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The collected opinions of an august and aristocratic personage who, despite her body having succumbed to the ravages of time, yet retains the keen intellect, mordant wit and utter want of tact for which she was so universally lauded in her younger days. Being of a generation unequal to the mysterious demands of the computing device, Lady Bracknell relies on the good offices of her Editor for assistance with the technological aspects of her journal.

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Location: Bracknell Towers

Friday, June 15, 2007

One of life's eternal mysteries

I set off in the pouring rain this morning to have some blood drawn for tests. (Standard quarterly diabetes ones: I'm not coming down with something new and exciting. At least, not that I'm aware of. And, in any case, surely it's somebody else's turn to be ill?)

Anyway, there's a little clinic for this precise purpose off Smithdown Rd. It's one of the few remaining outposts of what my father assures me used to be the local Workhouse. But which is now a huge Asda instead. (There's probably an amusing satirical parallel just begging to be drawn there, but I've been up since 5.30, and I'm beginning to flag.)

Veins are professionally opened between 8.30 and 12.30 in the morning. It's best to get there as early as possible because it gets very busy later on. Not only does it get so busy that there isn't always anywhere left to sit down, but the seating is of the plastic-bucket-attached-to-long-metal-rod-screwed-into-the-floor variety. At best, uncomfortable. At worst, something akin to sitting in a dodgem car being driven with more enthusiasm than skill by an eight year old on a tartrazine high. Why must people wriggle? (I exempt CPers from this criticism, obviously.)

So. I arrived. I took my numbered ticket from the machine. (It's like the machine at the deli counter in Sainsbury's. Except for the fact that you don't come out of the experience with a punnet of olives. Which is a shame.)

I did the ouchy crip's quick survey of available seats. (If you are an ouchy crip too, you undoubtedly do this yourself every time you get on a bus or train, or go into a pub or restaurant. So you will know what I'm talking about.) The quick survey is intended to identify the seat which will be the least problematic of all available seats.

If I were Arnold Shwarzenegger in Terminator, and finding a seat was a nail-biting part of the plot of the movie in which I was starring, there would probably be a clever special effect to represent the ouchy crip's survey. Data would scroll past my inner eye. My microprocessor would correlate information about lumbar support; proximity to toilets; wriggle-potential of those in nearing seats; and decibel level of any small children who might have been brought along for the ride. The Best Of All Possible Seats would flash up on my view screen, and I would proceed towards it in a somewhat threatening manner.

But I don't have a microprocessor. Or a view screen with pulsating green lights. Just a rather furtive expression on my face while I scan my surroundings. I sit down on a short bank of "chairs", one seat away from a middle-aged chap who doesn't look as though he's likely to move about very much. (He is later replaced by a bouncer extraordinaire, but that's beside the point.)

Coincidentally, the seat I have chosen enjoys a partial view into the blood-letting room. So I am treated to the sight of people frantically removing several layers of clothing so that their inner elbows can be pierced with a needle.

Is it just me, or is this really not rocket science? Your doctor has sent you to have blood tests. Even if you have never had blood tests done before, wouldn't you stop and think about where the blood might be taken from? I mean, surely no-one assumes it will be taken from the tip of a finger. Or the end of their nose. Are people such exhibitionists that they want to have to strip down to their bra/vest in front of complete strangers? Wouldn't it cross your mind to wear something loose which could be pushed up/rolled back as necessary? Apparently not. My practice nurse has had me in fits of laughter in the past when she has regaled me with anecdotes of tightly-swaddled patients.

All of which has started me wondering: what would be the worst possible combination of garments to wear when going for blood tests?

Excluding something as ridiculous as a full set of armour, my best shot to date is a high-necked blouse with leg of mutton sleeves, worn under a pinafore dress which does up at the back. I am, of course, open to better suggestions...

The Editor

PS This is what you see over the wall on your right as you're walking down to the clinic.

As far as I know, the two things are completely unconnected.

(Actually, for years now I've been intending to have a good wander round that cemetery one day when I'm feeling fit. I'm sure it would be fascinating.)


