You ask the questions

(Such as: Dr Margaret Cook, does it bother you that you have been cast as the woman scorned?)

Dr Margaret Cook, 54, a consultant haemotologist and mother of two, was married to Robin Cook, the foreign secretary, for 29 years. They divorced last March after revelations that he had been having an affair with his secretary, Gaynor Regan. Cook married Ms Regan last April. Margaret has written an intimate account of the breakdown of her marriage, A Slight and Delicate Creature, published by Weidenfeld and Nicolson. She lives in Edinburgh and has two grown-up sons.

What was your aim in writing your memoirs?

James Issacs, Southwold

I wrote my memoirs in response to sorrows past rather than with a conscious aim. But I had already found solace in writing, and especially writing about myself. I had an idea that I would gain insights and be able to analyse more clearly what went wrong. Though I realised the book would create embarrassment for my ex-husband, I did not feel I owed him courtesy or loyalty.

Can you think of one nice thing to say about Robin?

Lucy Duffield, Maidstone

Yes, that I loved him in spite of everything until he repudiated me. He was clever, witty, good company, and he was also an excellent conversationalist...

How did you hope that your former husband would react to some of your frank recollections in your book?

Barry Saunders, Liverpool

I wrote the book for myself, not my former husband. I didn't really dwell on his reactions.

How did you feel on the day of your divorce, 13 March 1998?

Angie Owen, Ullswater

I felt liberated.

Would you agree revenge is a dish best served in print?

Harry Odell, Newcastle

No. Revenge was not part of my motivation.

What did you think of Tony Blair's reaction when news of Robin's affair broke? Do you think he was fair?

Ian Barry, Cornwall

Tony was on holiday when news of the affair broke. His fairness is irrelevant. He showed very little understanding of how to write to someone in a state of grief and shock.

What effect do you think your book has had on your children?

Peter Bradshaw, London N19

My children have not taken sides over the book, or tried to dissuade me from writing it. I think the question that needs to be asked is: what effect did their father's behaviour, and its revelation in the News Of The World, have on them?

Beards: good, bad or ugly?

Emily Garton, Preston

Beards: no strong feelings!

What do you think of Bill Clinton's extra marital affairs? What advice would you have for Hillary?

Lesley Hurst, Colchester

Bill Clinton is cast in a similar role to Robin, I believe. There may be an underlying insecurity which propels him to seek political power and to prove his male attractions repeatedly. I wouldn't be so arrogant as to advise Hillary. She will do her own thing; though I have much sympathy for her.

Despite his failings as a husband, would you admit that Robin Cook is a good foreign secretary?

Don Gwyn, Brighton

He's an incredibly astute and able politician, but not at his best in one-to-one engagements, perhaps a disadvantage as foreign secretary.

Do you ever worry that you've been cast as the woman scorned?

Anne Melville, Swindon

I certainly don't like the "Hell hath no fury" bit. I've never been angry or furious. I have been rather sad and devastated.

For whom did you vote in the last election? Will you vote for Labour in the next election?

Tina Elliot, Edinburgh

I voted Lib Dem in Edinburgh. I shall vote Labour in the Scottish election.

Is it true that you have formed a new relationship with a man that you met through a dating agency?

Laura Davies, Clifton


What did your best friend think about you writing your memoirs?

Michael Roberts, Stockwell

Close women friends are very supportive and commend my courage.

If you could say one thing to Robin now, what would it be?

Hugo Rogers, North Yorkshire

That depends if it were public or private. It would be something quite gentle and kindly.

Is there anything you miss about being married to Robin?

Simon Ellis, Portsmouth

The easy companionship we had, and the family unity.

What did you do to distract yourself on the day that Robin and Gaynor got married?

Lizzie Cockayne, Denmark Hill

I didn't need any distractions that day - I was working.

Are you still interested in politics?

Patrick Naylor, Sheffield

How can you live in this world and not be? I'd be interested in bringing more applied psychology into the subject.

What was it that attracted you initially to your former husband?

Daniel McCartney, Lewisham

His intellect and his well-stocked and lively mind. He was also a very affectionate man.

What would you say if one of your children asked to read your book?

Julia Peel, Bury St Edmunds

The boys both read the book before its publication date.

What is one of your happiest memories?

Nick Duffy, Bromley

My happiest memories are of relaxed times with the family when the boys were growing up. Rides in the New Forest, an exhilarating gallop, followed by tea and toast around the fire.

How do you relax?

Christine Kendrick, Stockport

With my feet up and a good book; a glass of wine, too.

Next Week

Gerry Adams, followed by Bobby Charlton

Send questions for Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams and footballing legend Bobby Charlton to: You Ask the Questions, Features, The Independent, 1 Canada Square, London E14 5DL, fax 0171-293 2182 or e-mail: your, by noon on Friday 5 February

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