For some reason an incident that happened when I was 19 years old entered my mind twice today (early signs maybe?).  Perhaps this account will be of some use to somebody out there, you never know,  it might even save a life 🙂

I left school at 19 (one year late as I spent 2 years in New Zealand which effectively cost me a year’s education) and joined the U.K.A.E.A. Harwell – yes the radiation place – as an Assistant Scientific Officer.  Now the first six months were spent taking the world-famous Harwell training course which I must admit held me in good stead for the whole of my working life, but that is by the by.  So for six months I worked at Harwell before going to the Culham Laboratory for Fusion Research to work on CO2 lasers.  In my first few weeks I noticed something VERY VERY scary, there were LOTS of people working there with duff legs!  Lots of the workers were hobbling about with some leg (or foot) problem.  Well I wasn’t stupid – I had 3 A-levels – this could only be one thing – RADIATION POISONING!!  So, panic stricken at the sudden realisation at what was going on (I’ve always been a bit of a hypochondriac as well as a Conspiracy Theorist) I ran to the Training Officer during the lunch break – he could see I was pretty upset about something, and the conversation went something like this.

Training Officer – “O.K. Greg, so what is the problem?”

Newbie A.S.O. – When I look around this place, I see there’s tons of people walking around with duff legs and the like.  What’s going on here?  Has there been a radiation leak?  Am I in any danger here?

Training Officer – tears of laughter rolling down his face (I didn’t think it was particularly funny at the time) – “No Greg, there has not been any radiation leak, and you are not in any danger from radiation.  What you have noticed is that as part of the Scientific Civil Service we are actually doing what other large organisations like ours are meant to do, and don’t – we are taking on our full compliment of disabled people.”

Newbie A.S.O. – “Ahh”.  Goes back to lunch.

So the moral of the story is this, sometimes, even when the answer seems completely obvious to you – it may not be what you think it is 🙂

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