UPDATE: Andrew Roberts has also written about Lady T in the Telegraph. He shed some light on her current lifestyle, revealing she has a cat with the rather un-Thatcherite name of Pussikins!
At a lunch party last summer at my home, only a couple of hundred yards from where she lives, she was on what in anyone else would be described as jolly form. Introduced to Lord Dalmeny, whose ancestor, the Earl of Rosebery, had won the Derby whilst prime minister, she suggested that the three living ex-prime ministers - herself, John Major and Tony Blair - should each buy the leg of a horse and try to win it again. When I pointed out that that would mean Gordon Brown buying the fourth leg, she thought about it, before saying: "He doesn't look as if he'd enjoy that kind of thing very much, does he?"
She then kept a table of True Believers, including Michael Gove, Paul Johnson and
Simon Heffer, entranced with her memories of the Falklands War. We drank Chateau d'Issan (Margaux) 1982 to commemorate the 25th anniversary, and - against doctor's orders, but frankly impossible to stop - she stood up to give a 10-minute account of the crisis from start to glorious finish, which left us astounded at her post-stroke mental capacity. Nor was she overly jingoistic. "It was very sad that we had to do it," she concluded, "but we really had no choice." When Lady Getty told her that she had visited Colonel H Jones's grave on the Falklands, and laid some flowers there and at the war memorial, the emotion was evident in Lady Thatcher's voice as she thanked her...
The Tory MP who criticised Gordon Brown for inviting Lady Thatcher to Downing Street last year, saying he was taking advantage of "a frail old lady", could not have been more wrong. Lady Thatcher can still spot a No 10 photo opportunity as well as anyone, but if New Labour wanted to acknowledge the victory of Thatcherism over socialism, she was not about to stop it. The shrewd political advice she receives from her devoted private secretary, Mark Worthington, has meant that she has not put a foot wrong politically since she was tragically ousted by "the November criminals" of
1990. Furthermore, it would have been rude to have refused the invitation, and Lady Thatcher is polite to a very remarkable degree. The only thing that will prevent her offering her own chair to visitors in her drawing room is if her vast marmalade cat, called Pussikins, snatches it in the meantime. (While Pussikins might not sound very Thatcherite, when it came from Battersea Cats' Home it was originally named Marvin.)
Today the old spark is definitely there; when I took some Californian admirers to visit last month, one asked her about Hillary Clinton's comparison of herself to Lady Thatcher. "She's not in the least like me!" Margaret expostulated, "I know that because I'm not in the least like her."