Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Ambushed!

He marches on, love unrequited,
In the hope of friendship still excited,
A meet, a hug, a night of passion,
Everything to serve raw emotion.
Could it be just an agenda,
Exploited now and put asunder,
Of such a ploy to act with cunning,
A desire to meet a wanting.
With open hand, he sows liberally,
In lives he knows almost too clearly,
They stop to chat so freely,
For they were ever so friendly.
A moment soon at the doorstep,
A hand was grabbed as if to schlepp,
With words and weight to push,
Relieved of all in an ambush.
The dawn did break for one to think,
This all happened in a blink,
A sadness scrawls upon the face,
Not a way to want to embrace.
Many a time was too frivolous,
Yet a pleasure to be that generous,
To some who could rightly scoff,
At the tale of being taken advantage of.
For in what he writes he chides,
For if this thing abides,
Of whom much more is desired,
A lot better is expected.


Tuesday, 17 January 2017

The Terminal

We caught up after 27 years, in Frankfurt.

The learning
Almost a fortnight ago, in the midst of the media frenzy that accompanied a blog written about me, I heard from my sister that she was about to travel to the United States. I congratulated her as she admonished me for allowing the public spectacle that followed my story.
In very stark terms, I made it clear that the decision was mine to make and the consequences, whatever they might be, were challenges to be faced as they came, all considerations taken on board.
The exchange was a bit terse but friendly and I basically kept a low profile after that. On the Saturday after, we were in a bit of a quandary, travel agents in Nigeria were angling for their commissions at the expense of getting an affordable flight ticket. As the hours went the prices of the tickets were rising such that they were becoming unaffordable.
Airport choices
Meanwhile, a useful app that could provide an insider’s view of flight scheduling and pricing OnTheFly was not available in Nigeria. I did consider transferring my frequent flyer miles to her, but there were limitations to the number of miles I could give away and there were other restrictions to buying tickets on the behalf of others outside Europe.
Her first choice would have involved a 26-hour stopover in Doha, the question then arose about what to do with a long layover at the airport if you did not have a visa to exit the terminal. The Doha Hamad International Airport has quiet rooms for a limited time at a cost. All looked tentative. There were options for a stopover in Istanbul via Turkish Airlines and were it not for the strictures of time, flying out of Cotonou, Benin or Lomé, Togo would have shaved almost a third off the cost of the ticket.
Trigger response
Apart from a contribution, all I could do was hope and wait for the best. As dusk approached, I received news that a flight had been booked on her behalf from the US and there was a 10-hour stopover in Frankfurt, she was flying with Lufthansa.
I didn’t give it any thought on learning of this new development when I told her, if she was coming through Europe, I would see her. Europe is my backyard, so to speak and so I got into planning my trip.
I requested her full itinerary from which I could determine what terminal she would be flying into and whether she implicitly had a transit visa to stopover in Frankfurt considering she did not have a Schengen visa. Then I had to determine if I could traverse terminals in the airport without having to go through immigration. Having a US visa implicitly gave her transit rights through Frankfurt Airport.
Terminal woes
On my side, I normally use SkyTeam flights, but that would have landed me in the Schengen immigration control area leaving Manchester with stopovers in either Amsterdam or Paris. The only way I could avoid this was to fly directly from non-Schengen Area UK to Frankfurt, it meant changing airline alliances to fly Lufthansa.
Other domestic issues required I return on the same day rather than extend my stay through the weekend as I might have done in other circumstances.
Fortuitously, I asked for the day off, booked my ticket to arrive in Frankfurt at 9:15 AM and depart at 9:45 PM, this meant I could print out both boarding passes double-sided for my outward and return journeys.
My sister would have arrived in Frankfurt at the same terminal just under 3 hours before I did and when I arrived in Frankfurt, I was told to go to the Z gates having arrived at the B gates of Terminal 1. I boarded the SkyTrain that linked the gates and found myself at a security checkpoint.
Sheer luck
On tendering my boarding pass, after some hesitation, the teller noted that my departure would be from a Z gate, I didn’t even know that not to talk of my being 12 hours early for my departure. I was let through.
I made it to the Z gates and determined my sister would leave from gate Z15, I had not seen her Facebook message and posted an announcement to have her meet me at gate Z15. I did a quick scout around the gate without seeing her and as the announcement went out on the tannoy, I waited at the gate as I scanned my Facebook messages.
The reunion
I am waiting in front of gate Z15, where are you?’ I wrote. I stood looking around like a meerkat sentry, she appeared from the thick of the crowd, my sister who I last saw almost 27 years before. All the while, I was unsure of how emotional I would be, there no tears, just lots of hugging, I was very happy.
There would have been much to catch up on, but we decided to cherish the moment instead after my other sister responded in the negative from Nigeria on Facebook that she was not the one was supposed to be meeting. Yes, we have pranksters a-plenty in the family.
We called home, had a meal, took some pictures, found a place to recline and catch a nap, spent almost 8 hours together before I watched her board her plane and depart for the United States. By the time that was done, I checked to confirm my boarding gate, it had been changed to the B gates, what luck.
Traipsing through another security check, a couple of hours in the lounge, I was back home just before 11:00 PM but it was too much of an emotionally charged day that I took Friday off. Mission accomplished by the accident of fortune and the blessing of opportunity and means.
How I’ve wanted to write this blog for days.


