Having conducted what we thought would be our final recorded conversation at Martin’s house we noticed problems with a couple of our files. They would not open, we tried everything – they would remain forever closed! This necessitated a return to Martin’s home and a sort of re-ending, or re-tracing of ideas, or even re-enactment. Martin’s wife Jo served us tea while we sat once again in our usual places, on the sofas in the front room, like ghosts of our former selves, double-checking our recording device.
A number of weeks had passed since our first attempt at closure. Martin appeared more vulnerable than he had in the past, yet in some ways he seemed more present and more direct, as he spoke with great feeling of the archive as an outcome of countless conversations, an imprint of countless relationships, whose legacy had shaped his emotional life and his approach to his ongoing research. We said goodbye to Jo in the porch, next to the climbing passionflower. Outside, it was pouring with rain. Martin, who came out and down the path with no umbrella, had many water droplets on his fulsome beard. As was customary, Mack needed to be restrained from racing out onto the road. Mack had grown a lot since we first met him a year or so ago.
During the journey home, in the grey VW Beetle whose warning lights were now periodically going awry, we both acknowledged that we felt a sense of closure. We had found out what we needed to know in order to complete the project, or at least to give the work a form. We stopped for coffees and lemon muffins at Costa on the way back into Reading, mainly due to some horrendous traffic jams, and began to carefully examine our visual archive for the project.