Tuesday, 2 July 2013

The Only "Goal" We're Aiming For Is A Healthy Young Girl

Hello there.

This is my first blog post since joining the cast of Les Miserables, and guess what; it's going to be about LES MISERABLES!!!! Who saw that coming, eh?? Well actually, to be more specific, this post is about the Les Mis -vs- Phantom charity football match that will take place on August 11th.

Now, everyone loves getting behind an in-vogue charity cause, just so they can say they bought the trendy bracelet or tie pin that Brangelina were sporting in Cannes last month, but the work that is done at Great Ormond St. Children's Hospital (GOSH) is one cause that everyone can relate to, and we at Les Miserables and Phantom of the Opera have been exposed to in a very personal sense.

I can honestly say that I have never felt as upset and saddened as the day when one of the driving forces behind the event, and our resident director, Chris Key, met us after warm-up to talk to us a bit more about the day and, more importantly, the cause we were getting behind. He spoke to us about how at last year's match, we had helped our head of wigs, Melanie Oakley-Dow and the Macmillan Fund, telling us how we surpassed our target and really honoured a charity, and specifically a woman who has had to deal with so much in her life. This year, however, at the request of Melanie herself, we were going to focus on helping GOSH to continue the life-changing and life-saving work they do for children on a daily basis.

I would like to say here and now, that none of this is meant as emotional blackmail or a ploy to make you part with any more money than you may or may not have already decided to donate, but I haven't been able to get Lizzie out of my mind since that day. I only tell you about her now, so that we can, in some way, appreciate the terrifyingly emotional work that GOSH have to do to help us or people we know deal with tragedy.

For those of you that don't know, Great Ormond Street Hospital is one of the few hospitals that specialises in working with sick and injured children. One particular child, Lizzie Bremer, is the daughter of a lovely couple, Alex and Miriam, who met each other while working at Les Miserables. Lizzie is 22 months old. Actually, I that that using months for a child's age can sometimes dilute the cold, hard facts. What I should have said was this:

Lizzie is not even two years old.

Please think about that.....; I have a two-year old nephew, Darragh, and it is such an exciting time for both him, his parents and the rest of our family. He's learning how to feed himself, how to play fun games with his brother and picks up new words every other day. It's such a magical time in his life.

Lizzie Bremer isn't doing any of that. Lizzie Bremer is fighting for her life. Lizzie Bremer is a two year-old girl who has been diagnosed with neuroblastoma; a rare and very aggressive form of cancer, and each and every day is, quite literally, a fight for survival. We have all been sick at some point in our lives and felt like it was a battle just to get out of bed and get on with our days, but Lizzie isn't even two yet. I know it sounds like I'm labouring that point, but it is heartbreaking to think of what she and her parents must be going through. I cannot even imagine the feeling of helplessness that a father or mother must feel, having to let their child battle something so terrifying on their own; It is just beyond our comprehension.

Recently, it seemed that Lizzie was starting to win her fight and there were genuine causes for optimism, but as can so often seem the case, during a pivotal period, she took a turn for the worse and has regressed quite dramatically. Even after finding out this news, Lizzie continues to battle with all her strength. This child, this little girl, who should have her whole life ahead of her, is staring death in the face and yet refuses to give in. She has spent the entirety of her young life fighting against a monster, and bless her soul, but it seems as though that monster may be too strong even for someone as brave as her. We can only hope and pray that she proves us all wrong.

Lizzie has no comprehension of what we are trying to do to help; after all, 22 sweaty men and women, kicking a ball around a football pitch and the hundreds of people who will pay to watch is hardly the type of help she needs right now. We know we will be playing with heavy hearts, and can only hope Lizzie is still with us when the day arrives. However, we don't want Lizzie to become another statistic in a training manual. We want Lizzie Bremer to live on, obviously in a very literal sense, but in spirit also.

