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 Lexley Blood

Did you know that June 14th is World Blood Donor Day? We are all encouraged to present ourselves at our nearest centre.

There those of us who are young enough can, unlike the great Tony Hancock, be quite prepared to give our “very nearly an armful!" of blood. In my case I had very good intentions but as you will read below, in the main I failed dismally.

In 1964, I was eighteen and had just started my first job as a very junior secretary in an office based in the Strand.

For the first time I was eligible to give blood so altruistically put my name down on the list of blood donors going round the office. “They’ll give you a pint of blood my dear” says my boss kindly. This was the 60s when the Twiggy look was all the rage.

However, I wasn’t deterred and that afternoon walked down to the donor centre which was in an imposing building, the offices of a large oil company. I presented myself before the desk which was manned by a stern looking woman.

“First time?” she asks and I nod.

There’s a lot of waiting around. First the woman asks a number of questions, one of which is how much do I weigh, before sending me further on to have a blood smear taken to find out my blood type. I’m sent to sit and wait but almost immediately my name is called and I rush forward, rolling up my sleeve, poised and ready.

Instead I’m called into an office to see the doctor. She seemed sympathetic but peered at me searchingly.

“I see you’ve put that you weigh eight stone, I don’t think you look that heavy myself.” “We..ll” I stutter, “I’m not entirely sure, that was what I weighed last time I checked.”

She frowns and points to the scales. It’s one of the old fashioned balance kinds. She slides on the eight stone weights and it clunks down. Without comment she starts to remove weights. I actually weigh six and a half stone. She shakes her head and tells me that they won’t be taking any blood today.

“Come back when you do weigh eight stone, preferably a bit more. You can’t afford to lose a pint.”

I steal away and my final humiliation comes when the kindly lady dispensing tea directs me to sit down and have a cup.

“You’ll feel better soon dear but I wouldn’t leave just yet you look terribly pale.”

I try to tell her I haven’t actually given any blood but she insists on me staying and drinking her brew after which I creep back to the office where needless to say everyone had a good laugh.

Many years later I have a new doctor who, finding out that I’m blood type B, harangues me about not volunteering to give blood.

Knowing that I’ll now easily fulfil the instruction of “a bit more than eight stone” I again turn up at the donor station. This time all seems well. My answers to the questions all receive ticks and I’m directed to the room with banks of beds and connected up. I glance up at the suspended bottle gradually collecting my blood.

Gradually is the word however.

The people on either side of me finish and are replaced by other volunteers. The nurse comes along and looks at my quarter full bottle and instructs me briskly to press harder on the small wooden baton in my hand. The people on either side of me again finish and are replaced. My bottle is now about half full. The nurse comes along and looks disparagingly at the bottle. After the third turn round in the adjoining beds they disconnect me too. My bottle is about two thirds full. I don’t know whether they will ever be able to use this meagre contribution but again I am encouraged to have a cup of tea before leaving.

This was to be my only successful contribution because shortly afterwards I received a letter stating that as I had lived in the West Indies for a while when I was young I wasn’t now eligible to give blood.

Don’t let any of this deter you as I’m very sad that I wasn’t more successful and I do hope my two thirds bottle of blood helped someone. Fortunately as a family we have a rather better record. Before he reached the cut-off age I was proud to accompany my husband to a ceremony where he received his 50 pint badge.

Meet The Author...
Lexley George
Who Am I?

I’ve been writing poetry and short stories for some time but “How Could She Persuade Him” is my first venture into a novel which I self-published through Amazon. (see the advert).

My favourite Jane Austen book is “Persuasion” and this was the inspiration for my novel. Anna, the heroine is older than most rom-com heroines, ‘old hen’ rather than ‘chick’ lit. As she laments, “Why was it that in all romances the heroine had to be young, sassy, and slim? Why indeed?

I suppose all novels are to some degrees autobiographical but I’m not Anna although she does have some of my characteristics – especially comfort eating!

Apart from writing I love cooking for friends, reading and trying to keep fit with dancing and swimming – something has to counteract the over-eating! I also belong to a reading group and host one for local writers. I do try to concentrate on writing though and have just produced a collection of poems* and am working on another novel. This is more of a psychological thriller.

When I was younger I lived for a few years each in the West Indies and the Middle East - both great experiences. I also enjoyed teaching evening class cookery for quite a while, before starting my own catering business in Wales. One of my regular clients was a recording studio and despite knowing nothing about pop music after the 1960s, it was a great experience getting to know all the groups. They were always very worried if I liked the piece they were working on!

Now my husband and I are lucky enough to have retired to live between Southampton Water and the New Forest. When we have time we really appreciate the beauty of the area. However, like most of us “people of a certain age” between all the activities and family visits to our four children and nine grandchildren we wonder how we ever had time for a “proper” job.

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