A Handbag Not for Turning

Now that a second series of extracts from Charles Moore’s three-volume biography of Margaret Thatcher is being serialised, isn’t it time that Quartet’s The Story of Mrs Thatcher’s Bag (published as a handbag in 1987, and its original contents compiled into a book in 2013, with a narrative of how the original handbag came to be published) should be given some airing, for the simple reason that it has never received the attention it should have garnered?

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No one in his right mind can discard the fact that Mrs Thatcher achieved a great deal during her ten-year premiership, but he has also to acknowledge that she was criticised by many people, who found her intolerably a self-assuming diktat, who appeared to consider any alternative viewpoint as a sign of lack of nationalism. Her intolerance of those who disagreed with her brought about the main reason for her downfall.

The premise of the original Handbag was to create a series of ‘contents’: a mask, a string of pearls, a handbook of proper conduct, a singalong 45 rpm EP (a now defunct object but in the 1980s the equivalent to iTunes) and much more, which allowed everyone to become Mrs T.

Written by a group of satirists assembled around Private Eye, it was an often savage parody of power and the ruthless certainty that the Market never got it wrong.

It deserved more attention then and certainly deserves more now.

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