A Bosch painting section

I’m a big fan of reading - I love novels. One of my favourite genres is time travel - give me a Connie Willis or a Jodi Taylor and I’m happy for days.

One of the problems I have with this type of literature is the way they deal with illness. Sure, characters in both Taylor and Willis novels have had to deal with The Plague - all time travel protagonists come face to face with the Black Death at some point or other. I’m semi-convinced that a decent portion of 14th century Europe actually comprises time travellers from the 21st century sent there as a plot device.

I’m referring to your common or garden type bacterial infection.

Last week I developed a sinus infection - Nothing special, but it affected one of my dental nerves, applying incredible pressure, and it felt like I was having six teeth repeatedly torn in half simultaneously. As it only started to seriously hurt on Friday night, and doctors’ surgeries are closed of a weekend, I had to wait until Monday to obtain antibiotics.

It was possibly the worst three days of my life - despite a steady diet of co-codamol, ibuprofen, decongestants, and alcohol.

Prior to The discovery of antibiotics in 1928 and their widespread usage from the 1940s onwards, people must have just lived and died in pain and misery.

If someone offered me a time machine set to 200 years in the past along with a chestful of gold, I’d turn them down.

I don’t fancy rubbing mouldy melon into my face in 1821 as I scream about the lack of decent painkillers and abundant syphilis before being shanked to death by some chimney sweep with testicle cancer and gonorrhoea. Oh - and I’d have died of septicaemia from a ruptured appendix when I was, like, 19.

Modern medicine (and the NHS ability to get you on a table in a hurry) - love it. Any time before 1940-ish would suck ass.