.dummy jim

"god gives nuts, but he does not crack them"

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Anyone who has planned a cycle tour will know that there are a number of essentials which one must consider before heading out into the epic pedal-turning adventure. While a tent belongs on most lists, not many would consider the remainder of those essentials to be a nice woolly jumper or two; and £12. But in 1951 James Duthie set off from Cairnbulg, near Fraserburgh in Aberdeenshire, with the aim of riding to Morocco with just such a payload. Yet perhaps the most remarkable thing about the whole endeavour is that James Duthie was known (affectionately, if not, with modern eyes, politically correctly) as Dummy Jim, on account of his profound deafness, and inability to speak.

However Jim never made it to Morrocco. Maybe it was the thought of those woolly jumpers in the heat of North Africa, because after cycling through the UK and part of the way down France, Jim struck north instead (after a difference between the design of British and French rear wheel hub screws forced him back to Paris). The further he went the more extraordinary the tale becomes, as the miles tick by to a total of 3,000, and the final destination is reached. The Arctic Circle.

Oh. And he had to ride back again. As if to compound the disbelief James Duthie then wrote up his experiences into a published diary account in 1955.

So 2011 sees the 60th anniversary of this astounding expedition, which in itself would be reason enough for us to feature the tale in these pages. But 11 years ago the story saw something of a quest embarked upon, a quest which, over those years, has come to bear a similar resemblance in effort and sheer bloody-mindedness. Matt Hulse: artist; musician; writer; filmmaker. Given a copy of James Duthie's diary by his mother. Defining a long-term obsession to bring the story to the silver screen.

'Obsession' isn't, perhaps, over-stating the point, as Matt says, "Bearing in mind that this project started in 2000 ... I'd have to say that maintaining faith and belief has been pretty hard work. My life has largely had to evolve around the project, and this has involved quite extreme sacrifice at times. I can only hope that this has been worth it? You never know until the work is done."

It won't be long until Matt knows if those years of toil have indeed been worth it, as Dummy Jim looks set for release in 2012.


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