The Winter Gardens


Always blew like hell beside the Winter Gardens,

playing havoc with the wives’ hairdos.

Sunny Jim Callaghan and his silly song,

fishermen's tales about catches and the EU.


A little arm-twisting, word in the right ear;

the workers, united, will never be defeated.

Late-night curries and composite motions.

Flying pickets, tactics; that wasn’t my department.


Papers screamed about ransom and blackmail,

sneered at our accents, syntax, cloth caps.

They should have let us run our country; we’d

have done it better than those Eton chaps.  


But the road from Saltley only led to Wapping.

I remember the beer-soaked talk in the bar.

“That woman? The grocer’s daughter? Not a chance.

You’ve heard her talk? They’ll see through her.” 


Oh, we did like to be beside the seaside,

escaping smoke-filled rooms for the prom, prom, prom.

Kiss me quick on the pier, know what I mean?

Happy days before the wives came along. 

◄ The cat, the damselflies, and the deer

Jones the Voice ►


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John Coopey

Fri 12th Apr 2013 22:11

You're right, Greg. We enormously underestimated her. There is a halo effect (perhaps not quite the right phrase in her case) with Prime Ministers. Seldom do they look the part until they are in office. She was a classic example. She never looked like a threat to Heath - but was. She never looked to have any leadership qualities - but did. And I say all this with a deep dislike of the woman.

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Greg Freeman

Fri 12th Apr 2013 21:57

No, I've never attended a union conference, John. I was always editing the reports from them back in the office, a backroom boy. I thought 25% inflation was great; in three years in the late 70s my first mortgage more or less disappeared. I decided to re-post this to get on the bandwagon, and partly because it seems to be surprisingly neutral about Thatcher. My fb postings about her this week have been anything but. I think I'm trying to suggest in this poem that the left and the unions totally underestimated what she could do to them, and that was partly because of her gender.

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John Coopey

Fri 12th Apr 2013 21:40

A vivid walk down memory lane, Greg. Were you assigned to report there? I once manned a stand there with a set of oiks, one of which (the boss's son) asked me, "So what does TUC stand for?".
Inflation at 25%, interest rates at 15%, hocked up the the eyeballs at the IMF, the Social Contract in tatters, minority government. It could have been the Weimar Republic all over again. I reckon we got off light with Thatcher!

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Greg Freeman

Fri 12th Apr 2013 00:03

Thought I'd re-post this, seeing as it contains a passing reference to you-know-who

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