Mart liked to hold an audience ... more often than not it was by telling a joke. These jokes were renowned for being drawn out as he settled in chuckling to himself.
On one occasion a bunch of us assembled at the Wagonwheels Hotel in Florida Road, Durban. The agenda would have been to have a few Castle Lagers on the balcony to get us in the mood for some hot Saturday afternoon jazz. It may have been the John Drake Trio playing on that day. There were many aspirant Jazzists in the 70s and some were regulars at the Wagonwheels.
We were probably into the third round of Castles with the jazz imminent when Mart decided to tell one of his jokes to the assembled congregation around the table. The Wagonwheels had very heavy concrete circular tables: you know the type, with broken ceramic pieces set artfully into a top with a circumference of maybe a metre and some change. These were supported by a single central pedestal of immense mass.
Settling in for his joke and enjoying his rapt audience, Mart reclined in his plastic verandah chair and commenced the elaborate preamble to the punchline. I was there, Charles Phillips was there, maybe Packet and I'm pretty sure Andrew Hathorn. There were others.
We all gave Mart our 110% attention as his story rambled on. He was chuckling gently as his seating position became increasingly relaxed until he was almost prostrate in his plastic bucket seat with his chest jammed against the table top and his feet curled around the central pedestal.
Nearing the joke's finale, Mart was enjoying his audience and caught up in the moment. We had started to grin knowingly which spurred our hero on to string the story out just a little more,
Meanwhile, Charles was under the table gently tying Mart's laces together so that his feet were firmly conjoined.
The punchline was coming as Mart reached a pitch of animation but before the finale could emerge the rest of us stood up to a man:
"Time for jazz," Charles announced straight-faced as we headed into the hotel's interior for a session. All except Mart, who was wedged in a combination of chest, table top and firmly secured ankles around the pedestal.
"Guys, you haven't heard the punchline" he pleaded as we collapsed in the darkness of the Wagonwheels' interior ...
Happy 70th Bewinlor xxx