Home' Greymouth Star : December 21st 2015 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Monday, December 21, 2015
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uLetters to the editor
1620 - Pilgrims go ashore from ship
Mayflower at what is now Plymouth,
Massachusetts, in United States.
1846 - First surgical operation under
anaesthesia in Britain is performed at University
College Hospital, L ondon by Robert
Liston who amputated the leg of a
1898 - Radium is discovered by
scientists Pierre and Marie Curie.
1913 - First crossword puzzle is
published in weekend edition of
New York World, compiled by
1940 - Death of US author F Scott Fitzgerald.
1942 - British 8th Army reoccupies Benghazi
in Africa in World War Two.
1963 - Sir Jack Hobbs, English cricketer, dies.
1988 - A Pan Am jet explodes over Lockerbie,
Scotland, killing 270 people in the air and on
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
Thomas a Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury
(1118-1170); Benjamin Disraeli, English
statesman-author (1804-1881); Joseph Stalin,
Soviet leader (1879-1953); Kurt Waldheim,
former Austrian president and UN secretary-
general (1918-2007); Kel Nagle, Australian
champion golfer (1920-2015);
Paul Winchell, US ventriloquist
(1922-2005); Ed Nelson, US actor
(1928-2014); Jane Fonda, US actress
(1937-); Frank Zappa, American
musician (1940-1993); Chris Evert,
US tennis player (1954-); Florence
Griffith-Joyner, US athlete (1959-
1998); Kiefer Sutherland, US actor (1966-) .
“ It is not necessary to understand things in
order to argue about them.” — Pierre Augustin
Caron de Beaumarchais, French author and
“ Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a
longing fulfilled is a tree of life.”
— (Proverbs 13:12).
Ice from the
Franz Josef Glacier
now stretches in a
from the terminal face to the sea — a distance
of 10 miles. Early yesterday morning a giant
chunk of ice, estimated at two million tons,
collapsed from the western side of the glacier
and plunged into the Waiho River.
Chief guide for the Tourist Hotel
Corporation, Mr Peter McCormack described
the ice fall as colossal and the most spectacular
tourist attraction ever seen in South Westland.
Some of the ice is heaped six feet high in the
Waiho River. Other ‘splinter’ blocks are strewn
along the valley.
Head of the Geological Sur vey Department
in Greymouth Mr W A Sara said this morning
there had been a big build-up of new snow
and ice on the glacier in the past 18 months.
The old ice had been pushed for ward and this
action created the greatest number of crevasses
ever to appear on the glacier. Heavy rain fell
in the area last week and swirled down these
crevasses and that, in the opinion of Messrs
Sara and McCormack, caused the ice-fall.
Bedecked in dress of a century ago and
playing instruments which have become a
relic of the past, a West Coast band is about to
spread its fame over a wider field. The district ’s
renowned Kokatahi Band will leave Hokitika
on Wednesday morning and the same night,
with a party of West Coast axemen, will arrive
For almost a month it wiil be performing
in guest spots in several states as well as in
Tasmania, and the choppers will go through
their paces, often with the band’s music ringing
in their ears.
uFood for thought
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y now, most of the handbags
— her unique symbol of
political authority — are on
their way to South Korea,
destined to be a window
display at a shop in Seoul.
As for the rest of the 400-plus historic
items auctioned at Christie’s last week, no
one, not even Margaret Thatcher’s most
fer vent supporters, would have forecast
that two years after her death, so many
of the personal items that so defined her
would be treasured by people in the four
corners of the Earth.
Baroness Thatcher’s daughter, Carol, has
made a very handsome sum from the
£4.5 million ($9.96 million) raised at
the sale. It has also made her behaviour
a major topic of conversation around the
smarter dining tables of Westminster and
The question people are asking is: how
could she do such a thing?
For in placing the historic items under
the auctioneer’s gavel, there is not that
many of Lady Thatcher’s possessions left in
Britain to create the kind of comprehensive
museum in her honour that celebrates
a prime minister who achieved almost
nothing, Sir Edward Heath.
His museum at his old home in Salisbury
includes everything from his grand piano
and red government boxes to conductor’s
batons and yachting paraphernalia.
Significantly, the Victoria and Albert
Museum was reported to have “politely
declined” an offer to display some of the
baroness’s most famous power suits.
But so brisk was the bidding for Thatcher
memorabilia this week, with buyers from
41 countries, that prices soared to many
times their estimates, and supporters of
the as-yet-unbuilt Thatcher Centre, which
is planned at the private University of
Buckingham where she was chancellor,
managed to secure a mere dozen items,
including three dresses and a coat.
