How I celebrated the downfall of ex-lover John Major with a 7,000 facelift
20:40 GMT, 14 September 2012
In the concluding part of our series drawn from Edwina Currie’s scurrilous but riotously entertaining diaries, she is separating from her husband of 25 years, but still hungry for sex. And as John Major’s government falls, his former lover decides to celebrate in a very unorthodox way…
Les Tuileries [Edwina’s house in France], Friday, January 6, 1995, 6pm
Every time I come here, I wonder why on earth I bothered to buy such an outlandish property so far away. But this is a place for reflection and healing — and without it, I’d be some kind of nutcase.
Here, I did all my weeping over John Major, and what hurt the most — not being invited to join his government at the first opportunity.
I think a lot about keeping age at bay. I wish I could stop nibbling and generally overeating: although I’m fit, ten-and-a-half stone means a thick waist and a big bum.
Tower House [Edwina’s house in her South Derbyshire constituency], Friday, February 24, 8pm
When [my husband] Ray’s around, all I get is a grunt. And yet . . . I know as I pack those boxes to move out to my new flat [in Clapham, South London], I’ll be very tearful.
Rejuvenated: Her diaries from the 90s reveal the details of Edwina's facelift, pictured after surgery. She spent five hours on the operating table and spent 7,700 to look more youthful
Portsmouth, Friday, May 5, 9pm
How ironic that in our search for a classless society, we Tories went so downmarket as to choose as our leader a man with no education; and the end result will be the elevation of Tony Blair, public school and Oxford, class oozing from every middlebrow pore. I think I’ll put a bet on Labour. At least I’ll win something!
House of Commons, Wednesday, July 5, 12.35am
So John Major forced a leadership contest and won it. If he’d shown in normal times half the energy, courage and decisiveness he displayed this week, there’d have been no contest at all.
Clapham, Thursday, July 13, 11.25pm
John’s speech — at a hastily convened victory rally — started off well, but soon became the usual dreary, intellectually vacuous stuff, and I found myself struggling to stay awake. He simply doesn’t improve.
Clapham, Monday, October 30, 9.40pm
Took Susie [her younger daughter] to the Equality Show at the Albert Hall. I didn’t enjoy it all that much: the lesbians have muscled in, and a more tedious bunch I can’t imagine.
What makes me catch my breath in admiration, I guess, is men in drag — they go much further than any woman would, and it’s wonderful.
Since there was no spouse on my arm, I got the occasional odd look, as if they expected me to come out. But I’m only one way inclined; and if I have a wistful expression, it’s merely because I’m not getting any!
Tower House, Sunday, January 14, 1996 12.30pm
I dream about sex quite a lot: usually with whichever presentable man I’ve been chatting to during the day. And why not There ought to be a lovely naked man in my bed and I ought to be playing with him and making him laugh, instead of talking to myself like this.
On the train from Darlington to London, Sunday, March 31, 11.30am
Went to the South East Staffordshire by-election on Tuesday, with [Tory MPs] Toby Jessel and Michael Fabricant. Michael talked endlessly about sunbathing nude on beaches and how he wouldn’t mind being displayed full-frontal in a tabloid.
He seems to have sex on the brain, but is so funny and engaging — like a naughty six-year-old.
I sat behind him in the car and in fascination examined the tufts of multi-coloured (orange and grey) hairs peeping from under his wig. Fought the impulse to raise it and check just how bald and shining the pate was beneath. Odd man!
House of Commons, Monday, April 29, 9.30pm
There are moments I pray that Tony Blair wins with a big majority to get this shower out, and that he governs with a radical agenda instead of pretending to be a Tory.
Meanwhile, success: I’ve lost almost a stone.
Edwina pictured looking tired and lined just before the election result where she lost her Derbyshire seat in 1997
Tower House, Sunday, May 19, 10am
On Friday, I did a literary lunch with Carol Thatcher, aged 41. Goodness, she’s loud and vulgar, and cheerily attractive. I did warm to her. Carol was promoting Below The Parapet, her biography of Denis. I asked what her mother thought of the book.
‘She hasn’t read it. Haven’t seen her for ages. You know, she spends her time in America — swanning around with her Foundation.’
Her face had a bitter look. You’d have thought, Carol’s expression said, that Mum could have found time to come to the launch of her daughter’s book about her husband. Says much about Margaret’s current regard for Denis, too, doesn’t it
On the boat back from France, Thursday, May 30, 4.15pm
Am I of any interest to anyone but me The ultimate luxury would be a companion (paid, if necessary) who’d have some of my tastes, and look after me, and not mind my imperiousness or bouts of misery, and share my joy in life.
