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Thatcher and Trumps – two great ladies

Many of you will have read that Baroness Trumpington died, aged 96, on Monday.

Announcing the news, her son Adam Barker said, "She did not make it to 100 but she had a bloody good innings."

I knew a little bit about her but having read several of the many obituaries that have been published in the past 48 hours I realise I was barely scratching the surface of an extraordinary life.

I knew she had been a smoker because I'd seen photographs of her with Lord Harris of High Cross, chairman of Forest, outside parliament on No Smoking Day.

They were members of the Lords and Commons Pipe and Cigar Smokers Club and this annual photo opp often made the front pages.

She gave up cigarettes in 2001 when she was 79. Later she is reported to have said:

"Is the noble Lord aware that, at the age of 80, there are very few pleasures left to me, but one of them is passive smoking?"

In 2012 she appeared on Have I Got News For You and this happened:

I met her just once – at a 'Libertarian Lunch' organised by Boisdale Life magazine (and sponsored by Forest) in February 2017.

She was in a wheelchair and rather frail but in good spirits.

I'm told that her ghost-written memoir, Coming Up Trumps, published in 2014, is well worth reading. The subject however was less impressed.

Interviewed for the Guardian she said: "I don't understand all this excitement. I didn't write the damn book, and I haven't read it either."

It's worth noting too her thoughts on Margaret Thatcher who gave her a job in government as a health minister. On daring to contradict her boss, she said:

“Well, I took the view that if she was going to sack me, she was going to sack me, so I’d better be true to myself and say exactly what I thought and if she sacked me at the end of the day, so what?

"And I think it was useful to her. She was terribly kind to me. I loved her dearly.

"I think she used me because she knew I would not just say yes to something she’d said, and that I’d argue the matter, and it gave her ammunition on how to deal with other people.”

Not one but two great ladies. RIP.

PS. By coincidence I am having dinner tonight with Ranald Macdonald, MD of Boisdale Restaurants and publisher of Boisdale Life.

Click on the link below to see Ranald with Baroness Trumpington at that 'Libertarian Lunch' last year:

Baroness Trumpington is wined and dined at Boisdale (Evening Standard).

Update: Chain smoking, V-sign flicking peer regularly turned the air blue but Lady Trumpington, who’s died at 96, was the very best of battleaxes — and a tonic to public life, says Quentin Letts.

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Reader Comments (2)

I wish there were more like her in the world. It is so sad to say goodbye to that generation who knew the true meaning of freedom and not just "smoke free, fat free, sugar free" etc.etc.etc... which are all means to curb liberty and impose dictatorship bit by tiny bit.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018 at 16:19 | Unregistered Commenterpat nurse

But, but, but ... she was 96 years old! Didn't she know that, having taken more than one puff of a cigarette in her life, she was supposed to drop dead at 40???

Thursday, November 29, 2018 at 1:58 | Unregistered CommenterMisty

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