Some additional comments

I can see our comments have kind of slowed, and I haven’t posted anything new for a little while. I would love to see more discussion about acts of kindness and acts of nastiness or unfriendliness. There’s Mrs. T’s comment that Louisa only had the baby to catch Martin and then her drugged up diatribe about Louisa being a trollop; there’s Edith and her reprehensible decision to make overtures to Martin even though, or maybe because, she knows that he’s about to become a father; and Margaret’s comment to Louisa that she looks terrible when she returns from the hospital; and several other examples. A small town can pull together and help each other out, or it can have a tendency to be petty and self-protective.

I won’t say more about that, and I probably shouldn’t bring this up again either, but I found this article very touching and it makes a number of good points about how clothing can matter. I thought it was worth posting. I particularly like how the author’s mother chose to dress to instill some sense of control over her life. There’s little question that the way ME dresses gives him a sense of control and is part of his armor against the demands of life. We might think of Edith’s clothes functioning similarly and possibly Joan’s and the receptionists’ too.

I also found it lovely that when the author went for her own colonoscopy, she decided to dress in something that made her feel good (and reminded her of her mother). (On the other hand, I would never wear anything nice to a colonoscopy. No offense, but I just want to get in and out of there as fast as possible without much bother.)

I think we can all relate to associating certain clothes with loved ones. I’ve kept a few things in my closet that used to be worn by people who meant a lot to me. They are nice reminiscences. I realize the clothing posts have not been all that stimulating to you, but I’m obviously hardheaded and can’t help saying more.

I hope to write a few other posts soon, although I will be away for the next week. I’ll be checking the blog regularly, however.

Originally posted 2014-11-22 16:47:02.

30 thoughts on “Some additional comments

  1. Carol

    It IS a touching article and I have saved something from each of my parents’ wardrobes. The thing I like is the smell. My dad has been gone for 11years and I can still sense that “Daddy” smell when it catches my eye and I hold it. Maybe it’s just my imagination, but it certainly brings him close to me.

    Definitely Martin’s suits are a part of his armor and that is the biggest reason why , as I remarked in an earlier post, I want to see him in something casual. Besides looking nice, it will show that he is letting his defenses down a bit. And I think we all want to see that.

    It’s also interesting to note that in the vast majority of the fanfiction stories, there is some part of a chapter about Martin’s suits.

    Thanks for the post.

  2. Mary F.

    There is something sweet and sad about holding onto a person’s clothing, as if they have left us a part of themselves to cherish. I have an old denim jacket that belonged to my dad, which I wear when raking the leaves, as he did, and sometimes it feels as if he is helping me with my chores. It is full of worn spots and a few tears, but I can’t imagine getting rid of it.
    What we choose to wear plays an important role in how we feel about ourselves and in this show it gets quite a bit of attention. I have noticed Martin has become ever more uptight not only in the suits he chooses but also in his pajamas. I don’t know many men who go to bed all buttoned up with what almost appears to be ironed pj’s. As if to underscore this fastidiousness, they also showed him carefully pressing the tube of toothpaste against the sink, so there are no troublesome wrinkles to contend with. It can’t help but draw attention to yet another difference between him and Louisa, even as they go to bed together.

  3. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    It’s kind of strange that sometimes people I’ve known have wanted to immediately clean out the closets of a deceased loved one while others take forever to finally empty the closets. I did not know that much of the fan fiction stories include something about Martin’s suits. It makes sense though because they are a noticeable feature of who he is.

  4. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    Thanks for your remarks. I do think the pajamas are supposed to denote his fastidiousness and modesty, although anyone who answers the door in pajamas can’t be too modest. Louisa’s pjs aren’t ironed, but they are pretty buttoned up. I think they are both dressed fairly modestly at night and in S5, when they have an infant at home who doesn’t sleep at times, I was glad Louisa was wearing sloppy bed clothes with Uggs. It was much more realistic than having her look perfectly pulled together. To me that contrast between his buttoned up pjs and her sloppy ones was another amusing element of the show.

  5. Santa Traugott

    Not to say, prissiness. Those blue “pajamas of steel” (not my coining) have been the subject of much comment. They are an interesting contrast with the t-shirt and flannel bottoms of season 1, and one has to think, serve an important purpose. Of course, the Martin Ellingham of S1 was lot more relaxed, in certain ways, than later incarnations.

