Goodman Brothers
Goodman Brothers

The Goodman Brothers

(Photo : Sunday Tribune)

“The portents for longevity are good at Summerhill”

The portents for longevity are good at Summerhill. Old Colonel Richards, who once promised our racehorses would be good, lived well into his nineties. Raymond Ellis, who made sure they would be good, made old bones too. On the weekend, one-time Summerhill proprietor, Derek Goodman, reached the nervous nineties. Whilst the earlier generations survived despite the ravages of hard work and many hours at the grindstone, Derek is probably as good an advert as you might get for a leisurely existence and its value in promoting long life. “Colourful” would serve as the best description for the way he and twin brother Allan have celebrated their time on this planet. The Sunday Tribune says the rest.

“The brothers Goodman have very devoted and understanding spouses in Lynne (Derek) and Annie (Allan). The two understand that just because a man is no longer young, it doesn’t mean he can’t still lavish his charms on a single lady. After all, these are men who are on first name terms with royalty, have played the tables on the French Riviera with billionaires and swept Hollywood stars off their feet. No point in coming over all respectable now, is there?

And what delightful and surprising drinking companions they are, in the cosy bar of Caister Lodge (formerly the Caister Hotel) at 11.30 on a Saturday morning. Looking the very picture of old-school gentlemen, they are quick to whip out cigars - as quickly extinguished by the “smoke police” at the retirement home - as they reminisce about their youthful exploits.

Scions of wealthy parents, they were educated at the best private schools and are not a bit shy to admit that the only demand ever made of them, growing up, was that they become good polo players. They both duly made the Springbok team and played for Natal when they weren’t taking on the likes of Prince Philip in the Queen’s Cup at Windsor. “Philip sent us a jolly nice letter for our birthday,” said Allan. “He said he had many happy memories of playing against us. So glad to see he’s got over being piqued that we beat him to win his wife’s trophy.”

The brothers were volunteers in World War II - Allan flying a Spitfire and Derek tackling a job no less dangerous as a tank driver. Both had miraculous neardeath experiences, with Allan being shot down no less than three times, and taken prisoner in Italy by the Germans. “One does miss the war,” Allan reflected. “Nothing quite compares to the exhilaration of flying a Spitfire, although driving my Lamborghini came close.”

Back home they were welcomed with a string of polo ponies and the latest sports cars - Allan’s a Cadillac coupe - and a dizzying round of fun began. Despairing of what to do with them, their father nudged them into stockbroking. That, says Allan with a laugh, “we put up with for a couple of years and then went off to try stock farming”. Were they gentlemen farmers? “Oh yes! Absolutely. Never got our hands dirty. Never made any money either, come to think of it.”

Derek found time for a few more dalliances than Allan, and had a scandalous affair with Hollywood starlet Zsa Zsa Gabor “before she decided I wasn’t quite rich enough”. He finally married at 37, while Allan started rather earlier and produced five sons with his first wife, mining heiress Georgina Albew.

When the brothers join their many offspring today at the Simbithi Country Club, there is no doubt their exploits and derring-do will be feted in grand style, as befitting old school bon vivants.”