No sign of Margaret Thatcher’s prime
ministerial red box — that disappeared
over the horizon for £242,500 ($537,000).
For Carol Thatcher at least, it was good
She was not at Christie’s, where she
would have seen her mother’s old personal
assistant Cynthia Crawford, 78, following
each bid with moist eyes. Carol was not
even in London. As the accumulation of
the great Thatcher years dwindled under
the hammer, Carol went swimming in
Klosters, the Swiss ski resort that these
days she calls home.
She was well aware that her decision
to sell so many of mother’s possessions
had angered her twin brother, Sir Mark
Thatcher, who was said to consider the sale
to be “simply abhorrent ”.
However, we can reveal he did have an
item in the sale, but only one, described as
an obscure “trinket ” that had little personal
Every other item was supplied by Carol,
and as one old family friend who has
obser ved the widening rift and animosity
between the 62-year-old twins says: “I’m
afraid the sad truth is that knowing how
Mark felt about the auction would have
been more of a spur to Carol to sell the lot
and feel she was doing the right thing.”
But was she?
One of her close girlfriends says Carol
is “very hurt” by suggestions she has been
selling off her mother’s memory simply for
“S he is very proud of her mother and
kept many things back from the sale. But
the stuff has been in storage for two years
because she didn’t have the room and
there’s a lot of it.
“S he simply had to do something with
it all and this seemed the right time to let
And yet friends and acquaintances of
Lady Thatcher’s spinster daughter also talk
of her constant anxiety about money.
“S he has always fretted about feeling
secure and what the future holds,” says the
Carol’s share of her mother’s £4.7m
($10.4m) will was just over £1m. This
was after inheritance tax was halved in
lieu of her mother’s papers being given to
the nation — they are held at Churchill
The other beneficiaries were Mark and
his children Michael, 26, and Amanda, 22,
who spoke so movingly at the former PM’s
funeral at St Paul’s Cathedral.
Carol, who has been a journalist and
broadcaster for most of her life, won ITV ’s
I’m a Celebrity . . . Get Me Out Here!
in 2005 and three years later published a
memoir which shocked and upset many
when she described her mother’s descent
into Alzheimer’s disease.
But in recent times she has done little
work. This year, she has been dividing
her time between Switzerland and Spain,
where she has been learning Spanish.
In Klosters, she still shares a modest
flat with ski instructor Marco Grass, 15
years her junior, who has been her on-off
companion for 22 years. Four years ago, he
broke both legs in a skiing accident and it
was Carol who nursed him back to health.
At Lady Thatcher’s funeral, Marco was at
Carol’s side and a stalwart support.
One has to look no further than the title
of her memoir to understand the mindset
that has divided her so bitterly from
her two-minutes-older Mark. She
called it A Swim-On Part in the
Almost 20 years ago, when she was
43, and Mark was still married to his
American first wife, Diane, and living in
South Africa, Carol was already feeling
like the one member of the family who had
been left off the Christmas list.
She let out her feelings of frustration
and inadequacy with these words: ‘Mark is
married to a beautiful girl, has two fabulous
children and various mansions scattered
around the world. I’m an ancient spinster
of no fixed abode living in a rented holiday
flat in a ski resort. I still don’t measure up
awfully well on the Richter scale.’
Many family friends find this bitterness
understandable. But for the moment, let
us go back to the day she and Mark were
invited by the former director of Lady
Thatcher’s private office, Julian Seymour
— also executor of her estate — to choose
things for themselves from her Belgravia
home, a house which, for them, had no
value as it was not hers but provided by a
“They were invited to take as much or as
little as they wanted,” says a source close
to the executor. “ These did not include a
number of items which had been specially
put to one side for Mark’s children to have
when they are older.
“Mark felt that Carol deliberately chose
items of high value and that it was her
intention to sell them. He made it plain
that he was keeping the things he chose.
It ’s hardly surprising that he has been
objecting so vehemently about the auction
But then, as one of Carol’s friends says:
“It’s all very well for Mark to carp — he
has millions. What does Carol have?”
The answer to that question is, apart
from the inheritance and a flat south of the
Thames in London which she rents out,
not much else.