What we do here will hopefully help both Lizzie, and many other children in the years to come. The money we raise will go towards the research and improved treatments of many different medical conditions that young children are forced to fight year in, year out. The sad truth of it all is that Lizzie is not an isolated case; Over 100 children are diagnosed with Neuroblastoma every year, and as I mentioned, Neuroblastoma is simply one form of infant cancer; there are thousands of children in desperate need of our help. The work that the wonderful men and women of GOSH do is something that they have no choice but to take home with them every night - they are on the front line, getting to know these poor children intimately as they try desperately to help, and they have to fight to keep a smile on their face and to maintain hope against unsurmountable odds. They are the best of us, and we want to help them to continue their work in whatever way we can.

So, HOW can you help? "Here comes the sales pitch", I hear you say. Well, to be honest, we don't want you to do very much at all. There IS an online donations site, which we would be thrilled to receive any and all donations, but primarily, all we want you to do is this:

Come and have a fun day out.

Please, PLEASE come down and support both teams as we put on a display of athleticism you could only compare to a David Attenborough documentary on Hippo's. It promises to be a fun day out, with entertainment for the whole family, both young and old.

The match takes place, as I mentioned, on Sunday, August 11th, at the home of Bromley Football Club, who have kindly given us their ground for the day. All the details can be found at www.lesmisvphantom.co.uk, including directions on how to get to the pitch, how to buy your tickets and how to make an online donation, as well as more information on the charity itself and news on some of the celebrity players that will also be making an appearance.

So. There it is. There, is the SLIGHTEST insight into what this match is about. It means the world to us, and we hope you can help us to honour a brave little girl. I know I speak for both teams when I say a heartfelt thank you to you, even if all you did was read this post.

I'll even do some of the work for you; Here is a list of the web addresses you might need to check out:

Online donations: www.justgiving.com/lesmisvphantompart2

N.B.: Along with any donation you might make, please be sure to mention which specific player, if any, you are supporting as this will dictate who ends up taking those all-important penalties, free-kicks and corners - Honestly, if you don't make the decision for us, we'll end up squabbling amongst ourselves and NOBODY wants to see a group of grown men whingeing over kicking a ball at a net, so please pop a personalised message on their to support whoever you want......May I take this time to shamelessly plug MYSELF, as I'm awfully good at those things?? :)

The Match Website: www.lesmisvphantom.co.uk

The ALL-IMPORTANT match tickets: lesmisvphantom.co.uk/Tickets.html

On behalf of Les Miserables, Phantom of the Opera, Great Ormond Street Childrens Hospital and most importantly, the Bremer family, I just want to say thanks again for taking the time to read this and for any and all donations you make. Every penny really does help. As for the day itself, get your tickets and please come along and say hello - We really hope to meet you all and say thank you in person on the day.

That's it. Thanks for reading.


Saturday, 1 September 2012

Only with closed eyes, do we truly see.


Sorry to sully what was a perfectly ridiculous blog site with something truthful and real, but I had a sudden attack of inspiration.

I watched "Dead Poets Society" tonight. After watching it, it seemed strange to me that we now live in a time where no one is romantic or passionate anymore. I mean, we are, but society doesn't deem that necessary, so we swallow it down and bury it. Some of us work as actors and we get to walk onstage and say "I'm lucky because this is a great outlet", even though all we do is walk onstage and speak someone else's words.  We've come to a point in life where technology and fact dictate, not what we think, but what we say. How many of us speak truthfully to each other or more publicly on Twitter or Facebook? We never let our walls fall, because "people don't want to hear that kind of thing". When I was young, we wrote stories and poems; not to make a career out of it, but because we had things to say and it was a way of saying them. Now? We live a life of solitude, emotionally. People are sad, but never say anything. People are angry, but suppress it. People are scared, but pretend everything is just fine because "people don't want to hear that kind of thing".

I don't know what made me write this.
Maybe it was the movie and it's message. If so; that movie did it's job.
Maybe it's me that's sad or angry or scared and in this moment, I felt like speaking out.
Or maybe this is what we should all be doing, every once in a while. Speaking what we're truly  thinking. It doesn't always have to have a point; it doesn't always have to be profound.
Maybe, sometimes, it's just important to take a moment to remember that we're still Real.

