Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Mrs Whippy


As you can see, I haven't been on a Photoshop course. I had hoped to find a more amusing image, but they're nearly all in landscape format, which doesn't lend itself to the Ladybird treatment. Also, my software is 12-years-old (a bad workman always blames his tools).

I wonder what a Ladybird book of Margaret Thatcher would say? I'm sure that it would be a voice of reason, avoiding the hysterical rhetoric of her admirers and enemies. Perhaps something along the lines of Polly Toynbee's succinct summing-up of the Thatcher era:

"She undoubtedly rescued the prestige of the country from its postwar nadir, but at a high cost to the generosity of its political and social culture."

One other piece of common sense about Margaret Thatcher can be found here. Sadly, most of the  responses to yesterday's news are drivel, from Geri Halliwell's tweet about 'Girl power' to the US news item that claimed that Mrs Thatcher had rescued her people from "30 years of socialism."

I have very clear memories of the first and third terms of the Thatcher government, but during the second I lived in rural Wales, which was stuck in the year 1978. When I returned to London, I felt as if I had travelled 20 years into the future. What had happened while I'd been away? Why was it no longer possible to buy a white coffee without going through a list of 20 options?

Rather than add to the many words that have been written during the last 36 hours, here are some random images that I associate with the Thatcher era:



 





 














 
But amongst the various tributes to Mrs Thatcher's achievements, for good or ill, few have acknowledged the important role that she played in developing Mr Whippy ice cream during her days as an industrial chemist. I hope that the next time you enjoy a soft ice cream - possibly a 99 if you're feeling a little dangerous - think of Mrs Thatcher in her white coat, striving to find a technique of adding air and reducing the milk content. It's almost a metaphor for her later career, but not quite.

NB - I have been informed that Mrs Thatcher worked for Mr Softee, not Mr Whippy. My apologies to all fans of Lyons Maid for this error.

19 comments:

DollMum said...

mrs Thatcher worked for Lyons who owned Mr Softee, Mr Whippy was the Walls rival - see http://www.kzwp.com/lyons/mistersofteeltd.htm - the rivalry did make soft ice cream from a mobile van more popular

Anonymous said...

This is a terrific post and the images are very telling.

The banal comment ascribed to Halliwell depresses me more than I can say.

Sue

Steerforth said...

Thankd DollMum - I will add a correction.

Sue - To depress you further, I remember seeing the Spice Girls in South Africa, with their arms around Nelson Mandela, whilst Geri compared 'Girl power' to the struggle against apartheid.

Grey Area said...

Great post - I remember every image with crystal clarity - I think it takes us 20 years before we can look back at the events of our lifetimes before we can put them into context and look at them properly. As an aside - I have been to Geri Halliwell's house - late 1990's. I won't go into too many details - she was nice enough - but didn't have anything to say - trying very hard to be smarter than she actually was, the house felt very un-lived in, like a show home - we had a look through her bookshelves (..as you do - go on, admit it, we all fo it) - she didn't actually have any real books - just magazines and programes for shows and concerts - and a single copy of 'The Sound of Music' on VHS.

Steerforth said...

That's interesting - I always got the impression that she wasn't terribly bright. Her penchant for 'new age' therapies range my alarm bells, along with her various statements about GP.

Quite touching about the 'Sound of Music'.

Martin said...

Could have been Kind Hearts and Cornets. If only she had possessed a kind heart. Oh well...

Rog said...

Wonderfully evocative choice of images Steerforth. Fortunately I've been on a break in rural Wales (drinking Lattes!) so missed the media frenzy but just dipped into Twitter to catch the calm and reasoned argument.
I'm not a big Thatch-fan and was a tad pre-occupied in the 70's bringing up five children but it did seem at the time that Red Robbo and the TUC were making a concerted attempt to ensure our proud industrial base was always going to crumble.
I think Mrs T. was, as Andrew Marr once said, lucky in her choice of enemies. If Russia had invaded the Falklands instead of a tin-pot dictatorship, or if Scargill had been a bit cleverer, then our World today may have looked rather different.

lucy joy said...

