It’s a blood-y good day out

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When you’re in your late 40s, there aren’t many things left to do that make you feel better about yourself.

New music is both boring and alienating in equal measure, you’ve finally seen professional football for the racket that it is and drinking your cares away is a no-no because suddenly your hangovers last for two whole days. Which is why, last year, yours truly started giving blood. Just an armful (about three-quarters of a pint) every three months.

Once you’ve registered at blood.co.uk or called 0300 123 23 23, it’s a doddle.

Just fix up an appointment (mine are at the RLI), fill in a questionnaire, take a pinprick test to see if you’re anaemic and away you go. Well, there’s a little bit more to it than that. The staff are lovely but the questionnaire asks things that would make a docker blush, like have you had sex for money recently? Which, since the NHS contaminated blood scandal of the 1980s, I suppose they can’t be too careful. After that, it’s showtime. And the whole gig is catered. Neck a pint of water while you’re reading the information booklet in the waiting room, recline in the comfiest chair you’ve ever kicked back in, a needle is jabbed in your arm so expertly you barely feel it and out pours your blood, down a tube and into a plastic bag. They even give you tips, like criss-crossing your legs and tensing the muscles in your backside while they open up a vein, makes the blood pump better apparently.

Which got me thinking, when the government has finally sold off the last bit of the NHS to a private healthcare company that pays for donations, will they employ someone on minimum wage to waggle your legs about and knead your buttocks to make your blood flow quicker so they can get more customers in and out the door?

Once it’s over and your blood is all bagged up, they even let you feel it, if you’re a weirdo like me (dark red and curiously warm). And then, once you’re done, the staff get you a drink and you can help yourself from the biscuit barrel that’s full of strictly A-list items. When you’re 48, this counts as a good day out.

But joking aside, the real reason you’re here is because you’re saving someone’s life.