It's funny, but the feeling that's crept across me over the past few days, upon hearing that Margaret Thatcher is ill and might not make it, is not one of joy. I thought it would be, but it isn't. No, the overwhelming feeling is something approaching disappointment, and sadness.
Sure, if you'd asked me a week or so ago whether I'd be happy at the imminent death of someone whose entire worldview and actions I find despicable, I'd have said yes. I'd have said more than yes; I'd have been dancing through the streets in a giant sombrero, shooting fireworks into the night sky, singing Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead. I'd have been delighted at the thought of Thatcher finally getting in a grave so we could all piss on it.
Maybe I'm getting more mature in my 30s than I was when I was younger. Maybe I don't find the idea of an elderly lady snuffing it all that appealing. But I don't think that it's that, either. I still do wish ill and death upon people that I don't like, and I don't see anything tremendously wrong with that, and I don't think that's going to change. I've wished her, and others, ill in the past, and I don't really regret it, though that nastiness seems to be going away a little, the older I get, the closer I get to snuffing it myself, the nearer me and my friends and family get to an appointment with a furnace.
But there's more to it than that.
The reason why I feel sad is that I want Margaret Thatcher to live a long and healthy life - and I think all self-respecting lefties should, as well. And I'll tell you why. I want her to live, to see a day when the things she believes in are not just discredited, and despised, but overturned, and consigned to the wreckage of history.
I want her to live, to see a day when she is rightly regarded as a poisonous and terrible influence on Britain and the world - not just by the usual suspects, or by those who suffered at her hands and those of her friends Botha, Reagan and Pinochet, but by the vast majority of people.
I want her to live a long and full and healthy life where she can see that the things she did were truly disastrous - and, while, I don't wish ill upon the country and I hope that I'm wrong about the effect of her heirs' cuts on the country, I want her to live to see the day that her brand of me-first neoliberalism is shown to be a horrific stain upon the world, and not a solution to anything at all.
You might say I'm naive. I'm used to being called that. But I do think that, regardless of what I think of the vile woman, she believed she was doing the right thing. You might argue against that, and I don't mind, but if I'm right, and she did, and she could live long enough to be shown that everything she believed in was wrong, that would be better than her dying now, frail and old, in a hospital somewhere, to the ringing endorsements of right-wingers everywhere.
If she dies now, it's perfect timing, in a way. You can see David Cameron carrying on the torch from her at her deathbed. The cry of "Let's do it for Maggie!" will go up. The obituaries will be glowing towards the 'Iron Lady' and her legacy - I have a feeling they always will be, I'm afraid - in the newspapers who eagerly enjoyed her policies then, and who eagerly enjoy her successors' policies today.
No. I don't want her to die and I don't want her to suffer. I want her to live. I want her to live to see the day when she's proved wrong. I want her to suffer remorse and regret for the things she has done, not slip away from this life feeling free, with a sense of righteousness and vindication. I know that's probably a stupid thought, and one which is ridiculously doomed, but I don't care. I don't want her to suffer, and I don't want her to die. Not until the day she's shown to be wrong and acknowledged to be wrong by the vast majority of people.
And then she can go to hell.