November 10, 2014

"If I were there, Margaret, I'd throw my hat in the door before I came in."

Said Ronald Reagan to Margaret Thatcher, in a newly revealed conversation from 1983.
The saying refers to an Civil War-era practice in which a visitor might throw his hat in to a room before entering - if he was unwelcome, it might be thrown out again or even shot at.

"There's no need for that," Lady Thatcher replied.... "The action [in Grenada] is under way now and we just hope it will be successful. There is a lot of work to do yet, Ron," she said.
The conversation ended with Thatcher saying she had to get back to a "tricky" debate in the House of Commons and Reagan saying: "All right. Go get 'em, eat 'em alive."


David Hampton said...

And chew them up she did. Two of the worlds greatest leaders of their time and an inspiration for others to emulate.

tim in vermont said...

Funny how she remains an object of enduring hatred in the UK for shutting down coal mines in the name of global warming. A central tenet of the Democrat platform.

Gabriel said...

Civil War-era practice

Horseshit. It's a Civil War-era joke.

Hagar said...

More likely early Hollywood Westerns.

David said...

Two powerful people talking easily like normal folks, each with confidence in the other. Hmmmmmm.

The Drill SGT said...

Back when the special relationship was still special and all parties knew it.

Quaestor said...

I think it needs to be pointed out that since this historic conversation has been revealed by the BBC, the civil war referred to is not the late unpleasantness between the brutal industrial North and the gentlemanly agricultural South. In the BBC stylebook that conflict is always given as the American Civil War (my emphasis). However the Civil War always refers to that struggle between Parliament and King Charles I.

Quaestor said...

The turn of phrase, to throw one hat into the room, also makes much more sense if it originates in the English Civil War and not ours.

The American war was not strictly ideological, though that's the interpretation too many 21st century scholars want to impose on it, Ken Burns didn't originate the notion, but he did much to inculcate the default view among the general population... well, never mind, that's a conversation for another time. The point is there was a large region of the country where one side recruited and drew it's strength, and another large region that armed and recruited the opposing army, i.e. geography was a good predictor of sympathy. If one spoke with a New England accent and practiced a maritime trade that person was likely a Unionist. If one spoke with a Charlestonian lilt and made a living from the land, the opposite camp was probably his home.

The English Civil War was much more civil than ours in that it was more about political philosophy than regional interests. While it is true that urban-based merchant class generally supported Parliament, and the rural counties of the West of English were strongholds of the King, personal beliefs about religion were a much better predictor of one's politics than regional origin. That war is sometimes called the Puritan Revolution, and not for nothing. Puritan reformers strongly opposed the absolutism of Charles Stuart and his party, while High Churchmen mostly remained loyal and royalist, though not as uniformly as the Puritans in their cause.

One could tell an upper class myrmidon of one side or the other just by looking at him. The Puritans favored black or brown coats and breeches, never wore lace or ribands, and wore unadorned hats that were never cocked. A Puritan who wore a feather in his hatband was asking for hiding by his coreligionists. Aristocratic royalists dressed as richly as they could afford and wore feathered chapeaus as a rule. The poor of both camps dressed poorly. Thus the style of the hat was a good indicator of the politics of man underneath. So if you were a royalist unsure of the welcome the occupants of a certain chamber might afford, tossing in the hat first was a wise policy.

Krumhorn said...

Funny how she remains an object of enduring hatred in the UK for shutting down coal mines in the name of global warming. A central tenet of the Democrat platform.

While early on, Thatcher, a trained scientist, thought that the global warming thesis deserved investigation and was instrumental in helping to establish the IPCC, by the time she wrote her last book, Statecraft in 2002, her skepticism was in place, and she devoted a number of pages to a section called "Hot Air and Global Warming" in which she roundly trashed the global warming narrative which ‘provides a marvelous excuse for worldwide, supra-national socialism.’, an ineluctable truth.

- Krumhorn

Krumhorn said...

One of Our Savior's first acts of calumny was when he sent a bust of Winston Churchill, that had been in the Oval Office, back to the British. While there are a great number of items on my personal list of things that I would like to see the next Conservative president to immediately do upon inauguration, requesting a return of that bust would be at the top...and if they would send over one of Lady Thatcher too, that would be dandy.

- Krumhorn

Mark Leavy said...

A question for the many language wonks in the commentariat.

Why the use of "an" vs "a" in:
"refers to an Civil War-era practice"

Not a pattern that I have seen before.

Quaestor said...

It's what's known in the trade as a typo. Yes, even the BBC. They aren't what they were, sadly.

Ann Althouse said...

"Why the use of "an"..."

Probably left over after an edit. Not my mistake.