    In general, I think the wardrobe designer(s) of Doc Martin are wonderful. The clothes always seem to me to be perfectly suited to the character, from the flamboyant attire of the receptionists to Mrs. Tishell’s staid costumes. Louisa’s clothes for most of S5 were marvelously dowdy or disheveled (as was her hair). Note, by the way, the wide-eyed cat on Morwenna’s T-shirt as she peeks in on a shirtless Doc Martin at the beginning of S6E8. Also, why does Bert (almost) always wear that grungy looking hat?

    And by the way, if Louisa can appear so much better put together in S6, why then do we see those sloppy pj’s at every bedtime scene? Together, their nighttime attire couldn’t say more clearly, not tonight, thanks. It just seems far too early in their marriage for such, let’s say, maternal bed-time wear for Louisa. All she needs is curlers in her hair. It’s just another way that they are letting us know that the romance seems to have gone out of the story.

  6. Santa Traugott

    Forgot to mention that someone loves costumes — think of the Fun Day run and the bunny, Penhale in his Village Police outfit in the last episode, the little cowgirls at Harbor Day at the end of S4.

  7. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    I love your observations about the wardrobes. Part of me thinks Bert’s knit cap is like Stan Laurel’s bowler hat — a prop that makes him look somewhat comical yet appropriate for a fishing village.

    I realize the bedclothes they wear every night are not very sensual, but I really doubt most newlyweds go to bed every night in sexy lingerie these days. I could be wrong, but I think comfort has taken precedence over provocativeness lately. There may be certain nights when women do more than wear pjs, but I don’t think they are going to bed like that most nights. I also think that when you already have a baby in the house or bedroom, you’re much less likely to wear something slinky to bed. At this point, I have been married far too long to think in those terms. I would still say that whatever you wear can come off pretty easily. You’re probably right that the choice of nightclothes is supposed to indicate that they are being chaste, but that hasn’t been such a big deal to me. I don’t think his wearing a T-shirt and pajama bottoms would be any more indicative of being ready to have sex than his pajamas of steel.

  8. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    You are so right about the costumes! They definitely have some fun with that!!

  9. Mary F.

    Ha! “curlers in her hair”, thats so funny! Reminds me of “I Love Lucy” and Lucille Ball who always seemed to have curlers when she was in her jammies…they were a young couple with a kid too. I wonder if any women still wear curlers to bed?! I think the negligees are out the window once a baby arrives, you need sturdier clothes to deal with babies and Louisa looks much more comfortable than Martin in her jammies and Uggs.
    It may be a bit of a stretch but I think sometimes that their pajamas reflect a bit of unease with their living arrangement, as if they are not quite ready for a commitment yet. After all, Louisa still believed Martin was going back to London…it was mostly a matter of convenience to be together, temporarily, for the baby’s sake. And perhaps Martin’s jammies reflect not only his unease with himself, but also with this temporary “relationship” status. He certainly doesn’t want to re-think his decision that they would not be happily married. The baby certainly throws a wrench in that decision and he copes the only way he knows how. By giving Louisa plenty of medical advice and suiting up at all times. I think this may be one way of his keeping their relationship coolly civil.

  10. Santa Traugott

    Mary hits on something I have always found inexplicable about S5. Certainly they are very tentative with each other, especially in the beginning of S5. It felt like, after the emotional outburst when James Henry was born, neither of them really knew where things stood, and each were afraid to find out.

    Recall that when Martin and Louisa got in bed that first night, he oh so carefully made a crease down his side of the bed. It was a fussy little gesture, but it was also demarcating his space and also saying, I think, “I’m not assuming anything just because we find ourself together in this bed.”

    But that said, why then did Louisa agree to give up her job and come to London with him? on what basis? to live as roommates and raise James Henry together? Surely there must have been more going on than we were given to see. Or else the whole thing is just very odd.

    I think that in fact he had changed his mind about not wanting to marry her. By the end of ‘S4, he knew how much he loved and missed her, and while he may not have been certain of how to proceed or how far he wanted things to go, I think he definitely knew that he wanted a relationship with her that went beyond co-parenting. Albeit clueless as to how to go about it.

  11. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    Your Lucy connection is great. What a fabulous comedienne she was!! It’s funny that I have been putting a lot of emphasis on clothing, and really believe it’s been used well to accentuate a variety of dispositions, and yet I have my doubts about the pjs. I’m convinced that Martin is buttoned up because he always is. He can’t go from wearing a suit and tie all day, even when cooking, to wearing something much less buttoned up at night. Plus, it’s funny to see him in his ironed pjs. As for Louisa, I think we agree that she’s wearing something practical for mothering. I also have to believe she likes being warm and when she’s in bed, she’s covered up with a cozy comforter. I just don’t think she has to wear something revealing to be appealing to him. I also really don’t think Martin wanted to leave for London, especially after the baby is born. He is somewhat on the fence because the opportunity to be a surgeon is pretty enticing, but ultimately he realizes, as he tells Louisa in the final episode of S5, that he wants to be where Louisa is.

