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North Sea 18: 7 – 13 January



You’ll have to excuse me if I’m a little distracted this week, a little off my game. You see, the doctor has prescribed me some medicine to prevent me getting so many migraines—four or five a month is considered by experts ‘too many’, she said (she should try it from the inside sometime). So the number of brightly coloured pills I have to take has increased by one; and as a result the world has slowed down.

Rather a lot, in fact. Honestly, I had to check to see if they’d mixed up my prescription with elephant tranquillisers by mistake. I now have such a tendency to slump forward over my desk that the cleaner is demanding extra payments to keep my keyboard free of drool; or at least a bucket to wring out her cloth. My colleague keeps a spoon handy so she can hold it up to my lips to see if I’m still breathing. Like someone in an Edgar Allen Poe story, each time I close my eyes I expect to open them on a sealed coffin lid.


Recto, detail

On the other hand, a week has passed and no migraines. So now I have a decision to make: do I live the rest of my life at half speed, shuffling about like an inmate of a retirement home for the recently undead, but free of pain; or do I rejoin the human race, but accept that two or three days a week I shall be as broken as Humpty Dumpty? (There are many reasons why I hope God exists; but increasingly it’s so that I can give Him a piece of my mind—preferably the piece that’s responsible for migraines.)



It’s had a knock-on effect on the knitting, as my evenings are now spent counting my fingers and falling asleep before I get to ten. Even so, I’m inching my way up the front, about halfway up the yoke. (Incidentally, we forgot last week to include a picture of the completed back, minus shoulders, so here it is.)

Since all my eyesight problems kicked in a few years back, I’ve found nothing goes so well with knitting as listening to audiobooks. Terry Pratchett always works well, as does Charles Dickens—we’re listening to the splendid Our Mutual Friend at the moment. Of course, you have to be careful with modern fiction—few things are more disconcerting than signing for a parcel at the front door while an energetic sex scene plays out in the background, complete with farmyard noises.


Verso, detail

On the parish notices front, happy New Year to Harley and Pat Sutherland—thank you so much for your card! And a special mention to Tamar, Judit and Gracie, who posted the most comments last year (well, after me, but I don’t think I count). I don’t have any special prizes to give out, alas, except that I plan to continue the blog throughout 2013, and it’s the enthusiasm of so many readers and posters that persuades me to keep going.

Thanks also to Evelyn for nominating me for the wholly mysterious Liebster Blog Award. Apparently you’re supposed to recommend five other blogs for your readers to try—but I do that anyway, and selecting just five would be unfair. So can I suggest that readers take the opportunity to suggest other blogs they think people would find interesting?

And so, as the caffeine pills wear off, and I return to my narcoleptic coma, and my strands of drool start to resemble the web of an incontinent spider experiencing a sneezing fit, it’s time to catch up on some z’s.

16 comments to North Sea 18: 7 – 13 January

  • Gracie


    My man, you’ve got troubles. I’ve only had two migraines in my life and they sent me to church – actually, to the doctor for whopper shots. I cannot stand that you’re suffering so regularly. Are there no other options? Tests for cause? More rooted solutions as opposed to med fixes? You need to find a specialist, if you’ve not already, because you cannot live a half-life. You have boatloads to say and do – a lifetime!

    OK, I have a strange comment regarding migraines and your knitting work. What I can (mid-migraine) remember, is that my mind was buzzing with repetitive details and sizzling light. I’m looking at this super, unparalleled gansey and thinking that you might need a knitting break. OK – I’ll go back to my armchair just now.


    P.S. “Incontinent spider” – simply brilliant.

  • Dave

    I’m picturing you in a medically-induced Zombie state, lurching through the streets of Wick in search of skeins.

  • Gordon

    Hi Gracie,

    In fact migraines have been part of my life for so long I just accept them as normal. Every now and again they cripple me and I’m completely wiped out, splitting headaches and violent nausea; but most of the time they just leave me washed out and “dysfunctional”. Sometimes I dream the flashing lights and I wake up with the after-effects. Mmm, trippy.

    I’m hoping the eye operation will sort out some of it—I reckon having everything blurry and out of focus can’t help (damn it all, I gave up drinking, but I seem to spend my life either with the symptoms of being drunk or having a hangover)!


  • Gordon



    Others abide our question, thou art free.


  • Veronica

    Dear Gordon, I wish you didn’t have so many painful health issues. But I’ve got to say that you’re quite inspirational. When you overcome all that you have to deal with then go on to bring so much pleasure to others, it makes my own problems seem bearable. It takes far more effort to sit around feeling sorry for myself after reading your blog each week. (A self-inflicted fact that I both am grateful for and whine about.)