Just how far Lady Thatcher was prepared
to give extra love and preference to Mark
— always viewed as the “favourite” twin
— has always been a matter of intriguing
From having failed his accountancy
exams and struggling to establish himself
in business, he suddenly emerged in the
late-1980s as a multi-millionaire. Reports
have suggested he was privately enriched
with huge commissions as a silent “middle-
man” in major arms and construction
deals negotiated in the Arab states by his
One of these was the huge Al-Yamamah
arms contract with Saudi Arabia, worth
$64.6b to British companies. Mark
Thatcher is alleged to have received
between $26.6m and $44.3m for his role as
He is also alleged to have earned
commissions from an earlier contract
to build a university in Oman, a deal
personally secured by the then Mrs
Thatcher on a visit.
The company principally concerned was
Cementation Ltd, for whom Mark was
acting as a consultant. The firm admitted:
“ We did pay him. We used him because he
is the Prime Minister’s son.”
For her part, Mrs Thatcher was not
complicit in any of her son’s business
arrangements and implacably denied there
was any impropriety or that her son had
grown rich on the back of her trade
Of course, his name was also dragged
into allegations about a plot to overthrow
the despot ruler of the tiny, oil-rich West
African state of Equatorial Guinea.
The intended target, Teodoro Obiang,
a brutal multi-millionaire and reputed
cannibal, is due to bring a private
prosecution against Mark Thatcher.
No business fortune similar to her
brother’s came Carol’s way, who got a good
law degree at University College London
before becoming a journalist. One close
Thatcher family friend says Carol has never
tried to exploit her mother’s name.
“Margaret ’s favouritism to Mark was
not only emotional but financial. Later,
she would say things like, ‘ Well, Mark
has children, he has heirs, so of course
Denis (her husband) and I needed to be
more generous to him.” They were not
ungenerous to Carol — and Margaret
actually loved and cared about her more
than she realised — but Mark always
seemed to get more.”
Over the years, friends noticed the
perceived “resentment ” building up inside
Carol. Her brother was the one who ended
up with a fortune as well as a hereditary
baronetcy, both of these widely perceived
to have come about simply because he was
Margaret Thatcher’s much-loved son.
Lady Thatcher’s dream to see her
daughter wealthy and happily married with
children never materialised. But as one old
friend explains, “She calculated that Carol
was tougher than Mark and therefore
needed less of a push to succeed.”
This was one calculation that Margaret
Thatcher may have got badly wrong, for
Carol has never felt comfortably off. It is
almost certainly a key factor in why Carol
put all those possessions up for auction this
week and was in another country when
strangers were bidding for them.
According to one friend, she had
considered giving them away, but feared
they would reappear for resale on eBay
“ within 24 hours”.
On the other hand, was it not time, at
last, for Carol to benefit from her mother’s
One who thinks so is her former beau
Jonathan Aitken, a cabinet minister under
Many years ago, he dated Carol. Despite
being clearly one of the more talented Tory
MPs of his generation, he remained firmly
on the backbenches while Mrs Thatcher
was in power after dumping her daughter
for someone else.
But his regard for Carol is undimmed.
“S he has behaved honourably,” he declares.
“ It’s her turn to make hay while the sun
shines, and any resentment against her for
doing so is completely misplaced.”
— New Zealand Herald
Thatcher fire sale
Margaret Margaret Thatcher was Britain’s “Iron Lady” Prime Minister from 1979 to 1990.
United Kingdom Coal closed
Britain’s last deep-cast coalmine
Kellingley Colliery on Friday, 50 years
after it opened.
The closure of the North Yorkshire
mine marks the end of an era, given
Britain’s coal industry was at the heart
of its economic growth in the early
20th century, when it employed some
1.2 million people at nearly 3000
About 450 jobs are expected to be
lost in the closure.
Underground coal mining has
become unprofitable in Britain,
however, because of fierce competition
from cheaper markets such as
Colombia and Russia, falling domestic
demand and a government drive away
from carbon-intensive coal power
UK Coal was placed into
administration in 2013 after struggling
with rising costs, hefty pension
liabilities and strong competition from
cheaper coal imports.
At the same time, a government push
to move away from coal in Britain’s
energy mix, has also been a blow to the
Last month it announced plans
to close its coal-fired power plants
by 2025, becoming the first major
economy to put a date on shutting coal
plants to curb carbon emissions.
Coal-fired power plants provided
around one-third of Britain’s electricity
last year but many of its ageing
plants are due to close over the next
decade due to tightening European
Union environmental standards and
as weak electricity prices make them
uneconomical. — Reuters
Britain’s last deep coalmine Kellingley Colliery closes
Miners leave after working the final shift at Kellingley Colliery on its last day of operation in north Yorkshire.
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