    Their relationship cools down after S6E3 in particular, but the reason is what’s so troubling about that series. I don’t think he was ever trying to keep their relationship cool intentionally; maybe they just couldn’t help the changes once Louisa went back to work and Martin’s blood phobia returns. There’s just so much going on that it’s hard to pinpoint one reason for the degeneration of their relationship.

  12. Santa Traugott

    Maybe the whole point of those buttoned-up pjs is to say that his buttoned-up personality continues even in the bedroom, in the most intimate sphere — he has a lot of trouble with letting go, being loose. We assume that it isn’t a permament condition and that he unbends at least sometimes, but it’s much harder for him than for Louisa.

  13. Mary F.

    I guess I should have specified which series I was talking about, the beginning of Series 5. Like Santa mentions, how Martin creases the bed sheet between him and Louisa (that is one great observation, by the way, you don’t miss a thing Santa!) could be indicative of how unsure he is of where the relationship stands, along with the fact that he is buttoning up his jammies, unlike in earlier series. I know its a bit of a stretch, and we know how uptight he is in general, but maybe there is a connection between his cover-all jammies and his quandary over the relationship itself. As we learn later, he doesn’t really feel he deserves to be with Louisa.

  14. Mary F.

    I also love how Bert’s hat makes him look a bit clownish, his face is so expressive that his hat is like the icing on a cake. It looks as if he sometimes goes to bed wearing it. Ian McNiece is a wonderful actor but that little cap gives him an edge; an authentically fishing village look. He often has remarked how tourists mistake him for one of the locals. Actually all of the rough but kind fishermen in this series add so much local color with their rubber pants, yellow jackets, lumbering walk that it appears as if they have sprouted from the very cracks and crevices of the place. They are so amusing in the scenes where they offer up bits of unsolicited advice, like when Martin is buying a fish after Louisa leaves him, or when they are telling each other the best way to heal from a muscle strain, after carrying Holly upstairs at Louisa’s. These men know all about hard work and pain and how to face problems simply and honestly, in great contrast to the confusing relations between Martin and Louisa. Without them the village would seem much less believable as a place where people can actually eke out a living or raise a family.

  15. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    Those scenes you mention are wonderful for the humor too. The fish monger’s comments are so good I have mentioned them separately in an early post on this blog. That is one of the best written dialogues in the show, in my opinion.

  16. Linda D.

    I find it interesting that Martin does not seem to notice Louisa’s choice of clothes, nor does she seem to mind his ultra conservative dress. She must not love those ridiculous pj’s and she likes to dress in jeans during her off hours. What must she think of the fact that he only wears suits? It seems to be a non issue for them. She likely would not iron those pyjamas! She feels no compunction to dress in frilly, sexy things when she goes to bed. I agree with you Mary, about loving clothing we associate with our loved ones. It is very comforting to wear old clothes or jewellery.

  17. Linda D.

    Why and when he change from the t shirt and flannel sleep pants? I agree that Louisa’s pj”s and Uggs made quite a statement and showed her ability to choose her style on her own.

  18. Santa Traugott

    I agree that Louisa is surprisingly tolerant of his inappropriate choice of clothes (like so many things, “wrong” for Porwenn), but there is one very revealing moment when she does make a snide remark — I can’t remember the episode in S6, but it’s the first scene, and he’s getting dressed in their bedroom where she’s tending to the baby. He puts his tie down on the bed, she inadvertently covers it with the baby and then he starts looking for his tie, — “where’s my blue tie” — and she says, “ALL your tie are blue” — at which he looks quite disconcerted. It was not an accurate remark on her part, of course, but a comment on the narrow range of his clothing choices.

    I do think that in S1 and maybe 2, the color palette of his clothes was slightly larger.

  19. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    She’s made a few comments at other points in the show about his wardrobe, e.g. when she says she’d like to see him without his suit on and catches herself (she’s carrying a surfboard and wearing jeans), or when she imagines him having a picnic with her and dressed in a shirt without a tie or jacket. But I think they both have a fairly well-established dress code, shall we say, by the second series, and that’s what creates another dynamic between them. Even though this is a silly question, I’ve always wondered where they would shop for clothes. Certainly not Portwenn, right? And it’s hard for me to imagine Martin shopping for clothes in the first place unless he has a tailor in London who has his measurements and knows what he likes. Even that wouldn’t work all the time since his measurements change.

