We arranged to meet Martin in the pristine white community-oriented room in MERL, with its flipchart, neatly arranged marker pens and stylish coffee mugs, prior to the start of the Museum’s extensive refurbishment. We were both particularly tired and initially found it challenging to focus our minds on the task at hand. The sky was overcast, and on our way into the red brick building we noticed that Martin’s black, polished Mazda MX5 was parked up against a grassy bank outside. Martin was full of energy, in contrast to the two of us, and was on his way to speak at a couple of events – one at his old secondary school. He was dressed for the occasion, smartly, in a stripy waistcoat.
He arrived to greet us from the Museum’s Reading Room, where he had been talking to Jennifer Glanville, one of MERL’s staff with a particular knowledge of the archive’s contents, about archival objects that might be used as part of his interview with Esther Rantzen for the BBC 2 programme Antiques Road Trip. Esther would be stopping off at MERL for the filming, and they would be discussing aspects of evacuation. We had competition. There was a busy, methodical tone to our conversation that day. In spite of our sluggishness, Martin drove the conversation forward. This energy was clearly the result of a lifetime of having played cricket for Berkshire. We later found that we had not been attentive enough to the conditions of our sound recording, which may have been the result of insufficient coffee and cake to perk us up. Our recording device, which had been placed on a wonky table, had picked up an annoying ‘clunk’ that had not been perceptible to the naked ear.