Currying distaste

I could have lived quite happily having completely forgotten John Major and Edwina Currie.

Ray Crowley

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Topics Politics

There is nothing more vomit-inducing than sitting happily munching on your morning cornflakes and hearing the news that former Tory prime minister John Major had ‘Four years of romps’ (The Sun) with former Tory cabinet minister Edwina Currie.

I had completely forgotten that Major was once prime minister until this story broke. And I always thought that Edwina Currie was your archetypal creepy ‘sexpert’, who cruised daytime TV shows and late-night radio spots.

I could have lived my life quite happily having completely forgotten that Major existed, and not reading Currie’s terrible novels with photos of fat-calved ladies wearing red high heels on the front covers. But since the Major-Currie affair became public knowledge, I have heard far, far, far too much about the sorry pair. The gross-out factor of this ‘political bombshell’ must rank as highly as being an 11-year-old boy and finding out what a tampon is.

Reading Edwina Currie’s diary revelations in The Times is an excruciatingly embarrassing experience.

  • 22 March: ‘I was amusing and nice, and underneath I was as soft as butter.’
  • 18 July: ‘Golly, I was so unhappy for so much of that time and in all those years my only joy was in talking and making love late, hours of it.’
  • 23 September: ‘Tonight I bought a cheesecake.’ (1)

Currie seems to assume that such random, day-to-day scrawlings are worthy of being read by the rest of us. Never mind egotistical, there is something desperate about publishing your diaries in the papers.

Apparently, the diaries were not written with publication in mind – Currie intended them as ‘a confidential friend’, which would give her ‘the emotional strength to quit’ Major.

I really do not want to know whether Currie is hotter than a Vindaloo, or the details of Major’s back-to-basics missionary position. If politicians can’t leave an imprint upon politics (Major was in power longer than Tony Blair has been, but can anyone remember what he did during that time?), then they should retire gracefully. Currie’s desperate attempt to make a mark now is a bit like a dog marking its territory by cocking a leg.

Perhaps the most unfortunate of Currie’s diary excerpts – ‘I wish my flat was filled with one big man in his blue underpants’ – was read aloud on ITV’s Tonight with Trevor McDonald. Blue underpants? Well, I suppose ‘grey Y-fronts’ doesn’t have quite the same ring.

Currie tried to explain her actions. ‘I think he had an eye for the ladies’, she smirked (shouldn’t that be four eyes?), before Trevor McDonald asked her, straight-faced: ‘Did you invite him back to your flat?’ But none of this was as bad as Currie’s explanation for why she has spilled the beans 15 years after the affair ended.

She spoke at length about the burden of knowing that the historical picture of John Major wasn’t accurate, and how important it was to ‘set the record right before the history books are closed’. Never mind sex on the brain, Currie seems to be a little fucked in the head. Major and Currie didn’t figure much in the history books before this story reared its head. Perhaps they’re now trying to define their historical significance by default.

As a crime against politics, Currie’s behaviour (I don’t mean opening her legs, I mean opening her mouth) overshadows even Ann Widdecombe’s public dieting on the new ITV show Celebrity Fit Club. If Currie thinks that revealing an extra-marital affair makes the history books more accurate, this only reflects her (generous) view that she and Major contributed nothing much to politics.

Ironically, Currie’s column inches are being cramped by another news story: the biggest revamp of the UK egg industry for 60 years. Eggs are now to be sold in circular boxes of seven, one for each day of the week, rather than the traditional six-pack. It was, of course a scandal over salmonella-infected eggs that ended Currie’s political career in the first place. I’m sure the British public will find it more entertaining to know there is such a thing as the British Egg Information Service (2), than to read about what Edwina did with the most boring man in Britain.

She didn’t make it as a politician, and she didn’t make it as a novelist, so now she’s trying to be Monica Lewinsky (except with egg stains on her dress). No wonder most of the UK population is crying: ‘I’m a potential voter – get me out of here!’ When it comes to politicians’ private lives – who they’re shagging, how flabby they are – ignorance is bliss.

(1) Diary extracts published in The Times, 30 September 2002

(2) See the British Egg Information Service website

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Topics Politics

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