    We all tend to gravitate towards a certain color scheme and style, although we generally mix up the casual with the more formal depending on the circumstances. Like Louisa, we would dress differently when attending a concert rather than going to work. When Louisa tells Martin she doesn’t know what to wear to the concert, he responds nicely that she always looks good. When she appears that night, he says nothing about her dress and she remarks that she doesn’t think she’s seen the suit he’s wearing before, but it’s no different from all of his everyday suits. She’s fishing for a compliment, yet she’s also hoping he considers their date something special.

    So the writers draw attention to their clothes at times and we do see them using color, in his case mostly shirt and tie color, to achieve a slight difference in appearance. Mostly, though, Louisa understands and accepts his decision to wear the suit every day because it’s part of who he is and she has more important issues to deal with. It’s like Mark Zuckerberg’s hoodies and T-shirts, or Steve Jobs’ jeans, or so many other people we have come to associate with a certain look. If they changed their color scheme or choice of clothes, we’d be shocked and find it disturbing at first. At least Louisa changes her hair style!

    I think we’ve discussed before how she no longer wears jeans in S6. She seems to have adopted his conservative clothing style along with his name. And this is during daytime and at night. To me that’s a subtle, but significant way for the costumers to indicate that they are coming together as a couple despite their many conflicts.

  20. Linda D.

    Santa,
    I doubt this comment will land after where it should. I have trouble with that. I agree that Martin did not really want to leave for London after the big birth scene but that neither of them knew quite what it all meant. They did not have time to talk things through because of the events of the day and clearly, she would not have been able to have sex anyway. I thought they would have cuddled and cooed over their baby a bit. I think perhaps they were a bit tentative about where their relationship was going but it seemed odd that after being so emotional at the pub, they were completely unemotional about being together with their baby son that very night! The events of the next days, although there was virtually no affection, led me to believe he was not very upset about having to go back to the surgery when Dr. Dibbs had to leave. That led me to think he really did want them all to be together somehow. Louisa was very happy to have him stay with her and the baby when Imperial gave him time to deal with Joan’s death. He then asked Louisa to move to the surgery with him and she agreed. It all just happened with very little discussion, really. They were moving in with the other people’s stuff, which I would have thought was odd if it continued for long. I’m not sure if that stuff was still there for a long time or if his stuff came back? Does anyone remember? Poor Louisa had nothing of hers there, as far as I remember. That seemed weird to me. Whatever happened to Mr. Routledge’s place and her house?
    Louisa had obviously decided she really did love Martin and really wanted to make a family with him, even if she to relocate to London, giving up her life in Portwenn. She could not have really known what to expect from this new life but obviously thought it was worthwhile and was something she really did want. He might have responded more lovingly to her announcement that she and the baby were going to move to London with him. I think that was worth a nice little kiss! After all, she was giving up EVERYTHING to be with him!

    As for their bedroom attire, I suppose it was not a big issue for either of them considering their new role as parents of a newborn. I think having them dress in cutesy night wear, might have seemed odd. Louisa, except for the one dream scene and a bit on the night when she got the call from Joy Cronk, has never been seen in lingerie. I guess it is just not her style and I imagine in those drafty houses, lingerie is quite impractical. Martin switched from his flannels and t shirt for no apparent reason which drove many of you (me), nuts.
    Why did that happen? Yes, he is a buttoned up man but surely, when he was with the woman of his dreams, who is younger, by the way, he would want to be a bit less boring?

  21. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    You’re so right about Louisa being unable to have any conjugal activity so soon after delivering the baby. Then they get the news about Joan’s death and that puts a damper on things too. As far as Louisa’s possessions and her home, though, she must have waited to sell or rent because eventually we know her mother moves in and lives there when Louisa leaves Martin towards the end of S5.

    Much of what he does is deliberately out of sync with what we’d expect because of his awkwardness in general. To me his reaction to Louisa’s early morning announcement that she wants to move to London with him is met with both a groggy response and the usual lack of emotion he exhibits. Of course Louisa would like more from him, but she gets only as much as he can give, and we can find many examples of this sort of reaction from him throughout. She never finds it acceptable, but continues to try for more nevertheless.

  22. Santa Traugott

    Continuing on the theme of : what was going on with those two in S5 and what was Louisa thinking when she agreed to move to London?

    Louisa’s reaction to Martin seems to be a the triumph of hope over experience — up until the end of S6. She does truly love him, it is painful to be parted from him, she wants to believe that he will be able to give her what she needs and/or that she can tolerate his difficulties with intimacy. I agree that it’s on that basis that she agrees to go to London with him. Romantic. yes, understandable, yes, but as events will show — not once, but twice more — ill-considered. (In my view at least.)

