Still frisky at 81 thanks to HRT! Former Tory MP who's the treatment's biggest cheerleader
21:05 GMT, 26 October 2012
She was HRT’s biggest cheerleader.
And, after four decades, ex-Tory MP Teresa Gorman says it still keeps her ‘very sexually active’ and looking 20 years younger.
So why’s she got a plastic surgeon’s number stuck on her fridge
Teresa Gorman is perched like a little bird on an enormous brocade throne-like chair in the sitting room of her gorgeous Tudor pile in Essex.
A very young-looking bird — sporting skin-tight jeggings, snakeskin sandals and scarlet socks.
‘Just look at me. Look! I’m in such good condition — amazing condition! Look at my joints! Look at my fingers!’ she trills, waggling her slender fingers like a mad thing. ‘And look at my skin. Just look!’
'Young-looking bird': Former MP Teresa Gorman is still extolling the virtues of HRT at the age of 81
It is impossible not to. Her face is amazingly smooth and plump. Extraordinarily so, some might say.
Could the former Conservative MP for Billericay really not have had the teeniest bit of work done Not even the smallest lift
‘No, no, no! It’s all my own. Look you can see the lines here, under my eyes. I put baby oil on every evening and that’s all I ever use. And I only eat when I’m hungry.’
‘And she’s very sexually active,’ pipes up husband Peter Clarke from the doorway with a wink.
‘Ha ha ha. You go away, cheeky! She’ll think we’re sex maniacs. That’s my second husband, you see,’ she whispers as he pops away. ‘Peter’s been here for about a year. Or is it two Anyway, I told you that you’d never guess how old I was.’
She did indeed, on the phone, a few days ago. ‘Promise you won’t look it up. I want you to come and look at me and just guess. You’ll be so wrong. And then you’ll salivate when you see my beautiful house.’
She was right on both counts. The house — a three-year labour of restoratory love by her late (first) husband Jim, who died in 2007 — is truly splendid, a warren of beams, mullioned windows, vast pond, quacking ducks and foot-high gnomes of John Major, Margaret Thatcher and Neil Kinnock guarding the front door. And Teresa She looks, well, 55. Sixty at a pinch.
‘Legally, I’m in my 80s now,’ she says with a delighted flourish.
Eighty-one, to be exact. (Though she famously spent much of her political life passing herself off as ten years younger because she was — rightly — convinced that a 56-year-old woman wouldn’t have a hope in hell of winning her first parliamentary seat in 1987).
Today she veers between her adopted age and her legal age. She looks young enough to be her own daughter and insists it’s all down to Hormone Replacement Therapy.
She was, after all, known for years as St Teresa of the Menopause, the Angel of HRT.
Throughout her 14-year political career, she took HRT nonstop and grabbed every opportunity to publicise the nightmare of the menopause and the youth-giving wonders of HRT. And, meanwhile, grew younger by the decade.
Which is why, with HRT firmly back under the spotlight thanks to new scientific revelations that not only does it not cause breast cancer, as once suspected, but also protects against heart attacks and heart disease and possibly also Alzheimer’s (if taken immediately after the menopause), Teresa is desperate to demonstrate — in the smooth and dimply flesh — how amazing we could all look if, like her, we’d been fizzing with replacement hormones for the past 40 years.
She says: ‘You have to get old, but you don’t have to get old gracefully. Just look at the Queen — she’s on HRT.
'The Angel of HRT': The former Billericay MP, seen in 1992, says she has HRT and baby oil to thank for her eternally youthful appearance
‘And the Queen Mother was, though everyone said it was the gin that kept her young. And Margaret Thatcher was on it, but then they took her off it and look at her now — she looks terrible.
‘It’s awful when they take people off it — you can see in a second — the crimply skin, the straggly hair, the aches and pains.
‘And me! At my age — my legal age, that is — I’m much more frisky than Peter and he’s younger than me.’
Gosh, and, er, how old is Peter
‘Ooh, I don’t know. Peter! Peter! How old are you Peter’ she yells from her throne.