Liverpool, Thursday, July 25, 10.20pm
I’m here to help sort out Mum’s flat. The carpet hunt reminded me why coming to Liverpool is like arriving in a different country — a bit like Bulgaria, I imagine — in which nothing’s ever easy, straightforward, sophisticated or courteous.
Former lovers: Then Prime Minister John Major and Edwina in 1994
At Carpet World, a loudmouth salesman cackled at the idea of free fitting, said the cheapest underlay was 3.49 (it wasn’t), did all his sums terrifyingly in his head and wise-cracked his way round the shop. Oh, how I loathe all those Scousers who want to be Freddie Starr.
Took Mum to Evita tonight at the Empire. There was an odd moment when I thought of old love, and suddenly felt very sad.
I miss [John Major] so — it was so precious, while it lasted — and whenever I see actors embrace, mouth to mouth, it turns me over, for it’s so long since anyone kissed me with passion and longing.
Oh, misery. And I so loathe wasting hours dining with constituents, like last Friday night. How can people be so uninteresting — their hols in hotels in Cyprus . . . argh.
Les Tuileries, Sunday, October 20, 2pm
I’ve just turned 50 — and back at the Commons, the main row’s about sleaze again. Honestly, John Major’s an idiot.
I’m furious that they go to such lengths to defend an amoral shifty slob like Neil Hamilton [MP accused of taking cash for questions], yet did nothing to help me.
London, Wednesday, November 6, 9.10am
An odd experience to be voting in the House last night, trudging through the lobbies, and surrounded by men in suits.
My nose is at the level of their shoulder blades. I see their dandruff and their sagging chins. I’m more aware than they are of bulging bellies and shirts escaping from trousers and buttons missed.
I can’t see their shoes, but neither can they, and many haven’t been able to see them for years! Not an impressive lot.
Politics attracts some rather mediocre people who wouldn’t be successful elsewhere, yet progress is possible for many real nonentities.
Tower House, Friday January 24, 1997, 8.25am
On Wednesday at 6.15 pm, John came into the Commons tearoom, alone: no acolytes. Got himself a meal (pork pie and beetroot: ugh). Sat down and started reading the Evening Standard.
Whinged about an article in a peevish voice. Astonished his companions (a few MPS, me among them) with his petulance and aggression.
Edwina looking glamorous in a floor-length gold sequin dress
Didn’t chat, didn’t flatter, didn’t converse. A little man in a big body. It’d be a kindness to all and sundry to shoot him: he’s acting more and more like his dim brother, though it grieves me to say so.
House of Commons car park, Tuesday, January 28
Just seen a small car with a prominent sticker: ‘British Beef is Best.’ The sticker is illustrated with Limousin and Charolais cattle. The car’s a Peugeot.
Tower House, Saturday, February 8, 8.07pm
A three-hour [constituency] surgery, full of lunatics for whom I have precious little sympathy.
Then [novelist] Fay Weldon came in for tea. She’s odd — sharp, bright, very pretty face, little dumpy figure in black. Doesn’t look 65 — more like 45.
My purpose was to ask about her
facelift, but I clearly hadn’t done my homework properly — her surgery
was eight years ago, and in Hollywood. ‘So much better, and you can
sue,’ she trilled.
Not me, I can’t, Fay. I don’t have that kind of money. As far as my own face is concerned, it’s back to the drawing-board.
Clapham, Sunday, March 2, 4.15pm
the misery of waiting for the election. Like waiting to die: lined up
in the trenches, hearing the rumble of big guns, and knowing our orders
are to march straight towards them. Well, I’ll be walking slowly.
Clapham, Thursday, March 13, 10.08pm
joined me and some other MPs in the tearoom on Tuesday. We were talking
about clubs, and how even the Carlton club in London won’t have women
as full members.
that sort of attitude is terrible,’ said the PM, between mouthfuls of
buttered teacake. We all blinked at him, then I said testily, ‘Well, we
could have done something about it. Removed the clubs’ rights to ignore
the law on discrimination. You’d have got it through with a big
The PM looked
surprised. It was clear the idea had never occurred to him. I was so
disgusted that I rose to leave, in case I said something very sharp.
for the planned facelift: I’ve now seen Dr C. He has a house next to
Harrods with a grand piano in the waiting-room, which had a rapid
succession of anxious blonde Sloanes, mainly in their 30s.
Breast implants, at a guess. They were all too willowy to need liposuction — nowt to suck!
Clapham, Sunday, March 16, 10.45pm
Six weeks’ campaigning for the General Election in May I don’t think so. I’ve booked the ferry for a few days in France over Easter.
Tower House, Saturday, April 5, 11.20pm
Four weeks from now, I’ll be packing a bag to go to the clinic. It looks like I’ll spend my first couple of days home alone, so I’ll have to live on chocolate milk.
