P&J Column 5.11.15

20/04/08 Freedom of the City to the cast of 'Scotland The What?'

Thatchers clothes

V&A reject Thatcher’s outfits. Well, it’s a museum, not a chamber of horrors.

Struan Metcalfe, MSP for Aberdeenshire North East and surrounding nether-regions

By Gove, I have to admit that I do have a soft spot for a tough lady who knows her own mind, takes no nonsense and can jolly well keep a chap in check. A woman who who would fix a fellow with a steely glare and say “Struan, you rapscallion, you are a very, very naughty boy”. Only three women could ever have put me in my, well deserved, place like that. Mumsy, Mrs Spitweather the comely Gordonstoun matron, and her Magnificence, Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven.

So if anyone were to snub one of those marvellous lady-folk, I would immediately leap to their defence and cry “You, sir, are a bounder of the highest order. You sir, are a knave and a cad and should to be taken to the Tower to have the back of your legs flayed with an iconic string of pearls”.

So imagine my dismay this week when I read that the short-sighted lefties at the Victoria & Albert museum rejected the opportunity to exhibit Maggie’s twinsets and sensible blouses on the basis the collection did not have ‘intrinsic aesthetic value’, What an insult! These are the navy-blue suits with white piping which took on the Argies, the pencil skirts which crushed the Trade Unions and the handbags in which she kept Michael Heseltine’s family jewels! What could be more aesthetic than that? (Note to researcher – pls check meaning of ‘aesthetic’).

Of course, upset at the news, and my eyeballs floating in Vermouth, I regrettably took to Twitter:

“If V&A turn down Iron Lady’s attire, I’ll buy at auction. Then dress up for First Minister’s Questions. If lucky John Swinney will mistake me for Annabel Goldie – pulled”.

Now, I must apologise. There is, of course no resemblance whatsoever between Ms Goldie and me in a frock; and as the longest-serving premier of the 20th Century and Britain’s only female prime minister Baroness Thatcher’s clothing deserves more respect. We are talking about, amongst other things, the first M&S nightie to hold the highest political office in the land, the first playtex 18 hour girdle to occupy 10 Downing Street and, I fervently imagine, the first brassiere to have a finger on the U.K’s nuclear button. We should all think about that for a moment. I know I am. Woof!

Davinia Smythe-Barratt, ordinary mum

Like any ordinary mum, I’m keen to ensure my children enjoy cultural events in as traditional a way as possible. It’s our responsibility to resist consumerism and to honor our autumnal festivals in an ecologically responsible manner. Take Halloween for example. There were no American style piles of candy, pumpkins or plastic fangs chèz Smythe-Barratt this year. Instead, we did All Hallows’ Eve in the time honoured fashion. Snèzanna, the au pair, carved an amazing lantern out of a butternut squash (she’s Bulgarian, but she really is a wonder). Then Fidel and Emmeline, dressed up as members of the oppressed urban poor (in their little shell-suits; adorable!), went ‘guising’ around our friends’ houses. Driven by Snezanna in the Land Rover, naturally – given the size of the estates involved. They even had a chance to ‘trick or treat’ (though I loathe the term) their daddy, thanks to the wonders of Skype. He’s in Geneva at the moment for tax reasons, so he had some sweets sent to them by courier. Well, it’s a time for family, isn’t it?

This evening’s Guy Fawkes Night festivities are no different. At the heart of any 5th November celebration is the bonfire, and Mellors, the gardener, has been sourcing the materials for our sustainable eco-friendly pyre from our East stables. They are currently being renovated to take a family of Syrian refugees – although if none come to the door it might also make a light and airy studio for my new passion, colouring-in for grown ups.

Finally, the fireworks. Naturally, we want to have fun, but we also want to ensure we don’t damage the delicate ecosystem with atmospheric pollution. So, we’ve flown in a team of scientists from the US Army’s Pyrotechnics Technology and Prototyping Division who, I saw on the One Show, have devolved a new ‘green’ alternative. A quick exchange of emails and voila! They’ve agreed to treat us to an hour long display (or as they refer to it, ‘weapons test’) Then we’ll all pop back inside to the small dinning room for baked organic La Bonnotte potatoes and fair trade Ecuadorian hot chocolate. But you know, it’s worth going the extra mile to keep it real.