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Sunday, September 04, 2005

 

Oh my achin’ feet etc.

One of the perks (Of which there are precious few) of being in an outdoor local authority job like mine, although some would say it is one of the penalties, is being out in the open air all day in all weathers. In my book, sunny days more than make up for the dull and showery, and you can get some serious vitamin D conversion in, which is nice. Now it appears there is a EU directive in the making, which if implemented, means we will have to cover up and smother in hot weather. This is a poor look out for any outdoor worker who is feeling the heat, especially construction workers, and even barmaids look to be caught out by these ‘cover up’ proposals.

I object to this. I’ve worked hard on my tan to the point where my forearms are nut brown and (To Mrs Sticker at least) quite sexy. So long as you don’t have to look at the graveyard pallor of the rest of my body this is great. Wearing long sleeved shirts in hot weather is uncomfortable and may possibly lead to increased body temperature followed by heat stroke, and we’ve had quite a few cases of that this year. We could of course carry lightweight air conditioning units with us, but that’s just plain silly. Perhaps we might get pulled off patrol when the sun gets too bright – right, like that’s going to happen. Maybe we’ll get some better kit – Dream on, Bill.

What the authors of said proposed directive seem to be trying to do is protect all people from getting skin cancer. However, making a kind of blanket injunction against exposure to the sun doesn’t take into account that when it comes to exposure, some people are less prone to getting one of the various kinds of skin cancer than others and to base calculations on one skin type would be plain silly. There’s a list of causes here to give you an idea of some of the predisposing factors for the various types of skin tumours.

On a not unrelated health and safety point, because of our councils purchasing policy, we tend to get stuck with kit that gets you hot and sweaty, even on relatively cool days. By way of an example, I bought a decent hat for under thirty five pounds three weeks ago and wear it to keep the elements off my thinning thatch when I am not at work. It is comfortable and well ventilated so I hardly sweat. Compare that to my current issue uniform cap, which gets hot and uncomfortable and stinks appallingly unless it is cleaned and deodorised twice weekly. Our Shirts etc are made of artificial fibre, which don’t ‘breathe’ very well, so twice daily showers are essential if your accumulated body odour is not to rise to levels where even you find it offensive and can make tramps keel over at five paces.

The other downside of the health and safety culture we live and work under is having to walk long distances in less than ideal footwear. Lets face it, if you’re on your feet all day you need the best walking boots you can get, whereas we (Because someone somewhere once got their foot run over by an irate motorist) have to wear safety boots, which are generally heavy, inflexible and hot. Rather like having to work wearing old-fashioned diving boots (See below).



In the past year, I have worn out two, read that carefully, two pairs of safety boots. See above photograph of right heel of latest pair, which I have just replaced out of my own pocket. See also above horror picture of foot after a full week on patrol. Man, that’s ugly. I was going to post a couple of pictures which showed my feet shortly after taking my boots off but decided against inflicting these on the genteel sensibilities of any readers. Suffice it to say that the veins were standing out like a 3D relief road map and the smell caused my dog to roll over with his paws over his nose. Considering some of the things he sniffs on a daily basis, that’s pretty bad. Mrs Sticker forced me into bathroom at virtual gunpoint and then wouldn’t let me out until I had washed thoroughly.

Hi ho. At least it keeps you fit.

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Location: British Columbia, Canada

Exasperated expatriate expostulations all the way from British Columbia, Canada. As if anyone really cared. Oh, I also watch Icelandic Volcanoes and seismic activity. Don't ask me why.

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