Monday, 17 September 2018

Your father is on Facebook

Yes, it is him and no one else
This question came from my sister this morning.
“Morning (or whatever), Is your father now on Facebook or one of his sons is impersonating him?
To which I responded, “Your father is on Facebook.”
Even I was surprised that he was on Facebook, but the story goes back to some time ago when I was trying a get a laptop over to my dad. The last few months have involved a lot of impromptu travel related to work that it has been impossible to plan anything.
Time, space and wherewithal
On another note, I sometimes contrast my professional life to that of my father, he was a corporation man with assistants and people he could call upon to do the somewhat important and mundane things. Almost 23 years of my working life has been as a self-employed and freelance consultant, maybe, if I had entered a partnership of consultants, we would have employed an office manager to handle affairs like that.
Then, in arranging to send the laptop, he also asked for a phone making the point that he wanted to have a go at technology before he departs.
An unexpected response
As it transpired, I took a few pictures yesterday evening and posted to Instagram with a cross-posting to Twitter and Facebook, I also included a short poem.
The absence of bright lights,
Does not diminish the clear sights,
My face showing the provenance of my father,
Especially now that I've refused to lather,
The unshaved greys are proof of a youth,
Before you say I am long in the tooth,
For many times I was addressed as young man,
I laughed for that was just another fan.
Shortly after it was posted, I received a message with two pictures of my dad from my brother, who then informed me that the pictures were my dad’s reaction to my pictures and poetry. And there was my discovery that my father had joined social media to be engaged under the tutelage of my brother.
Welcome to Facebook
Obviously, my sister is concerned that she might have to temper her views because of the scrutinising pair of eyes of her father. However, I am of the view that if he did not know we were opinionated, forthright, controversial and frank in our postings, he would soon find out on Facebook, and that is a good thing.
He would be proud to know that the privileged education we all had has not gone to waste, we can discuss, debate, argue and banter, with grace, erudition and dignity.
My father is 78, he lives an active life pottering around on his farm or being actively involved in the community. Now that he has the added occupation of Facebook engagement, all I can say is welcome.
For all who care to know, our father is on Facebook.

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Thought Picnic: Am I just being silly?

This, I have desired
All my life, I have always wanted to be a positive influence on the people I met in different walks of life. In social and formal settings, at work and at play, I have hoped that any encounter would be enabling, encouraging, inspiring and building.
In many ways, I hope I have a good sense of self, some awareness, the ability to reflect and take a long view. There is a backstory that is full of events and episodes of life that I am grateful to have been able to review with the knowledge that tough times pass, and tough people laugh.
Yet, there are people I have been unable to influence in any way towards a better self and direction. I get to a point where I begin to regret and find fault in places that bother me in not sometimes enabling, encouraging and acquiescing to the demons that afflict the lives of others.
May I never burden you
By terms, I am an easy-going person who grants latitude and scope to explore and express, my entreaties and advice would always veer towards realising great potential and I see a lot of that in people, long before they see it in themselves.
My hope invariably is to steer people towards what I believe they can achieve whilst not driving or urging them but giving them a clearer vision of possibilities that they can work towards if they so wish. In most cases, I have achieved between limited to glowing success, however, I fear that some have become abject failures.
What I have desired my example, my conduct and my deportment to convey to some by proximity and observation has made no impact. Some people are quite set in their ways that I dare say have become impervious to persuasion.
Finding perspective beyond ourselves
Now, it is no desire of mine to create clones of myself, I would hate that I am mimicked, copied and mimed. That is never my intention when I am involved with people. There are in my view certain things I still hope to impart, the ability to handle responsibility, the ability to face adversity with a sense that one would not be overwhelmed, having function and bearing to manage situations that the avoidable does not become a disability, the practice of moderation even in your vices.
Beyond that, I hope there is humanity and empathy, the knowledge that the world owes you nothing, nor does it revolve around you. The ability to be grateful and full of gratitude for all things, recognising the need to count your blessings and by that fill your mind with an appreciation of the good things in life.
Some of this is probably too much to ask of some. They are selfish and self-centred, navel-gazing and full of self-pity, constantly complaining of others without any inkling of how they might well be complaining of themselves, by which they lose perspective, direction and focus. If by then I have found a way to extricate myself from the negative influence, I find myself burdened with issues I could well do without.
I am just being silly
I do wonder if I have had expectations that have crashed into disappointment, high hopes that have left me despondent and a deluded sense of influence that has left me feeling responsible for what is heading for the rocks and a shipwreck.
Maybe, I am incapable of tough love, the point where my liking a person beclouds my ability, to be frank, and honest about the truth of a situation. I am slow to wrath and sometimes my patience holds for longer than is necessary to retrieve a situation.
Then I think, why do I even think that I can influence anyone either way? What hubris has infected my sanity to suggest I can help anyone to any end? Whilst it is possible by some accident of circumstance, someone somewhere might have benefitted from knowing me and I knowing them. I do wonder if I am just being silly.

