, 20, had taken 15-month-old Amelia to the store in Skegness, Lincolnshire, on March 4 to buy over-the-counter antihistamines to help control a bronchial virus, which had hospitalised the child the day before.

But when Amelia swallowed the medicine, she started coughing and Miss Pask explained to pharmacy staff that her daughter often struggled to take medication because of her condition.

A female pharmacist, however, shouted that the baby needed oxygen and despite Amelia's swift recovery, later phoned social services to say Miss Pask did not do enough to help her child and that the baby was at risk.

Ten days later, social workers arrived at Miss Pask's home in Ingoldmells, Lincolnshire, and demanded to see Amelia, who is deaf and registered disabled with a chronic bronchial virus.

They then searched the house thoroughly, looking in cupboards, inside the fridge, and checked plug sockets before quizzing Miss Pask as she looked after her child for an hour.

Lincolnshire Social Services has now written to say she is no longer under investigation, but Miss Pask is furious she was ever deemed a risk to her daughter.

She said: `The pharmacist started shouting "she's choking" and "someone get her some oxygen".  `I took her out of the pram and said to the woman: "She was in hospital yesterday with bronchitis, all she's done is swallowed the medicine the wrong way."

`Amelia started breathing normally and I put her back in her pram and took her home and didn't think any more about it.'

Miss Pask said her child's virus, which causes wheezing, cannot be treated with antibiotics but doctors have said she will grow out of it by the time she is four. She frequently has to take Amelia to hospital as a result.

Miss Pask added: `The social workers said there had been a report made about the incident in Boots pharmacy that I left my daughter laid on her back and she turned blue. I felt like I was being interrogated. I do a good job looking after my daughter.

`It's had a massive impact on my life. I'm scared about the slightest thing my daughter does - if she does something unusual someone's never seen before, that I am going to be reported.'

Miss Pask also claims the pharmacist breached patient confidentiality to get hold of her details.

Boots has come under fire in recent weeks after a shop assistant in Spalding, Lincolnshire, smacked a child's bottom and called her a `naughty girl' for knocking over a bottle of disinfectant from a shelf.

Boots defended the pharmacist who reported Miss Pask, saying she acted in Amelia's best interests. A spokesman said: `Our pharmacists are required to apply their professional knowledge and judgment and take appropriate action if they have any concern about patients' health and safety.

`We take patient confidentiality seriously and, having conducted a thorough investigation, are confident our pharmacist acted properly and professionally.'

Janice Spencer, assistant director for children's services at Lincolnshire council, said: `When a referral is made to us and information suggests that a child may be at risk of harm, the responsible action is of course to make enquiries.'


South Korean Anti-Discrimination Law Faces Conservative Pushback

Korea has a large Christian minority, mostly Presbyterian.  Why?  One answer:
God largely used a Korean man by the name of Suh Sang-Yoon to introduce the gospel to Korea back in the 1800s. He was converted by Scottish missionaries and went on to be a Korean pastor and the man who first translated the Bible into Korean. Around the same time, American Presbyterians sent missionaries to Korea.

So I don't believe it was a matter of distinctly Presbyteran doctrines appealing to the culture. I think it was a matter of Presbyterian missionaries being faithful to their call, going there, and bringing the gospel. When that gospel took hold, the Korean Christians naturally became Presbyterians.

Since that time, the (largely Presbyterian) Korean church has sent out many of its own missionaries and has been a powerful witness for the gospel all over the world, particularly in the Eastern Hemisphere. My niece is currently studying in Tasmania and looked for a Presbyterian church to attend while there. She's found some sort of Australian Presbyterian church that's mostly made up of Koreans.

South Korean conservative groups are mounting a fierce resistance to a proposed anti-discrimination law in South Korea that would prohibit discrimination based on based on religion, political ideology, or sexual orientation.