Blogger Mary said...

My imagination isn't on top form, but I suggest that the garments, whatever they are, would be white.

4:06 pm  
Blogger joshua said...

It's so nice for me to have found this blog of yours, it's so interesting. I sure hope and wish that you take courage enough to pay me a visit in my PALAVROSSAVRVS REX!, and plus get some surprise. My blog is also so cool!

Feel free off course to comment as you wish and remember: don't take it wrong, don't think that this visitation I make is a matter of more audiences for my own blogg. No. It's a matter of making universal, realy universal, all this question of bloggs, all the essential causes that bring us all together.

I think it's to UNITE MANKIND that we became bloggers! Don't see language as an obstacle. That's not the point. Pictures talk also. Open your heart and come along!!!!!

7:09 pm  
Blogger Chairwoman of the bored said...

Complete firefighter's outfit?

Mm. Lovely view. Is that in Ullett Road?

I'm waiting to go into hospital, there's a similar view from the hospital windows. As Katy said, I won't have very far to go.

8:21 pm  
Blogger DD said...

A wetsuit under a halfzip kagoul.

A long sleeved bodystocking and a Vivienne Westwood corset.

10:16 pm  
Blogger Cusp said...

My dear Lady Bracknell, Thank you for a wonderful post about the taking of blood. I have been crying with the laughter of recognition.

I also wonder why so many 'Health Centres' are sited next to cemetries --- as is our own here in Suffolk.

Mayhap it is in case of an error by an errant GP who can simply lob (apologies for such a coarse term in the prescence of your esteemed company) the offending error (sorry, patient) out the window and straight into the cemetry before anyone discovers the mistake !

11:23 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i had to smile at the "ouchy crip survey of chairs" you describe. I do something similar, in those kinds of situations, but from the perspective of making sure that i see the person/numberannouncerthingie that determines when i next get to go in. in that respect, my doctor's surgery is about the worst for that: all the chairs are *miles* away from the reception desk, and the doctors call out over a loudspeaker who's up next. So i have to ask the receptionist to wave at me when i'm up. Only all the chairs that face them either seem to be taken.. or obscured by something like a pillar, TV, wall, that kind of thing.

oh well. at least i can stand (which i often do!).


2:09 pm  
Blogger marmiteboy said...

I imagine the outer layer should be a duffle (difficult buttons)and mittens should be worn with this (like the ones we had as children with the string threaded through the sleeves of the coat). Then perhaps a nice hoody (without buttons or zips) that has to be removed by pulling it over ones head. Finally a cycle jersey should be worn, provided, of course, it has long sleeves.

The cycle jersey, by design, is v tight and sleeve rolling would be difficult if blood was to be removed.

Bring back the leech I say. Less of a palavour.

2:48 pm  
Blogger Lady Bracknell said...


I think we may just have discovered your niche in life!!

That is so streets-ahead-better than anything I could come up with that my ghast is well and truly flabbered.

Clearly, you "know from clothes" (as I believe our American cousins would put it).

Is it any wonder I have employed you as a personal shopper in the past?

(Er, and is that something you wanted people to know...?)

3:51 pm  
Blogger Lady Bracknell said...

So. The question now is:

Do Cusp and the Chairwoman live almost next door to each other, or does every county have not-at-all-worrying cemeteries handily adjacent to its medical facilities?

I should add that it was pouring with rain when I took that photograph. That, and the fact that I took it with my mobile phone rather than with a "proper" camera, seem to have combined to produce a particularly louring and forbidding appearance. It doesn't usually look that grim.

Oh and it's on Smithdown Rd, not Ullet. But you were very close.

4:03 pm  
Blogger Lady Bracknell said...


You're right. I forgot about the "sitting within site of the number screen" part of the equation.

Swivelling round in my seat every time the damn thing bleeps would not be a good idea. (Swivelling round not being my strong suit, you understand. Not with my hips. But I can face the front like nobody's business.)

