Sunday, 28 September 2014

I suggest Spatial-Consideration Intelligence

The rules I break
I believe I have broken a few rules as I remember the words of one of Anita Baker’s songs – She is probably my best musician artiste, “Rules were meant to be broken,” she first says, then you goes on the say, “So many hearts break the same way too, aw baby, I said that you ain't no exception to the rule, yes sir.”
The rules I have broken are mainly the unwritten ones, the ones I have read or can still remember as instruction even if irritating to the point of awakening that streak of rebelliousness in me, I have rarely dared to infringe.
Now, I do not intend to speak about broken hearts, but the taking the exception to the rule or rules does concern me. I love order, I like to see order around, order especially when I leave my home for whatever activity I have purposed to do or just happened to find myself in.
In the way
Starting with stepping out of my front door and not having to ask someone who has inadvertently felt my doorstep is the place to take a standing nap. Then I get on the street and some friends all decide to walk abreast, which is fine but in their chatting excitement become oblivious of others that you either have to alert them or step dangerously onto the street.
That simple element of awareness which should be a rule written on the fleshy tablets of the heart and branded fierily on the jellies of the cranial grey matter, yet so carelessly ignored. People who knowing it is a doorway and take up the space constricting access.
I’ve seen too many instances of the absence of intelligent engagement of the spaces we occupy too, like finding myself in queues when I was in India and having the person behind me pressing against my person for no particular reason that thankfully my towering height helped when I bellowed down at the person, “Hold your space.”
Know your space
I can remember when I touched the man in front of me in a pub and apologised that I could not put my feet in a bag, after he stepped on my toes. A very strange situation where my size 12 feet (European size 46) knows full well not to egress in the pied-à-terre (literally, space for the feet) of others and then to find someone with much shorter feet unaware of where their feet should be.
Space is probably a European concept more than it is for any other place, but I am probably in error when I realise that queues were not the kind of order to find in the Netherlands, it drove me to distraction and brought out the most English of annoyances in me.
You could not get off a train comfortably because everyone wanted to get on, yet, we need to get off for others to get off. That is where my cane sometimes made a violent acquaintance with the shins of others and behold the way opened before me without obstruction.
Consideration and deportment
Public transport does provide a test case for those who are literally spatially ignorant, people who take up more seats than they should or create impediments to others getting access to other seats especially by putting their bags on the seats, worse still is those who put their feet on the seats despite the fact that there are notices clearly saying they should not.
People who bring their caterwauling music unto public spaces who in their enjoyment create the greatest irritation to others, a total lack of consideration, I say. Then, being a cane user, you can imagine when I get on the London Underground and find that able-bodied people have made a beeline for the priority seats and completely ignore the aged, the infirm, the pregnant or the mobility assisted. Those seats are not for them, that is why the signs are put there.
Other views of space
Space is a matter of dimensions and different dimensions of occupancy, manner, appearance and attitude which demands awareness and consideration. The consideration that if everyone else did what I was doing, what would the world be like.
Literally no public seat is safe from the halitosis-ridden oral excrements of chewing gum that you never venture the underneath of a wooden armrest or under the seat, forget the number of pavements with gum and cigarette butts. The former should be banned as they have so done in Singapore.
It manner of dressing is the being assault in public with the sight of cack-ridden undergarments that should be covered up in this rotten fashion trend of sagging trousers. Beyond that, it is those forget to dress for the body they have and end up dressing for what they want their bodies to be – uncouth and unsightly, you almost think you should wear a sick bag like a colostomy bag at the things that things that invade the sanctity of the senses.
Public decorum
Forget those who do not take a seat to make a call or sent a text message on their mobile phones, so unaware that what they think is walking in a straight line is anything but, some have met great mishap as a result when they divorce themselves from the personal responsibility of knowing that each person being aware of the other and acting accordingly is part of the order we all crave in society and community.
Use the bins, press the button if you are first at the pedestrian crossing lights, stand out of the way, give way to others less able to manoeuvre, be courteous, polite and considerate, the list goes on about how I love things to be and what really piques me.
Defining this intelligence
As I thought about this, I was about to give this sense of awareness and consideration on the matter of space, Spatial Quotient as an additional form of measuring intelligence along with Intelligence Quotient (IQ) and Emotional Intelligence (EQ) only to find that Spatial Intelligence is quite a broad field of study amongst other types of intelligence, in what is known as the theory of multiple intelligences, so I back to square one.
Having looked at the nine intelligences listed and the descriptions that follow, for musical–rhythmic, visual–spatial, verbal–linguistic, logical–mathematical, bodily–kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, naturalistic, and existential. I am not convinced this one or a combination of some of these properly address the element of spatial awareness and intuitiveness that I have raised in this blog.
Giving well, taking little
And back to the lyrics I introduced at the beginning of this blog, there is an element of the absence of this intelligence that is expressed in, “So many times we don't give, we take…” whereas, society works on various levels of giving and taking to different degrees that are usually never equal.
I am tempted to suggest, Spatial-consideration intelligence, however, it probably requires more academic rigour from behavioural experts to properly define this or extend the meanings of the previously defined categories.
Space matters, the giving of it, the giving up of it, the taking of it and taking it with clear consideration of others too.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Thought Picnic: The missing black guy from Old Trafford is not me

