Sunday 5 October 2014


It's what you do about it that counts.
How it starts
Those of us with ordinary levels of grit and honour can be a little in awe of those who stand out in the distribution of moral and physical courage. But it turns out that brave people are so often charming and approachable that you're tempted to think that these attributes spring from the same well.  I first met Mark Pollock when he was sat next to me in a djembe drum circle a dozen years ago. He'd come with his cousin, an accomplished percussionist, because it's there.  That's what George Mallory said when yet another arm-chair journalist asked him why he attempted to climb Mt Everest.  Pollock has done Things Adventurous sufficient to knock even Mallory into a lower stratum, so seeing him taking up such a different challenge as drumming shows that there is nothing in the fields of human endeavour that he won't have a run at. Except perhaps morris-dancing and incest.  It was pretty funny drumming with Mark because, with the noise that's in it, the leader communicates largely by eyebrows and head-nods. Following a command to all stop together in ... four ... bars ... time, we'd all come smartly to a halt except Mark who was still up to 90 until his cousin and I put a hand to his elbow.  Oh yes, I forgot to mention that as well as rowing for his country, running marathons in the Gobi Desert and trotting to the South Pole, and being a mean and instinctive drummer, Mark Pollock is blind.

As I wrote back in July, he is also paralysed since he broke his back in 2010. Now Ross Whitaker has made a film about this extraordinary and extraordinarily decent man. It's just been launched to rave reviews in Dublin and is on show in Dublin's Lighthouse Cinema.  If you can watch the trailer without being unmanned from the comfort of your sofa, then you can run down to the cinema and watch the full 90 minutes with other people: you have till next Thursday.  If you live down the country, Mark and Ross have undertaken a punishing schedule of premiers in Killarney, Cork, Galway and Ballygobackward, many of them with Q&A sessions. Slightly longer trailer. It's also being shown at Garter Lane in Waterford on Tuesday 2000hrs with Mark and Ross and Simone, the female lead, in attendance and answering questions afterwards: about the film, robotic prosthetics, the zen of rowing and whatever you can think of. I know this is happening because I've been asked to m/c the Q&A.  Mark can't chair his own session because he can't see the suits in the front row let alone the lads in the cheap seats at the back.

I'm sure Blobistas in Ukraine and Russia and USA and China and France can do something about getting the film to air local to them.  How difficult can that be?  A lot easier than walking with a broken back, mates.

1 comment:

  1. Heard the indomitable Mr Pollack being interviewed on Radio last week...inspiration personified. Now if only I can make childcare/work arrangements to actually make the screening!