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

English Teacher

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: English Teacher - Saffron ...

Primary Supply Teacher - Northants

£90 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Leicester: Primary School Supply Teache...

Maths Teacher

£21000 - £35000 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Maths Teacher - Saffro...

Chemistry Teacher - Top School in Malaysia - January Start

£18000 - £20400 per annum + Accommodation, Flights, Medical Cover: Randstad Ed...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Being catcalled, groped and masturbated at is a common part of the female experience

Bryony Beynon
A general view at the 'Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red' evolving art installation at the Tower of London  

London's sea of poppies is a beautiful monument to the fallen of World War I

Ken Eggleston
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes
Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs:

Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs

"I have never regarded anything I have done in "the media" as a proper job"
Lyricist Richard Thomas shares his 11-step recipe for creating a hit West End musical

11-step recipe for creating a West End hit

Richard Thomas, the lyricist behind the Jerry Springer and Anna Nicole Smith operas, explains how Bob Dylan, 'Breaking Bad' and even Noam Chomsky inspired his songbook for the new musical 'Made in Dagenham'
Tonke Dragt's The Letter for the King has finally been translated into English ... 50 years on

Buried treasure: The Letter for the King

The coming-of-age tale about a boy and his mission to save a mythical kingdom has sold a million copies since it was written by an eccentric Dutchwoman in 1962. Yet until last year, no one had read it in English
Can instilling a sense of entrepreneurship in pupils have a positive effect on their learning?

The school that means business

Richard Garner heads to Lancashire, where developing the 'dragons' of the future is also helping one community academy to achieve its educational goals
10 best tablets

The world in your pocket: 10 best tablets

They’re thin, they’re light, you can use them for work on the move or keeping entertained
Lutz Pfannenstiel: The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents

Lutz Pfannenstiel interview

The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents
Pete Jenson: Popular Jürgen Klopp can reignite Borussia Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern Munich

Pete Jenson's a Different League

Popular Klopp can reignite Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern
John Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

The use of the British hostage demonstrates once again the militants' skill and originality in conducting a propaganda war, says Patrick Cockburn
The killer instinct: The man who helps students spot potential murderers

The killer instinct

Phil Chalmers travels the US warning students how to spot possible future murderers, but can his contentious methods really stop the bloodshed?
Clothing the gap: A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd

Clothing the gap

A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd
Fall of the Berlin Wall: Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain

The Fall of the Berlin Wall

Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain