I’m sat on a rather uncomfortable chair in a row of people waiting. It puzzles me why after thousands of years of making chairs we still don’t know how to make ones that are comfortable.
It’s Saturday lunchtime and the place is packed. We are in rows in one corner having booked ourselves in at the entrance.
There are young people some of them looking nervous, others looking a bit lost. There are older people mostly relaxed. It makes a change for the young to be the nervous ones.
Some of us are drinking water, others cheap squash out of large disposable plastic cups.
All of the usual waiting distractions are being employed: chattering, newspapers, out of date magazines, romantic novels, card games on mobile phones. Other’s have entered that semi-docile state that waiting induces.
It a large village hall where the decorations are looking a bit tired. Someone replaced the blinds at the windows in recent times, but didn’t bother to fill in the holes left by the ones they removed. There’s a stage and some spotlights that look like they were last used for some wonderfully under-produced and over-practiced amateur dramatics. There’s a certain comfort to these places. They’re all looked after by different groups of people and yet have the same feeling to them.
Occasionally a name is read out and one of our number leaves to another part of the hall. Others come to fill their place in the rows.
We’re all waiting for our journey into one of the little cloth cubicle for the initial interview and tests. It’s there that many of us will imagine the famous Hancock scene and repeat to ourselves the words “I don’t mind giving a reasonable amount, but a pint? Why, that’s very nearly an armful!”.
The theme tune to Rocky is playing on the radio. It doesn’t seem appropriate for this crew of wonderfully ordinary Lancashire folk.
In the fullness of time each of us will make our way to the fancy new reclining chairs or one of the wartime metal beds and the machines that will be attached to our arms to take our pint.
We’ll finish our experience with a conversation over at the tea and coffee table. there we’ll book ourselves in for another appointment of the same and leave.
We are all here to give something of ourselves, but why? There’s no payment. We’re not doing it for the fun of it. Who would choose to have a needle stuck in there arm for fun on a Saturday lunchtime. There’s no law to tell us to do it.
Yet there are many reasons why we give.
I’m sure for some it’s personal; they give because someone they love has needed the services of the donors and they realise how important it is. Others, I suspect, give because of a sense of duty, back to Hancock “I came here in all good faith, to help my country.”
I don’t think it’s either of those things that draws me to this place. I think I give because I’m a member of a society, a community, a people, and I give for our collective good. I give out of a sense of serving the community. There may be a time when I need the community to look after me. I know that there are people who need my help now.
None of these people will receive public acclaim. They’re a quiet group on the whole the donors.
In my view it’s not the Gross Domestic Product of a nation that is the true measure of it’s worth. It’s these selfless servants who are the true measure of a society.
He sat down and summoned the Twelve. “So you want first place? Then take the last place. Be the servant of all.”