Blood tests must be among the easiest procedures in a hospital, so routine that you can just turn up at the blood clinic, take a ticket from the dispenser and wait for your number to flash red on the screen. Absolutely no appointment necessary, and the wait isn’t long, even though the crowd fills two or three rows of seats. My consultant’s notes refer to the tests simply as “bloods”, which sounds nicely cavalier (“Huzzah, sir, pick up your rapier!”) compared to phlebotomy, which is this area of medicine’s official name. Just out of sight, the phlebotomists are at work behind the curtains with their needles: pricking veins and turning tubes incarnadine. Your turn. “This arm please … just relax … a little scratch now … press with your finger on the cotton wool for a moment.” And within a few minutes, you’re rolling down your sleeve and saying thanks and goodbye to the person with the needle – grateful, though these details are never spoken, for their skill and their part, however small, in what you hope is the remedial process.