I wrote a poem. This I WOULD blame on the movie. It's terrible, I'm sure. I know nothing about what makes a poem. I tried to take a thought and make it sound grand. That is probably a major DON'T when writing poetry - I really couldn't tell you. All I know is, I sat at my computer for about five minutes and just wrote what came into my head. I don't even know if it's important whether or not anyone likes it. I didn't feel stupid writing it, and yet I feel stupid posting it. I suppose that makes my point for me. If I could write it, why wouldn't I want people to read it? Surely it expresses me as a person, and why is that a bad thing? Oh well. I'll leave it here for you to read, or not.

If you managed to read this far, what's another few lines, eh? And if you DID read this far, thank you.

As I sit and try to decipher
All the puzzles Life has me try,
I find myself sinking in sands of fear
to the place where He would have me die.

For the harder I fight this army of fears
With both shield and sword far from my reach,
It becomes clear this battle cannot be won
While aid from mortal hopes, my dreams beseech.

And so I stop my futile struggles
And allow mine enemies to engulf my soul,
Safe in the knowledge that their blows harm not
The hopes and dreams that keep me whole.

My strength it seems lies deeper within
Than simply this muscled cage named Me,
My sword is fantasy, my shield; my dreams
For only with closed eyes, do we truly see.

- Niall Sheehy

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Jesus Christ, I was on Superstar!

Hi there,

I know, I know; I've not posted on here in a couple of years. I was busy, okay?? I haven't had time in TWO YEARS to write ONE PARAGRAPH of nonsense online. My dog ate my homework and I was kidnapped and I was sick and I had to help a detective find a serial killer who collects bones and.......

....D'ya know what; I have no excuse. I suppose I just couldn't think of anything to write about. Well....that has changed.

As many of you now know, I recently took part in the TV talent show "Superstar". (If you didn't know this, guess what? Yup; I recently took part in the TV talent show "Superstar"! I know! I KNOW!!!!! AAAARGGHHHHH, THAT'S SO EXCITING!!). Anyway, in light of my elimination (I came 8th, by the way) I thought it was the perfect time to slap a bit of a message together to try and sum up my experience. Here goes nothing....feel free to stop reading at any point!


Hi there, anyone who is reading (or potentially no one!),

I would just like to say, first and foremost, a massive, MASSIVE thank you to anyone and everyone who voted; not just for me (although you guys are clearly my favourite!) but for all of us. It is so terrifying to think that we have to go through so much hard work and effort, and there's a chance that no one would care at the end of it, but the fact that so many people voted or even took to Twitter, etc to tell us all how well we were doing was so amazing. For that, I feel I HAVE to say thanks. "Thanks" doesn't really cover it, but I'd be here forever trying to express my gratitude.

I also just wanted to apologise.....AND BEFORE ANYONE SAYS I DON'T HAVE ANYTHING TO APOLOGISE FOR, I'M STILL GOING TO DO IT, SO JUST LET ME!! I just wanted to apologise for my performances on the live shows. I, in no way, thought that they were terrible, but at the same time we all have our own standards that we set ourselves, and I fell painfully short of mine. I won't bore you all with excuses as to why that happened. Yes, I was ill, but that shouldn't have stopped me - when you want something as badly as I wanted to perform to the best of my ability, nothing should be able to stop you, and yet it did me. For this, I apologise.

Having said that, and this goes back to my earlier point, I want to say how thankful, honoured and HUMBLED I was that despite feeling as though I was putting on a sub-par performance each night, people were still voting for me. It was the only thing giving me the strength to put on a brave face and try harder to come back fighting. Here comes cliché number 1 of this blog, but I couldn't have done it without you.

I also want to say a huge thank you to everyone back home in Ireland. I have been living in a bit of a bubble, locked away in the Jesus house, but I kept getting messages saying how much of a buzz was being generated back home. I was proud to be able to represent not only myself, but my family, my town, my county and most importantly, my country. I hope I was able to make you all proud, because that was always my main aim!

I never expected to get so many messages from people in the UK either. I mean, you always assume on these shows that the Irish guy gets Irish votes, the Northern guy gets the Northern votes, etc, etc. but I was so grateful to hear that so many people from all over the UK had been voting for me. It has all been so surreal, and it'll be months and months before I'm able to genuinely process what has happened here. Seriously, thank you so much.

