Propositioned by three professors in one night – and ANOTHER Tory lothario: Edwina Currie's diaries have left Westminster quivering
00:26 GMT, 10 September 2012
Love her or loathe her, Edwina Currie's political diaries are compulsive reading. In this second part of our exclusive serialisation, it is 1993 and Edwina is a disgruntled backbencher with dreams of becoming a Euro MP, while her former lover, John Major, is Prime Minister. As she reveals today, he wasn't the only one to make an indecent proposal…
Victoria (Edwina’s London flat), Thursday, January 14, 1993, 11pm
Edwina Currie's diaries make for an entertaining read
John Major came into the Commons tearoom this afternoon. As he left the table, he tried to wink and proffer a little charm, but I wasn’t having any.
I hope he noticed my coolness.
On Monday night, Sir Michael Latham [former Tory MP] came in for supper and we had a good chin-wag about how I lost my job as junior health minister under Margaret Thatcher. [Edwina was forced to resign in 1988 after claiming that most British egg production was infected with salmonella.]
I told Michael rather tartly that I was sunk partly because Margaret herself had derided the whole business by saying she’d had scrambled egg for breakfast that morning. She might just as well have said she slept with an HIV-positive man at the height of our Aids campaign. I never forgave her for backing away like that.
Michael said I could and should have been leader myself. How curious to be reminded of those days, so long ago. It can be odd, being on the outside and unimportant.
This evening, I went to [Defence Minister] Jonathan Aitken’s party to celebrate his new book on President Nixon. Jonathan was rather drunk and happy, and wrote silly nonsense comparing my qualities to Nixon’s inside the front cover. Not sure the comparison is entirely a compliment!
I met his wife Lolicia, who’s Swiss and very beautiful, married for 13 years. She told me that one day, before they married, she came to Jonathan’s house to collect some of her things, and looking out the window saw his mother and the Thatchers, complete with Carol — whom he was courting at the same time as her — having lunch in the garden.
Lolicia phoned down and got him upstairs, where he found her furiously throwing all her things into a bag to go back to Switzerland, calling him a cheat and a liar.
He made up his mind on the spot and proposed, then went back downstairs to finish lunch totally unperturbed, while his Swiss miss sat at the window pulling faces at Mrs Thatcher.
The main person hurt was Carol, who went off to Australia and has never married. But Mrs Thatcher never forgave him, and never offered him a job.
Victoria, Thursday, February 4, 10.45pm
Last week, I wrote over 50 pages of my novel, A Parliamentary Affair. Meanwhile, the scandals and writs were flying around last week, with allegations in the New Statesman about John Major and Clare Latimer, the [Downing Street] cook.
There’ve been rumours for some time, perhaps because Miss Latimer, who’s very pretty, 41 and unmarried, is in and out of No 10 late at night. The alleged affair ended before John became either Chancellor or PM, depending which version you read.
Well now! I can believe it — yet I don’t, because the timing’s all wrong. The articles implied that this started in ’88 or ’89 and I find that unlikely, unless he was a good deal more duplicitous than I believe him to be. [Edwina ended her affair with Major in 1988.]
If it’s true, it helps explain why he found it so easy to forget his previous [lover].
Tower House (Edwina’s home), March 28, 11.30pm
I’ve been nominated as a candidate for a Euro seat. It feels like a turning point.
I’ve lost over a stone since January and am looking and feeling much better. I feel less embarrassed, less apologetic, less of a failure. Ready for some adventures, maybe. Who knows
The dairies which run throughout the 90s reveal the truth behind Edwina Currie's life as a politician
On Thursday, I headed for Konigswinter [an annual Anglo-German conference] — what a mind-blowing experience. I did show off and enjoy myself hugely.
One Konigswinter tradition I wasn’t prepared for was pairing off. Three times, I fell in step with some chap, just for company. Two were distinguished professors, one is about to be.
