Natalie Haynes: Want to know how it feels to be rich? Give a pint of blood

Notebook

Share
Related Topics

Every now and then, a news story appears which seems to me to be earth-shattering or, at the very least, quite serious, and yet no one seems to give it the attention it merits. This week, the Welsh Blood Service issued an urgent plea for donors, as supplies are running low. They have only two days' supply of the rarest blood group, AB negative, in stock.

Now, I do realise that not everyone lives in Wales, and that not everyone in Wales is planning to sustain a major injury over the next week, but this still seems shocking to me. A few days' worth of blood is clearly not enough. And as the bank holidays stack up, the shortage is likely to get worse: donor numbers went down over Easter, and they are likely to dip again over the Jubilee weekend.

Add to that the fact that the National Blood Service reckons it will need a 30 per cent boost in blood stocks before the Olympics, to cover the huge influx of visitors to the UK, and I think we should be making a bit more noise about this.

As a society, we wrestle with the ethics of opt-in or opt-out schemes for organ donation. But while deciding to carry a donor card may require serious thought, giving blood requires none at all. It takes an hour, you get free biscuits and they give you all the lemon squash you can drink. It has all the perks of a school fête, in other words, except you don't have to throw anything at a coconut (unless you really want to). And everyone is nice to you because you're important: it gives you a taste of how it must feel to be rich.

Sure, sometimes it goes marginally less well than others, and you end up with a bruise. Do you know what a bruise says? It says you are tough, and don't let a tiny thing like a bruise stop you from saving the lives of people you've never met, exactly like a superhero. Yet of all the eligible donors in this country, only 5 per cent of us give blood.

Every now and then, someone suggests paying blood donors, to try and get the numbers up. But, actually, it's the altruism which makes donating blood fun. Yes, fun, I tell you. You do something mildly inconvenient in the certain knowledge that the net gain to society is vastly greater than the net inconvenience to you. There are very few things we can do which take so little time, require no skills (on our part – the nurses are super-skilled), and cost virtually nothing. So, surely it's time to open our veins for the Jubilee.

Petty rules are there to be broken

Claire Lomas is paralysed from the chest down, but she didn't let that stop her walking the London Marathon in a bionic suit. It took her 16 days to complete the course, and, in doing so, she has raised £83,000 for Spinal Research.

But her name won't appear on the official results, nor did she receive a medal for finishing. Rules are rules, apparently, and the organisers insist that only those runners who finish on the day of the marathon are eligible for a medal.

There is no uglier reason for behaving obnoxiously than declaring that it's "the rules". Could any athlete who sprinted round the course in a few hours really think that their achievement would be belittled if the organisers made an exception to their rule and gave Claire Lomas a medal, too?

It seems not: Matthew Pinsent – a man who knows plenty about winning a medal – met her at the finish line with 15 medals donated by other runners. What a pity the race organisers have forgotten it's the taking part which counts.

Flash wars at the Barbican

What is going on at the Barbican? Theatre critic Mark Shenton went there last week to see Philip Glass's five-hour opera, Einstein on the Beach. He was infuriated by the presence of an audience member, allegedly taking flash photographs. When that audient turned out to be Bianca Jagger, his wrath was unabated.

Whatever the truth of what happened (she says she only snapped a few photos during the curtain call), using a flash is clearly disruptive both to your fellow spectators and the performers. Also – though I must confess I haven't found the five hours to go and see the Glass opera yet – I am guessing that the stage is pretty well-illuminated already. So who needs a flash?

I find the need to document every moment of life simply perverse. Why wouldn't you just enjoy the opera, since you'd paid good money to see it, and buy a programme, which will have better pictures anyway?

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Project Coordinator

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: The Organisation: The Green Recrui...

Project Manager (HR)- Bristol - Upto £400 p/day

£350 - £400 per annum + competitive: Orgtel: Project Manager (specializing in ...

Embedded Linux Engineer

£40000 - £50000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Embedded Sof...

Senior Hardware Design Engineer - Broadcast

£50000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Working for a m...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The Lada became a symbol of Russia’s failure to keep up with Western economies  

Our sanctions will not cripple Russia. It is doing a lot of the dirty work itself

Hamish McRae
The Israeli ambassador to the US, Ron Dermer, has been dubbed ‘Bibi’s brain’  

Israel's propaganda machine is finally starting to misfire

Patrick Cockburn
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz