"The trouble with telling a good story is that it invariably reminds the other fellow of a dull one"
Sid Ceasar, American comic actor
QUIRK

HOME MUSEUMS
   4869 views   
If you are in Mexico City you should see how Trotsky spent his final years (and minutes)...
posted by Richard Green on 04/10/2016
 

Trotsky's study, portrait and memorial in the grounds

LEON TROTSKY's little fortress in Coyoacan, Mexico City.

Fleeing from the wrath of Stalin, Trotsky's exile saw him live for periods in Turkey, France and Norway, before arriving in Mexico in 1937. Fearing assassination by Stalin's henchmen, he converted the house into a mini fortress, with high walls, steel shutters and a watchtower. It's basic and quite homely inside, but thanks to many windows having been bricked up, there's a gloominess and a decidedly claustrophobic atmosphere. Stepping through his bedroom door made me feel like I was in a submarine, the door was large, hatch-like, raised off the floor, thick and heavy.

Trotsky's bedroom (with steel shutters) and bathroom

The place is much as Trotsky left it, even down to the smashed pair of spectacles that are lying on his study's desk that were knocked off during his assassination. The brutal attack happened here on August 20, 1940, when Trotsky sat down to read a manuscript from his secretary’s bogus boyfriend. But the boyfriend was in fact a Stalinist agent who then lunged at Trotsky with what must now be the world's most infamous ice pick. So Trotsky, the charismatic revolutionary, couldn't outrun Stalin's vengeance and he died the next day.

The fortified house seen from the street, Trotsky at peace with his rabbits, and the hutches today

A new wing has been added to house Trotsky’s archive — a large collection of photos, clippings and personal effects. But I suspect that it was probably in the courtyard, with his beloved rabbits and collection of rare rare cacti, that he found snatched moments of peace. His ashes now lie there, inside a stone memorial surrounded by cacti and with a hammer and sickle carved on the side.

A highlight of my visit was briefly meeting his grandson, Esteban Volkov, who was instrumental in preserving the home and Trotsky's memory in the city. He's still on the board of the museum and is 90 years old.

It's hard not to leave the house and it's hemmed in garden without feeling sombre, but a short walk away down the quiet wide streets of the posh suburb of Coyacan, is an altogether different house museum. The former home of Mexican painter Freda Kahlo is also now a museum. But whereas I was the only visitor inside Trotsky's home and had the place to myself, there were long queues and a happy buzz at Kahlo's colourful home and studio. As it happens Kahlo and Trotsky had an affair; reflected on in the 2002 film 'Freda', which incidentally has an excellent and haunting soundtrack. 

Trotsky with Freda Kahlo; and Kahlo's strikingly vivid house museum

35

More information: For more information see Museo Trotsky and Museo Frida Kahlo. And for info on Mexico there's Visit Mexico 


TV/FILM QUIRK
   3995 views   
Columbo as hangover cure, an appreciation...
posted by Richard Green on 04/10/2016
 

In the pilot (left) Falk played it cool and aloof, but from 1968 (centre) to 2003 (right) the character and his clothes were set

There are 69 episodes of Columbo spanning 35 years, and it is remarkable how consistent his clothes, gestures and verbal ticks were. Of course there was the catchphrase of needing to ask 'just one more thing', but also there is the extreme deference, civility and naivety.   

The mayor of Budapest unveiling the world's only Columbo statue, in 2014

Stars queued up to appear in an episode; including Donald Pleasance (left) and William Shatner (right)

 


 
Related content

What is Lieutenant Columbo's first name?
  4855 views. First published 14/12/2018
 
Oceania at the Royal Academy: the first major exhibition of Oceanic art in ther UK
  2804 views. First published 10/10/2018
 
A tale of two niche car museums...one creative and clever, and one not
  5792 views. First published 19/07/2017
 
Peter Butterworth - the spongy-faced comic actor who survived 16 Carry On films and the real Great Escape...
  5720 views. First published 16/07/2017
 
It's Tiki time again; retro Polynesian pop culture is alive and well...
  7175 views. First published 07/04/2017
 
No wonder the West dubbed it the Caspian Sea Monster, the Soviet Ekranoplan was a gigantic threat that never was...
  5624 views. First published 01/04/2017
 
Oscar Homolka, who's homely KGB colonel was a highlight of two Harry Palmer spy films...
  4984 views. First published 31/03/2017
 
Cycloramas - virtual reality 19th century style...
  2230 views. First published 24/01/2017
 
Riding a moped down the Enola Gay's runway, and six other deserted airports to discover...
  9349 views. First published 20/01/2017
 
The Soviets made 40,000 'Flying Tanks' during WWII; the aircraft was never pretty, but it did the job...
  7638 views. First published 04/01/2017
 
A voyage round my Volga; driving a Gaz-24 from Tallinn to London...
  6348 views. First published 12/11/2016
 
Columbo as hangover cure, an appreciation...
  3994 views. First published 04/10/2016
 
  © 2016-2019 Richard Green. All Rights Reserved. All digital assets shown on this website remain the copyright of their respective owners.