It is probably ten years or more since I lumped Margaret Thatcher, the Queen, Matty, Pearlie and Ian Paisley together as a cohort. I banded them on age as they were all born within a nine month period. If Matty was feeling 'old' I'd say to her, "Have you seen the state of Paisley? He's looking his age for sure! And the harples* of him! You? You're like a lilty** yet!" Or she'd think her mind wasn't as sharp as it used to be. "Sharp! You're as sharp as a tack. Didn't you win a tenner for completing the Irish News crossword the other week? Imagine being like Maggie Thatcher. Sure she has to be told every day that Denis is dead. Wouldn't that be awful?"
And there was always Pearlie who, couldn't walk, could barely eat, had no way with her and had precious few friends. While Matty was, without doubt, the most popular woman in her road and rarely wanted company or outings.
And the Queen. "Mum, that poor woman. Sure she's great for her age and wants for nothing but she has hardly a minute to call her own and almost her entire family are on welfare! At least your kids have jobs."
Ten years ago I'd have wagered that Pearlie would go first, then Ian Paisley. After that it would be Thatcher, then Matty at 95 and the Queen at 100 or more. Instead it was Matty, the youngest of the five who was first to pass away. Now Thatcher has gone and it's happy for her I'd say. There was a recent photograph of her sitting on a park bench, in a good wool coat, wrinkled stockings and a pair of Hotter shoes on her feet. A little whippet was beside her and she was petting the dog which looked like a smaller, finer version of my Judy. I never liked Mrs T. Some part of me admired her as a person and a woman but I hated her dogma. I hated her stance on Ireland. But I loved that picture with the dog. She cannot have been all bad.
I was in hospital having Hannah when Thatcher went to war with Argentina. I was in hospital this morning when I heard of her death. Nobody seemed to care. It was just a diversion, like the Jeremy Kyle Show.
And I wondered who would be next. My prediction - Ian Paisley, then Pearlie, then the Queen. Surely Pearlie cannot outlive the Queen?
And hopefully I will outlive them all. The news from the hospital was good. So far.
* harple - limp
** lilty - bouncing, energetic woman