Old friends raise a glass to Victor Davis

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CELEBRATING A LIFE: From left, Liz Gill, Gill Martin, David Wigg, David Eliades and Maureen Freemantle at the Windsor Castle in London’s Notting Hill

By ALAN FRAME (who also took the pictures)

THE late Victor Davis has just thrown a party and jolly good it was too. I’d better explain: Victor, the doyen of Express writers and legendary interviewer of (and friend to) some of the 20th century’s greatest stars, died aged 89 in November 2018. 

We mourned and celebrated him then but what we didn’t know was that he hadn’t quite said his final goodbyes. In his will he left money for his friends to have a bit of a bash at his local, the Windsor Castle, Notting Hill.

 He didn’t specify that we had to talk about him but of course we did. Well, it was a lot more entertaining than coronavirus or the sad state of the Express today. 

Stephen Claypole remembered the kindness of his old pal when he arrived in New York as the new boy, and David Wigg  spoke of the fun they both had covering Cannes every year. Incidentally poor old David is still hobbling after falling down the red carpeted stairs at the film festival (where else?) ‘Some drunken Frenchman barged past me and I lost my footing dear. Typical!’

I was particularly pleased to see Peter Grosvenor, our former literary editor, arrive and in very good form (and finally admitting to selling all the review copies that flooded the office!). So too were Gill Martin, squeezing in the party between two ski trips (not Italy, you’ll be pleased to learn, and both freebies, natch,) Liz Gill and Maureen Paton, busier than ever.

Brian Freemantle, one of Victor’s oldest chums and author of 95 books, thanked Grosvenor for all the nice reviews; Hickey was represented by Richard Compton Miller and John Roberts. 

In the good old days, of course, one of those buggers would have been writing this. Oh, how times have changed! 

Leon Symons was there and talking of enjoying life without booze (enjoying? — shurely shome mishtake - Ed) and David Eliades was looking almost as dapper as Wiggy who was sporting a splendid Mr Kipper striped satin blazer (bloody hell, I’m expected to do fashion as well.)  

In fact David W exclusively revealed to me: ‘Mick coveted the jacket and wanted me to give it to him. Not likely I said.’ (Take in PA.) Trying not to be outdone, I told DW that when I interviewed Jagger in 1965 I was much taken by his suede loafers and asked where he got them. To which he replied ‘You couldn’t afford them love.’ He was certainly right about that!

It was a delight and the good news is, there is still some of Victor’s money in the kitty. So when London is corona-free, there will be a re-run. And hopefully the Editor will send R. Rambleshanks (trainee) to do the hard work of reporting it.

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Liz Gill and Gill Martin

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Peter Grosvenor and John Roberts

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Leon Symons and Richard Compton Miller

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Maureen Paton, David Wigg and David Eliades

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David Eliades, Stephen Claypole and Maureen Freemantle

Doyen of showbiz writers


© 2005-2020 Alastair McIntyre