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Fleas were just part of the job; Yousay.

I SEE that a Birmingham police officer has won an PS8,000 payout - for flea bites! When I read about this I thought - "Wow! Is it really true? Diddums!" I remember when I was a social worker I tried once to claim for several prescription charges I had to pay to rid myself of scabies caught from a homeless man. My application was refused as the director said it was "an occupational hazard".

I had to provide my own car for the job but I remember how often I had to disinfest it myself because of service-users I had to ferry to a safe place; the number of times I had to take people to a health centre to be deloused and provide them with fresh clothing when their own had to be burnt; the number of times I had to delouse, de-flea myself and treat myself for scabies.

I recall the day I was told to admit an elderly lady to a residential home, but warned that her home was infested with fleas from her cats. The matron of the home kindly volunteered to accompany me in my car. The warning was correct: the carpet in the lady's living room was alive with dancing fleas.

We helped the lady pack and escorted her into the car. However, the matron and I spent some time standing on the pavement taking it in turns to lift our skirts so that the other one could pick the fleas off our panties, much to the amusement of the neighbours, particularly the men.

We felt it was not acceptable to ask the elderly lady to comply and would wait until she could be admitted to the home and a nice, hot bath. Unfortunately, just as I was about to drive away the lady remembered she had left her favourite pair of shoes under a chair in the living room. That meant I had to re-admit myself to her bungalow and cross THAT carpet again, so the whole rigmarole of lifting my skirt while my colleague picked those biting nasties off me and my knickers had to be repeated.

Those were the days!

| Barbara MacArthur Cathays, Cardiff
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Title Annotation:Letters
Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Apr 24, 2013
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