Out in a cab
This afternoon, I went to visit a friend in the Manchester suburb of Urmston and since I was not very aware of where to go, I decided to take a taxi for the just about 7 mile journey.
Annoyingly, the cab driver being aware that it was a Manchester United match day at Old Trafford, he took no diversions and simply drove into the traffic, that added about 15 more minutes to the trip. The whole reason for calling a cab is for these drivers to use their knowledge to get you to your destination in the shortest possible time.
If for any reason the shortest route would present problems, it is only right to intimate their customer with the possible alternatives. I was quite piqued when I asked why he decided to drive into the traffic when he had other alternatives – that was his tip gone.
Walking for health
After leaving my friend’s place, I decided it was a good opportunity to walk back home, the estimated distance being just about 6.8 miles. However, I also decided to take a detour to the Trafford Centre, an out-of-town shopping precinct with a misplaced SeaWorld centre within the shopping mall.
Whilst, I am not averse to visiting zoos, to site an artificial sea environment well away from the sea to house exotic creatures is just beyond the pale and despite my fascination about sea life, I would not give custom to such places. I probably should extend that sentiment to zoos too.
At the same time, I expected to find a honey drizzler in one of the shops, considering I had been into so many shops in Manchester looking for the thing which I eventually found in a Marks and Spencer shop.
We are not the same
Then I continued my walk back home, the detour having added another mile to my journey, I began in earnest.
Just about a mile before Old Trafford, a police car drove by and stopped me for what turned out to be a missing person’s questioning. Apparently, a 24-year old had gone to the Manchester United match that afternoon and was now missing.
Whether by coincidence or crass myopia of some Caucasians who think all black people look the same, I give the policeman some benefit of the doubt. He asked for some identification which I did not have before asking for my name, date of birth and address even though it was obvious I was not the person they were looking for.
I am walking home for exercise, I was not at the Manchester United match, I do not own a club scarf and it is not in my bag, I was not on the grounds – those were some of the answers I had to give, as he needed more to convince him that he should be looking for someone else.
I made the point of recording the car registration number of the policeman and tweeting it with the location information as part of the tweet.
The aspect of identification is interesting because when I lived in the Netherlands there was a requirement to carry some identification with you and if you could not produce it when asked by the police, you were liable to a fine. Thankfully, we have not reached the stage of needing that in the UK.
The new missing is black
Probably another mile down the road as I passed by the Lancashire County Cricket Ground, also known as Old Trafford, a name shared with the Manchester United Football Club Stadium, though they are almost a mile apart, a lady drove into my pathway and immediately asked for my name. I cottoned on the fact that it was related to the missing person and remonstrated about being accosted twice in less than 30 minutes.
She gave a compliment to assuage my discomfiture by suggesting I do not by any stretch of the imagination look my age, but that did not lessen the annoyance that welled up in me. I was at the point where I was going to abandon my walk if anyone drove a third time to check if I was missing.
Maybe, just maybe
I cannot stop being black, it is who I am, but one wonders how much information they had to go on and if it was a distinguishing as to have drawn me into the purvey of being a person of interest. Was he bald too, wearing glasses, and did he had blue trainers on too? You can only wonder.
Yet, one must consider, if a 24-year old black guy in track apparel was declared missing in the space of 2 hours after a match, one can only assume the said person is not of an adult mental age. That is appeared to coincide with when I decide to walk in the Old Trafford area is both uncanny and somewhat unfortunate. C’est la vie.
I eventually got home having walked almost 17,000 steps and 11.61 kilometres. I wonder if I should choose where I walk carefully next time.

