and welcome once again to the history page. This week our topic is not an historical
event, but rather a one-man institution by the name of Martin Davies. Many of
our regular readers are already familiar with Davies' encyclopaedic knowledge
of history, literature, art, architecture and culture in all of its manifestations.
This intellectual maven is our trouble-shooter here at LiveIbiza, and, when
faced with difficult queries from readers, we automatically pass them on to
All About Martin
One of Davies'
most endearing habits is that he always brings a bag of books with him whenever
he calls round to someone's house or office. Not a carrier bag, mind - a sports
bag, full of rare volumes, magazines, Internet print-outs, photographs and sundry
study materials - all thoughtfully provided for the delight and erudition of
his hosts. Once, at a party, he made me wash my hands before allowing me handle
a particular art book. It was a limited edition as well as a personal gift to
him from London's V&A Library, making the volume doubly valuable. His precaution
was understandable, for the book's cover was bound with pure silk and its pages
were of such an extraordinary creamy quality that any stray mark would have
Davies spends most of his salary on books. If there is anything leftover, he
buys food. Not surprisingly, he is quite thin, as any book is game for his biblomania.
He is just as likely to buy a children's book as he is to buy an in-depth treatise
on ancient pagan religion. He recently bought the Usborne's Book of World History
(miniature edition), despite the fact that he read history at Oxford. "It's
quite a well done book," he explains, justifying the whim.
Any book that
strikes Davies as well-made, well-thought out or well-presented will sooner
or later end up on the shelves of his well-stocked library. A single book-buying
spree may see him emerging from the shop, bleary-eyed, with a mind-bending (and
perhaps 'spine-bending') selection of tomes ranging from maps of ancient sea-routes
to the great works of Rumanian literature. The purchase might also include a
few translations of books he already possesses - simply to compare the use of
language. A self-help book would probably be tossed in - something along the
lines of 'Ten Keys to Better Punctuation' - while 'The Life and Works of Motzart'
would comprise his racy weekend reading.
Culturally Varied Childhood
a person to such lofty realms? The answer, if there is one, probably lies in
Davies' childhood. By the age of ten, he had already lived in three different
hemispheres of the globe. Born normally enough into a British family in Liverpool,
Martin was taken to live in Fiji at the impressionable age of six. His father
was a civil engineer whose services were in great demand in several of the British
spheres of influence. After three exotic years in the New Hebrides, the family
of six returned to Britain (Wales this time) for a six month stint, and then
relocated, once again, to Guyana on the northern coast of South America. Martin
spent two years there, excelling at school without really meaning to, until
the age of eleven, when his parents sent him to St. Chance prep school in the
UK. As a prepubescent child, he was traumatized, but did not let that stand
in the way of his continuing academic excellence. From St. Chance he went on
to Shrewsbury public school and, finally, to Oxford University, where, as mentioned
earlier, he read history.
Portrait of the Student as a Young Man
By the age of
21, Davies had finished his formal education, but was still undecided as to
what career path to follow. He had been awarded a scholarship to do a Masters
in Computer Science at Newcastle University, but dropped out after only one
month. He realized that computers, while fascinating objects, were not the real
love of his life, and found himself, instead, spending all of his free time
at the library researching Romanesque architecture. This new interest had been
sparked by a recent six-month stint in Germany to sharpen his language skills.
But, what really happened (or I should say also happened) is that Davies fell
in love with Minden Cathedral, one of Europe's most stunning works of Romanesque
that, in order to pursue the highways and byways of his intellectual yearnings,
he should spend every day in a library. The idea struck like lightning: he could
study to be a librarian. Without further ado, he enrolled in a librarianship
course at the Newcastle Polytechnic, and upon receiving his degree, landed a
job at the V&A Library in London (a division of the museum of the same name).
During this time, he was able to use and peruse the library to his heart's content,
a happy circumstance that gave birth to his first published work, Romanesque
Architecture: A Bibliography.
Carried on the Wings of Love
At the age of
33, passion struck. Davies met his future partner, an Ibicenco hairdresser who
was vacationing in London, and, a year later, he came to live on the White Island
permanently. Since then, he has continued in his characteristic line of writing
and research, publishing in 2000 the best-selling photography anthology, Eivissa-Ibiza:
One Hundred Years of Light and Shade. He has also contributed to many local
publications and is currently preparing, among other projects, a translation
of a Norwegian travel log about Ibiza, The Road to San Vicente.
One last note
to set the record straight: although he is not the partying kind, Davies has
tested out the island's legendary nightlife on more than one occasion (two to
be exact), and enthusiastically upholds Ibiza's clubs as the best in the world.
"With a mere two visits I have satisfied my clubbing needs for life!"
he often quips.
There is much
more to say about Martin Davies, but I will bring my account to a close for
this time. My aim was merely to acquaint the readership with this fascinating
personality, as he will be taking over for me during the next five weeks. I
leave you, then, in the capable hands of this vigorous researcher for a refreshing
change of pace. Davies has decided to devote his articles to books (what else?)
that have been written about Ibiza during the course of the previous century.