I was 16 when Martyn came into my life. He was a bit older and, from the perspective of this spotty youth, had it all: bleached hair, a Rickenbacker guitar, a gorgeous girlfriend. What else was there at that age? But, most of all, he had wit, he had intelligence, he had opinions Ė in fact, he had opinions enough for both of us.
So I lurked on the periphery of Martynís world and soaked up the atmosphere at the parties in and around Chippenham until everyone upped sticks and left town for university.
Before long I was summoned to London for an audition with Martynís band, got the job, and spent the most amazing year or two living the rockíníroll life and enjoying Martynís company day in, day out. And it was always a pleasure.
If Martyn ever said anything dull, I never heard it. His humour was cutting but invariably achingly funny. His views on anything and everything were always worth hearing; you may not have agreed with them, but he was always willing to put them up there to be shot down. His intelligence was a joy to be around, and it may have taken me a while to have the confidence to actually contribute to the numerous debates on the burning issues of the day Ė World peace, the Tory government, whose backing vocals were out of tune Ė but Martyn seemed to value my input, however uninformed and lacking substance.
When playing the hen-pecked husband or put-upon father, as he did so well, Martyn was funny, usually intentionally, but sometimes not. Basil Fawlty was a rank amateur compared to Martyn in full flow.
Martyn and Helen moved to Brittany and became hosts to a succession of visitors to their lovely house in Camlez. We would meet up once, twice a year at most, and slip straight back into the same old routine: listening to loud music, drinking wine and arguing the toss over the artistic merits of our latest finds; he with his Breton folk, me with my lo-fi Americana, each trying to outdo the other.
I considered, and still do, Martyn to be my best friend, and I am sure Iím not the only one. Martyn and Helen are the pivot that has kept the Chippenham crew together all this time, and will continue to do so.
We will meet up every now and then, raise a glass of wine to Martyn, reminisce and laugh ourselves silly, same as we ever did, but we will miss his contribution to the eveningís proceedings dreadfully. Hereís to Martyn, the best friend anyone could ask for.