May ….May ….May ….May….the shortest month name with no ‘R’ ok to eat oysters and I finally gave myself a Royal deadline…

LEADER MAGAZINE never heard of it but found at Ephemera Fair last weekend under a table Volume 7 No 27: May 6 1950

I begin where I meant to begin in the middle. The night before I went to Mexico in February I watched John Huston’s Under the Volcano which follows the dramas in a single day of the self destructive alcoholic British Consul Alan Bates in a tour de force performance with Jacqueline Bisset and Anthony Andrews.  The opening credits with the dancing calavera puppets and idiosyncratic music is surreal. 

Tiny unmarked photograph found in gallery Tingladography in Oaxaca

It’s as memorable and haunting as the film based on a book by Malcolm Lowry.

MEXICO – EST DE BAJA CALIFORNIA N FOTO 1963 (found in beautiful gallery: Tingladography where I also bought a wonderful old Mexican film poster)

Mexico is all about death. DBC Pierre who was born in Mexico was the first to explain this to me in his excellent Mexican road trip in the BBC series The Last Aztec. I did email him during the lockdown regarding this and got a helpful reply and a small excellent book to read.

Unmarked mid-size photograph found in beautiful gallery: Tingladography in Oaxaca – I love the monkey in the tree as well

As a result of the film I said to my friends “Let’s not go to a mountain bar in some obscure village for a nightcap after a cock fight nor go to a bullfight…

Unmarked postcard Henry S Beach Importer C Juarez Mexico
Unmarked unknown photograph

So we didn’t. We kept to the path….

When we returned I heard one of my friends saying: “It wasn’t dangerous at all… it felt really safe!”

“But there was a dead man found outside our hotel in Oaxaca don’t you remember? Forcing us to take a detour around the block…”  I said. All I could see was a hat poking out from underneath the body sheet.

A 3D Postcard: CIEMEX TABASCO No 148 Mexico Printed by Toppan Japan: “Ttaloc God of Rain” Mexico City
Band Miltar del Ejerto Mexicano 11 February 1910 Republica Mexicana to Monsieur Bard in Paris

I love the work of Diego Rivera (my favourite was in the National Palace The History of Mexico which is just that – a great visual history of Mexico that proceeds along the stairwell of the Palace painted between 1925-1935) but even he as a socialist and one time communist, ended up in the US with Frida who did not like the gringos to make money.

5 May 1905 something about thanking Monsieur Hemi de Beauvais for the document …
Every time Diego Rivera got a new lover it was said poor Frida Kahlo (who had a near fatal accident when she was a teenager) had another operation (she had 32 surgeries). Anonymous photograph entitled “Hospitalised with a sugar skull” (1950)
Diego Rivera, Man, Controller of the Universe, 1934 at Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico City

Leon Trotsky who was in exile (as seen on this poster) and very much a WANTED MAN by Stalin ended up in Mexico after travelling from Norway…

On the walls of the Trotsky Museum or Casa de Leon Trotsky February 2023

He was friends with Diego Rivera and had a love affair with Frida Kahlo …the house is very close by to the Blue House the family home where she resided.

On the walls of the Trotsky Museum or Casa de Leon Trotsky February 2023
Museo Casa Leon Trotsky postcard Rio Churubusco No 410 CPO4100 Colonia del Carmen, Coyacan
The Trotsky Museum (Photo: Lettie)

He was killed eventually by an ice axe and not by a bullet -but the holes from another assassination attempt punch the corridor walls and can still be seen…I tried to imagine his grandson hiding under the bed next door and how terrified he must have been.

Bullet holes in The Trotsky Museum walls (Photo: Lettie)
The Trotsky Museum or Museo Casa de Leon Trotsky (in his garden)

President Biden visited the Mexican President Obrador in January to try and curb the trafficking of drugs to the US from Mexico.

The sons and grandsons of the original cartel bosses may be more powerful and even more ruthless. They come from wealth not poverty and the drugs such as Fentanyl are fifty times more powerful than heroin.

People seem to disappear a lot and you see this displayed in the mysterious photographs of the many missing people posted on walls outside the Cathedral in Oaxaca.