‘I’m 65,’ echoes back from the kitchen.
‘That’s the youngest one I could get! Ha ha!’
Even aside from her weirdly youthful appearance and immaculately coiffed hair (‘All my own, I promise you’), Teresa is lively company. She guffaws and chuckles and cackles constantly.
She flirts with the photographer — ‘I’m not used to a beard, but if you’d like to practise nuzzling me for a bit, ha ha ha — any port in the storm.’
She also gossips brilliantly about her contemporaries — Margaret Thatcher (‘more like a man than a woman’); John Major (‘not very bright, poor thing and a real soppy — not a man’s man’); Edwina Currie (‘always bossing you about — maybe John liked a dominant woman’); and Ken Clarke (‘very nice and very masculine, though he wasn’t always going round pinching your bottom — not like some’).
It must be odd being a retired MP, reduced to huffing over the newspapers and shouting at the telly.
‘I still know a lot of them. The trouble is, when you’re away from it all, you start believing that the people left behind are a load of twits and if only you were still there, you’d sort it out.
Take that David Cameron, he’s not very experienced and just a public schoolboy.
‘If I walked into Parliament, they’d all come rushing over to see me and look at me as if I’m a specimen and say, “Oh my God! She’s still alive! She’s risen from the dead! What’s she going to put her foot in now”’
'Amazing condition': Teresa Gorman is seen showing off her cheerleading skills in 1992, left, and smiling as she makes her way down Whitehall in 1995
Teresa was never one to think too hard before she spoke. ‘She leads with her chin,’ was the way her mother (a waitress in a Putney tea room) used to put it. Her father, who ran a demolition firm, hoped she’d do something respectable, like run her own hair salon.
Instead, she trained to become a teacher, got married at 19, won a double first — at London University — went with Jim on a year’s exchange programme to New York, where she taught biology to President Kennedy’s daughter, Caroline, and fell in love with capitalism, built up a very profitable business selling teaching aids, made a fortune doing-up rundown properties and selling them on, and did a bit more teaching.
'Just look at the Queen – she's on HRT'
Eventually, aged 56, or 46, she won her first political seat.
She was never afraid to go out on a limb or speak her mind. She was fiercely anti-Europe (she lost the whip for voting against John Major on the Maastricht Bill), a vocal supporter of ticket touts (‘for promoting a free market’) and castration for rapists, and was pro-abortion but anti-maternity leave (‘awful for business’).
She was also constantly in the papers — both local and national — often ridiculed for her brightly coloured outfits, wonderful bouffant hair and working-class roots.
There were endless run-ins with ridiculously sexist old-school Tories who underestimated her drive and inquired about her knickers; furious rows with planners and local authorities over home improvements carried out by the lovely Jim; and a very expensive court case (which she won) with a local Essex businessman, who tried to ridicule her and her vanity and tattooed eyebrows (she shaved them off when she was young and they never grew back) in a spoof press release.
All the while, she continued her zealous promotion of HRT and its health and youth-giving benefits.
‘The menopause hit me in my 40s. I was so tired. People started commenting on how tired I looked, but the worst thing was the forgetfulness. And a lot of women aren’t interested sexually, and you know what it’s like with these blokes who like more than just a cuddle — it can mean the end to a lot of middle-aged marriages.
‘Now I don’t feel old at all. I never get tired. I get up at the crack of dawn and come down here and have a cup of tea and feed the ducks.’
Does she ever have a quick nap ‘Good lord no. NO! The miracle is I feel young and I feel normal.’
'Fragrant whirlwind': Teresa Gorman, seen in 1991, was often ridiculed for her brightly coloured outfits during her time in Parliament
She certainly seems young, and it’s not just her super-smooth skin. She sits likes a young person, crossing and uncrossing her legs like a girl. She moves without stiffness. She bounces up and down and throws her head back to laugh. She even insists she still runs — aged 81.
