IN ONE of popular culture's more unlikely pairings, the erudite author, broadcaster and raconteur Clive James has been linked with the blonde socialite most famous for being the former wife of Geoffrey Edelsten, the one-time owner of the Sydney Swans.
Last night on Channel Nine Leanne Edelsten claimed she had had an eight-year affair with James, whom she called her ''Mr Wolf''.
Ms Edelsten claimed the pair met at Sydney's Rissini Cafe in 2004 when the father of two approached her table and began a conversation. Married at the time to her second husband, Geoffrey Edelsten's ex-lawyer Chris Curtis, she told him she was on the path to her second divorce. ''He was his familiar, formidable funny, witty self. He just walked to the table and said 'in my opinion all intelligent women talk with their hands','' she said. ''Attraction is a very personal thing - it's between two people and we had an instant attraction.''
Clive James with Leanne Edelsten.
Over the ensuing eight years she says they conducted their affair in secret, communicating via email and meeting whenever James was in Australia.
Ms Edelsten said that before and after intimacy they had a cup of tea and a Cherry Ripe. ''The guy's a legend. He's a prime example of use it or lose it, in every sense of the word.''
Ms Edelsten said the romance had come unstuck when James' wife, academic Prue Shaw, found email correspondence between the two and revealing photographs Ms Edelsten had sent James.
Ms Edelsten said James asked her to send the photos because he missed her. She said she was now worried they would end up in the wrong hands, and the Channel Nine television footage of the pair showed a frail-looking James, 72, assuring Ms Edelsten; ''I wouldn't worry about any of that.''
Ms Edelsten said the relationship would not have survived the scrutiny of the media.
James, who once penned a poem Bring Me the Sweat of Gabriela Sabatini, last year revealed he has been battling leukaemia since 2010.
James has reportedly been kicked out of his London home and is living in an apartment in Cambridge.
An unrepentant Ms Edelsten said she was in love with her ''Mr Wolf'' but couldn't risk being tarnished in the press after James put an end to the affair via email. ''I want the truth, rather than come from a defensive position. He will be an incredibly hard act to follow.''