An Actor’s Life | The good and bad old days

Dear Reader, I can’t avoid referring to the divisiveness still caused by Mrs, sorry, ‘Lady’ Thatcher. With her death, old wounds are being opened and we are reminded of the deep divisions that still exist in the Dis-united Queendom. Perhaps though, we all ought to make efforts to bury old enmities for the sake of the future and not to let news such as the building of a ‘Thatcher Museum’, which will supposedly serve to remind us of her “vision and philosophy”, to agitate or rile. Fierce debate capable of dividing families, and TV footage of Millwall and Newcastle Utd football fans fighting the police and each other this last week, has been like a glimpse of the bad old days of the ‘80s.

During the ‘80s, I went on many demonstrations and rallies, including ones trying to stop the Poll Tax and to get Nelson Mandela released. I remember once going canvassing for the Labour Party in Lewisham and Greenwich and seeing one terraced house draped with Union Jacks and a slogan written in blue paint on a bed sheet that said: “Fuck off if you’re Labour!”

“I’ll take this one,” I told my group of fellow Labour badges. “There’s no point, Ian!” said someone. “I disagree,” I said as I opened the white garden gate and marched up the very tidy crazy-paving path edged with a manicured lawn to the front door to ring the bell. “There’s every point. I want to see the person behind the curtains who wrote this.” Through the smoked-glass window, I could hear heavy-booted footsteps and see a man’s silhouette. He opened the door and said: “Can’t you f**king read?” “Yes,” I said. “I was just curious to see the nutter who lives here, and there you are!”

He was a tall and very fit skinhead with a very visible Union Jack tattooed on his neck. “I’m gonna count to three, then I’ll set the dogs on ya!” “Why do you support” … I didn’t get to finish my sentence because he started counting. On the count of “One”, two Doberman pincers slid into frame in the kitchen door at the end of the corridor, their ears alert, eyes focused on yours truly. On the count of “Two” I had already turned and was running up the garden path. “Three” was accompanied by the sound of long Doberman nails scratching the lino as they chased after me. I managed to clear the gate as they snapped and snarled at my heels … “Come the GLORIOUS day!” I shouted. “We’ll meet one day and sort this out forever,” he shouted back. Oh yes, happy days!

RIP Lady T.