I was reminded of an old gag today. “I spoiled her on our first date when I took her for tea and biscuits. Mind you, it was the first time she’d ever given blood.”
I attended a blood donation session today along with, I guess, thousands of other people around the country. Thankfully we seem to take our responsibilities to others seriously here in Britain.
The place was mobbed with donors of all ages, all shapes, all colours, everyone there to do something good and, unlike in many other countries, to do it for free. No one gets paid. Of course we never know when we may need it ourselves, so perhaps it’s not all selfless, but it works.
Although I had a fixed time appointment, the high numbers attending meant I had to wait a while. Which is fine. Donating is too important to flounce out in a strop. Not a problem. But the whole episode was not problem free.
As I was having my post donation orange squash (which always tastes of a melted ice lolly that’s fallen in a puddle of water) the reception nurse asked me to come over and see her. With people checking in around she asked “are you famous?”
Now, what on earth is anyone supposed to say to that? Even Tom Cruise or George Clooney would sound crass if they answered “yes.” It would make them appear up themselves, pompous, self regarding idiots. It’s like asking someone if they think they’re good looking, or rich, or successful. If even Brad Pitt answered Yes people would assume he was a big head.
I dabble in radio and TV, but I could truthfully replied No. Not even in my own street. Of course she may have been confusing me with Dale Winton, God rest him. I get a lot of that.
She then said “It’s just that one of my nurses thought she recognised you from TV. I don’t. Who are you?” My embarrassing moment just got excruciating. I joked that the nurse recognised me because I’m her gynaecologist, and that seemed to work for a moment, but then another nurse came along and was told, “He says he a gynaecologist.” Things were getting worse.
The new nurse, who had kindly given me the squash earlier, said “So you’re not famous then? I suppose that’s right otherwise we’d know who you are.” I asked for a pair of rubber gloves.
By this time my fellow biscuit munchers and melted popsicle drinkers were all staring and listening, while I fixed a smile and went back to a half finished packet of crisps. I couldn’t wait to leave as soon as the regulation five minutes recuperation was up.
I’m not sure what people expect from these encounters. I interview famous people every week on radio and for my newspaper column, and they all say the public seem to think celebs have no embarrassment threshold, that you should be able to takes pics of them without asking and say whatever you like to them. When they’re out with their families people stop them and take a selfie or shout at them for being rude to another character on Eastenders the night before. It must be hellish when folk don’t engage their brain first.
So, now I’m a doctor rather than a radio and TV presenter. I quite like my new status and next time I give blood I’ll wear a stethoscope to save that poor nurse from embarrassment.
Or to remind her of mine.