Sunday, 2 September 2018

Hotel life: Habits and loyalty

On loyalty and benefits
I would be the first to tell you that loyalty schemes and customer loyalty matter. This especially when you are a frequent traveller for business and for leisure.
Now on holiday in Gran Canaria, as is my custom when I have the time and the means, which I did more frequently before my encounter with cancer, I see that benefit even more.
On a broader note, it is only in exceptional circumstances that I fly on airlines outside the SkyTeam alliance, usually when there are no connections or I really want to save time on travel, as travelling out of Manchester always included a stopover in either Paris or Amsterdam. Being a SkyTeam elite member by reason of frequency of travel or the class one chooses to travel grants privileges of access and service that takes the humdrum out of the travel experience.
When it comes to accommodation, most of my bookings are through, with them, for every 10 nights spent in hotels, I get the average cost of the 10 nights as an award to use for another stay.
A hotel to show and tell
However, back to Gran Canaria, I cannot stay anywhere else but the Hotel Riu Palace Maspalomas, which sits as a white colonial-style edifice backing onto the dunes of Maspalomas. I first came here in September 2007 and I have probably spent over 200 nights at this hotel altogether, which a number of stays were up to 3 weeks at a time.
Too many things set this establishment out as unique, exquisite, exclusive and one of the top hotels to stay at in Playa del Ingles. On service, on location, on comfort, on friendliness, I feel so much at home here. I walk into the hotel and there is always someone that recognises me at the reception and I am known by name. I have never had to introduce myself after my first visit.
In all, I am welcomed, like family, well beyond just a returning guest. Firm handshakes, the banter, the laughter, and much else, signals to the new recruits at the reception or the restaurant, that this is a guest that is also family. The refrain is almost always, “Welcome Mr Akintayo, to your second home.”
Just what service is about
On the quality of service, I will just leave this here, I was last here in time, November/December 2016 with my best friend. Once we had dispensed with greetings, the Chef de reception went into the inner office and brought out an envelope containing a USB key that had been forgotten by my friend.
There are many observations to follow this, that they kept a seemingly insignificant thing that even my friend had no idea had been lost at this hotel, that they believed sometime in the future, I will return and that they immediately had the presence of mind to present the lost item even before I was checked-in.
Then, upon being given a room, I was not satisfied because it was on the first floor and the view obscured by palm trees. Without insisting, I just asked if it was possible to change my floor. One of the newer receptionists recognised I was a returning customer and had a chat to her manager. The next day we were moved to a top floor room with stunning views.
Whilst, I may have noticed some changes to the service I have been accustomed to, the quality remains high and the number of returning guests still maintains a high percentage. People might say hotels usually have a high attrition rate of staff, that is rarely the case with this hotel. I know staff that have been at this hotel since I first came in 2007. That is life at this hotel and a little homage to loyalty.

Friday, 31 August 2018

God bless Aretha Franklin

All respect
As the world bids farewell to the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, the tributes are many from far and wide for the sensational person, artist and figure she was.
Yet, for most that mourn and also celebrate her wonderful life, she will be remembered mostly in her many songs. What is so amazing is the number of songs that she covered that she brought a life and an interpretation to that went well beyond the original.
Respect was written and first recorded by Otis Redding, with the man, the husband, pleading for respect when he gets home, Aretha Franklin took it and sang it from the perspective from the woman, the wife and the rest is history. Two Grammy awards and the induction of her version into Grammy Hall of Fame.
The salvation of talent
There are many other songs that people have come out to sing in charted a literally 7-decade-long career.
A difficult childhood, she had, parents divorcing when she was 6, her mother died of a heart attack just before she was 10, having 2 children at the ages of 12 and 14 respectively, she was a preacher’s daughter, but it did not save her from a cruel world out there. Her talent did, and it did greatly.
However, the song that registers the most to me as delivered by Aretha Franklin was written by the Beatles, she again took it and rendered it in both a haunting and a somewhat uplift tempo, the words of the song, full of meaning that made you think. It isn’t Think. She wrote that with her then husband, Ted White.
Eleanor Rigby was written in 1966, first by Paul McCartney and completed by the Beatles, but credited to Paul McCartney and John Lennon.

