A helping hand


Yesterday I had to go to the Royal Free Hospital in London for a routine annual check up, and afterwards was sent for a blood test. In the “blood room”, you take a ticket as you might at a butcher’s to indicate your place in the queue, and sit and wait. An illuminated sign flashes up the numbers and shows the booth to go to when it is your turn, and there is an excellently clear spoken message for anyone not watching the screen. This message is: “Will ticket no. 401 [in my case] please go to room no. 10”.

As my ticket was unable to follow this instruction without assistance, I took pity on it and carried it to room 10.


  1. Let’s hope all blood levels of ticket no. 401 are okay.

  2. Thanks, Petr – I haven’t heard from the hospital, and if no news arrives, then I can assume the best!

  3. Personally, I think they should you tell the result whether it is good or bad, otherwise one never knows when bad news might come, or even if bad news was sent but got lost.
    I know someone who was pickpocketed. When she reported her loss of a credit card to the bank, they said that they would review the expenses and tell her if she had to pay anything that was charged to the account after the pickpocketing, as the pickpocketers had used the card up to its credit limit. The bank said that it was most likely that nothing would need to be paid and that she would be able to assume that outcome if she didn’t hear from them. However, since they didn’t say when a decision would be made, she didn’t want to be left in an uncertain state with the possibility of a letter requesting payment of thousands. So she asked for a letter confirming that no payments would be required, which did eventually come, much to her relief.

  4. Michael – Past experience is that 401’s GP will get a letter, and that it will be copied to 401 as well. At least this is what has happened for the last 13 years.

  5. Graham,

    You perhaps should think yourself lucky that the ticket number was not 404 and the room was not 101.

  6. John – If it had been 404, the illuminated sign would probably have come up with “Unexplained error”, which always makes me think “Do not pass Go, do not collect £200”.

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