Sitting on the bus, a man is helped on. He says he can’t see, although he does not seem to have too much trouble moving around or slapping his Oyster card down. He says he’s disabled, cheerfully, as that’s the armour against the world. He sits down next to me and just starts to talk. the initial reaction is typical London, ignore him. But you can’t. There’s a stream of talk just flowing out, asking me not to be scared. That he’s disabled. That he had a parachute accident and fell, broke everything and was in hospital for 5 years, 3 of them in a coma. Again, a request not to be scared and reassurance that he was not trying to chat me up. At this point you can’t help to engage in the chat.
He’d been a stuntman, he’d worked on Gladiator and Die Another Day. Apparently Pierce Brosnan was very nice and Russell Crowe not so much. He used to instruct in 10 sports. Now he’s disabled. And i shouldn’t be scared. We chatted about how much he loves horses.
He leaves, heading back out into the streets to try and get to his destination. He leaves me with the impression of a very nice man with a scrambled brain, who has stories to tell and wants to share his life with people, a man with a positive outlook despite knowing he’s different. He also leaves me with just a hint of disbelief, was this true? Or was it a story that has been created to make life fun?
A search later on a few facts and up pops this piece from The Guardian asking If He was Happy. Even more relevant was this piece, I’m not Angry , a story of another encounter with Ben that has turned into a collection of stories of the people he has met and how he has touched them. How he has made an impression on everyone he meets by living his life to the full.
Thank you Ben. It was wonderful to meet you today.