As far as the shows went, I have to admit the as much as it killed me to stand there and take it, the panel's comments about my performances were fair. Based on what I had been able to show of myself, I can't really complain with how it went. The reason I got so emotional was that I was so angry at myself and my body for not being able to prove them wrong. I knew I could do so much better, but just couldn't make myself do it, and that was hard for me to take. Being told I was falling behind the other guys, when I knew I could normally keep pace, was hurtful to hear, but as I said, fair, based on what I had done, so I would like to say thank you to Melanie, Jason & Dawn for calling it as they saw it!

Now. Andrew Lloyd Webber. Where do I POSSIBLY start?? To have even met him was an unforgettable memory. To have auditioned in front of him, more so. To have him pick me as one of his finalists, mind-blowing.....but for him to say the things he said to me upon my elimination was, quite simply, the most incredible moment of my life. He has been a gentleman from the moment we met him, and has been so complimentary of us all. I can safely say that I have more respect for that man than I will ever have for myself (having said that, I WILL be calling him every 20 minutes for the rest of his life, asking him when my Marius/Raoul rehearsals start.....He DID give me the parts, right??). Thank you so much, Andrew, for giving me confidence in myself and for helping me find some dignity and pride in my performances. YOU are the real Superstar.

I couldn't forget to mention Amanda, now could I...? She is, by FAR, the Hostess with the Mostess. What a cracking job she is doing (or did, depending on when you read this!). What kills me is knowing  that the TV never shows just how loving and bloody HILARIOUS that woman is. She had us cracking up from the first day we met her on Superstar Island all those months ago. She was so caring for us all, and I could feel her gripping me every night as I stood there and took quite a bit of negative feedback. Thank you, Amanda for not making me stand there on my own!! You're a diamond and I hope we stay in touch!

I could go on all day about the other guys, but I do that anyway on Twitter. It has been so incredible to hang out with them all, and to learn different things from different people. They have all been amazing to be around, and I'll miss the bromances - not that I expect to lose touch with them at all....Especially my little Rory-Bear! True love, if ever I experienced it....! ;) I know I've kept this part brief, but only because I have spoken so much about everyone, that I can't even begin to repeat it all. I loved those guys like crazy!!

The last thing I want to say - because let's be honest; this is PROBABLY getting pretty boring now - is a massive, massive, MASSIVE thank you to the ITV team. I won't list their names, (but I could and they know that, because I like to know people's names - it's just common courtesy!!!!) but each and every member of Peter & Catherine's team was such an incredible joy to work with. I have been desperate to be eliminated, or to win obviously, just so that the competition could end and I could start hanging out with all those guys on a regular basis. It was just too much fun to work with so many intelligent, funny, talented and ambitious people. I was inspired by their work ethic and the fact that they did everything with a smile on their face. They didn't HAVE to treat us well (it's TV, after all), but not only did they do that, they treated us like equals. You guys, from Press (G & J), to Security (S & K) and everyone in between (Waaaay too many initials!!), have been what made that show so much fun to be part of. Cheers guys!!

So, I'm, thinking that's it. Thank you again to everyone. I have had the best time over the past few months, and that is down to pretty much everyone except me. I've been an emotional wreck and I need to start building my street cred back up, although it was pretty low beforehand, so I'm not expecting much.

Corny sign off, but I love you all for making this such an unforgettable experience. If I left anyone off this message, feel free to bombard me with abuse - I deserve it!! Hopefully, I'll be back soon doing something or other; we'll have to wait and see!!

Love, from a very humbled Irishman,

P.S. Watch out for the shameless plug of my Twitter, Facebook and web addresses coming riiiiight up.....----->


P.P.S. <------That was it!, just there!

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Cleanliness? Whatever!!

I'm writing this blog from the comfort of my bed.....Wait....No....I need to start again.

I'm writing this blog from my bed. I would say "from the comfort of" if it wasn't for the fact that everything about me feels grotty. I had a shower last night, but I woke up this morning feeling like a hobo's shoe. Add to that the fact that the bed sheets are all clammy and uncomfortable, and that I have no clean undies or socks, and I'm left with a burning question at the forefront of my mind.


My bedside table has a centimetre of dust on it. The carpet is covered in tiny pieces of itself, which is ridiculous in it's own right - why is my carpet ripping itself apart?? The washing basket is full, and I only put a wash on three days ago. I stink, but went to bed clean. What the hell is this all about?