Remembering the lonely
Between the version written by the Beatles and the version that Aretha Franklin performed, she basically took a fictional person with a life story of a nobody, about whom nobody cared except for what needed to be done in burying her after she died.
The Beatles – 1st verse.
Eleanor Rigby picks up the rice
In the church where a wedding has been
Lives in a dream
Waits at the window
Wearing the face that she keeps in a jar by the door
Who is it for?
Aretha Franklin – 1st verse.
I'm Eleanor Rigby
I picked up the rice in the church where the weddings have been
Yeah I'm Eleanor Rigby
I'm keeping my face in a jar by the door
If you want to know what is it for, Well
The juxtapositioning of being unknown as a nobody and the reality of being a lonely person is a haunting and fearful thing to think about. Yet, there are many, unknown, unsung, unseen, unheard, untouched, unloved, and more that have a life and then a death that would speak like that of Eleanor Rigby.
When Eleanor Rigby died, she died in the church, Father McKenzie whose frugal life is noted in darning his socks, having written an eulogy, a tribute to Eleanor Rigby, to the hearing nobody to the fact that in the Beatles version, nobody was saved by what may have been a moving tribute, but who can tell?
Making a person real
Aretha Franklin takes the abstraction to the involved, creates a person and speaks in the voice of that person. This is deep empathy rather than plain sympathy.
This is where Aretha Franklin made Eleanor Rigby somebody, a person, a story that began in the first person and then it became a story told to many. Eleanor Rigby took a place in our minds, the minds of many of us seemingly lonely people in many ways social, emotional and much else, with the promise that we would be left unsung.
When I first heard Aretha Franklin’s version, I thought Eleanor Rigby was someone who lived at a certain time and after her death was recognised for something. I had not heard the Beatles version before that.
Eleanor Rigby is almost a premonition, a niggling anxiety, yet, whatever happens when one is dead is really for the living to take care of, and that is a hope of sorts.
Aretha Franklin herself is definitely no Eleanor Rigby, she did not have to pick up the rice where the weddings have been. She died surrounded by family and will be eulogised by the high and mighty, along with millions paying tribute. She, however, has given a voice and life to the lonely people and at the end, she said, ‘God bless, yeah gotta love some lonely people.’
God bless you, Aretha, you made more than a difference.

Friday, 10 August 2018

Thought Picnic: Damn, I was so into you

Like you used to do
The thought started with, ‘Like you used to do’, the sad reality of loves that I once had and have lost for reasons I have not fully understood. I reflect and wonder at what could have been, yet we never really got to explore that unity of mind, of soul and of life.
The moments are collected as memories, each reminder a cut to the heart as the search of real and true love continues in a resignation to fate rather than a determined yearning for it, even though the latter is a deeper feeling than the former.
My life appears to be crowded out with exes, lovers who became dear friends, lovers who passed on, lovers who became fleeting acquaintances, lovers, long forgotten with the pain that they brought and the baggage they refused to shed.
I’m ready, you’re not
However, what is most striking is what I was ready to invest and what they were not ready to put much faith in. It is no doubt that I bring a challenge to certain lives and with that optimism that upsets the sedentary with new possibility. Elements of my personality, though introvert can provoke either the positive or the negative.
Reactions to it also can inspire or tire me out as the balance and stability I seek is in finding refuge in person, place and situations. Arms to embrace, shoulders to lean and the absence of inhibition to be free with each other.
Writing about this does not make it easier, for I have been blessed with means and ability well beyond those of partners that there was rarely any thought given to sharing of that abundance in everyday life, the pursuit of happiness and the pleasure to be derived from it. Just like you do.
Damn, I was into you
I have had those fears before, that where you could have taken then leap but hesitated, vacillated and procrastinated until time and tide took away all the options and left you with regret. Anticipation is also another thing on the part of both partners, I have plans and I have dreams, they can neither be executed nor fulfilled in an instant.
There is a process of growing and knowing, flowing and glowing, sowing and owing to the point where the stars are aligned and destiny takes the wheel.
For all that the heart wants to do, the head must review and assess, lest, in the end, we become as fools. For the few, I really could say, ‘Damn I was into you’, I can only wonder when did it go astray.