A Sunday Times interview with Jilly Cooper informs me she's about to hit 70 - in another age her ST columns dominated the latter half of weekends: a forerunner of Bridget Jones; but a married, upper middleclass variant. Celebrity columnhood segued effortlessly into equestrian blockbusterdom and now all she must do is live as long and productively as Barbara Cartland in her Gloucestershire pile that overlooks the sheep.
I shall never forget being at one of her book dos with a friend, the late interiors writer June Ducas (aka Magdalen Jane Ruth Ducas, an ex-wife of one of the Ogilvys). Jilly was working the room like the good professional self-publicist she is and June - very much a Jilly mate - made an approach to her mid-chatter, mistiming it admittedly. Jilly turned on her like a maddened cat - "June! Not now! Can't you see I'm talking!" More shocking than the face contorted with fury or the shrieking voice was the violence and speed of the mood switch. After that, whenever I saw Jilly on TV parading her familiar gap-toothed and breathless amiability, I had to smile a little.
Part of the Cooper story of course is husband Leo's transgression with a Jilly lookalike years back - he is now sadly ill with Parkinson's. But Jilly herself - though she is remembered as the betrayed wife - is not above suspicion. In the ST interview, there's an allusion to her odd "transgression" during the fabled days of wife-swapping (surely not over).
But there's no mention of the late crime writer and literary critic Julian Symons with whom she enjoyed a tender friendship. Time to come clean Jilly.