I’m one of Maggie’s little spongers

2013-04-15 12:02

Just after my blog goes up last Monday I get the news: Thatcher’s snuffed it. Maggie’s bought the farm. I’m stoked. I’m a people loving cat. It’s not cool to rejoice in anybody’s death. But Maggie Thatcher was a genuinely nasty piece of work.

1975. We’d lived in Harper Street in East Belfast. It was a contested area. Regular sniping between the Catholic Church at one end of the street and the Brit patrols. The pub got burned. And looted.

We kicked it to this village called Moneyreagh. It’s all green and Irish looking. Hedges. A fishpond in the schoolyard. No alleyways, snipers or barbed wire. We’ve got an inside toilet. And a bathtub.

My dad’s working in South Africa. The Belfast ship-building industry’s screwed by the political violence. The Nats are looking for skills and cannon fodder. Gerald’s building strike craft and armoured cars. My mom – Winnie – works in a cigarette factory.

I get a school lunch. For free – on the state. As it should be. I don’t remember it tasting very good but it was lunch.

Enter Maggie Thatcher. Maggie’s on this mission. Maggie wants to stop working class kids from getting a school lunch. She literally wants to take the not-very-tasty-but-I’m-sure-nutritious food out of my mouth. Maggie reckons Harper’s a sponger.

There’s an uproar. There’s marches. There’s pickets. There’s vigils. This is Ulster. They know how to do this thing. It’s genetic. People are forgetting to hate each other. Everybody hates Maggie.

There’s this march in the village. The natives are restless. The rallying point’s the school. Winnie’s peeved. She’s Mrs Organiser as usual. Winnie’s a contradiction that only the Shankill Road could give birth to. Winnie’s rabidly pro-Brit.

She’s got two uncles in Crumlin Road for killing IRA operatives. She’s also a die-hard trade unionist. Winnie’s rabidly anti-Thatcher. I get dragged along. As usual. Winnie’s wrapped me in layers of foam rubber from an old mattress.

She’s made me this placard: “I’m one of Maggie’s little spongers.’’

Maggie wasn’t happy with taking my lunch. She was only warming up. Maggie spent her life at war with the working class. Maggie started a war with Argentina. Because she could.

Maggie dragged out the war in Ulster. Maggie propped up apartheid. Maggie privatised. Maggie destroyed. Maggie even tried to ban football. That’s how evil she was.

I hope there is a life after death. That means Maggie’s burning in hell.

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