February 20, 2012 12:00 PM

>MY COFFEE WITH MARGARET THATCHER

In The Iron Lady, an aging Margaret Thatcher (Meryl Streep) shuffles through her kitchen with a teacup and saucer. For People Founding Managing Editor Richard B. Stolley, the small moment brought back a vivid memory: the real Thatcher, then 54, walking briskly across her office to offer up a cup of coffee—which she personally made in her prime ministerial pantry—before a 1980 interview. “She apologized to me,” recalls Stolley, “saying, ‘I’m afraid it’s instant.’ ” For the next 70 minutes, she answered questions about her career, her family and herself.

ON BEING CALLED “ATTILA THE HEN”

[Laughs.] Oh, Attila the Hen? I hadn’t heard that one. That’s good. One really mustn’t get too put out by these things.

ON HIRING A VOICE COACH

When I first became leader of the party, and I was very nervous, my voice went higher and tight. I have learned to master that however nervous I am.

ON WHETHER SHE’S A BETTER POLITICIAN BECAUSE OF HUSBAND DENIS

Of course. If you’ve got security and certainty behind you, if you come home to total loyalty and affection, then your basic worries in life are gone.

ON SON MARK’S CAREER AS A RACECAR DRIVER

You can’t stop your children doing these things, and you mustn’t. [But] I have never seen him race. I must equally tell you that none of my family has ever been to see me in the House of Commons. We have a rule that we don’t go and watch one another at the critical times. That would be a nerve-racking thing that I can’t take on.

ON MAKING COFFEE HERSELF

I was being hospitable. It’s what I was taught as a little girl.

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