Garret FitzGerald and Margaret Thatcher shaking hands after signing the Anglo-Irish Agreement on November 15 1985. Photo: AP.
I'm reading Great Hatred, Little Room, a detailed account of the successful Northern Ireland peace negotiations, written by one of their chief protagonists, Jonathan Powell, who was Tony Blair's chief of staff.
If you like that kind of thing, it's a great read, and apart from anything else I'm finding it a useful primer on the history of the Troubles and the politics of the region.
It contains some great little vignettes, like this one, a useful antidote to all those stories about how Margaret Thatcher was superhuman because she only needed two hours' sleep a night or whatever. Yes, she was clearly exceptionally energetic, but even the Iron Lady was prone to napping:
One one memorable occasion, at a meeting with [Irish PM Garret] FitzGerald after a particularly long and tiresome EC meeting, Thatcher fell fast asleep soon after sitting down with him. Fitzgerald looked at my brother Charles Powell, Thatcher's foreign policy aide, to ask what they should do. Charles suggested that FitzGerald carry on making all the points he had intended to make and Charles would dutifully note them down. They could then wake her up to agree the joint press statement. To their credit neither FitzGerald nor the Irish Cabinet Secretary Dermot Nally who was with him seemed to mind, and as they finished the meeting Thatcher woke up and asked to be briefed on what they had agreed.
I also enjoyed this anecdote from the Major years:
He [Major] had a difficult meeting with Ian Paisley in No.10 immediately after the ceasefire. They saw each other in the Cabinet Room, which Major used as his office, and Paisley was at his hectoring worst, accusing Major of lying about a secret agreement with the IRA. When he wouldn't withdraw the accusation, Major stormed out of the meeting, but was left in the awkward position of Paisley still occupying his office and refusing to leave. The moral of the story is: never storm out of a meeting in your own office.