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Flamborough III: Week 8 – 12th July

“In headaches and in worry/ Vaguely life leaks away”, observed WH (“Laughing Boy”) Auden. And he has a point: not so much about the worry, or at least not since they put me on the medication, but about the headaches. For the second weekend in a row I’m writing this while suffering from a touch of migraine. (According to the NHS weekend migraines are a thing, caused by one’s stress hormones going down: this makes the brain’s neurotransmitters get in a bit of a flap, resulting in the blood vessels constricting and dilating, in turn causing the headache. Mind you, as the only way to avoid this seems to be to remain stressed over the weekend, I’m not sure I’m really any further forward.)

Along the riverside path

I don’t get the crippling pain and flashing lights so much these days—the sensation now is more akin to being gripped by an invisible face hugger from the Alien movies—but I do get the dysfunctionality. My world feels disjointed, as though I’m living in one of those arthouse thrillers where the hero has piece together his life from fragments of memory. I remember years ago seeing a documentary about mummification in Ancient Egypt, how they removed the soft tissue of the brain by shoving something like a long crochet hook up the nose and twiddling it about like an egg whisk until the desired results were achieved—not unlike a coronavirus lateral flow test, in fact—and this is pretty much what one of my migraines feels like from the inside.

The Fountain now works. Intermittently.

I also become very stupid. How stupid, I hear you ask? Well, remember it was during a migraine in Wales that I had the bright idea of sticking a screwdriver into a light fitting without first turning off the electricity. On Saturday, having finished the front of the gansey, I was joining two shoulder straps in a three needle bind-off, and had almost reached the end when I realised that I’d twisted the back around, and was in fact creating a Möbius strip shoulder. For an instant I toyed with the idea of pretending it was deliberate, and just advising the recipient to dislocate the bones in his shoulder to help it fit better, but eventually I had to face facts and rip it out. Grimly I picked up the stitches and cast off again… only to find when I reached the end that I had a stitch left over on one needle. Now it was becoming personal. Again I ripped out the cast-off. Third time’s the charm, I thought, and tried once more. This time it went like a breeze, and I cast the final stitches off with a flourish… only to find that I’d dropped a stitch about halfway along. At which point there was nothing for it but to take it outside and give it a damn good thrashing, like Basil Fawlty with his car. (Or I would’ve done, if only losing one’s temper wasn’t another migraine trigger…)

Fishing in the Fog

Meanwhile, if anyone has any shoulders that need casting off in the next week or two, please ask someone else; I’m done. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve just got this light fitting I need to adjust…

10 comments to Flamborough III: Week 8 – 12th July

  • Julie Emmerson

    Nasty buggers migraines. I find most of mine are caused by dehydration or tight neck muscles
    I spent ages casting on a second sleeve and got down to about elbow area when I got stumped as to why I had a smaller amount of stitches. Only then did I realise I’d not cast on enough in first place and had to rip it all back
    Hope your head feels better soon

  • gail donkin

    I’ve had möbius moments, usually when casting on for a bottom-up garment where the easiest way out is to pull it all out and start casting on again; I’m not fond of casting on anyway. I did it once as you describe it, Gordon,and Ihad no excuse, no migraine.
    All well here. Massachusetts is in pretty good shape, 80% vaccinated, and more tourists than I’ve ever seen.

    • Gordon

      Hi Gail, it’s the first time I’ve ever done anything like that, but I fear it won’t be the last! Caithness escaped the worst of the pandemic, being sparsely populated and remote, but the tourists are back in numbers here too now, and with the Delta Variant running wild in Britain, I’ve got a bad feeling about where this is going…

  • Meg Macleod

    dear gordon…..are these headaches new ? im suggesting meditation….often ..and let no-one interrupt..just let the world wait a while…
    dont let the wool control you……the missing stitch..the extra stitch..the droppd stitch..the twisted stitch….your determination to conquer is admirable ….but stressful even to read about it…headaches are horrid things…you mention medication ….sideeffects….

    bad things tablets…what about a herbal cure??? along with the meditation…worth a try.xxmeg

    • Gordon

      Hi Meg, no, the headaches have been part of my life for decades, alas. One doctor I saw in my twenties even thought they were a brain tumour! I’m on blood pressure pills, and they do help – apparently they’re also prescribed for migraines in some cases – I think they’re one reason why I don’t get them so bad any more.

      Sometimes I feel that if I give in to the headaches I’ll end up spending half my life in bed, and – hang on, though, now I come to think of it, that has a certain appeal… 😀

  • =Tamar

    I do have migraines but only mild visual, thank goodness. Now that it’s been identified, I realize I’ve had them all my life.
    I’ve done the moebius cast-ons, and once I sewed a sleeve into a shirt inside out, then on the wrong side, then upside down… that fabric went through a lot. My way to prevent a moebius cast-on is to flatten it on a tabletop before joining.

    • Gordon

      Hi Tamar, I tend to think of them not so much as migraines, more a way of life!

      I’m starting to suspect that Escher started out trying to build a normal set of bookshelves during a migraine and ended up creating weird 3-d paradoxes by mistake…

  • Lois

    My grandfather had “sick headaches” as he called them. His solution was to lay down in a dark room and rub his forehead with his own homemade brand of horse liniment.
    I’m not sure if the liniment helped, but the smell was guaranteed to make sure that none of us disturbed him!
    I still have his recipe written down, if it’s of any use to you. It starts with 2 cups of turpentine, and just gets worse from there. It really did work well for the horses when they had a sprain. Don’t think they had migraines either …..

    • Gordon

      Hi Lois, yes, I think characters in Victorian fiction suffered from sick headaches, which seems a much better way of describing them. Though I think if the cure involves horse liniment, I’ll stick with the migraines, thanks all the same!

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