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'Cavaliers For Cromwell

(Peter in Two Positions)

'Oliver's Army', Elvis Costello, 1979


38 x 63cm, Gouache, Pencil Crayon and

Collage on Paper

Available framed from the RSA

'I just like this song. It has a marching on feel and Elvis has a depth of voice… not much more to say – I just love it' - My Dad


‘Oliver’s Army’ is a 1979 song about Britain and the socioeconomic impact of war. The piano is lively - you can hear the cuffs. Apparently, Elvis Costello was very taken with ‘Dancing Queen’ and decided he wanted to write a song like that. Another big thing happened to Britain in 1979. Margaret Thatcher.
My parents are generally swing voter, but back in the day, my Dad voted for Margaret Thatcher three times. I find this fact very conflicting because I believe that the tides of individualism and privatisation that swelled during Thatcher’s premiership caused or solidified many of the problems and inequalities we see today.
I’m not going to here completely dissect why my Dad, a manual worker with O-Levels voted for someone like Thatcher; a woman who appears more heinous and misguided with every word I read about her. But he did. Lots of people did. Swathes of ordinary people were the foot soldiers 1980s Conservatism. I can’t change that.
Evidently, Thatcherite policy ‘spoke’ to people like my parents. It aided them to get a firm step on the property ladder; laying the foundations for my financially stable upbringing. In a simple win/lose glance, maybe my parents got their milk. But at what cost?
My parents are good people, but I wonder sometimes how to feel about the political landscape they have, in a small way, shaped.
The long and short of it is I don’t know if I can be angry at my Dad for voting for Thatcher. I don’t know if that anger would achieve anything. But I’m really angry that he didn’t choose ‘Dancing Queen’.


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