A brilliant but damaged man – this is the story of his genius, his healing and a forgotten mystery
Martin Cox is an untrained draftsman of 24, accidentally rich, a heavy smoker, damaged, obsessive, binary. He agrees to buy a house in the country as an investment, and to get away from the squalor of his London flat. But Shadowhurst Hall is also a place to heal. The country landscape confuses and beguiles Martin, who obsesses with black and white contrasts and binary expression, facts, numbers, in a world of shades and shadows. The desolation and the twin lakes on his property exert a peculiar pull that he doesn’t understand but which attracts him. He decides not to smoke in his new house.
Shadowhurst Hall is desolate and forgotten, despite a gardener and his wife who have been part of Shadowhurst Hall all their lives. Simon and Sheila keep their distance, but they are the only link to the house’s past and they have a connection that intrigues Martin. He persuades his friend and business minder Joshua Fothergill to help him investigate the empty landscape with him. Together they make a discovery that leads them on an unexpected journey, towards long forgotten events in 1945 and slowly towards renewal.
In the course of this journey we learn how Martin became so rich, and about his parents, a London cabbie and a cleaner. We meet the man who helped Martin to become an ace draftsman, and who brokered his first contract which led to unexpected wealth. We also learn about a sister whose protection of her brother was an afterthought, but she is unware of this. And we learn more about Martin’s need for protection.
In part this story is also the story of the original Shadowhurst Hall and the part it played in two world wars. But it’s more about recollections and process. It’s about how memories and histories bound up in a landscape become their own story. And it’s about how that story might eventually be shared.
This book is about healing and renewal, about how an individual’s unrecognised and unacknowledged damage shapes them. And it is about how those scars undermines who they might have been, and the lasting footprint that they leave.
Above the heavy wheeze of his battered lungs Martin was aware that ahead could hear someone talking loudly, a monologue with no other voices. Occasionally there was laugher and sudden bellowing shouts. As he walked slowly forward he was passing through less dense undergrowth and under a lighter canopy, and could see that he was coming in at an angle to the footpath. On his bottom sat a man dressed in smart tweeds, slightly dishevelled and decorated much as Martin was with mud splashes, dust, twigs, leaf and bramble fragments. His binoculars, festooned with members enclosures tags from multiple racecourses, hung from a strap around his neck and stood to attention on the curve of a round belly. The belly was upholstered with large checks, the waistcoat partly unbuttoned and stained with what might once have been red wine, or some anonymous gravy. The bowler hat that lay upside down on the ground beside him was slightly tattered at the rim, its grosgrain band faded and worn, the pale green satin lining creased and variously patterned with a miscellany of sweaty traces. A long history. He was drinking from a battered silver flask and eating crisps from a bag torn open on the ground, within easy reach of his slender long fingered right hand. He was smiling. His handsome face was pink and shining and lined with pleasures long since enjoyed. They were deeply etched around his eyes and mouth, from which a slow dribble of spit was slowly ebbing.
Thank you to everyone
Tuesday, 9 July 2019
I cannot express (of course I can) how much I appreciate the support everyone has given for this project.
A massive THANKYOU to everyone! I hope I don’t let you down.
PS Next episode of Three Bees on the way.
By way of a thank you to the people who have supported the Draftsman, here is something silly to enjoy.
Monday, 8 July 2019
The first in a multipart series: Three Bees
Burly, Curly & Twirly
“It tastes like crap this wax. And just because they told me I have to eat my way out, doesn’t mean I have to.” An oversized drone honey bee spat out some half chewed wax, smearing it against the wall of his cell as he did so. He paused a moment, peering through the tiny hole in the hatch at the mass of bees crawling back and…
These people are helping to fund The Draftsman.