I was looking for the most powerful drugs lord in the world and head of the Sinaloa Cartel ‘El Mayo’.  A $15 million bounty for his whereabouts but I couldn’t find him.

Leaflet found in Oaxaca
Creepy masks everywhere at a festival in the streets of Oaxaca February 2023

I was intoxicated by the colours and the light in a country of extremes and fascinated by its past and its present with my basic Spanish.

Music in the Zocolo Oaxaca 13 February 2023
The incredible Dominican church and convent Santo Domingo de Guzman begun in 1551 Sunday morning before I left after the service 19 February 2023 the interior was extraordinary full of gold brocade and baroque detail. The Dominicans were known as the Dogs of God and this church is an example of how they tried to convert the local indigenous people to Christianity.
Monte Alban (sixth century BC) of the Zapotecs was the principal Pre-hispanic city of the Oaxaca region. It was then strangely abandoned for Mitla – it took my breath away. I loved the stone reliefs of “The Danzantes”- strange distorted figurines with which may suggest the city was left due to an epidemic (or perhaps drought)
16 February 2023 (Photo: Lettie)
Monte Alban ca 1932 Conaculta – Inah Arqueologia – Dialogos con el Pasado Textos Dra Nelly Robles Garcia Fotographias Archivo INAH y de Ignacio Hernandez Guevara (2002) poster of this foldaway guide found hidden on a dusty shelf in a gift shop
Salon de las Columnas – Hall of Columns Mitla Oax Mexico Postal Mexfotocolor Foto Alfonso Sanchez Duenas Distribuidora “Lumy” Tel- 530 10 Oaxaca Oax
Hall of Columns Mitla February 2023 (Photo: Lettie)

I loved the purple Jaracanda trees that bring so much colour to Mexico City. I had no idea they were imported by a Japanese gardener in the 1930s.

The Tule Tree (El Arbol Tule) outside Oaxaca in Santa Maria El Tule is possibly thousands of years old.

The Tule Tree is the stoutest tree in the world circa 1500 years old perhaps older but there is anxiety that it may be dying. (Photo: Lettie)
Children demonstrate the size of the Tule Tree bought last time I was in Mexico: Foto Kipi Turok Ediciones Tuluk Lago Silverio 224 Mexico 11320

I had been before to Mexico City and Oaxaca in 1999 – fin de siècle post University sojourn with my brother and a group of friends before I moved to London and at that time I was there for about a month. 

Mexico somewhere I think on the way home 1999
Unmarked postcard
Paseo de la Reforma en Mexico D.F – View of Paseo de la Reforma at Mexico City Cristacolor Lito Juventud S. A 5 De Febrero 246 Mexico bought in Tingladography Oaxaca
Tarjeta Postal unmarked postcard

The Spaniards in Mexico City, which once resembled Venice under the Aztecs, buried its 45 rivers due to disease prevention. The only clues to their existence is in the street names. Due to being built on a lake and bed of clay the ancient ruins are now rising (Temple Mayor was only discovered in 1970s) and the Spanish Colonial architecture and buildings are sinking. The air hangs heavy because the city is polluted like a dust bowl where nothing flows out.

Mexico City is said to have sunk so low (20 inches a year) that it is said that it cannot be saved.  The earthquakes visible in the large hairline cracked pavements and in old photographs may shake these foundations but it’s problems lay far deeper.  This world is falling apart.

Temple Mayor February 2023 (Photo: Lettie)

Ten days felt like weeks and weeks such is that feeling when you travel…..

There have been so many highlights in what was a long winter:

A huge thank you to everyone who came to my gig at The Troubadour in November to celebrate the release of the album Endless Climb with David Baron which was a sell out (even if you can’t actually buy the album on iTunes still and one song is missing altogether I’ve now put it on my Bandcamp page!) Despite all these setbacks I thought all was good until I still had to pay the venue to play £45 to be exact (?) …bunch of cowboys running music venues these days!