Worse than Haliwell's 'one trick pony' quip for me, was watching the news and hearing Kelvin MacKenzie say "all feminists should weep".
I've heard Thatcher described as sexy, alluring and 'devastatingly attractive' too. I prefer 'handsome' and 'well turned out' personally, but then again, I never met her.
Having no friends, putting the importance of your job/public persona above your family, believing your own hype, not backing down and hardly sleeping - that's what it takes to be a success, it seems. Just like Shipman, Savile, Princess Diana and any other dead oddball. I've said too much.

Nota Bene said...

terrific selection of photos...memories good and bad

Steerforth said...

Rog - She was also very lucky to have Michael Foot leading the Labour Party. At one point it looked as if the SDP might eclipse Labour and give Mrs Thatcher a run for her money. Perhaps if they hadn't allied themselves with the Liberals and the Falklands had never happened, things might have been different. Pre-1982, she was incredibly unpopular.

Lucy - No, she wasn't the sort of person I'd want to go on holiday with. I can imagine being woken up at 6.30am, with an exhausting schedule of tours and activities. She didn't seem to have a 'hinterland'. Edward Heath had a very fulfilling life after No.10. I don't imagine she did.

Nota Bene - Yes, the same for me. The best of times, the worst of times.

Anonymous said...

And I never knew Nick Clegg started off modelling the new mobile phone...

flyingscribbler said...

I knew there was a reason I always disliked Mr Softee/Whippee. Actually, in my younger days, I worked in a 'family run' amusement park. I often covered a shift or two in the ice cream kiosk. Pouring that liquid vegetable fat into the whipping machine where it was turned into 'ice cream' ( neither ice nor cream present) put me off for life. Knowing now who created this Frankenstein of iced confectionary I won't be changing my opinion. Wasn't it enough that she ruined the country, without doing the same to our taste buds?

Steerforth said...

Anon - Don't get me started on the Cleggster...

Flyingscribbler - I wouldn't give Mrs Thatcher the credit for ruining the country - it was already in a pretty bad way, bankrupted by having to fight the Second World War. My main criticism of her is that she seemd to restore Britain from its position as the 'sick man of Europe', but was actually a short-termist, who failed to replace the nation's old industrial infrastructure with a sustainable one for the future, squandering natural resources to the point where we are now becoming dependent on imports for our energy. Her faith in the free market was too dogmatic. She should have learned a few lessons from the Germans.
Sorry if that seems like a 'ranting' response.

Steerforth said...

I should also add that the legacy of her economic policy - low inflation and high unemployment - has had a toxic influence.

Daleaway said...

Heard Dame Ann Leslie give an interesting insight to Lady Thatcher on local radio today. She travelled with her on a number of election campaigns and could never get Mrs T to make sufficient toilet stops for the staff.

Apparently La Thatcher only went twice a day - before her 5am start, and after work - and strongly thought that all her staff and journalists should be similarly "gifted".

Comment would be superfluous....

Steerforth said...

Daleawy - Brilliant! That anecdote succinctly sums-up the cornerstone of ideology. She did seem to have an almost superhuman drive and determination, but lacked the patience or empathy to understand the weaknesses of others.

Canadian Chickadee said...

Wonderful evocative photos of the eras in question.

Regarding Mrs. Thatcher: It's hard to know what to say. I do sometimes feel that women who've sold their souls so they can succeed in business and government by really really trying, are not necessarily doing themselves any favours. And I always found myself feeling a bit sorry for poor Dennis Thatcher. I think he must've put up with a lot.

But for good or ill, there's no denying that Mrs. T definitely left her mark on the events of the 20th Century.

By the way, in a strange twist, the comment moderation word for the day my entry is "led great". An instance of cosmic irony at work?

Steerforth said...

Yes, she was a one-off. I find people's blinkered views of her as the saviour or nemesis of British society quite baffling.

Annabel (gaskella) said...

1979 was the first time I was allowed to vote - and make of it what you will, I voted for Thatch, to help get a woman in. I was a student at Imperial College in Kensington, drinking cheap beer in the Union Bar next to the Albert Hall, hanging out with the rugby players from the Royal School of Mines where I did my degree - we had a ratio of 1 woman to 12 men there... Politics never came into the equation.

I too remember everything you pictured. Wonderful images.