John Major was a sexy beast. Trust me, I didn’t have to teach that man ANYTHING: Shameless, astonishingly rude, her new diaries have made eye-popping reading. So, does Edwina Currie regret letting rip Take a wild guess…
06:47 GMT, 13 September 2012
Edwina Currie, at home in Derbyshire
Edwina Currie lives in a cream-painted house set on the outskirts of a Derbyshire village. She and her second husband John Jones moved here in April, just after he was diagnosed with colon cancer. JJ has since made an excellent recovery, but while he was in hospital, she supervised the move herself.
A kind of ordered clutter still prevails in the low-beamed rooms, crammed with the too-big furniture from their previous homes.
Boxes overflow and there are enough tins of tomatoes in the kitchen to withstand a siege. There is more order in a downstairs bathroom, which serves as a shrine to the couple’s mutual moments of glory; JJ as a former senior officer in the Metropolitan Police, Edwina as denouncer of eggs, mistress of Major, scourge of the second-rate.
There is a letter from Mrs Thatcher, there is his good service certificate, there are framed front pages and cartoons; the cherished trophies of past lives, lined up next to the scented soap. ‘Take some notes while you are in there,’ shouts Edwina through the keyhole. Eek!
Fresh from a walk in the nearby fields with her dog, Edwina is dressed down in hiking boots and waterproofs.
Got to say it: the 65-year-old former junior health minister is looking good. Her sausagey, brunette curls are as bouncy as ever, her skin is excellent, she oozes the same indestructible confidence of yesteryear, even if she is worried about her weight.
Recently, Edwina said to Edwina: ‘Oh Edwina, you are either ready for the drawstring trousers or you had better head to Weight Watchers.’
This week, thanks to Cup-a-Soups and dog hikes, she got a silver star for losing 7lb. ‘And,’ she says, ‘when the meeting leader said we had to keep a diary. Well! All eyes on me.’
Indeed. Ten years ago, almost to the day, Edwina published the famous, bombshell diaries in which she revealed she had a secret, four-year affair with John Major.
Her newly published memoirs, serialised in the Daily Mail this week, carry on from where the previous book ended. Diaries Volume II, 1992-1997, contain no new revelations about Major’s ‘big, blue underpants’, but she does take the opportunity to pour buckets of scorn and derision on him and many of her former Conservative colleagues.
No regrets: Former Prime Minister John Major and his Conservative colleague Edwina Currie had an affair
For the past week, Mail readers have been privy to Edwina’s most private frustrations; a Currie cyclone of dissatisfaction and disappointments wailing down the decades with banshee intensity.
The sheer ferocity of her insults has astonished many readers — as has the frankness of her discussion about her sex life. Reviewers have already dubbed her as ‘sex mad’ and ‘hilariously self-centred’.
‘Well, critics can think what they like,’ she shrugs. ‘I hope my book will be enjoyed by people who have lived a bit, people with a good sense of humour, people who remember all the good work I did as a minister. Who appreciate there is life in the old girl yet.’
The root of her unhappiness with John Major is that he never gave her a post that matched her abilities and talents — partly, she feels, because of their affair. Despite the years of pillow talk when she had repeatedly confessed her ambitions to Major, she was kept at a distance, simmering away on the back burner, like an overlooked omelette.
In 1990, she was offered nothing. In 1992 she writes of how she stormed off after Major’s ‘insulting’ offer of a Home Office job in charge of prisons. Later, she confronted him about his reluctance to promote her.
‘I said, why didn’t you ask me back into government when you became prime minister He looked quite surprised. He said: “I don’t know. I suppose I had forgotten.” And I thought, f*** me.’
In her diaries, Edwina is also dastardly to her cuckolded former husband Ray. And she paints a convincing picture of herself as a scorned, man-hungry divorcee; panting with lust as she sips her glass of Drambuie and scribbles away, night after night.
‘Was I sex-obsessed Well I certainly wasn’t cupcake-obsessed, let’s put it that way. Cupcakes and me do not appear in the same sentence,’ she says. ‘Given that the chunk of diaries covered a period between having an affair and then finding myself out in the world as a single woman in my 50s, it is hardly surprising.’
Elsewhere in the book, she is constantly measuring others up to herself and finding them wanting. No one is quite good enough. Ex-husband Ray is dim and boring. Norman Lamont is sly and self-indulgent. Libby Purves is fat and tatty. Paddy Ashdown is not very bright, Michael Portillo is unpleasant, Michael Howard is oily and Ann Widdecombe is aggressive.
‘Well. If you sanitise a diary too much it becomes as dishonest as the people you are criticising,’ she says. ‘So I decided to publish it, warts and all.’
And her gift for acid portraiture is not restricted to the pages of her memoir. When Edwina casts her eye along the front bench of today, does she like what she sees
Edwina does not like Vince Cable (pictured left) but is 'quite a fan of David Cameron'
‘I don’t like Vince Cable. He is like a deputy headmaster who is convinced he is always right, explaining Pythagoras’ theorem to a roomful of kids who know he’s got it wrong. I am quite a fan of David Cameron. He understands duty. He’s got charm, he’s emollient, he’s got a face like a nicely creamed baby’s bottom.’
