Ocean Cloud

Introduction: In an interview my wife and I conducted with him for the Web UK Magazine, h revealed, “It started being about Tony Bullimore, yeah, and… at what point did we get hold of Don? It was the news story about that old guy being pulled out of his boat and I saw a TV programme with Lenny Henry and he crossed the Atlantic with Tony Bullimore and he’s a bit of a character! I’d kind of forgotten about him in a way, you know, they were just hanging around at the back of my head.


“Where else did it come from? It came from Apocalypse Now, you know the bit right at the beginning, where Martin Sheen is in Saigon and he’s in the hotel room and he’s a bit wasted and a bit drunk and he says, ‘Every day that goes by, I get a little bit weaker and every day that goes by, Charlie’s out in the jungle getting a little bit stronger’. And that’s a fear you have, it’s probably a particularly male fear – I dunno, maybe I’m being sexist – but it’s a fear that ambitious men have that if they stop running and start coasting, then someone else is going to run past them. And it’s a physical fear and it’s to do with aging and the loss of strength and the fact that sharper young men are going to come up behind you. So that’s what that about; ‘the loneliness calls him, and the edge which must be sharpened,’ it’s inspired by that."

‘Dedicated to Don Allum, and the Ocean Rowers‘
Donald Allum was the first (and so far only) person to row the Atlantic Ocean in both directions. A lack of water on his penultimate trip damaged his organs and ultimately killed him, but not before he managed a third historic voyage.
Donald Allum on his final voyage,
his head cut by his compass
during a capsize

Adapted from his biography, written by his cousin Geoff Allum (who assisted h with memories and providing the news reports that are sampled in the song):

"Don Allum was born in 1937 in London. He joined the Merchant Navy at 16, then served 9 years in the army, leaving as a private. In 1971 with his cousin Geoff, he rowed from Las Palmas, Grand Canaria to Barbados. In 1986, aged 49, Allum repeated the voyage solo. It took him 114 days to reach Nevis. The last two weeks of the voyage were without fresh water and his health was severely compromised by the time he reached land.

"Just a year later, apparently recovered, he left St John's, Newfoundland on the 21st June. 77 days later, having endured many hardships on the journey, he was hauled from a stormy sea by villagers from Dooagh, Ireland, co-incidentally the place where Mark Kelly's mother now lives. Don stayed in the town for a while, and there is a permanent memorial to his feat in a plaque on a stone monolith.

"His long rows had done considerable damage to his health, and in his last years, he suffered considerable trouble with his kidneys and his heart. It was a heart attack that finally killed him, 2nd November 1992."

I can strongly recommend reading Don's log of the voyage covered in Ocean Cloud. It's heroic and stirring stuff.

'"Look lads" he declared, "This boy's a cream puff"'
h has said this part of the song is about him, and a teacher who humiliated him. A cream puff is a type of baked confectionery, but ‘puff’ is also a World War 2-era derogatory slang term for a weak or ineffectual person, with a suggestion of homosexuality. h said, “That’s a guy called Bob Bruce, who used to call me a ‘cream puff’ and humiliate me in front of the whole class. It’s probably more of a mark of his issues than it is of mine, to be honest, because if a grown man feels the need to do that to an eleven year-old boy in front of thirty eight other eleven year-old boys, you know..?"
 

2 comments:

  1. i only found this article through the song ocean cloud. this has blown me away. the guy new how important every second of our existence realy is.

    ReplyDelete
  2. i was so blwon away by the mans achievements that i am going to visit the plaque in his honor on my bike in spring this year. will travel from tredegar in south wales. i am realy looking forward to the trip not that it comes close to dons.

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for your comments.

All comments are moderated, so apologies if it doesn't appear right away!