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

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


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

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

Moscow honours Peter the Great with a 98m statue...of Christopher Columbus?
  9861 views. First published 08/10/2019
Maestro of modernism: a look at Erno Goldfinger's North London lair...
  5123 views. First published 01/05/2019
Socialite and shockingly bad driver Rose Macaulay 'discovered' the 'little playa of Torremolinos'...
  8754 views. First published 02/04/2019
Mother Russia, Christ the Redeemer and Mr Patel: the world's biggest statues...
  8444 views. First published 18/10/2018
The little cottage near Cape Town where Cecil Rhodes decamped to holiday, and where he died aged 49...
  5294 views. First published 19/08/2017
The giant babies sculptures that nonchalantly scale Prague's TV Tower...
  3709 views. First published 04/06/2017
A waterlogged statue shows General MacArthur permanently returning to the Philippines...
  8601 views. First published 23/05/2017
Delhi's Raj era statues have been coralled into its dusty and forlorn Coronation Park...
  6948 views. First published 01/05/2017
A bust of the Cook Islands first premier, Sir Albert Royle Henry, with shell necklace, petal headgear and spectacles...
  8182 views. First published 29/03/2017
A brush with life on a Soviet era housing district in Kaunas, Lithuania...
  5731 views. First published 05/03/2017
The supersized statues that commemorate the heroic defence of Brest Fortress, Belarus...
  6601 views. First published 23/02/2017
A calamitous haircut in Freetown, Sierra Leone...
  4985 views. First published 24/01/2017
If you are in Mexico City you should see how Trotsky spent his final years (and minutes)...
  4871 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.