THE GREEN DIARY :                                        FAREWELL MARTITA

Martita with us in Fuengirola

Yesterday I waved goodbye to my beloved Martita on whom major electrical surgery has been performed to no avail. She cannot be revived. Her mighty heart still beats but her nervous system is shot and no MOT can be declared. Sadly I completed the SORN documentation and submitted it to the DVLA vehicle tax service in Wales.

Martita, named after Martita Hunt the famous actress whose heart broke in Great Expectations as Miss Haversham, was the most elegant of ladies; with her slightly faded black bonnet, traced with verdigris from the proteins emitted by Edme Maltings, and her soignee chrome wheel trims

she struck an elegant figure among her peers in Mistley and as she swept across the Continent, to Portugal, all over Spain; in France and Italy, through Switzerland, Germany and the Low Countries, heads would turn and hearts would burn in admiration and envy.

Martita was a lady; nothing woke about her; she had no transgender or transitioning issues, strong in her feminine identity she bore no grudges and was never a snob, rooted as she was in the sensible, vorsprung durch teknik of  her Stuttgart Heimat. She took the slights that came from envious passers-by without rancour.

Even being rudely addressed as “that hair-dresser’s car” did not stall her. For eleven years she has carried us forth. Her marriage of eight years ended in divorce when a hire-purchase arrangement collapsed and she briefly attended rehab in Slough before I met her online. It was love at first sight, never once dimmed by clumsy supermarket trolleys, careless driving and bumper bumps, inflicted by others I hasten to add, and not me.

She has loyally carried friends low and high, old and young across Europe and Britain pre- and post-Brexit: Dutch aristocrats around the Castles of England, South Africans to the Battlefields of Flanders, doughty Welshmen to Snowdonia and beyond.

Martita……..never to be forgotten. How can you be replaced? And with what?

The main project this Spring has been the redecoration of our home on The Green. There has been much chucking out, carpets, curtains, books – plenty of “muckdungus” as my Scottish grandmother used to call it. The place has not been touched for 23 years as we have always believed that to travel is preferable than to make-over! But, hey………..

“There is a tide in the affairs of houses
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the colours of their rooms
Are bound to fade; on such a full sea
of Sudbury Yellow & Theatre Red are we now afloat;
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.” 

But I am fairly certain that Brutus was not advising Cassius on new color schemes!

So – out with the old and in with the new. Kevin Gleed our Maître Décorateur is undertaking this nerve-racking journey in three tranches: top, bottom and outside. He is on the bottom at the moment. The top was completed three weeks ago but it took us that long to empty the bottom to free up space for him to wave his paintbrush around and reach those parts that other brands could not!

The new carpets (Brian Birt Carpets of Clacton) are in; Lulu Meston from The Curtain Exchange has measured for drapes; Zoey Bates will re-upholster; Tom the Plumber, Jon the Carpenter and Bob the Electrician have all joined a cast of thousands in this projet de renouveau! And don’t forget Haj the Oriental Carpet Specialist enjoined to repair and clean 80 year old rugs.

We have retreated to London as Mistley is uninhabitable now – just when we really needed Martita to fetch and carry.

So in the interim Man-in-White-Van was deployed and we buzzed all over the place in our ULEZ registered diesel Ford Trannie. Friends it’s all true. The waves part in East Anglia for Essex Man in White Van. Nobody argues with you on the highways and byeways. Bliss

But eventually we were sensible; abandoned all romantic notions of fast, stylish open air travel and have adopted a grey, Hybrid Hyundai Kona called Henrietta who will carry us further into our 8th decade safely and anonymously. We shall be invisible in this sweet young four year old and will be happy to sing that famous song from Chicago :

Cellophane
Mister Cellophane
Shoulda Been My Name:
Mister Cellophane.
‘Cause You Can Look Right Through Me
Walk Right By Me
And Never Know I’m There…

Henrietta Hyundai-Kona

OTHER NOTES

Drawing towards midsummer now and the annual visit to the Holland Park Opera with friends, Sue, Dave, Sarah and Hannah, a lovely tradition; with Rossini’s The Barber of Seville and a fine picnic on the terrace what could possibly go wrong?