Luckily, her new husband escapes any flak. Edwina met JJ after separating from Ray, the father of her two daughters. On her first date with former murder squad copper JJ — after he had appeared as a guest on her Radio 5 Live show — she found herself well and truly locked up in the jail of love.
He confessed that she had been his secret sexual fantasy for years, while she worried that her celebrity would be an issue for him.
‘Edwina,’ he told her. ‘I’ve arrested people more famous than you.’
Today, at home in Derbyshire, Edwina holds court while John mooches around making coffee on a noisy machine (‘John, stop attention seeking’), smoking his Silk Cuts (‘John, ash!’) and chatting amiably (‘John, hush!’). Still, he’s quite capable of getting his own back.
‘Jan, look at the big Jewish conk on that,’ he says, as Edwina proudly shows off her Spitting Image puppet. Yes, irritation may sometimes dapple across Edwina’s features like a cloud scudding across the sun, but she and her second husband seem very happy.
They are openly affectionate and make it clear — sometimes rather too clear — that they enjoy the physical side of their relationship. If you spend even a short amount of time with them, they are the kind of fruity, sexy couple who make you want to go home, take off all your clothes — and burn them.
‘Oh, I can’t go upstairs if Edwina is in the bedroom. If I did, I wouldn’t come back down for hours,’ cries JJ. A little later, Edwina asks him rather coquettishly if she makes him laugh in bed.
‘Edwina, we are not going into what goes on in our bed,’ he roars delightedly, then confirms in an aside to me that yes, indeedy, she does.
He doesn’t even mind that Edwina has a long-standing crush on General Sir Mike Jackson — tin hats on! — and keeps a photograph of him at home. ‘Verrrry sexy; very, very sexy,’ she drools, tapping a manicured fingernail on his Parachute Regiment beret. And although Edwina wails plenty in her new book about John Major being a ‘dismal’ prime minister, it is clear that she still holds a little candle for him, too.
‘I don’t regret the affair with him. I don’t do regrets,’ she says. And even after all this time, a glazed and faraway look creeps into her eyes when she thinks of him, rather like a panther eyeing a crippled vole that’s just appeared on the horizon.
‘Oh,’ she says, a fluttering hand on her throat, ‘John Major was a sexy beast. I think his history shows that. He was 19 when he was living with a woman who was 33. Believe me, I did not have to teach that man anything. He was experienced and fun.’
Mail readers have been treated to extracts from Edwina's dairies which reveal the truth behind her life
Did she love him a great deal
‘I might have done,’ she says. Yet when their affair became public, Major said that it was the most shameful incident in his life; a remark which must have been wounding for Edwina. ‘Particularly as he didn’t want it to end,’ she pointed out, rather tartly, at the time.
Now, in a twist of fate that she must be enjoying rather more than him, the two former lovers both have new books out at the same time. ‘He’s called his book My Old Man. Doesn’t he know what that means in some parts of the country’ she snorts.
In public at least, she is bullish about the fact that Major has never talked about their affair and refuses to answer any questions about her. ‘That sounds very sensible of him,’ she says. ‘Why won’t he I don’t know. You’ll have to ask him.’
In her memoir, Edwina also confesses to having a facelift during a sort of brisk, Edwina-ish mid-life crisis in 1997, when she lost her parliamentary seat in the General Election and divorced her first husband Ray after 25 years of marriage.
‘It felt like a metamorphosis. I was leaving Parliament, I had to earn my living doing other things, I was 50. There was a lot of fear in that, so I thought, right. Make the change in a big way, look different.
‘I looked so mumsy in those election photographs and that wasn’t how I wanted to be. I wanted to look as good as I could get. So that’s what I spent all my redundancy money on.’
She went to a ‘little place just behind Harrods’ and was pleased with the work. ‘They did a cracking good job. It was not quite a full one, but they got rid of the saggy cheeks and chin and the bags under the eyes.
‘The bags are coming back and if I was in showbiz a lot it would need doing again. But then you get to a stage in your mid-60s when you can’t hide the fact that you are getting older, so you might as well just enjoy it.’
Meanwhile, she says that reading her latest diaries again, 20 years on, has been a strange experience. They were a symptom of her loneliness, written without any expectation of publication.
‘My therapy,’ she says. ‘Once something had been written down, it was as if the scab had been picked and the wound had healed. And it is almost as if the person who wrote them is not me, but someone I used to know.
‘I’d like to say to her: “Please, don’t keep beating yourself up. The things you are worried about will be insignificant in the future. Everything turns out all right in the end. Stop fretting.” ’
Never mind about the people she beats up in the process! Still, that’s our Edwina all over. ‘All eyes on me,’ as she likes to say herself.