Friday, 26 September 2014

Essential Snobbery 101: Courtesy is respect

Respectfully concerned
Sometimes, I wonder if I should have lived in my parents’ generation because some of the things I find myself within makes me feel I am not in my time.
Basically, manner, attitude and expression would have some pigeon-hole me as old-fashioned, yet many of these old-fashioned things matter a lot. At least to me.
As I step into the station every morning, the newspaper vendor sees me approaching and readies a newspaper for me. I collect the newspaper first with a greeting and then leave with gratitude. I thank him, always, just because it is the right thing to do.
I wear a hat, but would never keep my hat on when speaking to a lady, and I would most likely take it off when speaking to strangers as a sign of respect even if it appears our apparent upbringing is quite obviously different.
Not like the banks of yore
Yet, I work in an environment where many of these vicissitudes of comportment and decorum are dispensed with as if they do not matter; this is supposed to be a bank.
Electronic mails, poorly composed without proper greetings and with bad endings, the language is coarse and lacking in any refinement, as if language is no more in need of nuance and the understated, it shocks and it appalls.
Worse still is the absence of courtesy, the courtesy of being informed, the courtesy of being engaged, and the courtesy of being respected. Nothing shows this up as much as when someone should have let you know of something that you suddenly learn of because it dropped into a chance conversation that you should have been fully involved in from the onset.
Together but separate
This could sometimes be forgiven as forgetfulness, but when it involves many more who should have known better, it is treacherous and too odious for words. It belies an utter lack of regard and dare I say, it is disrespectful.
Something my old-fashioned would never have allowed to happen, but in our world of egalitarianism, equality in the workplace does not necessarily mean we all had access to the schooling and the breeding that ensures that we have the best manners in all we do.
It is at that point that you wonder if you are living in a different world or that circumstance and situation has brought you into experiences you would rather not entertain if you had more choices and options about the company you keep or the ones you find yourself unfortunate and blessed to be associated with.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Thought Picnic: And more graffiti with punctuation

Not bothering much
The blog lies fallow for nothing has been written for a week. For some, they blog daily to meet a target, fulfil a duty or a calling. Mine is done for leisure even if one desires a bit more discipline to the activity.
It is not that there isn’t much to write about, there is some much going on that tweets on Twitter do not have encapsulate thoughts and thinking about the issues that concern and bother.
Yet, between writer’s block and lethargy you decide you cannot be bothered and yet as each day goes without letter or writing, you wonder if you are not relapsing into apathy and disinterest.
Things to do
The holiday snaps still need to be completed and I’ve been back two weeks already, my walking experiences have taken me places I never knew existed around Manchester, then the plague of megalomania men of God who act with impunity being answerable to God alone in Nigeria – there is enough to make one so justifiably a humanist and be done with every similitude of religion or faith – it rankles.
However, a blog starts with a thought and with fingers tapping at the keyboard the network of cranial interactions in the mind seems to generate a piece that could never have been intended at the time the first paragraph was completed.
All this rubbished
That in itself is the beauty of blogging, though after almost eleven years of this, you could understand how dejected I felt when I read a posting on a friend’s Facebook page, ‘“Blogging is not writing, it's just graffiti with punctuation." Dr Ian Sussman in the movie, Contagion.’ I wept for myself and returned to the self-same graffiti with this blog.
So there, one done, and many more to come.

