Mrs Winner's Dinners: She actually said yes. Unbelievable!
After the longest courtship in history, Michael has wed his Geraldine. He recounts the culinary arrangements surrounding the big day
Published 25 September 2011 News Review 949th article
Michael and Geraldine with Michael and Shakira Caine on the steps of Chelsea Old Town Hall (Dwayne Senior)
I met Geraldine Lynton-Edwards in 1957. It's been the longest courtship in history. My bachelor days ended last Monday in the Chelsea register office when we were legally wed. Michael and Shakira Caine were the witnesses.
Michael volunteered the minute he heard about it. He thought if he wasn't there I'd do a runner. Apparently I had to say, "I give you this ring as a token of my love." I suggested to Geraldine, "Could I say I give you this ring as a token of my love as long as it's back in Cartier's window by 4pm?" That got a laugh.
Emboldened, I carried on, "I give you this ring as a token of my love. If you haven't paid for it by the end of the month I'll set the bailiffs on you."
On the day, I thought those remarks might set the marriage off on a wrong note. So I spoke the normal words. Except that when the registrar asked, "Does anyone know why these two should not be joined in matrimony?" I said, "Well, I'm not sure."
To which Michael Caine admonished, "For once in your life, Michael, keep quiet."
At heart I'm extremely insecure and shy. Having been written about (not always politely) and exposed in the public eye for more than 50 years, I was surprised to see an enormous turnout of photographers and press in front of Chelsea Old Town Hall.
I'm forbidden to tell you about the very brief "service" because Hello! is making a donation to my charity, the Police Memorial Trust, for an exclusive. You can see the magazine's pictures, taken at home before the event and during it, in tomorrow's issue.
Now to the culinary arrangements prior to and immediately after the wedding. The first important moment was when we went to Cut, the new restaurant in a hotel called 45 Park Lane, in premises that were the Playboy Club and are now part of the Dorchester Collection.
The chef, Wolfgang Puck, is American (born in Austria). I told you about his Cut restaurant in Los Angeles. This one, his first in Europe, is far and away the best place to eat in London. Decor, food, service, ambience - all are absolutely perfect. I'll deal with it later in detail. Don't wait for that. Just go there.
On Saturday I paid my weekly lunchtime visit to the Wolseley; ate a bollito misto. Not many places offer that.
On Sunday Michael and Shakira hosted a lunch for Geraldine and me at their Surrey home. For my real friends. The guests, with wives, were: Andrew Lloyd Webber, David Frost, Chris Rea, Terry O'Neill and the theatre supremo Adam Kenwright.
Terry had a puncture so nearly missed the superb catering by Phil and Shirley Crowther of Crowthers. I recommended them, as I do to you. Incredible canapés, an extremely good beef wellington, more cakes and desserts than I've seen for years. I had a special jelly with vanilla ice cream.
Near the end of the meal Michael asked me to come into the inner room. His television was on Radio 2 for a Barbara Windsor programme in which she introduced show tunes. Why am I having to listen to that, I thought. Then Barbara announced a song by the two-time Academy Award-winning lyricist Leslie Bricusse (I was at Cambridge with him) and Andrew Lloyd Webber called Everyone Loves a Winner, sung by Danielle Hope, the star of The Wizard of Oz at the London Palladium. In it I was compared to a rusty nail. A great and witty lyric. A marvellous melody. Andrew had recorded it with a 36-piece swing orchestra; Geraldine, a former professional dancer, was inspired to dance.
Dinner was just a bowl of cereal; breakfast, my usual - sliced peaches and coffee.
After the wedding, Geraldine's two sons, my assistant Dinah and my PA Natalie, who were in the room for the legalisation, returned to my house to have a terrific lunch of beef stroganoff prepared by my chef-housekeeper Lulu Brown. And a wedding cake.
Last Wednesday the newlyweds (never thought I'd write that about me) got on a private jet rented from Blink. It's so small, blink and you'd miss it. The plane took off from my favourite airport, Blackbushe. No customs, no security: it's a flying club. We were bound for a few days at the hotel Splendido in Portofino, the hotel I most like in an area that is unspoilt by new and ugly buildings.
So far, after marriage, life has gone on exactly as normal. For me, that's a result.
From Stewart Murray: two beggars sit near the Vatican. One holds a cross, the other the Star of David. Passers-by put money into the hat of the man with the cross, but give none to the beggar with the Star of David.
A priest comes over. He says, "I've been watching you two. You can't expect people here to give money to a man holding a Star of David. In fact they probably give more money to the man with the cross out of spite."
The beggar with the Star of David turns to the one with the cross and says, "Hymie, look who's trying to teach the Cohen brothers about marketing."
I never thought you'd make it while I was still alive! Well done. If your first marriage is as good as my third, you are a lucky man.
Sir Stirling Moss, London
You come away with a wife who is warm, beautiful, classy and vibrant. Geraldine comes away with a crumbly septuagenarian, three toasters and a half share of a £10m debt. They say a marriage is for better or for worse. You couldn't have done better; Geraldine couldn't have done worse.
Howard Bentley, Preston
I sat next to Geraldine and a friend at a restaurant in Knightsbridge. A most delightful, amusing and charming lady. What she's doing with you I'm not quite sure.
Jonathan Klineberg, Cornwall
Can we now look forward to seeing you at the Darby and Joan Club? You'd be a sensation!
Dennis Pallis, Kent
You looked rather good in your last photo, but at your age you can't wander around with your shirt hanging outside your trousers. Please, tuck the thing in.
Brian Dimitroff, Kew
Why does it take so long to get a waiter when you've finished your meal and want the bill? The process of asking for the bill, receiving it and waiting while they process payment, can take half an hour! Once I'm ready to leave a restaurant, I want to leave.
John Dicey, Surrey
Send letters to Winner's Dinners, The Sunday Times, 3 Thomas More Square, London E98 1ST or email firstname.lastname@example.org