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Blog: Avuncular Bleeding
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Bloomsbury is one of my favourite bits of That London - I worked round there for YEARS and love how HANDY it is for everything, and how friendly the whole area feels. I work around Kings Cross now which is super handy for my commute but not really for anything else, and also does not have a lot of STUFF in it. THUS it was lovely to stroll through my old HOOD and wander past the PUBS and SHOPS and NATIONAL MUSEUMS and so forth that make it such a fun place to lurk around in.
This time I was there for none of the above. Instead I was there to GIVE of myself, in a quite literal sense, at a BLOOD DONATION session. I haven't done this for AGES - before Lockdown I was going for weekly ACUPUNCTURE appointments which a) were v interesting and useful but b) meant I couldn't give blood for at least six months after it'd finished. This latter was disappointing as I LIKE giving blood - I have been doing it for ACTUAL DECADES and you always come out feeling as if you have done A Good Thing, and also there are FREE BISCUITS.
The only DRAG about it is that the nearest donor centre to me is a RIGHT old hike away, so I was DELIGHTED to discover that they had a new "pop-up" clinic in the Bloomsbury Hotel, right in the middle of the aforementioned Bloomsbury. I thus rolled up after work last week to find I'd arrived on only their second day of opening. It was very different from the permanent centre I usually go to, but also made me nostalgic for the sort of place I used to go to approx 1,000,000 years ago back in Leicester when I first started. The pop-up was in the basement of the hotel, in I guess their HALL venue as it looked very much like a school or church hall, except with MIRRORS on one of the walls. There were plastic chairs (spaced apart appropriately) and medical screens to create consultancy areas, and a general air of people MAKING DO and getting used to things.
There were also not many DONORS about, which meant that I'd only got halfway through my FREE ORANGE SQUASH when I got called and taken through to have my THUMB PRICKED to test (I think) my iron levels. Usually this is all fine, but this time the chap doing it wasn't sure, so did a SECOND test just to be certain. As we went through the processes there were quite a few points where he re-checked, and I soon learnt that this was because he was NEW to the job. It turned out that he was a former member of AIR CREW (what crusty old grandads would call an "Air Hostess/Host" but I definitely don't) who had RETRAINED to help the NHS. I found this VERY EXCITING as I'd seen it on the NEWS and he was very happy to tell me all about it, which was lovely. He pointed at all of his former colleagues around the room - "Virgin, BA, Virgin..." - and looking round I thought "OH YEAH!" for LO! once you knew they totally LOOKED like Air Crew, in that they had a POISE and PATIENCE that was different yet COMPLIMENTARY to the BUSINESSLIKE GOOD HUMOUR that the NHS staff tend to have. The different groups seemed to have mixed together in a DELIGHTFUL way, and I didn't even mind that he kept saying things like "I've only been training for three weeks" and "I hope I do this right" whilst wielding a ruddy great needle in my general direction.
It all went FINE, and I was very happy to be back at it, although I did note that a recent tendency of mine had become more striking since I last mixed with other people i.e. the whole experience made me become TERRIFYINGLY AVUNCULAR. I am by nature a very SHY person in my non-International Rock Star life - in my teens and twenties I had no idea whatsoever how to interact with other people, but as I've settled into my late, later, and EVEN LATER thirties (hem hem) I have gradually turned into one of those OLD BOYS you get who will make CHEEKY REMARKS and generally be a delight to all and sundry. For instance, when another member of former air crew said "It's very strange to be here doing this - usually I'd be serving you a Gin'n'Tonic" I could not STOP myself from syaing "Well don't let me stop you!!!" EXACTLY like one of those dreadful grown-ups I remember from childhood who were never more than five seconds from asking you if you'd got a girlfriend. I never understood why they kept making JOKES all the time or GRINNING at me, but now I know it is because it is FUN!
It was all SO delightful that when I finally left the building I had to have a good old chuckle to myself and calm down by going to The Posh Whisky Shop around the corner, where GIGGLING is not allowed and the closest you get to social interaction is a barely perceptible NOD when you get something they approve of. It was lovely to be back there too!
posted 13/10/2020 by MJ Hibbett
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