Saturday 25th April 2020

Pain is the great leveler, bringing the highest and lowest to their knees regardless. You can assuage it with expensive spa treatments and meds, sure, but pain is pain, anguish anguish before all that. They say pain can be a perspective, a viewpoint, an opinion. A fucking approach.

Then you have migraines. The greatest purported pain known to Man is said to be the cluster attack, the kind where people do involuntary things (banging head, becoming violent, collapsing, fitting) and the pain reaches such a crescendo suicide becomes an option. In one case a man took up arms and held people hostage in order to get some form of medication. It targets the eye, has no known cure, no known trigger, and repeatedly attacks, hence its name.


I tend to start off with migraine on one side, that for some reason, then moves to encompass both sides after an hour or two, overtaking the entire head. It’s a deep, dull tide. It’s heavy – I worked out a way to measure it: the amount of pressure needed (balanced books /skull visor/ headlock grip) for the pain to numb, as the excess blood is pushed out. Like translating the pain into compression. It’s about 3kg normally, wedged into a corner, face down, balancing a dumbbell on my head like a performance piece. They normally last 11-12 hrs.


Sometimes, maybe once or twice a year the pain reaches acidic levels, like a razor blade slicing inside and all around, or occasionally that dream you’re being stabbed in the head and on waking it still ongoing. Where blinking becomes tender, movement vomitous, courting dreams of trepanning and a hand drill, to let the spirits float free.

The worst ever: a ‘suicide’ level event after getting a wrong prescription, from some idiot pharmacist in Italy who diagnosed dehydration and the strongest stuff for it. Which resulted in bawling in a ball, involuntarily drooling and crying, cursing passersby. Stripping and vomming on the street, like a skagger’s lapdance, or a day in Glasgow. They say art therapy helps, to paint the pain. Normally it’s a grey, your brain a surrealist sponge that when squeezed reveals cigarette-at-bottom-of-pint dregs. Or it’s the stark black and white and bleeding edges of some horrible Mondrian tesselation. But that time it was more splatter art, a Pollock of blood and vomit and teeth and machetes.


So I will round onto today’s ordeal. A bottle of industrial strength hair dye, sensitive skin and fumes that would trip a horse. Oh and a giant scoop of at-all-costs vanity. You don’t mess when you’re messing with hair. So the fumes trigger a pounding, wretched migraine, while the paste itself begins to burn, itching manically, as if combing with razors.

And a strange, delightful quirk in behaviour when migrained is a preposterous pedantry, like OCD, even if it entails more pain. I just have to shut that door behind myself, check that tap, wash the dishes, maybe tidy the sock drawer, nauseatingly. So thus I enter that seventh vicious cycle of hell, turn after turn of dyeing and dying. After three treatments, a vomiting session, haircut and clean of the bathroom my head is orange. Not carrot, more peach.

I’m trying to look like Zayn. Or those 90s backing dancers. It’s meant to be cool. I’ve used up one packet of the spice mix, another three I have spare. I have burn marks on my scalp. Whoever in L’Oréal (lab coat, specs, mascara, clinical teams of marketing twats) thought up ‘Because you’re worth it!’ missed a beat. It should really be ‘Because you’re not worth it but dammit everyone else is’. Or if you prefer: Because I’m Worth Shit.

They say advertising is really made up of fear, and taking down self-esteem, like any schoolyard bully asking for change, who’ll progress into a mafia don and a protection racket. Don’t get halitosis. Don’t be that Billy No Mates. Don’t miss out.

Well burn’s or no burns, what’s fucking sure is I’m not doing that Zoom call tomorrow looking like the sunrise in Miami. Onward.



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