Be very careful what you read, and how you read it!!

I was in Melbourne, Australia, half-way through my first trip to sea when I was a mere Twenty-one years old! I had the afternoon off, and was just wandering through down-town Melbourne, doing nothing in particular. I’d been to a lunchtime concert, and was just walking along, when I saw I was next to the Australian Blood Transfusion Headquarters. Now in those days, I carried the blood donor card. So up the steps I went, and registered to give the standard pint, nothing metricated in those days!

The hall where the cots, and thus where the prospective donors lay, during their task was quite large, with room for about fifty donors to be accommodated, plus about three rows of armchairs where the recovering blood donors would sit, drinking their tea and chewing their biscuits.

As I said, it was lunchtime, and the centre was nearly empty, with a full crew of doctors, nurses and technicians, but just two other people lying on the cots dripping their life-giving donations into the glass containers. I sat down, gave my details, walked back about four rows into the hall and lay down, and got the standard treatment of rubber strapped arm, the sealed needle into my vein, and then the connection made to the glass container. The nurse gave me the squeezy rubber ball, grinned and asked, “Okay?” I nodded and I was left to get on with the job.

Now in my own defence as to what ensued, I can only describe myself as preternaturally curious; so when I noticed that the ceiling tiles were all painted with little drawings and small poems, I set myself the task of discovering as many as I could read while lying there, with the blood slowly draining out of my veins in a good cause.

Now consider where I was, lying down, strapped to a glass jar; so my room to actually move was rather limited, so I read the tiles behind me, the ones to each side, and then the tiles in front; all as I lay on the cot! There was, however, one tile which was behind me, but on which the words of the little saying were, to my sightline, upside down. So I slowly edged my head around so I might decipher the words on the tile, but because it was just that little bit too far away, it was very difficult still to read. So, still determined to decode this troublesome poem, I wound my shoulder up a bit, and twisted my head around a bit further: and that was when three doctors and four nurses descended on me, convinced I was either dying, convulsing, or having a major heart attack!