Nicholas Clare

Martin in the family Click the flowers to navigate the site


When it came to thinking of what to say I found it surprisingly difficult to come up with my own memories. Having been inundated with wonderfully funny cards and letters full of other people’s stories about Martin, these have merged with the twenty-three anecdotes Martin told anyone unlucky enough to be within earshot, to the extent that I erroneously found myself remembering situations where I was either absent, or far too young to have had any recollection. Like when on holiday in France I, as a tot, refused to go to sleep without Martin in the room, and so he ingeniously propped a ladder against the window in order to make good his escape as soon as I was sufficiently ensconced.

But one vivid memory is when in Wales Martin taught me my first pieces of guitar – an eclectic medley of the solo from Let it Be and the intro to Sir Duke. I have since been told about the sheer delight Martin took in watching Gummo perform in his final school concert, and I know how proud Martin was of my and (especially) Gummo's musical endeavours. It is no understatement to say that without his encouragement and patience, neither of us would be able to do half of what we can today – a point extendable to his many pupils around the parish.

However, Martin was perhaps less good at leading by example when it came to his disastrous sporting career. After being hit on the head by a cricket ball at the age of nine, he chose to take a forty-year sabbatical, only to break his hand on his ill-fated return. While Martin’s one attempt at football led to a broken leg.

In spite of this, Martin certainly managed to instil in me and Gummo a wanton disregard for personal safety, well-being, and authority. The reckless streak and love for climbing that he perfected at university never left him, and I have fond memories of illegally climbing the scaffolding surrounding this very church with an extremely excited Martin. But tempering this recklessness was the ability to stay calm and collected in all sorts of crises, which proved useful when Gummo got stuck up a huge tree in Liverpool. Instead of panicking, Martin simply drove the car (again illegally) to the base of the tree, procured some rope, and proceeded to rescue Gummo, much to the amusement of the resident park warden.

Martin’s stubbornness is a common theme that underpins much of what has been said, but I am pleased to remember the one occasion Gummo and I out-stubborned him. Martin never wanted a dog, but twelve years ago we embarked on a war of attrition, which mostly consisted of us stomping around the house chanting, 'We want a dog, we want a dog'. He eventually capitulated, admittedly begrudgingly, and by the end Martin and Django were inseparable.

Another of Martin’s traits that has undoubtedly rubbed off on the two of us is an irritating level of pedantry, to the extent that I frequently find myself correcting strangers over their improper use of ‘less’ and ‘fewer’ – something people, for some reason, seem to find less than enamouring. While his precision with language was at times extremely frustrating for Gummo and I – sorry, me and Gummo – I already miss it, and most worryingly I have lost my proof-reader, so there is now no way I will manage to complete my PhD.

Fundamentally Martin was a very principled individual, and kind to a fault. And despite being perhaps the most infuriating person I have ever known, to the end everything he did was with the absolute best of intentions.

Finally, one of the earliest memories I can be absolutely sure is my own is when, as a precocious three-year old, I was consoling Martin over his father’s death by saying that “Everyone has to die, it was just his time.” Twenty years on I am struggling to be quite so sanguine.


Martin Clare Music Fund

Nick is Martin's older son, presently a PhD student at the University of Sheffield

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