That Boy


This week, fifteen-year-old Mark Grady wowed audiences at a concert put on in support of a charity. He says that they chose the Blind Trust because they had support him and his family through the difficult years, made worse by the fact he couldn't see and couldn't attend school. Our reporters, intrigued by such a tale, went to find out more...

Mark's relaxing backstage. He looks remarkably like he's done nothing interesting, although there's a shadow beneath his eyes that suggests he didn't get all that much sleep last night. I must have been making quite a lot of noise because he looks up as I approach, his watery eyes fixing me in a strange, sightless stare. He'd already agreed to the interview but as we talk he seems bored, as though he'd rather be somewhere else. 

Mark, tell me, how long have you been playing the violin?
Two months, give or take a few days. But I don't go to school, so I practise pretty much all the time. Anna says that I do more practice in one day than most people would do in a fortnight, so if you times sixty by two weeks that's really how much I've been playing! He laughs nervously.

And do you enjoy it?
Do you even need to ask? I wouldn't still be here if I didn't enjoy it. My parents don't force me to do things but they are very supportive when I do decide that I want to do something, so I've really appreciated their help.

And you just took my next question out of my mouth. Born for interviews, were you? You seem to be very relaxed.
He laughs again. That's the music speaking. I'm always much happier right after I've been playing, so I try and play as much as I can to keep in a good mood. Many people find that practise makes them stressed but I find it the most calming thing in the world.

How did you choose which pieces to play today? They were an unusual combination. I believe we heard some Mozart right next to some Debussy in there?
Mark's relaxed exterior turns to puzzled. No, I don't think so. They're mostly things I wrote myself. Because I'm playing from memory and by ear, I don't have to worry about having the music with me. I just go with what I feel is the right thing to play next. That's why the program didn't say the pieces I was going to play.

I was going to ask about that.
Well, yeah. They wanted me to answer it but I wasn't sure at the time. I said I'd decide on the day. Which I did.

Why was there an empty seat in the front row? Tickets for this concert sold out very quickly, and there are many that would have given anything to have that last seat, but you insisted on keeping it clear. Why was that?
My father is in hospital recovering from a car accident. He's got bleeding on the brain and though he's still conscious he's having to take a lot of intravaneous drugs, so he's still in hospital. I wanted him to be there today for my first concert but of course he couldn't make it, so that's in recognition of the part he's played in my music life. I hope that next time, he'll be there to hear me.

So there'll be a next time?
I hope so. But no promises. 


The End

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