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Tuesday, 1 October 2013

GarconJon meets...Mark Hammerman - GQ x GAP

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Since starting the 100 Beards, 100 Days last year, I've met a huge number of fascinating people in many different ways. The message spread so quickly in the first few months of the project, that London suddenly felt smaller than ever before. Mark Hammerman was one of the gents who had many friends in common, yet our paths had never crossed.

As most of my connections work in the creative industry, it's refreshing to speak with Mark, a man who operates in such a different sphere. As a Neurological Specialist Physiotherapist, his daily life focuses on helping people in need - an honourable role. This month, we took a walk around Green Park, chatting about his recent bike accident and what it's like to be ginger.

Mark wears Aviator Nation for GAP.

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Mark Hammerman, Neurological Specialist Physiotherapist

Where did you grow up and where do you live now? I grew up in a small fishing and boat building settlement called Leigh on Sea in Essex. It was where Dot Cotton went on her holidays! Growing up by the seaside was a great pleasure and I go back often for my fresh sea air and jellied eel fix. I have recently moved to Haggerston Park in Hackney, East London. Having green space nearby is essential.

What's your star sign? Libra.

Describe yourself in 5 words? Spontaneous, culinary, open, ginger and ritzy.

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? As a boy I wanted to be a professional tennis player. I started playing at an early age and my evenings, weekends and school holidays were all pretty much spent on the court competing or training with my elder sister. Unfortunately injuries halted play.

Which film which changed your life? The films that I recall from my childhood that were on a constant loop in our household were The Poseidon Adventure and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Both these epics taught me a sense of adventure as well as the importance of team work in overcoming adversity.

You've got fantastic facial hair. There seems to have been a cultural revolution around the beard in the past 18 months. Have you noticed? What are peoples response to your beard? Thank you. Yes indeed the beard in all its glorious forms is very much of the moment, especially in East London. I cannot speak for anyone else but for me this is partially in attempt to keep my chin warm and snug through our long, dark English winters!

You were recently featured in a film about red hair – do you get preferential treatment because of your recessive genes? How has the perception of 'ginger' changed over the years? My hair has naturally darkened as I have got older, however my facial hair has taken quite the opposite path and is now as red as ever. At times florescent. As a result I do get some startled looks on the street as the sun reflects brightly from my ginger chin. I have always been very proud of my hair colouring, freckles and pale skin and have never knowingly encountered any discrimination for being a redhead, in fact the opposite. Red hair, like beards, is causing quite a stir which is nice to see.

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Your line of work is fascinating – what drew you to healthcare? Playing a lot of tennis growing up inevitably meant spending many hours in the treatment room with the Physiotherapist, ironing out my many aches and strains. This gave me an increased awareness of my body, how it functions, repairs itself and improves with training, which has stuck with me ever since. I find it intriguing what the human body is capable of and how it adapts to its environment and the stresses placed upon it. Therefore a vocation in health/therapy was always on the cards. A specific fascination in the human brain led me to the field of Neurology. I recently dabbled with the idea of returning to university to study Medicine, however I have laid this to rest…for the time being at least!!

It must be incredibly rewarding - what do you like most about your job? The aspect of my work that I enjoy the most is definitely the patients. I am fortunate enough to work with such an eclectic mix of people each presenting with their own personal story. One day is never the same as the next.

What’s the most challenging thing? Learning acceptance must be the most challenging aspect of my role. Helping the patients come to terms with their conditions whilst striving to adapt to their new lives and roles is a constant challenge. I would like to think that I offer some kind of assistance

What’s an average day like for you? A typical day starts around 7am with a cycle across town to work. Following caffeine and a diary check, I treat 4 to 5 patients a day in their homes, cycling between each to be as time efficient as possible. Telephone calls to Consultants and GP's and designing treatment programmes fills time between each visit. Lunch is more often than not 'on the run'. I try and wrap things up by 5 - 5:30pm if I am lucky!

If you weren't in your current line of work what would you like to be? I would most definitely want to be a chef. My current culinary challenge is to bring smoked eel to the masses.

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How long have you lived in London? What are it's best traits? Living close to London all my life I have always had a close connection with the city. The aspects that I love most about this city are the architecture, the parks and the ever evolving food culture. Plus London in the summer is pretty special.

Any secret spots you'd like to share? One favourite spot of mine is the Kyoto Garden in Holland Park. If I get time during my working day I like to stop here for some breathing space and talk with my sister.

You're an active cyclist but recently had a bad accident, has this put you off? Has your recovery been helped by your line of work and knowledge about the body and recovery? My recent bike accident has most definitely not deterred me from getting back on two wheels, as cycling is for me the best mode of transport in this city. Plus it is a great means of discovering all those hidden gems you'd never find otherwise. I have been a very frustrated patient, I am at pains to admit, and it has been a long 8 weeks of recovery. Big lesson learned: WEAR A HELMET! My first trip back in the saddle will be an early morning ride along the Embankment to Richmond Park via The Sun Inn pub in Barnes.

Do you have a favourite shop in London? My favourite place to shop in London is not for clothes but for fish! Billingsgate Fish Market. For anyone who has not been get there early, 5am, for the freshest catch of the day. The sights and smells remind me of home.

You've got a very natural style that's as rugged as it is put together. What has influenced your style? My style is what I would describe as comfortable with a hint of colour. I tend to stick to the classics and add something a little 'ritzy' to make me smile, be that a colourful pair of socks or pocket tie. My grandfather was a tailor so I a few timeless pieces that I wear on occasion, accompanied by Grenson brogues. I am a regular customer at MINT Vintage in Dalston for something a little out of the box.

This GQ x GAP collection is all about supporting new American Designers? What is great about American design to you? To me American design symbolises function, practicality and comfort with elements of a sporty or preppy feel. All of which fit perfectly with my lifestyle.

Why do you think it's important to support new talent? New ideas and perspectives in any field should always be nurtured and encouraged. The future would be a very stale place otherwise.

I'm a huge fan of periodicals and magazines – do you read any religiously? Aside from the academic literature I read for work purposes, I always have a copy of Varon to hand to feast on something sleek, stylish and sophisticated.

Finally, leave us with some words of wisdom...Keep it real babes. After-all I am an Essex boy!

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