Thursday, June 15, 2006

Open to abuse

Has sperm ever come up at a dinner party you've attended? Personally I haven’t ticked that particular box in the great checklist of life. One Professor Jim Bidlack, however, must have found the small talk rather dull at one such party because he was asked there and then if he would provide a sample for the Repository for Germinal Choice. And did. To judge by his picture on the BBC site there was a photographer standing by to record the moment.

This blog doesn't talk much about sperm – well, maybe once – so let’s splash out. Horizon’s "The Genius Sperm Bank" will be broadcast tonight (15 June) at 9pm on BBC1, safely after the watershed. Apparently it spills the story of Robert Klark Graham, millionaire inventor of the shatterproof spectacle lense. Worried about the state of the world, he decided to take matters into his own hands and created the world’s first catalogue-based sperm bank, which only took – indeed, actively solicited – deposits from very clever people. Such was its success, and the demand for its product, that it could hold its own against the plethora of lesser institutions that handled the accounts of hard-up students and other impoverished types who wanted to take a load off their worries. Funding was pulled in the late 90s after Graham’s death and it closed – account cleaned out, assets flogged off, inventory liquidated. But it single-handedly changed the face of the sperm bank industry and its legacy lives on.

"There was so little sperm, never enough sperm," says former staff member Julianna McKillop. Perhaps they were doing it wrong, but it’s really quite easy to whip up several million of the little blighters for quite modest outlay. Get a grip. Be your own best friend. No need to stew in your own juices.

And so on.

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