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

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £45,000

£18000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive is required t...

Recruitment Genius: Test Development Engineer

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you inspired to bring new a...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Motor Engineer

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Technical Administrator

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company are a world leadin...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Nick Clegg (R) Liberal Democrat Leader and former leader Charles Kennedy MP, joined the general election campaign trail on April 8, 2010  

Charles Kennedy: The only mainstream political leader who spoke sense

Tim Farron
 

The strangely parallel lives of Oliver Letwin and Ed Miliband

Matthew Norman
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

Saving Private Brandt

A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral