I have to have my blood tested regularly, so I consider myself a bit of an expert. I wear that strip of Micropore plaster on the inside of my elbow like a campaign medal.
You could say, when it comes to the needle, my arm is an old hand, if not a pin cushion. They do a very good blood test at the Royal South Hants Hospital in Southampton; indeed it’s so good that the queues start forming half an hour before the department opens. I swaggered in at 2.15pm this afternoon and I was 33rd in line.
They have numbered tickets, like the delicatessen in a supermarket. We sit, arms folded in the waiting area, watchful, in case anyone sabotages the system, and give withering looks if anyone’s mobile rings.
The jabber on duty is usually quick and efficient and the whole thing runs very smoothly. Well done, NHS. When the blood is being taken, I affect nonchalance while I stare out of the window at the trees.
Occasionally, however I run into a few problems and my arm is jabbed several times without success. Rather like getting blood out of a stone; my veins seem to disappear (according to the jabber on duty).
Today was one such exception. “It’s not you, it’s me,” I said to the operative. “I’m being stingy with my blood today.”
I made a few other expert observations, explaining that my blood was like double cream, not like the easy-pouring stuff. She could squeeze out only a droplet, which wouldn’t satisfy the needs of the people in the lab.
All the same, I thought, looking at that meagre amount in the phial, it would be ample for a television crime scene. “Get this around to the lab for DNA testing, Golding,” the detective would say.
“And put out an all-ports alert for a shifty individual with Elastoplast on his arm.”