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Ben’s Hilarious Life

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Fortress of Solitude

I recently worked with Louise Manifold on her beautiful short film, ‘Fortress of Solitude.’ I read an extract from my specially commissioned poem, ‘The Hero No One Believed In,’ over the action. Part of the Two Suitcases Project, ‘Fortress of Solitude’ was inspired by the artists’ superhero film collaboration (Planet of the Capes) with members of CanTeen Ireland, the national young people’s cancer support group.

‘You Have To Live With It’

So much of the attention I’ve received during my life, so many of the little pieces of me that are out there in the world – they’re all to do with my illness. It is a universally held truism that a person with a serious illness does not wish to be defined by that illness: we want to be known as ourselves, beyond or outside of the illness. Part of how I coped with Fanconi anaemia as a boy, was dreaming of growing up and becoming a writer, leaving childhood disease behind. Well, now I am grown up, and I am a writer with a few published works, but I haven’t left FA behind. I still live with the disease, but more than that, I find that I can’t stop writing about living with the disease.

What would you do if you only had a year to live?

I was on radio and TV recently, talking about the low life expectancy associated with sufferers of Fanconi anaemia, as well as my memoir of living with the disease, Two in a Million, and the short film based on the book, Two Suitcases. I chatted to Matt Cooper on Today FM and Dave Fanning, filling in for Ryan Tubridy, on 2FM. I also talked to Sybil Mulcahy and Martin King on TV3′s The Morning Show.

Living with Illness – Interview in Irish Independent

“I know my own doctors said that reading the memoir was of help to them in terms of how they approach patients. They said it gave them insight into the patient experience. I think the arts can help inform what doctors do in that sense.”

Ben’s Books – Great Reads, Great Prices!

You can buy my memoir and my poetry collection here for only €8, including free shipping to anywhere in the world. And the guide to Dublin I edited with Katherine Farmar is now only €5! Don’t miss out on this opportunity – if you don’t buy my books I’ll have to burn them, and book-burning is a sin! All copies are signed – once I make it big, they’ll be worth millions!

The Blood Line

Had a fun experience the other week, got my acting on to do a little interview for this shortfilm about donating blood and where donated blood ends up (in me – as the case may be!). It’s a little promo for the Irish Blood Transfusion Service, filmed by some Masters students at Independent Colleges in Dublin. Look – it’s me standing on a bridge in the sun! And getting on the Luas, which in real life I never get anywhere at all! That’s the magic of the movies for you.

Perilous Masters

Then, in some wild act of folly, last September I decided to start studying a one-year full-time Masters in Popular Literature at Trinity College. I am enjoying the course – we get to read porn and comics! – and I do like moving between the two worlds of work and study. But it takes time for extracurricular activities – i.e. updating this site and continuing my own projects – greedily away.

Workin’ Day And Night: Hardcore Nepotism

Since September, I have been working in my dad’s accountancy practice, and it has been a most interesting experience. Interesting, in the sense that there has been literally nothing about the experience that I haven’t hated. I’ve gained a new and vivid understanding of why office workers look forward to the weekend with such unnatural fervour. Not even at the height of Leaving Cert. hell did I anticipate Friday-evening-home-time with such utter desperation as I have these past weeks.

TV To Go

Now, I’m about as far away from a TV snob as you can get. But anyone who can gawk at the box at 7am while they’re preparing to go to work needs to be in therapy. I mean, seriously. I watch TV to relax. It’s that or pot. Sharing glances between Ireland AM and the spoon in my hand bearing Bran Flakes, while I scald my throat with coffee that hasn’t managed to cool despite my adding milk, and attempting to not strangle myself while navigating my tie around my neck, is not my idea of a leisurely morning. Yet there they are – TV3’s Ireland AM, C4’s RI:SE, UTV’s GMTV, BBC’s Breakfast, and more. They must have an audience, or else they wouldn’t be aired, right? But I can’t figure out who or where this audience is.

‘Let’s Just Focus On This Now’

One particularly highly strung day, Sinead informed me at the outset of our session that she had consumed an entire litre bottle of Coke at lunch break. The ensuing hyperactive hi-jinx confirmed her sugar overdose, as she proceeded to crumple up sheets of blank paper, dip them in water, and throw them at me. Later, she took a paint brush from her pencil case and used it to ‘paint’ water from her drinking glass all over her trousers. She then wondered if she should put glue in her hair, and I said: ‘Most people wouldn’t even have to ask themselves that question.’

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