    We believe that hope will win out once again, by the end of S7, but I think she’s been burned several times and she will take most of S7 to come around, and this time, Martin’s actions, as well as his words, will have to prove that he has what it takes to be the husband she needs.

    As for what is or is not going on between them — well, I agree that nightwear, particularly in a cold and damp climate and poor central heating, is not necessarily diagnostic. But, as the baby was 3 months old by the end of S5, I assume at the usual 6 week or earlier mark, “marital relations” could have ensued. They seem to be on terms of cozy domesticity, at least, and she HAS agreed to move with him to London. It boggles the imagination that all this would happen as platonic co-parents, especially as they are supposed to be madly in love with each other and sleeping in the same bed, for heaven’s sake. Why would they exercise what amounts to super-human powers of restraint? what would be the point? Unless Martin is really a cold fish, in which case, alarm bells really ought to be going on for Louisa, and all the more reason NOT to go to London with him.

  23. Santa Traugott

    Here’s an interesting article that seems relevant to Martin and Louisa: http://time.com/3174575/these-4-things-kill-relationships/

    So some of this discussion started by my arguing that Louisa’s decision to go to London came more or less out of the blue, and why on earth would she do this. After back and forth here, I now think that my judgment that the ground hadn’t be adequately prepared for us, was mistaken. While I still think that this was not a good decision on Louisa’s part, we have always been shown that Louisa loves Martin, and wants to be with him if it can possibly be made to work, and and her hope for this and her belief, I think, that ultimately he can and will “change” keeps her with him, and coming back, over and over again. Only to have things go wrong, once again. The big question for S7 is whether this faith in him and their relationship has been shattered for good. We think we know the answer to that!

  24. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    Even though he is not overtly affectionate very often, he does take her hand or arm on occasion, and he tenderly touches her cheek and the baby, which means we have enough evidence that he can be warm and loving. I really think they don’t want to show too many scenes of them embracing in the bedroom/bed because that would once again change the nature of the show. However, we see just enough of them having moments of passion that we can imagine that their love life off screen exists in some form. Also, I think Louisa is presented as often being the initiator. I would doubt she’d want to stay with Martin if he wasn’t reciprocating in private. I also doubt she would have decided to marry him unless he was being “nicer.” We hear her tell Martin she’ll miss him on the day she returns to work. If it weren’t for some loving times together, there wouldn’t be much to miss.

  25. Linda D.

    I am not sure we know if they are exercising restraint or not? It seems that way with what we see but is there any evidence that makes that true? As you say Santa, it seems improbable that they are not intimate in spite of their bed clothes. Surely she would not move with him if he is not showing interest in her sexually? Good observations as always Santa!

  26. Linda D.

    Did her mother move into her place? I thought it was a different place. It didn’t look like the same place when Louisa showed up with James. I’ll have to have another look at that episode now!

    Yes, Karen, his response was underwhelming! He first asked her to come when he loaded her and James into the car at the hospital and again on the way home! Surely, he’d have been more pleased when she decided togo?

  27. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    So true, Linda. After asking her so many times, he might have been more excited to hear her say she wanted to move with him. He’s just hard to get a rise out of, huh?

    If you look at the entrance to where Eleanor is staying, and the interior in the background where you can see the undercarriage of the stairs to the second floor, you’ll recognize it as the same place as where Louisa was living during her pregnancy and after they brought the baby back to Portwenn.

  28. Linda D.

    You are so right about his tenderness towards Louisa and James Karen! He DOES have little “moments” just enough to tantalize us into believing that more does go on. We all love that this show is tasteful with regards to sex and yet, it Is far from dull! I really like that we are given little tastes of what MIGHT happen without seeing it happen! You are so right in saying that Louisa would not stay with him if he didn’t reciprocate her feelings and initiate intimacy some of the time. He is just not demonstrative in public and NEVER towards anyone for whom he has no real feelings. Once, when Ruth thought she was dying, he accepted her hug and after they talked, he thanked her lovingly for offering advice and being willing to talk. Of course, we saw quite a few kind and tender moments with Auntie Joan. Wasn’t that what this post started with by the way? Kindness?

  29. Amy Cohen

    I enjoyed these comments about their nightwear because I’ve had similar thoughts about those dreadful pajamas!

    I’ve seen a number of comments in the blog saying Martin changed between Series 1 and Series 2. Can someone remind me of what those changes were? I don’t remember him being more relaxed in S1, except for his much more acceptable choice of nightwear!

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