Levy’s golden day

levy and wife.jpeg

PURE GOLD: Geoffrey and Stephanie on their wedding day in 1969

ALAN FRAME reports from the Golden Wedding celebration for former Daily Express and Daily Mail star feature writer Geoffrey Levy and his wife Stephanie

Working with Geoffrey Levy was a joy; he was unsuitably chirpy on the occasions when I rang him at home at 7am to send him on a job, he always delivered brilliant features, and he was (and is) a great friend. It seems that being married to him has been rather like that too.

We were honoured to be at the Golden Wedding Anniversary lunch on Sunday celebrating the old boy’s marriage to the lovely Stephanie. Fifty friends and family were treated to a memorable party at the RAC Woodcote Country Club at Epsom on a glorious Spring day to eat and drink and (inevitably) gossip and to hear Geoff deliver a speech to rival any of his writings which charted the half century of their life together. ‘Here I was, East End boy meets Geordie nurse, we fall in love and have never looked back.’

That was in 1969 when Levy was deputy editor of Hickey (motto: their despair is our delight!) and trying to keep in order a team of assorted hoorays, drunks (not mutually exclusive) and a devout God-botherer whose job it was to report on marriage break-ups.

Geoff’s was a role that involved more than its fair share of society parties and grand dinners. He recalled taking Stephanie to one black tie do at the Grosvenor House. On leaving, they were offered lifts in grand limos, all politely refused with the excuse that they fancied the stroll. 

‘In fact we had arrived in our battered Mini Countryman and parked out of sight just around the corner. We crept round to it and when we thought the coast would be clear set off in the Mini, forgetting that we would have to turn left and drive down Park Lane past the Grosvenor where the great and the good were still assembled. 

Our only option was to slide down in our seats and put the foot down. We had invented the world’s first driverless car!’ (Sub’s note: Surely he didn’t have to slide too far down.)

Another anecdote concerned what began to sound like one of those much lamented (by readers if not the victims) exposés by the News of the World which made editing on a Sunday so much the easier with the juicy follow-ups. Remember Major Ron Ferguson and poor old Frank Bough? Well this one was about Geoffrey’s painful lower back. ‘Steph told me to strip off and lie down. Out came the olive oil.’ Cries of steady on, your grandchildren are present. ‘Stephanie thought it was a step too far when I requested she wore her nurse’s uniform but the treatment was a success,’ said Levy (who did not make an excuse and leave.)

Present on our table were Colin Mackenzie, late of this parish and the legend who tracked down Ronnie Biggs (and introduced Geoff to Stephanie); Jan Moir of the Mail plus the other half of the familiar joint byline ‘By Geoffrey Levy and Richard Kay.’ Except that he wasn’t. 

Poor Richard had been caught out by the old early morning phone trick, a call from the editor. Hence it was that 1,200 words under his name, and his name alone, appeared in yesterday’s Daily Mail explaining the frost between the so-called Turnip Toffs of Norfolk, more formally known as the Duchess of Cambridge and the Marchioness of Cholmondeley. I’d very much like to repeat the speculation about the Real Reason for the fall-out but this mighty organ may receive an unwelcome letter from Messrs Sue, Grabbit and Runne.

Richard, you missed a fabulous party … and one which Levy probably won’t be able to claim on his exes! Or will he?

 

© 2005-2019 Alastair McIntyre