People were consuming on average less calories after the war than during the war. Things were still very tough. If you look at the film footage of London streets, even in areas which weren't slums, there are kids in the streets who are dirty and have no shoes on. It was rough. There was a real edge.
I once did an event with Ian Rankin where he said he didn't really need to do much background research because his books are set in the present, and I just thought: 'You lucky, lucky beast!' because as a historical novelist, I live constantly on the edge of wondering whether tissues had been invented.
I have an ambivalent relationship with Margaret Thatcher. She came to power in May 1979 - a month before my 11th birthday. I was far too young to have developed a great deal of political awareness. I remember it, though - my mother excited at the dinner table because Britain had its first female prime minister.