Three times, each one took it I was available and propositioned me. I extricated myself from the male thigh jammed up against mine in the pub, only to have my hand grabbed meaningfully by a second chap as I headed for the door.
One of them was over 60 and a cripple. When I looked at him in total astonishment, he said sheepishly: ‘Well, it’s a Konigswinter tradition.’
The sad thing was that the one or two I might have toyed with accepting made no such moves.
I was so disgusted with this blatant harassment that I muttered darkly about it over breakfast to an elderly admiral, who nearly fell off his chair in embarrassment. A British industrialist next to him (who was rather nice, but it was too late by then) nearly died silently laughing.
The admiral seemed more troubled by the thought that I rejected the idea [of casual sex] than at his colleagues’ presumption.
When I hissed that I’d never dream of one-night stands, that many of my friends were gay and HIV-positive and that was how it happened, he went a weird colour. I enjoyed that, too.
Victoria, Thursday, June 3, 1.30pm
On Friday, I attended a splendid event at Luton Hoo [the stately home turned hotel], at which John Major was the speaker. All black tie and glitter, though my table had its share of talkative salesmen.
Norma was there, looking lovely; she’s really grown into the job. And John droned on for over 20 minutes, with a series of petulant remarks about being unpopular.
Former Prime Minister John Major and his Conservative colleague Edwina Currie had a four-year love affair
He doesn’t have the right touch. An example came when he referred to me, and said: ‘You always know when Edwina is speaking in the Commons’ and: ‘She’ll make a great noise in Strasbourg.’
He made me sound a loud-mouthed idiot. I was quite hurt.
Victoria, Wednesday, June 9, 8.40am
Ironically, I’ve just had my photo taken with John Major at No 10, with all the others celebrating ten years in Parliament today. This was followed by an exceedingly depressing supper [with pro-European MPs and MEPs]. In the end, we abandoned ourselves to an orgy of criticism of the PM.
His judgment is so awry, his personality so weak, his vision so limited and cloudy. A captain trying to be a general, it seems, and really not up to it. And yet . . .
If I’d stayed by his side, would he have retained the imagination, the drive and the risk-taking ability of 1985–88
I’d have tutored him and pushed him and kept him going, and helped him assess friends and enemies. It could have been done (e.g. with me as his parliamentary private secretary) and I’d have loved it, and him.
Tower House, Sunday, July 18, 8.16am
On Friday, the PM was talking to activists at the Quorn Hotel; he seemed to blame the press for most of his troubles — ‘You can make a 40-minute speech or give an hour’s interview and it will only make one minute on the TV news.’
That’s prattish. So we’re back to the little boy from Brixton’s fear of the media.
There’s plenty of effective talent on the back benches who could advise him — Gyles Brandreth, Michael Fabricant, me — but he plods on, looking bewildered and hurt. It’s pathetic and makes me so cross.
And despairing — I could really have helped make this nice, reasonable man into a formidable performer. I did, a bit, in the mid-Eighties.
Oh well, I’ve done just that in my new novel, and it’ll have to suffice.
It looks as if part of my holiday in France will be taken up with intensive work on the book. Part of me hopes Richard Cohen [Edwina’s publisher and Jeffrey Archer’s former ‘book doctor’] will be with me.
He’d come alone — and [my husband] Ray will be going back about August 15. So, who knows I wouldn’t mind . . . I feel ready for an adventure, almost desperately ready.
It’s hilarious revising the sex scenes with Richard: he scribbles ‘I’m not being coy’ in the margins when I’ve exuberantly gone over the top. When we discuss sex scenes, he starts blushing.
Victoria, Friday, July 23, 8.10pm
The PM’s libel case against the New Statesman has effectively been dropped for a payment of damages to the PM and Clare Latimer. [The New Statesman made a public apology to both Major and Latimer, making clear that there had in fact been no affair between them.]
