A Monkey's Revenge - My Blog

Shooting the iron lady


 The end of an era this week with the ceremonial funeral of Baroness Thatcher on Wednesday. Last week The Daily Telegraph sent me to deepest Worcestershire to photograph one of her admirers-John Parton, an ex coal miner turned successful business owner who has now retired. He admired Lady T so much he had one of his purdey shotguns engraved with her portrait. The gun is now up for auction by Holt's,(expected to fetch between £30-50,000). The twist to the tale is that the day Mr Parton took delivery of his gun from the engravers was the day Margaret Thatcher left 10, Downing Street in tears. He put his gun up for auction the week BEFORE the baroness died. Photo of the engraving is courtesy of Holt's Auctioneers  © Andrew Orr – Holt’s Auctioneers.

Mr Parton was clearly leaning to the right even as an 18 year old coal miner. He told me that when he was seen reading the Telegraph he was chased by other miners for a mile along the pit. He switched to The Daily Mirror pretty quickly after that experience!

Way back in the late eighties I photographed Margaret Thatcher when Gorbachev came to town for a historic meeting that effectively sealed an end to the 'Cold War'. Being a northern snapper, I arrived too late to find a decent position as the clued up London snappers had already secured their places outside number ten with gaffer tape and chained up stepladders in the press pen. Sometimes even bad luck works to your advantage though- I was able to get Dennis Thatcher in from the angle I shot at, right on the edge of the scrum, as Gorbachev took a sneeky peek at his watch. I remember hearing lots of expletives from one of the photographers near me who had missed that shot- you see we were working on film in those days and he was just changing a roll at the time!

I photographed Lady Thatcher again in 2001 when she supported William Hague's election campaign. My photo made front page of The Guardian and was more a matter of luck than anything. The Guardian's writer, Simon Hoggart, described the situation very accurately as 'a goatfuck'. I was lucky enough to be in position as an ardent and amorous admirer gave the iron lady a quick kiss. The security men were not as pleased by this as I was and promptly shoulder charged me out of the goatfuck where I ended up on the floor near one of the Northampton market stalls. Surrounded by knocked over flowers I was happy nevertheless- you always know when you have something good in the camera!

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