Saturday, 14 January 2017

Opinion: I'll rather have a smug pilot


Catching up on The Week
By coincidence, I was on a flight back from Frankfurt when I encountered the above cartoon in an outdated copy of my subscription to The Week magazine. I am probably 6 to 8 weeks behind and I doubt if I’ll eventually catch up with the issues I have missed.
The Week is both an aggregator of the best news stories globally with sections that offer contemporary analysis issues and events, social, political, economic, scientific and about life in general. I will sometimes have The Week lead me to do more research on topics I have been introduced to. The Week has become my preferred magazine subscription.
The point the cartoon makes is succinct and deep; when taken in the context of the political earthquakes of rejected orthodoxy in #Brexit, referendums in Columbia, Italy and Hungary, the election of Donald Trump in the United States of America, it can only be concluded that we live in fearfully interesting times.
Chuck the pilot for a tyro
Now, to imagine that someone rather than a competent, well-trained pilot with the necessary qualifications, essential sobriety, and the presence of mind was at the controls of the flight I took from Frankfurt to Manchester is at best scary and with the knowledge, bordering on the suicidal.
Then to think, in having an unqualified pilot volunteer to take the controls just as all the other passengers' vote to jettison the qualified one just because they feel they have been ignored, disrespected, thought little of or just out of unfounded dislike. No, it does not bear thinking of.
Yet, that is what we did in 2016, the situation exemplified in the statement of Michael Gove, the Justice Secretary when he said, “People in this country have had enough of experts.
The function of the expert
Now, experts are supposed to have the full knowledge and experience in their areas of expertise. However, being an expert does not make you perfect, even with all the data to hand, there might be variables completely outside the control of the expert to be able to give a definitive statement that represents the outcome that eventually is experienced.
However, the expert is not only necessary, they are also important to the decision-making process especially when met with a crisis that would call on experience to resolve. An expert as a pilot knowing how to land a plane if an engine is lost or the landing gear does not deploy. The expert as a consultant that told me that they knew how to treat my cancer, but the variable outside their control was my physiology, that alone could determine if I survived or died within 5 weeks.
The experts that were thought little of by Michael Gove were the economists who thought post-Brexit Britain would be disastrous. Whilst things have not turned out so bad, things are less than perfect, in fact, everything is in flux with the pound scraping the bottom of the barrel in the foreign exchange markets. Once Brexit is triggered the uncertainty might lead to other unintended shocks to the economy, no one can say, but the experts are there at least to give some guidance.
Taking offence at smug pilots
The other narrative of the ‘smug pilot’ is an aversion to fact, truth, knowledge, and expertise. The tendency not to need to verify anything before it is accepted and relayed as the truth it is not. There was a lot of that during the referendum campaign in the UK and quite a good deal of that in this cycle of the US presidential campaign.
Basically, Donald Trump got away with murder literally and Hillary Clinton could not get away with a mere email scandal, the end result would be an interesting 2017 where a man who has never ever held elective office, whose antecedents in business leaves much to be desired, with such thin skin, given to slights and vituperation, lacking in decorum and class would now assume the mantle of the leader of the free world.
Democracy’s suicide pact
Like the man in the cartoon says, “These smug pilots have lost touch with regular passengers like us. Who thinks I should fly the plane?” A man with no verifiable experience apart from the willingness to take a risk that could lead to the loss of souls along with the plane has just been voted in to fly the plane. You wonder if everyone who raised their hands in that plane thought of the possible consequences of their collective votes.
Maybe, they were on a suicide mission just because they have taken umbrage at ‘smug pilots that have lost touch with regular passengers like them’, that is where we are with the democracy we have played in 2016, if we do not crash land with the loss of all souls in a major air disaster, we might just count ourselves lucky.
I’ll rather have a smug pilot at the helm of the plane than someone who makes me feel special, but knows nothing about how to fly a plane.


Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Episodic Tremors

There are episodic tremors around,
The ones that shake my world,
Of flowers in a garden bed,
Showing colours meant for summer,
At sight you seek the warmth,
Only to feel the cold blast of winter,
This it seems should not be,
But that is what it is.
I sought the embrace of another,
Indeed I thought a lover,
And I was made to hover,
For what I felt was not to consider,
The rebuff was that of niceness,
Not that it was from my likeness,
To appear in all fairness,
A matter not ready to address.
A whisper, a chatter, a talk,
Just when we took a walk,
And was I now to balk?
When the subject loomed like a hawk.
Then I asked of she who had left,
of minds that once were cleft,
They closed the door and left,
As if they with us were bereft.


Saturday, 7 January 2017

Dreamscape: Where the long departed are the newly arrived

Workings of the conscious mind
With the imagination of a conjurer able to create a new reality out of thought, the need not to augment inspiration with the depictions of others in the horror genre becomes self-evident.
Yet, thoughts can be controlled even if bizarre. Getting into a lift and thinking at the press of a bottom it would burrow into the belly of the earth and the floor at which the door opens reveals a fiery furnace of ghoul and spectacle beyond comprehension. Those thoughts must be banished.
Workings of the subconscious mind
Dreams, however, are another dimension in time and place. Bounding in strides that cover distances to be traversed in days, transported to worlds where the long departed seem to have just newly arrived. Mixing the contemporary with the past in a story that rarely gets told. Dreams are yet to be filmed and displayed, many of those recollections are best left shuttered away.
Then, whether a seat or a bed, it becomes an autonomous vehicle steered backwards into some place indeterminate. The consciousness aware of the movement and trepidation sets in, but nothing seems to be able to stop the slow advance into the unknown. A foreboding suggests wherever the vehicle is going is not where you want to be because you are bound by restraints you did not apply.
More battles of the mind
From the depths of dreamland come reflexes, you shall not go where you have not planned and definitely not in the anxiety and fear that begins to engulf you. Suddenly, you jolt awake, the memory already branded with the beginning of an experience and one you decide you do not want to see the continuation of.
Dreams are a battlefront in the subconscious, many wars have been fought and won therein. Until another dream slots into the dreamscape, the mind remains the mystery it always was of unique experiences and crazy outcomes.