The PM’s brother Terry said in an interview that he wasn’t surprised John had pursued the matter with such vigour, as their mother was very strict and would have drummed morality into him.
Ho, ho! It reinforces my view that they got the right chap but the wrong lady.
Victoria, Monday, August 2, 11.12pm
The nightmare scenario is beginning to look a possibility — losing the Euro seat in South Bedfordshire, then losing my seat as an MP in South Derbyshire, too. I feel very fearful.
More book revising early tomorrow. It’s a most embarrassing exercise, because so much of my novel is crass. Only the sex and violence really sing off the page; much of the remainder is awful rubbish.
I took [my elder daughter] Deb out on Friday and agreed to buy her a little car, which she seemed thrilled about. Then, over a Chinese meal, she told me we’re snobs because we’re wealthy. She had the nerve to ask for money, too.
Right, says I, two can play at that game. The car was cancelled this morning and I shan’t buy her another, and I refuse to have any part in ferrying her to university and back.
If she can withdraw, so can I, so there’ve been no kisses and hugs since. She doesn’t realise how cool I can feel — I’ve had to protect myself for so long from being hurt by people I loved and now it’s become a habit.
Victoria, Monday, September 13, midnight
On my own in the flat and feeling a bit blue. I consoled myself with Dr Andrew Stanway’s video [The Lover’s Guide — an explicit documentary about love and sex] and there I did learn a thing or two. Hope I get the chance to practise . . .
Tower House, Sunday, October 3, 10.30pm
[TORY MP] Steve Norris, it turns out, has added two more ladies to his stable and may well have been having it off with four ladies at once. Now, that’s really careless.
We can’t be the party of ‘Laura Norder and the Family’ and have ministers behave like this. Ain’t life funny
Tower House, Sunday, October 10, 1.40pm
Margaret [Thatcher’s] appearance on the Party Conference platform at Blackpool on Thursday was a very muted affair. Only about a quarter of the delegates rose and applauded; most sat on their hands.
Edwina Curry labelled Margaret Thatcher's appearance on the Party Conference platform 'a very muted affair'
She left soon after, having stayed only one night, and said not a word, but the look in her eyes was desperate and sad. Conference was awful. Endless bashing of social security ‘scroungers’, foreigners (including ‘Europeans’— this from [social security secretary] Peter Lilley, may he dissolve in slime), single-parent families (always female) and any thinking not around in the 1950s, when John Major was a lad.
Poor Steve Norris: his wife has left him, and now it seems he had five women on the go at the same time!
Of course, Steve has made it clear to me that he’d do me a favour any time — and that’s how he would have seen it!
But if I want an overweight, middle-aged bloke, I’ve got a much nicer one at home.
Derby, Sunday, October 24, 9pm
Took Ray to see Jurassic Park — I enjoyed it, but his reaction was: ‘I’m disappointed.’ I feel like punching him when he doesn’t even try to be enthusiastic.
Later Basic Instinct was on Sky Movies, an eye-popping thriller with a tremendous sexual edge; but not a twitch from Ray.
Victoria, Sunday, November 21, 4.15pm
Deb’s keen on a boy she met in Israel; she keeps telling me I don’t know what it’s like, being in love, and I bite my tongue to avoid telling her I do.
Nr Melton Mowbray, Tuesday, November 30, 8.30pm
I was invited for lunch at No 10 on Monday. There was no starter, but a ‘lamb ragout’ (actually lamb stew) followed by chocolate mousse and cheese. Cholesterol level staggering. On the table, to my amazement and disgust, a dusty arrangement of plastic flowers.
I presented the PM with a proof copy of A Parliamentary Affair and his eyes popped; that will cause him some innocent enjoyment.
At home, Ray’s now reading it, though he says it’s too sexy. Huh.
Les Tuileries (Edwina’s house in France) December 31, 4.19pm
So what am I do to about Ray Edwina Currie. To order a copy for 15.99 (inc p&p) call 0843 382 0000.