Monday, 15 September 2014

To perceptive and accepting parents

'Son I just want to sit here and toast to the rest of your life'. Gareth Thomas’ dad.
Great man, gay man
The quote above is from a BBC news story about Gareth Thomas, but I read a snippet of the story from People section of The Week magazine on my way to London in the weekend.
What caught me about this remarkable man’s story was not so much the struggles with his sexuality but the perceptiveness and acceptance of his parents.
Having earned 100 caps for Welsh rugby, a man’s man, build like a brick house and supposedly the epitome of raging heterosexuality, he was in fact not once that.
As many do, he attempted aversion therapy, got married, lived on the down-low, fought depression and other despairing issues on account of his homosexuality, it almost broke him until he was courageous enough to tell his wife and then his Welsh rugby team mates.
The toast
However, it was when he visited his parents having told them three weeks earlier that he was gay that he got home to them and he saw three champagne flutes on the table. His mother said, ‘Fetch the champagne from the fridge.’
He did not know what the celebration was about, but the champagne was poured and it was then that his father, a man of not many words said, “Son I just want to sit here and toast to the rest of your life.
The Week piece writes it with more emotion, when he was divorced from his wife, he returned to his parents’ home where one day as he laid weeping in his childhood bed, his parents called him downstairs and proposed this toast.
Apparently, they knew he was gay without his having to tell them.
The challenge of parenthood
So many things are heart-warming about this story that should also be a learning moment for parents. Parenthood goes a long way beyond meeting the material needs of a child, food, shelter, clothing, protection and education are not substitutes for getting engaged with the emotional needs of a child.
Most parents have known their children all their lives, yet, many do not understand their children in the first place and others try to mould their children into the lives they failed to attain or achieve.
In the process they destroy the individuality and the personality of the child, undermine the child’s self-esteem by being over-bearing and consequently destroy the creativity of the child, having made a robot of a free moral agent. Some parents might even excuse this as discipline, but nothing could be further from the truth.
It means the world
I commend Gareth Thomas’s parents for helping him on the way to self-realisation and acceptance by first being perceptive, then understanding, then accepting and then celebratory.
It means the world to a child regardless of the age they have reached or the status they have attained when a parent stops trying to impose will and desire on the child, but offers guidance, advice, room to explore, encouragement and acceptance to the child.
Acceptance, especially when it pertains to deep personal and difficult issues as sexuality, but this can extend to career choices, partner choices and any issue that brings the child to crossroads and decision.
The way parents influence the lives of their children is, I dare say, down to what parents decide to do in terms of interacting with their children, being ready to listen and available to communicate.
Then me
In some ways, some of what I write about here is indicative of some areas that were open to discussion with my parents and other areas where we never had the rapport for me to approach them with my problems when I most needed help.
There were no open doors much as my parents might have imagined I had free access to them, the questions linger as I have never told them of child sexual abuse that started in our home from the age of 7, the times when I had palpitations as I saw my home from a distance, when failure was a consequence of my not attending class, it was because I was in classes and completely clueless of what was going on in the class.
Where we are
I took religion because I was looking for solutions, yet it brought me into searing conflict with my parents, it became war that led my mother to act abominably in one instance. Though we appear to now maintain a modicum of communication, I do not believe a good deal of me is understood by my parents, we still strive in my dreams.
The damage has been done, as perceptiveness was replaced with the demand for my respect and obedience, they were all-knowing and all-seeing and rarely ever listening.
Yet, again, I still had an enchanted childhood, provision was there, comfort abounded, things and gifts given, no interference with my career choices, an education of class and quality, I can only be thankful for the parents I have. Parenting does not come with a manual. Alas! But love goes a long way, know it, show it and act it out.