Three boutique cinemas packed with children and their families who have been/are going through… some very tough experiences. People who were mostly invited by charities that the Brothers Trust have supported (Debra and Momentum), others through Make a Wish, GOSH (Great Ormond Street Hospital) and some who were invited more organically.
Circa 120 people in all. 3 screens. 3 Q n A’s with Tom (in the suit) and then a photo with Tom – the day was pretty much a blur – with us all snatching greetings and conversations with old friends and new.
There are many words I could use to sum up the day: heartfelt, courage, humbling, sympathy, poignant, sad, joyful, excitement…
But for me the most appropriate word is arresting.
Rian’s army were present in force; over from Ireland with his whole family. I should explain that my wife, Nikki is the energy behind The Brothers Trust. With her cohort of helpers (special shout out to Jenny) Nikki runs the mechanics of the Trust and Nikki will know how Rian came to her attention and how he was invited and who is attending with him. I serve a more advisory role to Nikki and The Brothers Trust and I take charge of all things written (which in reality means that I just do words, since my advice is rarely heeded and with good reason) but as soon as I saw Rian, his video leapt in to my mind – a simple video of a young boy’s bedroom. A remarkable video because this is a teenage bedroom that is beautifully tidy but also because it is a homage to all things Marvel – which I am sure is common and not as compelling as a teenage bedroom where the floor can be seen.
Meeting Rian, I knew that his condition was grave but without knowing the specifics and nor his prognosis. I did though notice his smile and his infectious energy. Meeting his family, it is quickly apparent from where his personality hails. And this might well be an Irish thing. My mum, Granny Tess, from Tipperary was there also and is equally blessed. As I write, The British Open is being played at Royal Port Rush in Northern Ireland and the world’s elite millionaire golfers will not enjoy a better welcome or hospitality anywhere on earth.
Rian gave me a mug as a thank you for the day. More likely, he gave the mug to Tom but as a tea drinker who prefers a mug, I was never going to pass it on to him – and it is apt that I as write I am enjoying my tea from Rian’s mug.
And to this word arresting then…
Speaking to Rian’s lovely dad – I felt emboldened enough to enquire as to Rian’s health.
“Double lung transplant, two years ago.”
And this stopped me. Or arrested me. A double lung transplant…
Another family were present on the day – the Fincham family – the dad, Peter re-introduced himself having interviewed me way back in 1993 when I toured with some comedian called Eddie Izzard. Whatever happened to him, eh?
Peter has three children, two of whom suffer with EB – the most wretched condition you will ever encounter. Peter’s daughter has had a heart transplant and his young son is waiting for the same. The thought of such a thing is arresting – as is the fact that a tragedy is required for one family for another to move forward.
So, this word then – arresting.
Not just at how lucky we are and how we take things for granted – but at how extraordinary some people are. And in particular, the surgeons and the very clever people in white coats who can make such procedures even a possibility. As I mention in Eclipsed, I was not a bright kid at school. I was just a trier as I have remained – but I always admired the very clever kids at school. Kids who could do things that I couldn’t – either in the classroom or on the sports field.
And like the rest of us, we are all thankful that we have such clever people amongst us – and that enough of them apply their big brains to something as noble and worthy as medicine – so that kids like Rian and all the kids who attended on Sunday, can enjoy a movie with their hero who just so happens to be my son.
For this event – huge thanks to Archlight Cinemas, Battersea for kindly hosting us, to Sony and Marvel for posters and DVD’s – to M&M’s for the goodie bags, United Airlines for the travel packs and Funko Pops for the toys.