land of the giants

‘I don’t like needles.’
‘It’s understandable.’
‘Do you see it a lot, then?’
‘A fair bit. What happens when you see a needle?’
‘I don’t know. I just come over all – anxious.
‘I’m sorry to hear that. I’ll be as gentle as I can.’
‘They normally struggle, you see?’
‘Do they? Oh dear!’
‘They struggle like anything. There was one nurse, she kept jabbing me and jabbing me. Rooting around she was, waggling it around, like she was trying to hook a duck at the fair. This other nurse had to pull her off.’
‘Well I won’t do that. If I can’t get it first go, I won’t keep on. I’ll call in the specialists.’
‘They said you were a specialist.’
‘Did they?’
‘Oh. Well – I’m not bad. I don’t do it all day every day, like the phlebs. But I have a go.’
‘That doesn’t fill me with confidence.’
‘No. I don’t want you having a go. I want you not to hurt me.’
‘I’ll do my best. Let’s just roll your sleeve up and see what we’ve got.’

Reluctantly he unbuttons his cuff and rolls his shirt sleeve up, keeping his eyes on me. Playing on the little portable TV opposite is a re-run of a seventies show, Land of the Giants. Some astronauts have crash-landed on a planet identical to earth, except everything’s much bigger. It’s hard to resist watching some of the show whilst I lay out my kit. Two giant scientists have one of the astronauts sellotaped to their work bench. They prod her with the end of a pencil, making her scream, whilst two of her colleagues hide behind a lunch box, wondering what to do.

‘At least it’s not as bad as it used to be.’
‘What isn’t?’
‘Needles. They used to have these gigantic bloody things. It’d take two of them just to carry it in the room.’
‘A bit like the show.’
‘What show?’
‘Land of the Giants. Anyway – I think you’re right. I think things have improved.’
‘What d’you reckon, then? Will you get any?’
‘I think so. There’s a nice one, look. And there. Maybe last time when they tried you were dehydrated or something.’
‘But don’t worry. I only need to get enough for these two little tubes.’
‘There was this one girl, though. Used to work out of the surgery. She understood me. She’d come round, give me a nice big smile, and before I knew it she was packing up to go. And I’d say to her, I’d say – don’t you want any blood today, then? And she’d say to me I’ve already got it!
‘Wow. Shame she wasn’t available today.’
‘I’ve already got it! I didn’t even know she’d started!’
‘She sounds amazing.’
‘She was an absolute dream.’
‘I’d like to meet her.’
‘When the surgery rang and said they were sending a specialist round I thought that’s who they meant.’
‘And then you walk in.’
‘Okay. Here we go, then…’

Behind me in the Land of the Giants, the two astronauts have snuck out onto the workbench whilst the giant scientists have turned their backs. They cut through the tape and set their colleague free. But – the whole thing was a trap! Lights are flashing, klaxons sounding, giants running around.

‘All done.’
‘Yep. It wasn’t too bad in the end. Put your finger here. I’ll give you a plaster in a minute.’

He keeps his finger on the piece of gauze in the crook of his elbow whilst I write out the form. Land of the Giants has taken a break, just as the giant scientists are about to drop a cage on the astronauts; for now, though, it’s an advert for stair lifts.

‘Right! I’ll run these samples down the path lab and your GP can check the results online in a few hours. And that’s it! I’ll just put a little plaster on there for you.’
‘Thank you.’
‘You’re welcome. I’ll see myself out.’

In the lobby, quite unexpectedly, I find that I have to fight a giant spider with one of thegiant lancets in my pocket. It’s touch and go, especially as I trip over and fall flat on my back. Just as the spider veers over me waggling its legs, ready to chaw down, somehow, with my last remaining strength, I manage to hold up the lancet. It lodges in the spider’s abdomen. Spider goo covers me from head to foot – but it’s okay. I’ve got some cleansing wipes in the boot of my car. Only – how the hell am I going to reach them?

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