Even now, when I see the red No.82 Metroline bus to North Finchley from Victoria station, my heart lurches a little, and I want to jump on to it once again, and take that magical 10 mile journey to Martin’s home.
I feel a Betjemanesque joy at the marvels to be seen en route : Lord’s Cricket Ground, the Francis Holland school; the tube stations – St.John’s Wood and Finchley Road. And then my destination : the Refectory pub in Golders Green, where white-suited Martin, is normally sitting outside ( weather-permitting), writing in his Moleskine notebook, and drinking a glass of white wine, while waiting for me to arrive.
Martin is always very punctual. I must’nt be late.
Here is a man straight out of ‘Greeneland’; reminiscent of the foreign correspondent, Fowler, in The Quiet American, or Charles Fortnum, in The Honarary Consul.( In fact, when Martin told me that he never drank water, I recalled Fortnum making the same remark to Plarr, and I wondered if this was a delightful literary ‘in-joke’ on Martin’s part)!
But to label Martin as a Graham Greene-ish ‘anti-hero’ would be so wrong. So one dimensional. These are just playful ‘nuances’.because Martin is a warmer, kinder and more authentic man
He is also immensely attractive and charismatic; and I was utterly beguiled by him from our first meeting.
An enchantment had begun.