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Of the thousands of books published this autumn, two have already made big splashes: Sasha Swire’s diaries and Lady (Conrad) Black’s memoirs. I say books but actually all that most of us have had to go on are the newspaper serialisations. Juicy extracts from Lady Swire’s The Secret Diary of an MP’s Wife appeared in The Times. Under her professional name, Barbara Amiel’s Friends and Enemies graced the pages of The Daily Mail.Both were picked over by commentators across “Fleet St”. “Jaw dropping”, “rubbing my eyes” were among the kinder comments. The top revelation from Sir Hugo Swire’s wife being that Prime Minister David Cameron asked her to walk behind him while they were out for a weekend walk with the words: “the scent you are wearing is affecting my pheromones. It makes me want to grab you and push you into the bushes and give you one.”
Conrad Black’s wife is racier still. Before she met him, Barbara Amiel was lady friend to the elderly publisher Lord Weidenfeld. Judging that being with him was like “clutching death” she found a way round: “the only way I could deal with it was to avoid actual body-to-body contact and pleasure him orally.” She also confesses that on several occasions she accepted the gift of a one hundred-thousand-pound gambling chip after accompanying the Australian billionaire Kerry Packer to a casino.
Readers, including me, who are all agog, still can’t help wondering why the women in question would want to share such revelations about their private lives and their close friends.