It didn’t!

Charlotte Corderoy conducted the City of London Sinfonia in fine form and at one point is evicted from the podium by Almaviva during the fake music lesson in an amusing take on his seduction of Rosina in the presence of her tyrannical guardian. The whole company played well together in a busy and amusing staging. One reviewer wrote “Rossini meets EM Forster?” Dr. Bartolo and his ward Rosina are English, he an irascible, selfish, sunburnt Victorian archeologist down in the Andalusian

heat looking at ruins and determined to have his ward for himself. Into the mix comes Paul Grant’s charming, wily Figaro with all his tricks and that wonderful aria. 

Lovely.

Since we returned from the epic NZ-OZ-SA visit it’s been heads down with decorating but there have been some visits to the theatre, a good book or two, a few TV binges, a cinema or two and even a visit to the Jim Deakin Retrospective at Swedeborg House which I’d never been in before. It’s immediately  opposite the British Museum and I must say I left it feeling rather depressed! He was an artist and photographer best known for documenting the Soho art scene of the 1950’s and 60’s. Frank Auerbach, Lucien Freud, Edwardo Palozzi and Francis Bacon were among his subjects.

It was curated by the writer Iain Sinclair whose book Pariah Genius: John Deakin, The Psychobiography of a Photographer.

Oh dear. Not a cheerful visit.

As this is a diary I just want, really for my own benefit, to add a short list of things enjoyed this Spring, in between the sweep of paint brushes. I share them with you dear Friends.

Two books I found fascinating, both by Adam Sisman: John le Carré: The Biography published in 2015 and it’s “coda” published after le Carré’s death in 2023, The Secret Life of John le Carré. I had no idea what a complex individual he was, what a womaniser;  how difficult it was to extricate fact from fiction in this inextricably interesting life. Great read.

Some Television:

Has anyone seen  Mr Inbetween? Binge watching television. I couldn’t stop over three series billed as half hour comedies but much, much more than that. Darkly funny, deeply disturbing we follow the trajectory of a kind of Mr Fixit assassin, Ray Shoesmith, brrrrrilliantly played by

Australian actor Scott Ryan, who juggles his eventful line of work with fatherhood, a new romance and caring for his ailing brother. Operating his own moral compass and despite some of his terrifying actions emerges as an entirely lovable character.

Friends – give it a whirl!

Both Zone of Interest, Jonathan Glazer’s unforgettable and brutal Auschwitz drama and Occupied City  Steve McQueen’s production of his wife Bianca Stigler’s book Atlas of an Occupied City, Amsterdam 1940-1945  are simply electrifying. McQueen’s documentary is well over four hours long, an exhausting but astonishing marathon well worth watching.

Then recently I saw the equally electrifying Hitler and the Nazis : Evil on Trial,  largely based on the recorded wartime broadcasts of William Shirer and the witness of his diaries, which still shocked me. Especially at this time when liberal democracy is being bullied into

corners by unscrupulous autocrats, narcissistic, corrupt and self-serving politicians and an uncertain and potentially ugly future before us. This series has been remastered, largely rendered into colour, using actual newsreel footage and audiotapes to reconstruct some of the worst nightmares in world history.

And of course Shōgun! We read the book (no. 3 out of 6 in James Clavell’s Asian Saga) in 1975; we saw Richard Chamberlian as John Blackthorne in the mini series back in 1980 but this new series is a must-watch. More Japanese than English. With its exquisitely structured narratives and spectacular, rich and accurate production values. I would have binged again but this time I had to wait a little as Disney+ tantalised us with weekly releases. Lets hope they do the same with Clavell’s other five Asian stories.

Some cinema:

We both very much enjoyed Made in England: The Films of Powell & Pressburger, Martin Scorcese’s homage in a richly enjoyable documentary style to their glorious films and their complex relationship. It made us immediately want to see some of them again including I Know Where I Am Going  which was new to us.

Ken Loach’s The Old Oak perhaps not his best but touching on very current issues in a moving way. It had mixed reviews but I see Rotten Tomatoes gave it 87. Whatever you may think of Ken Loach his movies are never boring. This one made us go all the way back to Kes for another look. Such a great film.


