Sunday, March 25, 2007


Yesterday helpful partner turned into The Welder and Grinder, so I decided to do something equally useful and raise the height of my desk. On my very own.

By a strange quirk of fate - probably called genetics - I have a long back. I also have long legs, but the back is apparently disproportionately long. To be perfect I should have longer legs - in which case I would be even taller than I am now, I'd be looking down on Naomi Campbell. Or I suppose I could have a shorter back which would be more sensible.

If you saw me in the street you would probably think I was tall and skinny with long legs, which is what most people think, rather than the apparent freak of nature I just appear to have described.

Is this fascinating description of my anatomy relevant? Of course. Particularly when sitting at a desk.

I spent many years sitting at a desk in front of a keyboard. Originally it was using typewriters. Harder on the fingers and slower, but easier on the eyes. After some years I started to get back aches and pains in my leg. No this is not going to be a boring post about my aches and pains.

Someone from occupational health came round and said I needed a different chair, but apart from that, everything in the office was fine. Computer, desk etc. So I got a new chair, and it was a bit more comfortable but not a lot.

Then I borrowed a colleague's chair. It was one she had bought herself (work would never buy anything like that, hah!), one of those where you appear to be kneeling but it actually pushes you into a good posture position. And that helped a bit too.

A bit later on, work decided to run a one-day course on this very subject. So being a right-on colleague, a good union member, and a senior manager as well, I thought I would set an example and volunteer for the course.

I say one day. To me a one-day course starts say at 9am, probably finishes at 5pm, and you might get half an hour or 45 mins lunch break. This was one of those that started at 9.30, finished at 3pm, had countless coffee breaks and nearly an hour for lunch, and went at the pace of the slowest. In fact, it could all have been condensed into two hours between 9-11am. But the trainer wouldn't have been paid for a day.

So when we had finished this course I was then expected to be qualified to wander round the building assessing my colleagues' working environment. On the basis of this minimal course, I certainly wouldn't have put my own workplace health in my hands, let alone consider myself capable of commenting on someone else's working conditions.

Imagine if someone took a claim through their union or a solicitor against work. "Who assessed you?" "Oh, she did." "And what are her qualifications?" "Oh, a one-day in-house course, total time spent learning about workplace environmental assessment no more than four hours."

No, I decided that was not a good idea. As did one of the secretaries for the same reason. I was even less impressed when later on management decided to change the furniture and I ended up with a lower desk. Not being of standard size, I didn't find a standard desk too useful.

So I spent a good few hours yesterday raising my desk. It had got lowered when we moved and until I started this blog I hadn't used the computer much so hadn't noticed it was too low.

First I cleared everything off the desk. I may be impractical but I'm not totally stupid.

But I am weak and feeble about things like this so I managed to raise four out of five legs, and only got one minor injury, but I was stuffed on one of the back ones. And being an idiot at this sort of thing, I had left the most difficult one until the end. Yes, the corner that has an extra shelf added on top, so has all the weight.

After trying to be so independent, I had to accept help from The Welder and Grinder, who of course fixed it in two seconds. In fact what had taken me hours, with countless rests or distractions, he would probably have done in five or ten minutes.

And then I went totally overboard and mopped the floor. Wow, what a productive day.

I don't think I'll take up welding or grinding just yet though.

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