So I think I prefer going to gigs than playing them these days and Bob Dylan…was the best ever…

Bob Dylan was unbelievable Rough and Rowdy Ways Tour October 2022 (Photo: Lettie)

Other highlights were John Cooper Clarke …who had to come up quite close in his tinted specs to see who I was: “Johnny …..Remember Me?” I asked. He was brilliant…

Photo by Clive Jennings 12 March 2023 Also performing was Mike Garry (left of me in photo) who I performed on the same night some while back at The Roughler Club was excellent

The Ukrainian band DakhaBrakha had me in tears as the war rages on and on in their country…

Royal Festival Hall 20 April 2023 DakhaBrakha (Photo: Lettie)

Standing outside and Sitting in The Royal Courts of Justice in support of David Wolfe QC and Stop Sizewell C campaign made me feel more hopeful…

East Anglian Daily Times 23 March 2023 – wearing Save Minsmere t-shirt created by Chris Packham. The plan for Sizewell C (twice the size of Sizewell B) to be built on an area of outstanding beauty in Suffolk, on the heritage coastline which is falling into the sea and on an important bird reserve in a county which is served by one dual carriageway the A12 has gone all the way to The Royal Courts of Justice)

Finally, the Coronation of our King tomorrow (which was my deadline for this post)….

Even though I made the journey which was like a pilgrimage to see the The Queen Lying in State with my friend Emma last year…

September 14 2022 Steve Swallow, Emma and the lovely group I was with for 8 1/2 hours…

(and I had the most enjoyable time hearing the life story of Steve Swallow pictured here who served in the British Army in Ireland barely drawing breath for the entire 9 hours, who was interviewed by news outlets multiple times)

Veteran Steve Swallow being interviewed by French TV…..his answer as to why he had travelled from Nottingham was ” Of course I’ve come to pay my respects….She was my boss…” (Photo: Lettie)

I don’t think I will go to such great lengths this time…..

Anyway, here’s a glimpse of another Coronation …

Postcard of Coronation Day (George V) in Cambridge -This is the procession (it reads) on Coronation day marching from King’s College Chapel….They are now between Emmanuel College and the University arms going out to Parker’s Piece to sing the National Anthem (May 1910)

and another king…

Elvis Monthly Organ of the Official Elvis Presently Organisation Albert Hand Publications 41 Derby Road Heanor Derbyshire DE7 7QH Tel: Langley Mill 2460 TWENTY-THIRD YEAR ISSUE NO 272 (It only stopped in 2000 after 40 years) RIP Lisa Marie who died January 2023

I owe a great deal to a lot of people that gave me support over all those years in my music including David Baron and Anthony Phillips. I write this in the hope of remembering and also in the hope I don’t quietly give up .

Much of the visual material I upload (but not all of it) is original.

For example, this wonderful photograph of Claudia Cardinale below (who sadly died in April of this year) is actually as far as I can tell unique and reminds me of rainy April. There’s another like it out there but not this one!


I found this photograph below at the weekend. A few years back the picture libraries of all the newspapers got rid of their photographs and I have found some really interesting ones.

From Joe Copps Miami Beach News Service – IN THE SURF OF SUNNY FLORIDA – These girls aren’t afraid of wintry blasts. They’re finding the water is warm at Miami Beach Left to right- Beverley Stark, Boston; Virginia Honolulu; Joan Manley, Houston Tex, Marion Alburn, Nassau and Katherine Gilbert Atlanta GA Ref Dept 12.14.35 NEA

I am honoured to have done vocals for Karl Culley’s new album and I am hoping to do some more collaborations soon.

Such great covers – ‘Death on a High Note’ by Desmond Reid Fleetway Publications Ltd Sexton Blake Library1962

Until next time and I hope it won’t be so long…(but it might be) maybe not as long as the postcards I sent from Mexico! May be Baby I’ll write ya soon.

This was written by ChatGPT

Lettie in Coyacan Mexico February 2023 in my granny’s 1950s towelling lined jacket

God help us xxx

About lettiemusic

Part time artist based in London
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1 Response to May….

  1. Katherine Alexander says:

    Hi Lettie,

    I hope you’ve had a good Bank holiday and enjoyed whatever festivities you took part in. 


    div>I love this newsletter ( or blogpost?!). So interesting!  You combine travel, discovery, thought, work and art

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