It was some seven years ago now that our friend Steve convened a boys' book group. News has just reached me of the death of
its youngest original member, Martin Clare of Fairford.
Besides being excellent company, Martin seemed to be a jack of all trades: a fine musician and, I gather, amateur dramatist; brilliant with children and young people; a cricketer (winner of the Fairford President's Award in 2005 I note); handyman and house restorer; as an ex-publican himself, an expert on local pubs, and so far as the book group went, a bringer-to-our-attention of wonderfully oddball books such as "The Eyre Affair".
A quick google is frustrating, as he's easily overtaken by the singer Clare Martin, but it reminded me of a typically delightful contribution he made to the Guardian's Notes & Queries. To the question, "Are there any examples of books being improved in translation?", he replied, "I don't know about improvements, but I once saw a French edition of Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes book His Last Bow translated as Son Dernier Coup d'Archet. Stupidly, I didn't buy it; I'd love to have known whether the translation of the stories was of a similar quality."
His funeral in Fairford next Monday promises to be a great occasion: so many people will miss him dreadfully, but especially his beloved Nicky, Nick and Gummo of course.