How Thatcher got her hero Reagan's doodles

Jill Lawless

Margaret Thatcher was so fascinated by US President Ronald Reagan that she snatched and kept a page of his doodles from a G7 summit, the former British prime minister's newly released papers reveal.

The page of ink drawings is among personal papers from 1981 released today by the Thatcher archive at Cambridge University.

Reagan left the piece of paper sitting on a table at the meeting near Ottawa, Canada, in July 1981.

It is adorned with a scribbled eye, a man's muscular torso and several heads, including one that looks like a self-portrait.

"She told me it was fascinating to see it, and she just grabbed them," said historian Chris Collins of the Margaret Thatcher Foundation. "He just left it on his desk. She snaffled it up, put it in her papers, brought it back to Downing Street and kept it in her flat."

Cary Cooper, a psychologist at Lancaster University in northern England, said Thatcher's souvenir provided an insight into the president's state of mind during the summit -- he was bored.

"Here's a body, there's a head separate from the body," Cooper said. "Is he so unenamoured with what's going on that he's having an out-of-body experience?

"The eye means I'm watching what's going on, I'm observing, but I'm not altogether there."

The documents confirm the immediate warmth between the two conservative leaders, who forged a strong anti-communist alliance during the 1980s.

But they also reveal a lesser-known story -- the lengths the US administration went to to distance itself from Thatcher's then-unpopular government, which was facing a recession, rising unemployment and inner-city riots.