Pissing in Thatcher’s coffee is not enough

The world portrayed in ‘It’s a Sin’ was made possible by student grants, squats, cheap rents and a relatively generous social security system. The freedom and creativity that they afforded opened up the space for the development of queer lives in a thousand ephemeral venues, magazines, performances and protests. And these factors – though barely referenced in the show – provided the backdrop for resistance against the Thatcher government’s rampant homophobia.

But the show takes an uncomfortably breezy approach to the rise of inequality that defined life for many during that fateful decade.

This is exemplified in the fourth episode, when Ritchie and the show’s co-hero Jill become landlords after securing a mortgage on the ‘Pink Palace’ – the shared flat that brings the characters together. At one point, Ritchie and Jill jest about their new relationship with the rest of the crew around the kitchen table.

“We’ll draw up proper contracts and all that stuff… We’ll be ruthless,” they proclaim.

“Hm, my cruel landlord… I like it,” respond their soon-to-be tenants.

This strange fetishising of exploitation from Russell T Davies, the show’s 57-year-old creator, may simply be a moment of intergenerational detachment. But you wonder how the cast of 20-somethings felt voicing those lines, given how rent immiserates so many young people today in London and all over Britain.

The risk is that the bitter struggles of the 1980s become historicised as a great moderation – one in which cultural and personal liberation are presented as a mirror to the process of economic liberalisation and the restoring of power to capital, even as crucibles of sexual freedom and wider forms of experimentation are exiled from British cities.

The original intent of the project of a property-owning democracy – “to enable every worker to become a capitalist”, in the words of Anthony Eden – becomes the logical narrative end point. It is how the characters ‘grow up’. The cut and dry resistance evoked in ‘It’s a Sin’ becomes impossible: bonds of community and solidarity are replaced with incentives to exploit.

Today, almost everyone knows a landlord, and thus to seek political alternatives is to attack members of your immediate social network and community.

Thatcherism’s lasting stain

Ritchie confesses he voted for Thatcher. His declaration comes in a scene on the absurdities of implementing Section 28 – the notorious anti-gay education legislation that Thatcher introduced, pitching it as a culture war against “hard-Left education authorities” and “extremist teachers” accused of teaching children that “they have an inalienable right to be gay.”

And Thatcher is worshipped by another character: the ambitious, closeted Tory MP, Arthur Garrison, played by Stephen Fry. In a hilarious set-piece, Garrison enlists his lover Roscoe as a useful “coloured” face at an event; all part of a scheme to win “The Lady’s” favour. Riled by Garrison’s hypocrisy, Roscoe pisses in Thatcher’s coffee moments before it is delivered. Sadly, the scene cuts before we can establish whether she drinks her fill.

Print
Print Share Comment Cite Upload Translate Updates

Leave a Reply

APA
Christopher Silver | Radio Free (2021-11-29T08:10:54+00:00) » Pissing in Thatcher’s coffee is not enough. Retrieved from https://www.radiofree.org/2021/03/10/pissing-in-thatchers-coffee-is-not-enough/.
MLA
" » Pissing in Thatcher’s coffee is not enough." Christopher Silver | Radio Free - Wednesday March 10, 2021, https://www.radiofree.org/2021/03/10/pissing-in-thatchers-coffee-is-not-enough/
HARVARD
Christopher Silver | Radio Free Wednesday March 10, 2021 » Pissing in Thatcher’s coffee is not enough., viewed 2021-11-29T08:10:54+00:00,<https://www.radiofree.org/2021/03/10/pissing-in-thatchers-coffee-is-not-enough/>
VANCOUVER
Christopher Silver | Radio Free - » Pissing in Thatcher’s coffee is not enough. [Internet]. [Accessed 2021-11-29T08:10:54+00:00]. Available from: https://www.radiofree.org/2021/03/10/pissing-in-thatchers-coffee-is-not-enough/
CHICAGO
" » Pissing in Thatcher’s coffee is not enough." Christopher Silver | Radio Free - Accessed 2021-11-29T08:10:54+00:00. https://www.radiofree.org/2021/03/10/pissing-in-thatchers-coffee-is-not-enough/
IEEE
" » Pissing in Thatcher’s coffee is not enough." Christopher Silver | Radio Free [Online]. Available: https://www.radiofree.org/2021/03/10/pissing-in-thatchers-coffee-is-not-enough/. [Accessed: 2021-11-29T08:10:54+00:00]
rf:citation
» Pissing in Thatcher’s coffee is not enough | Christopher Silver | Radio Free | https://www.radiofree.org/2021/03/10/pissing-in-thatchers-coffee-is-not-enough/ | 2021-11-29T08:10:54+00:00
To access this feature you must login or create an account.