Don't misunderstand me, I appreciate the need for cleanliness, as it is next to Godliness, blah blah blah, but it's just the annoyance of constantly having something to clean. Even on the days where I say "Right, let's sort this place out!", I'm left with waxy ears, or full bins, or streaky windows, or toothpaste-covered sinks, or long grass in the garden, or junk mail in the hall, or crumbs around the toaster, or a massive ironing pile......but what really annoys me is that by the time I finish all of this repetitive crap, I NEED ANOTHER BLOODY SHOWER!!

So....what I would like to propose to all of you entrepreneurs who are about to apply to The Dragon's Den to look for £200,000 in exchange for 20% of your tinned fruit company is simply this: Please spend your time creating a way of keeping all the little things in life clean. I mean, in every futuristic movie I watch they have flying cars, food in pill form and tight-fitting clothes. The only thing they don't have is natural cleanliness. Why not? Can it really be that difficult? Surely it could be done by re-creating the workings of a black hole or something, although that tends to result in rising deathtolls, if my sci-fi knowledge is correct. I would imagine it has something to do with negative particles or de-magnetised atmospheric conditions. I mean, I'm practically doing the work for you...just finish it off! GET ON IT, YOU BOFFINS!!

Y'know, I could sit here all day ranting about this stuff, but my feet are all sweaty now and have somehow managed to wrap themselves up in my duvet cover, so I'm going to have to go and rip myself free, tear the sheets off the bed, put on a light wash, find some clean sheets in the ironing pile, put those sheets on the bed, and after that, if there's time of course, HAVE A SHOWER!!!!

My day off is planned out for me. Is yours??

(Hmmm, in reading that back I find myself wondering if saying I feel like "a hobo's shoe" is a suitable analogy. I mean, not all hobos have shoes and I definitely don't feel as dirty as a hobo, himself. Perhaps I should say I feel like a hobo's coat, but there again lies the trouble, as not all hobos have coats. Right, let me think, how about.....saying I feel like a hobo's armpit?!! Yeah, because even if some smartarse points out that some hobos don't have arms, the nub where their arm should be would still form an armpit AAAND I imagine said armpit would be quite smelly and dirty! Perfect....The only problem now is that I can't really be arsed to go back and change the bloody original sentence! Ah well, you get the point.)

Monday, 9 February 2009

Can someone please explain.....

Unless I am very much mistaken, I am technically an actor. Yes, I am aware that I am currently an out-of-work actor, but that does not change the fact that I am an actor nonetheless, so zip it!

Can someone, therefore, explain to me why I seem incapable of learning lines for an audition? I mean, it's kind of in the job description that we be able to learn lines, as most stories tend to have scripts (although not these days - damn Big Brother influence...I hate reality TV! But we'll save that for another time...) and learning said script is part and parcel of what actors do.


I have been trying to learn 6 paragraphs for the past two weeks and so far, I have learned one of them. The audition is in two days and I am starting to lose the plot! I wouldn't mind but to make matters worse, I seem to be learning the lyrics of every song I hear on the radio instantly, whether I want to or not. They just sink straight in!! How in the hell can I remember Lady Gaga, but not a monologue I am reading at every waking moment....??

Okay, not EVERY waking moment, seeing as I'm typing this when I could be learning, but d'ya know something? I've been working pretty hard on it so give me a break for ten minutes, will you? God! You don't hear me giving you grief for wasting YOUR day reading stupid blogs, do ya? No! Because I respect the fact that you might like a break from whatever it is you're doing.....so you're welcome for my respectful allowances!

Right, that's enough ranting. Back to work. Wish me luck!

Monday, 5 January 2009

A New Year Dawns...

Two thousand and nine.

Once, simply a random number, now these four digits represent the current year. Where have the years gone? This, I do not know. What I do know, is that I grow older with each passing day, and I do not like this!

2009 will bring with it my 28th birthday. Most people say to me "You're going to be 28? Wow, you don't look it!" Listen, I might not look it (thanks for the compliment, by the way), but I am bloody well starting to feel it!