    About the Liebster Blog Awards. I’m going to start a blog just so I can nominate you. I’d not heard of this award before so searched for more information. If there are others out there who are as ignorant as I was then this blog article explains it nicely: http://sopphey.onimpression.com/2012/05/liebster-blog-award-origins.html.

  • Judit M./ Finland

    “but I don’t think I count”.
    Gordon, how can you write something like this ? There were no gansey blog without you ! – and no comments either :).

  • Gordon

    Hi Veronica,

    I was going to say something like, oh, I can’t complain, but then it occurred to me that Margaret reads the comments, and since I both can and do complain with embarrassing frequency, sometimes at length that would give a Victorian preacher a run for his money, and she has to put up with it, I decided to shut up!

    As they used to say, a man is never a hero to his valet. (Or, alas, his immediate family.)

    And it’s a funny thing about migraines, but they’ve been part of my life so so long that I worry about losing a part of myself if they went—what else would I lose along with the debilitating world-altering pain and dysfunctionality? Like those rock stars who can’t write good songs after they quit the drugs.

    My new motto: in the country of the blind, the one-armed man still can’t play the banjo.


  • Gordon

    Good evening Judit,

    Why thank you! I was thinking, though, that I don’t think I should get too much credit for posting comments on my own blog—it would be like reviewing my own books favourably on Amazon—it’s just not cricket. I like to think of the blog as a sort of feedback loop, I’d have given up long ago if people didn’t read it and interact back with me—it’s like a radio set to receive as well as broadcast!


  • =Tamar

    My friends here who have migraines swear by Imitrex, which is theoretically taken to prevent them, but also to stop them (if taken in time) if they can get along most of the time without it. Meanwhile, I’m glad I don’t get them. I wonder why are they so common now. In the 1950s they were rare, and it isn’t just the redefinition of almost all headaches to migraines – there really weren’t as many reported, even as “sick headaches.”

  • Nigel

    You’re kidding: you’ve never been tempted to write a glittering review on Amazon! (I would!) 🙂 I hope you get better soon Gordon.
    I have almost finished the Beth Reinsel Brown sampler gansey. My next step is to knit a sampler swatch in 5 ply with some paterns, probably Mrs Laidlaw’s tree and rope thingy.

  • Gordon


    I haven’t come across Imitrex. Will look into it, thanks. I think it may have something to do with spending all day looking at computer screens, television, sitting in offices under fluorescent lights, food additives and chemicals, and, of course, in my case, not being able to see properly!


  • Gordon


    Not so much integrity that’s stopped me reviewing my own books, as a sort of debilitating hopelessness! Mrs Laidlaw’s trees are a great pattern. Go for it, that man!


  • Gracie

    Yes Tamar!

    Imitrex – gold, if I may be so bold. A big ole’ shot of that schtuff and bam – the kid drove home on her own. It worked a charm.

    Yip, Gordon, all of the above, no doubt. Let’s start small – cardboard winter tomatoes. There is nothing better than a grilled tomato with an Irish or English breakfast. The grilling probably kills the cardboard, but let us resolve to eat proper tomatoes in the summer sun.

    Gordon, how do I send you a picture of my recently completed, fleet-inspired, knitted wedding quilt. I’m nowhere near as good as the rest of you, but I had great fun.


  • Brenda

    This may be out in right field, but I have heard that wheat and wheat products can be a contributing factor to migraines. Has to do with it being so genetically modified or something along those lines. Apparently some people with migraines stop eating it and their migraines disappear along with a host of other problems. I don’t know if wheat in Britain is genetically modified or not like it is here in Canada. Just a stab in the dark.

  • Gordon

    Hi Gracie,

    You can send me anything by contacting me directly on the email gordon@ganseys.com. Anything vaguely gansey-related, or nothing to do with them, I’m happy to add to the gallery and share with others.

    What is this sun of which you speak? Tomatoes I recognise, but the sun? Haven’t seen it!


  • Gordon

    That’s interesting, Brenda, I haven’t come across that, thanks. I know Britain is still debating genetically modified foods, but I a lot of our wheat is imported – a lot of it from Canada—hmmm….

    Mind you, if I had to give up bread, or coffee, i think I’d rather just compose my death haiku and end it all right now! (Probably with an overdose of wheat, I’d swell up like a leaky grain silo in a rainstorm.)


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