Monday 4th May 2015

The first thing that greeted us as we entered this grand-dame of a hotel, whose magnificence astounds me every time we enter it, was, that on this day in 1979 Margaret Thatcher came to power and the questionable downward slope that it evoked. With the election just a day away it’s interesting to look back on her life. I realise that I am very much a product of her reign and the consequences that followed:

"Where there is discord, may we bring harmony.

Where there is error, may we bring truth.

Where there is doubt, may we bring faith.

And where there is despair, may we bring hope."

Harmony and hope – but for who? Certainly not to miners but the unions did become too powerful. We lost a lot of Industry and our exports have been declining ever since. It’s amazing what damage can be done in 11 years. We are suffering with the results of selling off state owned industries such as the railways, gas etc., although British Telecom was perhaps one exception but why do the French own our water and the proceeds of allowing us to drive over the Dartford Crossing? We are suffering for the lack of social housing all of which Maggie initiated and much more. I won’t even mention mad cow disease (CJD) and as a former chemist Maggie should have known better.
I should like her personally for the same reasons I like Doris Day – a strong woman who came from (relatively) nothing to be top in her field but Maggie did very little for other women, she wasn’t a feminist; she just knew how to get to and succeed at the top. In addition to her accomplishment in the highest political spot she still managed to bring up two children and have a long lasting marriage and if she left anything to women it was that – you could do, and have it all, even if she criticised working mothers for raising a “crèche generation”. Aside from Baroness Young she had no females in the cabinet above junior minister level but had proved that the role of prime minister could be “gender-neutral”, after-all our figurehead was and still is female.
Her strength was shown during the Brighton hotel bombing where five people died and she too narrowly avoided death. She carried on with her conference and left a quote that resonates loud and clear today and to which I wholeheartedly concur:
“This attack has failed. All attempts to destroy democracy by terrorism will fail.”
Strong women. I admire them. I aspire to be one: strength from adversity, perseverance and hard work. Doris always played strong women in different ways. At a time when women were chained to the kitchen once married, being a successful film star she was able to show women a little escapism. Of course she played plenty of wives and if there was drudgery it was temporary because she always had laughter and music…in films.
At my daughter’s school they are having their own election and she is the Green leader so I showed her how to look up their policies and current manifesto – more female leaders, Caroline Lucas, the first Green MP based in Brighton and now the party leader is Natalie Bennett, so more women leaders. It’s interesting with the recent discovery of oil in the south and previous fracking discussions have been around that Sussex/Surrey area so let’s see how far that goes… There has been a lot on Facebook today – and of course in the press whose allegiance with the blues is more than down your throat – and one journalist decided that the best party for the family (and for him) was the Green party, also popular with the young – after all they have to live in the future mess the blues have created for them!
Another political announcement was made in the last couple of days by Sandy Toksvig, of Herne Bay who is forming her own political party called The Women’s Equality Party, which already has 15,000+ supporters – me included. Reporting from The Times newspaper:

“The comedian, has left Radio 4's The News Quiz for a career in politics with a newly-formed party campaigning for women's rights. The broadcaster, who has been in charge for more than 220 episodes over 28 series, will bow out of the show in June to work for the Women's Equality Party. She told Radio 4's Woman's Hour: "I have made jokes over and over again about politics, and you know this election I've had enough and I have decided that instead of making jokes about it I need to participate.
"So I am involved in the founding of a new political party." She said the party, started by journalist Catherine Mayer, was a "fantastic group of women and indeed men who have decided enough is enough". Toksvig said the new party was "not going to be right or left" and would look for "practical and possible" solutions to improve the position of women in society.”

She later tweeted:
Yes, it's true, this will be my last series of @TheNewsQuiz. Perhaps I'll finally have time to change the world. It wants doing
11:05 AM - 28 Apr 2015

So, with these thoughts going around my head we took our place in the restaurant surrounded by people having a delicious bank holiday lunch and later on, high tea. Down stairs Gypsy John entertained again with his music for the jazz dancers. In the green room there were clothes stalls and vintage items for sale. I stood chatting to the ladies from AGE UK, based in Hythe and purchased a beautiful bracelet. Next door there was a classical concert being prepared for. It’s wonderful to see hotels being used in this way – again.
Because I know all the words and they are now committed to brain muscle I was able to gaze out across the English channel watching families at play: children whizzing past on scooters, tag-alongs, bikes, electric mobility scooters, walkers, joggers and slow walkers with sticks; all enjoying the sun and the scenery of this beautiful area. I was singing April in Paris and thinking Folkestone in May.
Last year I attended a vintage fayre in Mount Ephraim Gardens and bought a beautiful red and white gingham dress, with three tiers so today it had its debut; coupled with my red and white patent Miu Miu shoes and a necklace and earring set my sister sent from Australia. I dug out my long red gloves that I bought decades ago to complete the look!
We did our celebration set and added in The Very Thought of You, Bewitched and I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm. We even attempted our Calamity Jane medley, which is not an easy task with just two of us. We had some attentive listeners and enjoyed a grand tea in our break, which consisted of coffee, cheese and onion triangle sandwiches; a lime cheesecake and a huge fruit scone with Tiptree strawberry jam and whipped double cream. We say it every year – why don’t we come here more often! They offer a wide selection of Tea Pig tea, a British company committed to fine teas. Mine was green sencha, of course and was delicious.

I found another tea ‘shop’ this week. Just off Old Bond Street is Dering Street and Postcard Teas. I went in and asked for advice. I sat down on one of the wooden benches and waited for a sample. It was a sencha from the Fuji Mountains so I took a pot home with me - for special occasions. I am happy about the health benefits of green tea but it’s the taste I like. I am becoming quite a green tea connoisseur! Ronnie’s owner Mike Watt bought himself some flower tea in the week and disliked it so I was the lucky recipient.


Final political point. My MD said last week to the office, “Sarah likes her politics like her tea.” Yes, I do.