I was once able to eat and drink what I want, and my rigorous sporting hobbies would burn off the excess weight. Now, the bones are becoming more brittle, the hobbies are becoming fewer, and the belt notches are expanding! Something's gotta give, as they say.

I have never been one for making plans, and sticking to plans is something I am still learning how to do, but I decided to write a list of things to do before I turn 30. This gives me just over 2 years to feel I have impressed myself through hard work and determination. My list is not complete, and I no doubt will add and subtract from it as time goes on, but here is what I have so far:

(In no particular order...)

~ See the Northern Lights in person.
~ Finish my script I keep trying to write. (Seriously, it's going to be brilliant!)
~ Share a meaningful kiss with someone special on the stroke of the New Years' midnight. (I only have two more chances at that one!)
~ Be cast in a West End musical. (Wishful thinking)
~ Leave Europe for the first time.
~ Learn to play a musical instrument.
~ Discover a magical power or ability I posess, such as laser vision or telekenesis, that had been lying dormant within my DNA.

I would love to accomplish any of these things (especially the last one - I could call myself Telekenetic Laser-Vision Boy or something!), so I am determined to use 2009 as a springboard
onto bigger and better things.

Bring it on, Life! For once, I feel ready for you!

Sunday, 30 November 2008

Donating Blood is like the Decathalon!

Here is a little story from a couple of years back. It is the tale of my first ever trip to the blood donation clinic. What should have been a straightforward jab-and-extract turned into an absolute chore. Enjoy!!

I'll start by stating that I am not now, nor have I ever been, afraid of needles or blood or anything like that. I suppose I've just been too lazy to get out and do it until now.

I was at home sitting watching a bit of the Spain -v- Ukraine match when my mother informs me I had to drop the car down to her at work so that she could head straight to golf after work (how posh are we?!). As I'm heading out the door, my dad says "Hey, while your down there, you might as well give blood!"...

Thanks Dad!

So off I went, on my merry way! I had never given blood before so I reckoned it should be a bit of a laugh! WRONG! As I arrived in the door, one of the biggest men I have ever seen calls me over and tells me to "Sit". Now, it was about this time that I began looking around for the nearest exit, what with Arnie here treating me like his German Shepherd and knowing that at some point in the next hour a huge fucking needle was going to enter me!!!!

"Date Of Birth?"
"The date of birth is the most important part so repeat to confirm it please!"

I got the feeling small talk wasn't this guy's thing!

Having scraped over this first hurdle (It's funny, ever since underage drinking, I have trouble giving my real DOB!), I was handed a what could only be described as a 'Lengthy Questionnaire' to fill in....! Madness!

I sit down and start browsing through the tick-the-box style questions, and then start ticking.

Yes No
No....etc, etc.


All of a sudden, there is before me one of the weirdest questions I have ever seen!

Q: Have you a particularly hazardous occupation?

Now, on it's own, this question wouldn't have been that ridiculous. BUT, the good people of the...eh...Blood Donor Corporation (never caught the name) had decided to give us an example, so the question read:

Q: Have you a particularly hazardous occupation? (e.g. Bus Driver)


Okay. Let's get one thing straight right here and now. In no way, am I having a go at the profession of bus driving. I for one am a firm believer in public transport and have on many occassions availed of the service. I also find bus drivers to be a very friendly and jovial bunch of people for the most part. BUT....

....but I have to go on record that I don't feel that bus drivers (other than the double deckers in London a few months back) have a 'particularly hazardous occupation'. No offence fellas! Now, had they used any of the examples I had come up with...

- Knife Juggler
- Fire Eater
- Crash Test Dummy
- Bungee Cord Tester
- Lab Rabbit
- Gary Glitter Impressionist

...the question would have actually made a bit more sense! Besides, as an actor, one may be called upon to portay a bus driver or indeed something equally hazardous such as a gardener or calendar maker. But hey, it's not as though I'm hung up about it! Answer: No.

So, moving on with the questionnaire. It all seemed to be fairly normal.....


Right at the end, two fairly surprising and controversial questions stand there glaring at me!

Q: Have you ever been given money for sex?

Thank God they phrased it that way! I mean, they didn't seem interested in knowing if I'd ever PAID for sex....Lucky me!! Answer: NO.

