The British television interviewer Jonathan Ross, reportedly employed by the BBC at a salary of $11,000,000 a year and known for extreme vulgarity, in 2006 asked the then-leader of the British opposition party, David Cameron, whether as a youth he had masturbated while thinking of Mrs. Thatcher. The question, unsurprisingly, caused some controversy, to which Ross replied that he considered it « a valid one. »
So much for the BBC and for the bygone stiff upper lip. I had forgotten about this until recently, when I read Philip Hensher’s review of Charles Moore’s second volume of Thatcher’s biography in the New Spectator. Hensher, an excellent novelist, concisely notes that, at one point in the 1980s, “word got out among the louche that she was hot stuff.” He then narrates the exchange that followed when the film director Mike Nichols found himself sitting next to Thatcher at a dinner in Washington:
“My friend John Le Carré says you are a very sexy woman,” he said.
“Well,” she responded, ”I’m not.”