The comprehensive bill, which was drafted after receiving recommendations from the United Nations Human Rights Council, was introduced to the country's legislature early February 2013 and it is now pending review from the Legislation and Judiciary Committee-just a few steps away from becoming effective.

The possible legal changes it could bring include banning all forms of corporal punishment, toughening measures on sexual violence against children, and stepping up the monitoring of discrimination against migrant workers. However, the law still excludes any changes to the the controversial, anti-communist National Security Law as well as the death sentence.

The country first attempted to pass anti-discrimination legislation in 2007 when the justice department suggested a similar law was needed. But the bill was thwarted [ko], with its clause prohibiting discrimination based on someone's "education and medical record" being panned by corporations as "limiting corporate's free business activities" and Christian groups opposing the part protecting sexual minorities.

This latest incarnation of the law is attracting much of the same criticism. Christian groups threaten that the law can be used to support gay marriage.

Furthermore, right-wing groups interpret the part of the bill that defends freedom of political expression as "handing power over to dangerous pro-North commie groups [ko]" - a derogatory term the ruling conservative party falls back on when referring to liberal groups or South Koreans who are taking dovish stances on North Korea.

About 200 groups [ko] from political, educational, and civic sectors staged a protest in Seoul (a photo can be seen here) against the proposed law. The South Korean Presbyterian Coalition released a statement [ko] claiming the law could create unnecessary conflicts between religions and interfere with the content of their sermons.

Young net users, however, have strongly defended the law and pushed back at the conservative criticism online.


'To be a submissive woman shows real strength': Former volleyball star Gabrielle Reece's causes furor after revealing how she brought her marriage back from the brink

She's never been afraid to get aggressive during a game. But former pro volleyball star, model and fitness advocate Gabrielle Reece says that she believes women being submissive in relationships is a sign of strength - not weakness.

In news that may come as a shock to the legions of female fans who view her as an icon, Reece tells NBC News that she's happy to 'serve' and have an 'old-fashioned family dynamic' at home.

Reece, who married surfer Laird Hamilton 17 year ago in Hawaii, says 'I'm clearly the female; Laird's clearly the male. I'm willing and I choose to serve the family which means dinner and laundry and organizing his schedule as well as my schedule and other things.'

However, she told The Today Show, 'he's not saying, "dinner on the table at six."'  'I'm saying I'll lift up my side and do it happily and also the expectation would be or the hope would be that he comes with the same attitude,' she explains.

In her new book, My Foot is too Big For This Glass Slipper, Reece writes that 'to truly be feminine means being soft, receptive, and - look out, here it comes - submissive.'

Reese explains that, although she appeared to have everything - beauty, success and a family - her marriage was far from a fairy tale.  'We didn't even make it to our fifth anniversary before our sexy fairy tale turned into one of those unwatchable Swedish domestic dramas that makes the audience want to throw themselves off the nearest bridge,' she writes.

Fed up with 'glaring at each other over green smoothies,' Reece filed for divorce. A few months later, the couple reunited, and worked hard to overcome their differences. That's when she got in touch with her more submissive side.

'That's the whole point of the book, which is the happily ever after,' Reese says. 'Maybe what's typical is that you slam into a wall, but then what are you going to do when you do get to that wall?'

Reece took ten years off from a busy career of playing volleyball and modeling to raise her children - two daughters with Hamilton and one from his previous marriage - and tackles women's obsession with having it all.

'We don't worry about (men) having it all, so I don't know where we got this idea to have it all', she says, adding that 'you've got to choose what you're going to work really hard at'.

She also believes that fairy tale happily-ever-after stories are 'pure bullshit'.

'Nothing makes you superficially more happy than the first flushes of love, but in the ever after it's all about dealing with your lover... surviving his crappy moods, and working together, always, to preserve what you've got and nurture a deeper, more profound and grounded love into the future.'

She also stressed the importance of communication - on her man's level. 'I think the language that men understand and they receive - is through food and through sex.' she says.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICSDISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL  and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine).   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here


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