Q: (If you are male) Have you EVER had oral or anal sex with another man, with or without the use of a condom? IF YOU ANSWER YES YOU MAY NOT GIVE BLOOD.


I hadn't felt this shocked since the end of The Crying Game! (Actually, that is a great film. Watch it after you read this!)

I had no idea that gay men weren't allowed give blood. Now to be honest, this question didn't apply to me but all the same, I did feel a little aggrieved on behalf of the Gay community.

I mean, in all fairness, a guy has oral sex with another guy - he's gone for life....BUT a girl who has prescribed herself 50 wangs a day has the freedom to pop in whenever she likes! The logic was somewhat lost on me I'm afraid. I was nearly going to answer 'Yes' as a silent protest, but my Dad was just behind me...And I didn't fancy having to explain why I was being asked to leave! Answer: No.

With the second hurdle now overcome, it was on to "The Interview". Basically, this consisted of a woman sitting me down and asking me MY DATE OF BIRTH, then every one of the 50 questions I had just answered again but this time, she'd check that they matched what I had written! Pressure!

C+. I passed. Moving on.

Next hurdle. Iron count. Seriously, at this point I'm about to ask this girl "Look, do you want my blood or not?!?". Honestly, I'd say they don't have this many tests at a sperm bank!!!

She proceeds to ask me MY DATE OF BIRTH, then tells me "A man must have an iron count of at least 13 so what we do is just check you first to see if you are able to don*PRICK*ate!

OWWWW! Why is it that the tiny, sneaky ones are always the most painful??! Now I am ready to leave, in a huff I may add. So far, I've been bullied, interrogated and beaten up and all I have to show for it is a blood-soaked index finger! Anyway, result comes in - 14.6...."You may proceed to the donation area".




Next, and surely the final hurdle was the act of giving blood! Funny thing is, the assistants up at the donation table are so ridiculously friendly, I'm more nervous than ever! I'm convinced my sheet says "Take It All" or something! Anyway, we just had to wait for the doctor before putting the needle in so she kills the tinme by asking me MY DATE OF GOD-DAMN BIRTH.

Mental note: Waiting for someone to jam a needle into your arm sucks! All these thoughts start running through your mind.

What if the needle breaks?
What if my blood is bad?
Where do Gay people go instead of blood donation clinics?
What were the names of the bad guys in Superman 2?

All of a sudden, the doctor arrives. Here's the mad thing-----If having the correct date of birth is so bloody important, then why did the only medically trained person in the whole building not give a rats ass??? ANSWER ME THAT!

As I stated earlier, it's not that I'm afraid of giving blood or needles, it's just that I couldn't really be bothered before. I actually love hearing people tell me how afraid of needles they are because I just make fun of them for being cowards. NO MORE!

The doctor pulls out, what looked to me like a hollowed out knitting needle and for some strange reason, looked as though he wanted to put it in my arm! Seriously, it looked to be about the circumference of a chopstick! Not good. Not good at all!

BAM! In it goes. and blood just starts running through the hose. I'm trying my best to act like I'm totally used to this after 'Nam but I'm pretty sure the girl knows I'm slightly freaked out!

5 minutes later....

ALL DONE. Bam, biff, bop. Needle out, plaster on, pushed off bed. The funniest thing of the day was about to happen though. I was fine and would have liked to just head on home but she turns to this woman and says "He's a Firster!" "Oh right" is the reply. I hadn't a clue wht that meant so off I popped.

So, I'm asked to have a drink and something to eat. I decide that I wouldn't mind a nice 7-Up and a Timeout so take a seat at the table...

"Was this your first time?"


"Then would you sit over here instead?"

"Sure. Sorry."

She walks me past all the people at the table and sits me on a little bed in the corner with all the weedy girls and people who are after fainting. It seems this is indeed the final hurdle. I'm now wondering how long I have to sit next to people who look like, if they saw blood, would vomit all over me.

After about 10 minutes, I decide to leave. Everyone from the table was given pens, pencils and other little tidbits. We in the reject corner are just ushered out silently....

But hey, don't let this put you off....

Give Blood. Save Lives. Just watch out for little pricks (especially if you're gay).