I have small veins, possibly due to dehydration. I found this out today when trying to donate blood. I’m in Dublin, borrowing a friend’s house while she’s on holidays and when ever I’m here I try to build up a bit of karmic credit. Well after all I’ve lived 8 months this year on bursaries and other people’s generosity, so I kind of feel I better give something back or the cosmos might feel a tad underappreciated.

Also giving blood is the only time I allow myself ‘whole fat Tayto Crisps’ and the Time bars they give out free to build up strength so it wasn’t an altogether unselfish gesture. I did happen to be peckish when walking past the clinic.

Unfortunately it was literally like trying to get blood from a stone. The nurse spent about five minutes trying to rise my weedy little veins before sticking a massive sharp PIPE into one of the stringy little feckers but to no avail, I couldn’t yield a single drop. So not only did I manage not to donate but I’d already scoffed back two bag of Taytos and had loaded up my bag with free blood donor pencils.

However I had already volunteered at ‘Fighting Words’ that morning, a group set up to teach kids the joy of writing. Basically, in the morning workshops a group of kids comes in and are facilitated in making up a story on the spot. This is simultaneously illustrated, typed up and then, while the volunteers work with the individual kids on endings, the story is printed up into a little book which they each get to take away with them. It’s a fab idea (see Dave Eggers on http://www.ted.com) and very satisfying and rewarding…if you’re not a writer yourself.

Trying to get some of the kids to come up with endings was like, well trying to get blood from one of my scrawny little veins. The remit is to be encouraging and supportive so I managed to suppress my frustration at certain 8 year olds lack of instinct about conflict and narrative arcs just enough not to be discouraging but not, I fear, to put my karmic credit balance into the black.

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