Arresting qualities of domination

At once we were in an argument. Of Joshua Nkomo I remember her saying: ‘I think Joshua is absolutely sweet.’ That was the least of our disagreements. On one point of fact, too abstruse to detail here, I was right (as it happens) and she was wrong. But she would not concede this and so, rather than be a bore, I gave her the point and made a slight bow of acknowledgment. She pierced me with a glance. ‘Bow lower,’ she commanded. With what I thought was an insouciant look, I bowed a little lower. ‘No, no – much lower!’ A silence had fallen over our group. I stooped lower, with an odd sense of having lost all independent volition. Having arranged matters to her entire satisfaction, she produced from behind her back a rolled-up Parliamentary order-paper and struck – no, she thwacked – me on the behind. I reattained the perpendicular with some difficulty. ‘Naughty boy,’ she sang out over her shoulder as she flounced away. Nothing that happened to the country in the next dozen years surprised me in the least.

Christopher Hitchens on a 1977 encounter with Margaret Thatcher, recently elected leader of the opposition—’a great fanged and clawed feline, replete with sex and spite, her tawny whiskers flecked with cream past, cream present and cream to come’.

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