I had just returned to Oxford for the start of Trinity term, a few days before in fact in order to do some groundwork setting up the new Cherwell.
After unpacking my stuff I was showing Bob, our super-friendly gardener who drove me down, around the Oxford Union. We were looking at the framed photographs – the one the Union covets most including the Queen and Ronald Reagan – outside the Union bar.
I bumped into James Price, a chap in the year above who I know a little, who was reading something on his phone – looking, if he’ll forgive me for saying, a little feverish. Thatcher had just died.
It was pleasant – I won’t be so hyperbolic as to say ‘a privilege’ – to cover with Jon Epstein, a fantastically eccentric American abroad, Thatcher’s death from an Oxford University point of view. This was, after all, the place in which she first encountered the Establishment that, little more than three decades later, she would uproot and dominate.
I gave Bob a slightly rushed tour of the Union. We had time to look at some of the older committee photos, which were conspicuously absent of women. Despite being President of OUCA in 1946, Thatcher was barred from the Union by virtue of her gender. That finally changed in 1963.
I’m really proud of the feature we ran in the paper two weeks later. It was put together by Cherwell-ites Rosie, Lara and Helena with graphical assistance from Xin and Anna, then deputy editors. Unfortunately the Cherwell website doesn’t allow the sort of design tools that we’re able to employ in print, but here’s a photo of it here.
We tracked the changing role and experience of female undergraduates at Oxford since – and including – the time when Thatcher was at Somerville. For balance we included a comment piece that attacked the notion that Thatcher improved the position of women in society.
By some margin interviewing the chief clown of the Moscow Cat Circus was the most bizarre, and terrifying, experience of my time in Moscow. The show is quite something: squealing four year olds and rather uncomfortable-looking cats doing weird and wonderful things.
Here’s a taster.