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Writing through Painkillers

Concentration has never really been my strong point.
I tend to be distracted by references within articles and new lines of inquiry as well as by new topics, twitter and comics. It means that I have to write strict structural guidelines for chapters and articles to stop myself wandering off topic and it also means that there are certain things I know that I can’t do whilst I’m writing (one of which has always been have the television on)…
However, I am currently learning about just how firm my resolve to write can be.

Sadly, I am quite used to writing whilst in pain – from strapping up my (hypermobile) wrists to write my exams from A-levels onwards via pushing through the hangovers and stress headaches inherent in my postgrad life to dealing with the long-term pain of my shoulder condition. What I am less used to is the odd combination of pain with painkillers.
Traditionally I have taken NSAIDs (Over-the-Counter & Prescription) to counteract my joint problems but in the aftermath of my recent operation I was prescribed codeine. Unfortunately, despite the dosage I remained very much aware of the pain. It appears that  codeine has the rather wonderful property of making pain something that I am able to be mentally unconcerned about whilst my body continues to protest – the drugs didn’t stop me from crying in pain because I tried to lift my hand over my head but they did stop me from worrying about whether I should or not.

More importantly, typing still hurts but that isn’t enough to stop me writing but my brain isn’t sure it knows that. This is a new kind of brain fog for me. It feels a little like being drunk, a little like being hungover, something like not having slept for a week and a lot like the aftermath of a panic attack. I can feel the words slipping away from me even as they form and I catch myself staring blankly at the computer screen more often than not. It is odd knowing that much of the fog is chemical and that the pain is mostly simply a distraction but that also makes it easier to fight.

‘Inventing’ Roman Britain?

Gotta love those antiquarians…


… for lack of a better phrase. Charlotte Higgins has a new book on Roman Britain out (Under Another Sky) and a few days ago penned a really interesting piece for the Guardian on the dubious origins of some of the place names there … here’s the first half or so:

During the 1745 Jacobite uprising, it became clear that the Hanoverian forces under the Duke of Cumberland lacked accurate maps of Scotland; their pursuit of Charles James Stuart through the Highlands was considerably impeded by their only partial knowledge of the jagged coastline, lochs and mountains. So in 1747 William Roy, a factor’s son from Lanarkshire, was put in charge of the work of producing an accurate survey of the nation: he and a band of colleagues spent eight and a half years enduring the physically exhausting, technically demanding work. The result of their labours was the…

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