I’ll manage. I have to. Bit like fighting the Election, I suppose. One foot in front of another, and you just keep going . . .
MY FATHER WAS SO ASHAMED HE HELD A FUNERAL FOR ME
Clapham, Sunday 21 April, 1995, 9.40pm
Because I couldn’t bring myself to
write it at the time, I haven’t mentioned the profoundly unsettling info
my brother gave me in January at his birthday party. It transpired that
when I left home (to get engaged to Ray, a Gentile), my father held a
[Jewish] funeral service for me.
He actually sat ‘shiva’ [the
traditional week-long mourning period] as if I were dead. Even as I
write this, I start to shudder.
To do it at all required ten men: so I
asked Henry if he was one, and the answer, with not a whisker of
embarrassment, was: ‘Oh yes; well, you know what Dad was like.’
No, I didn’t. Not the complete depth of the horror. I never thought he was capable of that.
As for my brother, I asked him,
‘You’d have been, what, 23 Why didn’t you tell him he was crazy and you
wouldn’t dream of supporting him’
He shrugged and grinned, and my
appetite vanished, and I changed the subject. For if he’d said another
word, I swear I’d have poured the soup right over him.
Tower House, Saturday, April 12, 7.18am
Don’t think our useless campaign [in South Derbyshire] will make much difference to the voters, though it’s wearing and frustrating.
Thank goodness for my hormone tablets — without their calming effect I’d be screaming at everyone. Not that there are more than a handful of people — mainly old ladies — to scream at!
However. I’ll be doing a shoot with Patrick Lichfield next week — so my ‘old’ face will adorn my books for several years to come: pity!
Tower House, Friday, April 25, 5.50pm
The Lichfield session was brilliant: Patrick told wonderful stories about Princess Margaret (his cousin) and other notables. My favourite was about how he tried to buy a piece of land on Mustique, adjacent to hers.
The negotiations were long and ultimately unsuccessful. Following the last two-hour session with solicitors, Patrick gave up.
As he left, he heard Margaret say to Sir Michael Farrar, her solicitor, ‘You see, Sir Michael, Patrick comes from the side of the family without the Jewish blood.’
Tower House, Wednesday April 30: eve of poll, 2.44am
A month ago, the Election campaign was like swimming through mud: dark, sticky, with a sinking feeling. Then it became more like molasses: dark, sticky and with a bitter aftertaste. Now it’s like a bath of hot s***: smelly, overpowering and contaminating.
I’m almost looking forward to being cut about next Saturday and blind as a bat for five days — it’s preferable to this torture.
Clapham, Wed, May 7, 6.10pm
Armageddon. Labour got 419 seats, Conservatives 165, while the Lib Dems snuck 46 and act like they won, pompous gits. It’s the biggest General Election defeat for the Tories since the origins of modern democracy in 1832.
Losing felt exactly the same as when I lost the Euro election in 1994. The same melting away of helpers till the office was virtually empty; the still-clacking fax machine churning out irrelevant rubbish from Central Office; the pitying looks on doorsteps, as if a hideously injured beggar was standing there.
In an extract from her diary Edwina talks about how she dreams of sex quite a lot, 'usually with whichever presentable man I've been chatting to during the day', she writes
Anyway, sleaze is no longer an issue: it sank us, and has now vanished like dew on a summer morning. The smell is sweet.
Like me, many of the voters were attracted to Blair and New Labour, and deeply repelled by the nasty small-mindedness that had become the modern Tory Party. Deep down, I was thrilled to bits.
On Saturday morning, I got my face chopped about: five hours on the operating table and 7,700 lighter. My chin’s tight (hooray), the eyes are surrounded by yellow bruises and my lower neck’s gone a pale purple.
Edwina with her dancing partner Vincent Simone as they dance the Cha Cha Cha on Strictly Come Dancing last year
Stitches everywhere, especially around my ears: I look like somebody tore them off in a fight. No pain, though my eyes are a bit pricky. Forehead (lasered) is horrible — shan’t have that done again. When the dressing comes off and it’s washed, it stings to screaming point.
Main stitches out on Friday, then I’m nearly done. I think I’m going to like this result, too.
Within weeks, Edwina was working for BBC Radio Five Live, where she went on to present her own weekend programme, Late Night Currie. The Curries eventually divorced in April 2001. A few weeks later, Edwina married John Jones, a former senior detective in the Metropolitan Police, whom she met when he was a guest on her programme. They are still together.
Extracted from Diaries 1992-1997 by Edwina Currie, to be published by Biteback on September 18 at 18.99. 2012 Edwina Currie. To order a copy for 15.99 (inc p&p) call 0843 382 0000.