But looking around her sitting room is a teeny bit unsettling. There’s a photo with first husband Jim, waving from a cockpit of a plane, in which she looks about 70. Then suddenly she’s marrying Peter- on her birthday two years ago – and looks about 65.
A picture in the loo shows her with dark curly hair, huge specs and looking about 60 – she was more like 45. Today, she looks even younger.
'Now I don't feel old at all. I never get tired. I get up at the crack of dawn and come down here and have a cup of tea and feed the ducks'
But what really brings me up short is a Post-it note stuck to the kitchen wall that reads: ‘Plastic Surgeon — Mr Sood’, and his telephone number. (I sneakily look him up on my phone and find that he specialises in cosmetic facial surgery at a local Essex hospital. Oh Teresa — surely not! After all that proselytizing. All that ‘I only ever use baby oil’.)
She and Jim never wanted children. When he became desperately ill with cancer in 2001, she retired from politics to be with him.
‘He’d put up with me for so many years, it was the least I could do. He was a lovely simple man and I’m a very bossy woman.’
When he died in 2007, she was devastated. Women like Teresa aren’t designed for solo living. So she put an ad in Private Eye: ‘Old trout seeks old goats. No golfers. Must have own balls’ and got 128 replies, including quite a few golfers.
‘I’d have gone bonkers living on my own. Peter’s very good at looking after things,’ she whispers loudly. ‘Because he looked after his wife, Gillian, and she was ill for a long time. Sometimes it’s like having a butler, but we have a nice relationship — it’s not all soppy and silly. And aren’t I in amazing condition, Peter’
‘Amazing,’ he answers. ‘It’s partly HRT, partly genetic endowment and partly, like I said, because she’s so sexually active!’
‘Oh Peter, that’s vulgarity!’ she retorts. ‘Ha ha ha.’
‘I lie back and think of Scotland,’ he says.
‘You do not. That’s absolute twaddle. You don’t think at all, you’re too busy snoring!’
Goodness! Back to politics, quickly. Please. Where, despite her double first, business acumen and HRT-fuelled vim and vigour, Teresa never really fulfilled her true potential and never made any headway up the slippery Westminster pole.
‘I don’t think I fitted in very well. You have to be nice to a lot of people all the time and make them feel good — a***-licking it’s called, if you’re common like me. And I was never any good at that. I was there to represent other people, not to represent myself.
‘I felt undervalued, but you make your own bed. And I was probably a bit, well, vulgar.’
Tudor splendour: The former MP is seen with her late first husband Jim Gorman
Such as the time she wrote in her autobiography No, Prime Minister! that she knew Denis Thatcher still had, erm, lead in his pencil.
‘That was very vulgar of me! Margaret and I were talking about HRT, woman to woman. And I said, “As we get older, sex can be tricky with these chaps wanting to keep going until they’re 86,” and she said, “Oh no! I keep up!” She did have a sense of humour — but not a big one.’
Yet the final straw came when Teresa mysteriously slipped off the shortlist for the London Mayoral elections in 2000. ‘I thought being the Lord Mayor would be rather good because you would have control. You can probably tell from my personality that I’m not a shrinking violet.’
Indeed. A day with Teresa is quite something. She is extraordinary — a fragrant whirlwind of dyed hair, very pink lips, perfect teeth and that suspiciously smooth skin.
As the photographer and I head off down the drive, there’s a crunch on the gravel and a commotion. Teresa is sprinting towards us clutching something we’d forgotten.
‘See, I do run! I love running. I was once talent-spotted by an athletics club when I was running for a bus.’
And, er, what about the surgeon Mr Sood, I ask nervously. ‘Oh no! I was only checking up on people I might go to visit because I’m becoming old,’ Teresa squeals. ‘But apparently they cost you an arm or a leg. Or was it to do with my toes I’ve got a problem with my big toe!’ (‘No, no, no!’ confirmed Peter later. ‘We sold Teresa’s Westminster house to this man — that’s why his number’s on the wall.’)
And with that, the former member for Billericay turns on her heel, jogs on the spot for a few seconds with very high knees and then sprints off towards her ducks.