THE plot at the heart of the intriguing affair between a "boy from Brixton" - destined to become one of the country’s most powerful political figures - and his flamboyant female colleague could have leapt sizzling from the pages of one of Edwina Currie’s bonk-busting novels.
While serving as ministers in Margaret Thatcher’s 1984 government, the unlikely couple began an illicit four-year affair.
Mrs Currie apparently ended the relationship when it became clear that its disclosure could hinder Mr Major’s rising political career.
In her diaries, Mrs Currie reveals that, while one of the country’s best-known political figures, she seduced Mr Major - whom she referred to only as B in early diary entries.
The affair, and the memories it provokes, play an enormous part in Mrs Currie’s personal record.
Painting an intimate portrait of their relationship, the diaries reveal how the liaison began to wane the higher Mr Major rose in office.
One diary entry, written just after midnight in September 1987 reads: "Spoke to B this evening - I’m so glad he was in. Oddly enough I need the diary more now that he’s so busy.
"I wonder if it will start to fade. It’s so hard when I don’t see him. Still, I’ve thought that every year, and we are still at it."
Mrs Currie denies her decision to make the affair public, so many years later, is bitter revenge for her former lover’s refusal to bring her back into government when he became prime minister in 1990.
She had resigned as health minister two years earlier, in the wake of her remarks about Britain’s eggs being infected with salmonella.
The former politician does admit, however, to being "close to breaking point" after Mr Major became prime minister. She says that, to her complete astonishment, she appeared to have been forgotten.
"I was terribly hurt and completely bewildered. I was devastated," she reveals.
And she does seem to remain scarred by the affair when she confides: "The most hurtful thing is to look at John’s autobiography and find that I wasn’t even in the index."
Neither did Mr Major give Mrs Currie a cabinet post in 1992 after his election victory.
Despite this, Mrs Currie admits to admiring the ruthless politician.
"He really had quite a Machiavellian streak about him, and if you are a politician, you admire that." she says.
Mrs Currie also talks of "loving the feeling" of "John sitting in the Whips’ Office, sometimes discussing other people’s affairs, and keeping very quiet about his own."
When news of their affair broke, at the weekend, Mr Major called it the most "shameful" event of his life. Mrs Currie, meanwhile, described Mr Major as "remarkable".
"People often say that John was an ordinary, decent person who clawed his way up from Brixton. But he was not ordinary, he was remarkable. That decency of manner and style, the lack of cant and his niceness to women."
Mrs Currie admits that, at the time, Mr Major was the love of her life. When questioned as to whether or not she still loved him she could only weep and say: "That’s difficult."
Failing to practise what they preached
THE Tories who suffered as a result of Back to Basics:
David Mellor - national heritage secretary exposed over his affair with Antonia de Sancha, an actress.
Piers Merchant - resigned after claims about an affair with an 18-year-old researcher.
Tim Yeo - agriculture minister who fathered a child with his mistress.
Lord Caithness - wife shot herself, fearing he planned to leave her for another woman.
David Ashby - MP admitted he shared a hotel room with male friend.
Stephen Milligan - bizarre sexual circumstances surrounded Tory MP’s death.
Hartley Booth - parliamentary aide who resigned after he had an affair with his researcher.
Michael Brown - government whip who resigned after a homosexual affair with a 20-year-old.
Alan Clark - minister admitted an affair with a judge’s wife and his two daughters.
Richard Spring - an aide to a minister was caught up in a three-in-a-bed romp.
Jerry Hayes - MP accused of having an homosexual affair with a 19-year-old.
Robert Hughes - minister for the Citizens’ Charter resigned after extra-marital affair.
Fact versus fiction
FORMER Tory Prime Minister, who also served as foreign secretary and Chancellor of the Exchequer, was born and raised in a working-class area of London.
He landed his first job at Standard Chartered Bank in 1965.
He was elected to Lambeth Borough Council in 1968-71.
Major was a back-bench MP who learned his trade at the Home Office.
He worked in the Whips office before rising to become Prime Minister in 1990.
Major is married with two children.
Recently admitted affair with Edwina Currie.
THE heroine of Edwina Currie’s novels, junior MP Elaine Stalker, is in love with the more senior MP, Roger Dickson, who was born and raised in a working-class area of London.
Like Major, Dickson’s first job was working for a bank.
He was a back-bench MP who worked in the Department of Trade and Industry.
He was promoted to the Whips office, before becoming a senior whip.
Dickson is married man with three children.
He sleeps with an ambitious new Tory MP.