I never really got on with John le Carré’s novels. I couldn’t work out who anyone was, or what they were doing, or why. But I always thought I’d come back to him in old age, when I would have more time to fret over his impenetrable plots or at the very least be able to blame my confusion on dementia. Alas, I will never be able to read him now. Not since lurid details of his private life have emerged in a grisly sex memoir by a woman named Suleika Dawson.

I have only read reviews so far but already know that she and the old goat had “sex for the cameras; sex for the Olympics; sex for the gods”, that he was “amazed by the amount of seminal fluid he produced with me”, that they wore clothes only on their “top halves”, “to keep the lower parts ready for action”, and that, when le Carré was squatting at the fridge one day, looking for salad dressing (oh, rare and precious detail), she came up behind him and “put an ice cube on his scrotum”.

Lurid details of his private life have emerged in a grisly sex memoir.

He was the same age as I am now when all this started, so their coitus was already in the aesthetically “disgusting” bracket even before they reprised it in his eighties. So how, now, do you expect me to read a book by a man I can only see walking about with the top half of a suit on over his naked, old-man chicken legs (like a sitcom newsreader), bending down to rummage in the fridge (those withered shanks, those hollow cheeks, those tufts of curly grey …) only to be surprised by a saucy ice tray to his octogenarian knackers? I’ve seen 9½ Weeks; I know such stuff goes on. But in the throes of hot sex, surely? Not when you’re making a sandwich.

Suppose we had descriptions of Shakespeare in his later years, the Shakespeare of Cymbeline and Pericles (one hesitates to say Coriolanus), wearing nothing but a ruff and his curly slippers, bending over to nibble on a capon when some floozy suddenly comes at his nuts with an icicle?

It’s the sort of image that completely redraws one’s image of an author: John le Carré — The Spy Who Came from the Cold.

Giles Coren is a columnist for The Times of London and host of the podcast Giles Coren Has No Idea