John Gibson: Jilly’s got hands full as a carer

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It was her suggestion. I wrote at the time, prior to our first meet, that I had lunched with Henry Cooper and had dinner with Tommy Cooper. But having Jilly Cooper for breakfast was something else.

She was then, after all, the acknowledged “Queen of the Bonkbusters’’ with her raunchy million-seller paperbacks.

What’s reminded me, with recourse to the Gibpress File, of that Edinburgh encounter is that her husband Leo, himself formerly a prolific author, together with carer Jilly has battled with Parkinson’s this past decade.

Jilly’s telling me: “I’m still writing to pay the bills for Leo, where we are comfortable in Gloucestershire.” Here in Edinburgh, when we crossed cutlery, she was scathing of television: “Television has always been an incredibly sexual playground.

“The only qualifications you need for a job in television is a broken marriage. They feel they need a new, wonderfully young wife to keep up with their image.

“The definition of a TV star, somebody once said, is 22. One of the best way to stay young is to get a young wife. Publishing and newspapers are different, aren’t they? In television if a programme has bombed you have to go off and get drunk. It’s an ephemeral business.”

Jilly insisted: “I’m totally transfixed by the city. It would be lovely to fall in love, it’s so beautiful. Last night from my hotel window the moon was a balloon.”

Last time I saw her she was campaigning to bring back the foxtrot. And she was yet to see a tram on the tracks.