Then there was Alice Rohrwacher’s sweet, funny, sad movie  La Chimera. Here magical realism looms large as we (try to) follow Arthur, beautifully played by Josh O’Connor, on his quest to find his lost love Beniamina via a seedy, tomb raiding group finding and looting Etruscan artefacts. Arthur has a talent for divining and this is exploited by opposing groups of looters.

Melancholy, wistful, multilayered, we were transfixed by this haunted, bedraggled story. Enchanting.

And some theatre too, Friends!

Enjoyed them all despite the flaws, starting with Opening Night, Ivo van Hove’s production of Rufus Wainwright’s over-extravagant, musical adaptation of the Cassavetes’ 1977 film about a Broadway star, Myrtle (Sheridan Smith) in a mid-life crisis meltdown on the eve of a Broadway Opening night. 

What a stupendous ensemble, truly brilliant performances, Sheridan Smith glitters; but somewhere I couldn’t quite be convinced. Ivo van Hove always seems to over-embelish. His use of TV monitors and other digital trickery for me just confused the issues and, whats more, pulled focus. While I could see what he was trying to do, for me it just didn’t quite succeed. The play received mixed reviews and tripped at the box office. It was pulled early, sadly. I’m sure with more tampering it could have been fixed!

Then there was Nye at The National, an “epic Welsh fantasia about one man’s dream of the NHS” with Michael Sheen as the charismatic Aneurin Bevan in tremendous form. The theatre was packed, I am guessing with left leaning, NHS loyalists who all, like myself, ache to see the NHS survive. It received a standing ovation (not very unusual these days!) and Michael Sheen could do no wrong; but it has had mixed reviews too and Sheen in pyjamas throughout, on his deathbed, is infantilised to the point where the real life Nye’s charisma, sexual attraction and complex character rather gives way to two dimensions.

The staging was absolutely brilliant we thought, very clever and we came away completely satisfied and hope that the upcoming General Election where the NHS as an issue, has a premier position, may save its life somehow!

Then The Power of Sail at the Menier Chocolate Factory intrigued. Very contemporary moral issues underlined by murky motives and the pitiless passions of identity politics with a brisk and gripping plot in a play by Paul Grellong, directed by Dominic Dromgoole.

Originally from the Geffen Playhouse, New York where Bryan Cranston tests the bounds of free speech, it was recast here and played powerfully to good houses.

The Divine Mrs S(iddons) at the Hampstead Theatre where we joined our Jazz (usually) Mentors Richard & Cathie, explores the life of the Welsh actress, best known tragedienne of the 18th century. A bit of a curate’s egg perhaps but Rachel Stirling is riveting as Siddons in this play by April De Angelis. More mela- than -drama it packs some jokey punches, is layered enough to have a darker side and certainly raises questions about backstage sexual harassment – nothing seems to have changed there then!

An enjoyable evening ending in culinary triumph à la table de Cathie et Richard Griffin. Thank you both: looking forward to the next round!

And Friends, thanks for listening. Midsummer is upon us with more adventures.

PEDRO

This picture has no purpose other than that it amuses me!

5 Replies to “THE GREEN DIARY :                                        FAREWELL MARTITA”

  1. Love the picture. See you soon in your new environment on The Green. Rather grey, cold and boring here at the moment so you are not missing much. Waiting for Summer…..

    Anne & Peter Welsh.

  2. Wonderful stuff as always Pedro. What happened to Martitas brain?
    Seems an awful shame to say goodbye to such a chariot.
    And loved the four puddy tats at the end.
    Splendid.
    Hobart

  3. Martita, was indeed a beautiful and elegant lady. As always, enjoyed your entertaining and informative Green Diary.
    Love the cats, don’tmess with these guys, they certainly look like they mean business 😀
    JC xxx

  4. PS… Happy Bloomsday.
    Last few day I have been enjoying the craic at the ICC, celebrating Joyce and some wonderful shows on Ulysses.
    Off to my new local independent bookshop this afternoon to raise a glass on Bloomsday , the manager is a very nice young Irishman. Hopefully if people get pissed enough they might even buy a copy of Ullysses!!!

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