Sunday, December 08, 2013

Mighty Baby: House Without Windows


Martin Stone hopped, pre-dawn, through the Cheshire street market, scavenging books. Winklepickers, tourniquet trousers, mildewed beret, bulging swagbag: Blind Pew impersonated by Max Wall. Cigarette grafted to trembling, prehensile fingers, he was an anthology of retro fashion. And in his wake there shimmered a vortex of gossip and, amazingly, goodwill. The stallholders, having been swiftly dispossessed of their choicest treasures, reminisced so wistfully about him that he was granted a prematurely posthumous status. His regular disappearances were eagerly anticipated: nobody speaking to him could believe he was actually there. Conversation seemed to be post-synchronised. If I now revisit Ron with his cargo of competitively priced publishers' "seconds", the first thing he'll say is: "Any news of Martin? Lovely feller."
Before he profiled the bookscout Martin Stone for the Independent in 1995, Iain Sinclair had lightly fictionalised him as Nicholas Lane in his dark and fizzing 1987 novel White Chappell, Scarlet Tracings.

But before that, before he became a legendary finder of rare and lost books, Martin Stone had a musical career. He played guitar with a number of bands, notably Mighty Baby. They played the Isle of Wight Festival in 1970 and Glastonbury in 1971. The track above is taken from their first LP, also called Mighty Baby, which was issued in 1969.

And Stone still plays. White Chappell, Scarlet Tracings was published in Uppingham by Goldmark. And on Youtube you can find a video of Martin Stone and Friends playing at the Goldmark Gallery there in 2011.

No comments: