Saturday 27 August 2016

Team Building

Any employer contemplating a corporate team-building exercise could do a lot worse than a day out in Hull, at the moment.
Avoiding the pigeons has always been a challenge for me - I hate birds - and for the last few months there've been flocks of huge seagulls, too.  I skulk along the side of buildings, rarely breaking cover unless I can follow closely behind some large random stranger, taking advantage of their unknowing protection.  If forced to go it alone across open ground, I walk in short, sharp bursts of speed, with frequent abrupt stops, freezing, then changing direction as I try to avoid the avian enemy.
Now, to add to the adventure, new obstacles have appeared throughout the city.  Most of the pavement has been dug up, and replaced with holes surrounded by orange plastic fences, inside which orange-clad people move in mysterious ways.  As it's in preparation for the City of Culture celebrations next year, I did wonder at first if it was some kind of performance art, but no, they're just replacing all the pavements, and a large chunk of road surface.  All at the same time.

Ok, I exaggerate.   Some of the fences are wire mesh, and some of the pavement is so far untouched.  It'll look lovely when it's finished.
Meanwhile, most of the city centre is an obstacle course.  As soon as they complete one bit, they move the orange barriers to block off a different path, offering a new and exciting challenge to pigeon-fearing pedestrians in a hurry.  I can never be sure that I can take the same route twice.

I did go on one of those team-building thingys once, a few years ago at the Elsham Activity Centre.  It was brilliant, and the best time I've ever had with work colleagues.  {Apart from snogging a co-worker in the bank strong room in 1977, but I don't suppose that counts.}  We opted for laser tag rather than paintball and, when we saw the paintballers we realized it had been a good choice - they were huge, and all had matching camouflage gear, whereas we were mostly skinny clerks with new trainers.  It was a great day out with a lot of laughter, and we certainly saw a new side to some people.  {In my case, usually my backside sticking out when I was trying to hide.}

As you may know, I don't like sport and, like many writers, I'm a bit of a loner.  I think the word 'team' is vastly overused in the wrong context, {I am a colleague or co-worker, not a 'team member'} but I was actually in a proper team, once. Second reserve for the school netball team, which I took pride in as a real achievement; it got me out of lessons, but I didn't have to do anything except sit on the ground at the edge of the court, wrapped up in everybody's tracksuits.  {Or, rarely, sunbathing.}  The first reserve had to play occasionally, but I was pretty safe.

Back in Hull, my commuting is probably safe, but not easy.  Which brings me back to the team building challenge - "Your task is to get from across town to the furthest platform of the railway station in twelve minutes or less.  Do not swear, do not collide with anyone or anything, avoid anything with wings."  At least I don't actually have a team to worry about.  I nearly made it yesterday but got stuck halfway at the end of a slow-moving procession of people following a small, pavement-sweeping truck.  Given the amount of exposed earth in the area, I wouldn't be surprised if it was still there this morning.

Saturday 20 August 2016

Rash Behaviour

It's official; I'm allergic to my trousers.

It all started with a few little insect bites on my leg - except, on me, insect bites never remain little.  They go bright red and grow to the size of a 2p coin - and that's the smaller ones.  But they usually disappear in a few days, so I never bother with any treatment.  Big mistake, this time.
After about a week the marks {aka 'First Bites'} had gone, but then a whole load more turned up on my back.  OK, so I'd worn the same T-shirt, maybe that was the problem.  {Of course I'd washed it!  But only at 30 degrees, which obviously wasn't hot enough.}  This lot {Bites 2 - the return} were an irritable, itchy bunch and lasted a couple of weeks.  Then, just as they were going, a huge, 3-bite red mark appeared under my arm {The Blob - children of the Bite}.

After about six weeks, I realized the Blob wasn't going anywhere, so I went to see the nurse.  She said it looked like eczema, and had I recently changed my deodorant?  Well, actually, I had.  The Blob wasn't exactly where I apply deodorant, and it was only under one arm, but I threw out the new (cheap) stuff and bought some more of my usual (not cheap) brand.  She also suggested that I "try this cream".  That didn't work, so three weeks later I saw the doctor.  {The delay wasn't my procrastination, this time.  It just takes that long to get an appointment.}  At least he recognized a bite when he saw one, prescribed stronger cream and some tablets.

Before I could even begin the treatment, I noticed a nasty rash on my legs.  {Why do we always say, 'A nasty rash'?  Has anyone ever had a nice rash?}  It looked like a heat rash, only it wasn't hot weather and it got worse.  Thankfully, it seemed to respond to the tablets - but after the weekend, it was back.  Could it be unrelated to the bites, but due to something I wore to work, perhaps?  Or, {and much more likely, in my view} was I being consumed from within by some alien virus that would make my arms and legs drop off?

I think the surgery receptionist could hear the panic in my voice, as she gave me an appointment for the Thursday.  Now I have different cream, and stronger tablets that I have to take for a month and can't drink with!  And, apparently, because it's gone on for twelve weeks, I'm now even more sensitive to allergens than I was before.

Whilst this was in some ways reassuring to know, it has created a few problems.  I was due to have my hair coloured, but decided it probably wouldn't be a good idea to coat my head with chemicals at the moment.  Should I still have it cut, though?  Which is the better look, spikey and stylish but grey, or fluffy and floppy but black?  {I opted for short, because at least that looks intentional.  Even if people do think my intention is to look like a badger that lost an argument with a ceiling fan.}  On a more intimate note, should I really be using deodorant at all?  It can't be helping, but I hate the idea of being less than 'nice to be near'.  Also, it's quite possible that I've become allergic to the fabric of my work trousers.

Fortunately, I only have to wear my uniform for a few hours, and some days not at all.  {Because I work part time, not because I have that sort of job!}  I can wear a skirt to and from work, and change when I get there.  And, because I'm incognito, I can go without deodorant and scowl at people on the train without worrying that I'm bringing my employers into disrepute!