Wry Society: The book launch

When a 1960s It girl shamelessly embellishes her brush with a rock god in her memoirs, she gets a whole lot more than she bargained for

Image: phildisley.com

It wasn’t until Lexy Leonard broke her ankle shopping in Val d’Isère that she finally got around to writing her memoirs. Lexy had been a model in the 1960s and, although she was now divorced and well into her 60s, occasionally some story would slip out over supper about her wild nights in Swinging London that would prompt everyone to insist she write it all down. So, finding herself indisposed for six weeks, that was exactly what she did.

A friend of a friend who was a literary agent then took the finished manuscript to a publisher and sold it in a heated bidding war. This was mostly thanks to Chapter Seven – which recounted the infamous night in 1972 when Lexy, wearing her favourite Ossie Clarke dress, had exploded into the annals of rock ’n’ roll history. It was a quiet night in The Clermont Club when the world’s naughtiest, sexiest Rock God had leaned over and asked Lexy what colour the £100 chip was. The pair had spoken for maybe 90 seconds. It was long enough for them to be photographed together and for the Rock God to rest his hand suggestively on her thigh. Nothing more had happened.

Still, the next morning Lexy had woken to find her face splashed across the front pages. She’d had to hide from the paparazzi in her best friend’s spare room for days. And when the Rock God left his wife a week later, the world had put two and two together and made a scandal.

“I love all the stuff in the book about working with Bailey, but can we have more detail on You Know Who?” Lexy’s publisher begged her. Lexy, who never let the truth get in the way of a new pool house, embellished her brief encounter in the casino with enough sauce to make even a cynical reader nostalgic for the salad days (and nights) of ’72. In fact, she elaborated so liberally she wondered if she hadn’t missed her calling as a novelist.

Lexy didn’t even balk when Katie the publicist insisted she pen the Rock God a handwritten invitation to the launch party. Even if he did get the note, he was now so famously reclusive that Lexy felt confident he’d never show up. She even added a couple of kisses for good measure.

On the evening of the party, the bookshop in Marylebone began to fill up. People she had assumed were long dead turned out to be still alive and living in Berkshire. The younger generation too were out in force, eager to be associated with the legend that was Lexy Leonard. The author herself was having a high time, drinking warm publishing wine as everyone hashtagged and Instagrammed her. Such a nice change from Midsomer Murders and the dogs.

But just as Lexy was getting writer’s cramp from signing so many books, the room fell silent. In walked the Rock God. Thankfully, Lexy was nimble enough to dive for cover in the children’s book corner. The room was instantly a sea of iPhones and people clamouring for selfies with Himself. She wondered if he’d come to serve legal papers for shameless fabrication. 

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Try as she might to hide under a pile of beanbags, it wasn’t long before the Rock God unearthed her. “Lexy Leonard?” He held out a hand to help her to her feet. “Thanks for the invitation. Nobody asks me anywhere any more.”

“I’m so happy you could make it,” Lexy lied.

“I read your book.” He waved a proof copy that Katie had sent him. “Maybe you can sign it for me?” Suspicious, Lexy contemplated making a run for it. “We had some fun back in the day, didn’t we?”

“I did rose-tint things a little, I’m afraid… I know that night wasn’t exactly how I portrayed it in the book…” She stammered sheepishly.

“It wasn’t?” His face fell. “I thought it was one of the most romantic nights of my life. I mean, I can’t remember a thing because I was pretty much out of it from ’68 to ’83, but if that night was half as good as you say…” He winked at her. Lexy couldn’t help but notice his tan and delicious physique.

“Oh, it was,” she hastily assured him. “Even better, in fact, but I didn’t like to show off too much in the book.”

“I thought so.” He puffed up his chest proudly and linked his arm through Lexy’s. “So, where is it I’m taking you for dinner?”

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