Jean and Barry Kilgariff

Martin at The New Inn, and with Fairford Amateur Dramatic Society Click the flowers to navigate the site


Like Richard, we first met Martin and Nicky at the New Inn, where Martin had recently been inveigled into becoming manager … a job at which he absolutely excelled.

It almost goes without saying that Martin was a very popular landlord with both locals and visitors.

One couple, Arthur and Zelda from New York, stayed there for one night in 1978, became firm friends with Martin and Nicky and revisited for “the next 28 years of English summers” (quoted from e-mail from Zelda to Nicky).

I worked behind the bar and the highlight of the week was Sunday night’s sing-along. The place was always packed and everyone joined in. Martin’s party-piece was a ditty concerning a Portuguese gentleman and someone else’s lady. Time has blurred the words but I do remember it as being very, very funny. When the barman called “time everyone please”, the only things to close were the wooden shutters in front of the windows.

Thank goodness that breath-tests hadn’t been invented! 

Martin was very much connected with the musical side of FADS [Fairford Amateur Dramatic Society]. The society had begun to produce pantomimes and Martin joined the band with Ray Shaw on piano and whichever drummer was available at the time.

Martin played bass, lead or rhythm guitar, as and when required, in nearly all of these productions and also took part in fundraising shows and musicals in the church. He had the ability to play in any key and transpose instantly should the need arise.

Ray recalls an occasion during Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat, staged in the church, when he forgot to cancel the transpose button on the keyboard for the next number, and consequently started in the wrong key. Martin realized straight away and so shouted out the new chords to the others in the band for the rest of the song as Ray happily played along, blissfully unaware.

I remember it well; as I was the singer of that song and couldn’t understand why it seemed rather high. Martin’s musical ability was so much appreciated and admired by all of us and his expertise and encouragement was much valued.

Martin also enjoyed backing us on bass at some of our gigs. He only needed to know the name of the song and the key and he would play it perfectly. He joined us at venues ranging from the bingo halls of Swindon (we were the gap in the bingo, the only time the audience made any noise!) to a Country and Western Club in Haverford West (five hours each way for a forty-five minute spot).

Before Martin and Nicky bought their house in Fairford they were living miles apart and would meet up at our house for weekends. Invariably we would be late back from a gig and so they would let themselves in, to be greeted by our dogs, cats, etc. Late one windy night while they were collecting their things from the cars, one of our excited dogs brushed against the back door and locked them out. Martin, resourceful as ever, came up with a plan: he would climb up on to the roof and enter the house via the open window in my Mum’s bedroom. His main worry was eighty-five-year old mum’s reaction to somebody clambering through her window in the middle of the night. Stealth was the answer! He climbed and entered, careful to make absolutely no noise at all. He landed, catlike, on to the carpet. “Oh, hello Martin,” said Hilda Winifred, and promptly went back to sleep.

For a time, we reared two tawny owl chicks. They had their freedom and would return at night to be fed. If we weren’t around, Martin and Nicky would feed them for us. One night we returned home to see in our headlights Martin standing on a dustbin, right arm at full stretch, offering some catfood on a fork to a very disdainful-looking owlet who was obviously expecting a juicy piece of roadkill rabbit. Both Martin and the owl managed to look somehow terribly disappointed.

In recalling these memories Barry and I are reminded not only of the enormous contribution that Martin made over the years to the music of Fairford, but also of our deep affection for him; and the high regard in which he was held.

Back to Sunday nights at the New Inn. Many songs were sung there but one of the favourites, which allowed everybody to join in and make up their own dubious harmonies, was Pleasant and Delightful, and we would like you all to join us in singing it, along with harmonies, dubious or not. Ray?


Martin Clare Music Fund

Martin often played with Barry and Jean in 'Spindrift' when they
toured as professional entertainers.

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