4:06 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A long sleeved tight corset with a zillion tiny, tiny hooks and buttons, all of which are in the back and utterly unreachable by anyone wearing said corset. And white, as Mary says. And 10 additional white layers over it.

8:53 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here in my little village, the surgery and the undertaker's are about, ooooh, 50 yards apart. In the postal town (Glossop, if I may be so bold, Dame Honoria), they're even closer. I'm trying to work out if this is as worrying as cemeteries and hospitals.

I'm also reminded of my visit to a (private) hospital many years ago when there was an inordinate delay before getting seen. I was then called to the desk and told this was because I'd been filed with the deads. Nice.

2:10 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A burq’a?

8:46 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I suggest that the worst possible combination of garments to wear when attending a blood test would be a jaunty straw bonnet, baby-pink cross-over ballerina top over a turquoise liberty bodice, gold hot-pants and six-inch rhinestone-encrusted stilettos.

It certainly got some funny looks last time I wore that outfit to the clinic!

8:48 am  
Blogger Jess said...

I donate platelets and plasma on a regular basis so I guess I've had a better chance than most to see the stupid things people wear when donating blood. The best was this:

The young lady strutted in wearing high-heeled silver boots. They had fur wrapped around the top, like those stupid mukluks. She also had a gigantic puffy coat, the sort that looks like the one true love of the Michelin Man. She was unwilling to surrender it to a coathook - as she loudly said, someone might steal it. Because there's nothing I want so much as a coat that makes me look really fat. Underneath she wore a skin tight pale blue mohair sweater. And underneath that....nothing. I know this because I heard her giggling about it to her poor technician. While it was cut low enough that you could *see* she wasn't wearing a bra, it was also tight enough that the cuffs couldn't be pulled up to expose her arms for a blood pressure test, let alone donation. Not that it mattered. She gave a little shriek when they pricked her finger for the iron test, and would not shut up about how much it hurt. The guy who came with her looked downright relieved when he was called in to donate.

Why the heck would you show up to donate blood like that? Why!? Why not just say no?

4:56 pm  
Blogger fluttertongue said...

On my way to college I used to walk past a cemetary that was next to a hospital for the elderly.

The worst is when the doctor unexpectedly suggests a blood pressure test and you have to fumble about with layers, knowing that s/he is looking at you as if you've just come down from Mars.

9:48 pm  
Blogger BloggingMone said...

I know a hospital where most of the patients' rooms windows are giving a view on a cementary. Not very promising...
Most unsuitable clothing for blood taking: anything from the whole range of latex-fashion, I suppose.

9:51 am  
Blogger Lady Bracknell said...

Laydeez and gennlemen, I believe we have a winner!

Having to strip down to your bra is bad enough: not wearing a bra at all is either rank exhibitionism or gross stupidity.

Having said that, I am well impressed by the young woman's ability to wear a mohiar sweater next to her skin. I would be an itching, scabby mass of hives within seconds.

4:13 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I could probably find it in my heart to forgive practically anything for a young lady without visible means of support!!

8:49 am  
Blogger Jess said...

Dude, you're making certain assumptions there. Alas, they are incorrect. Sensible people do not get a large tattoo of Tigger on their breasts, because gravity or weight gain will inevitably make Tigger's feet considerably bigger than his head.

It was distracting.

6:57 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tight sweaters, breasts AND Tigger!!

Quick, somebody pinch me. I may have died and gone to Heaven!

Please don't tell me she had a meat-feast pizza in her backpack and her Daddy owns a brewery...

11:38 am  
Blogger Rob at Kintropy said...

My wife wears the right clothes, but has molasses-like blood. We always ask for their best vampire (and once actually got a good, first pull from someone born in Transylvania).

Love the cemetery picture as well. The hospital-cemetery link must be a world-wide phenomenon. I grew up in Southern California, and marveled at the cemetery called The Good Shepherd Cemetery near a local hospital. In my youngest days, I thought it might be a rather large and spacious pet cemetery, given the name.

12:56 pm  

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