Wednesday, 28 July 2021

Coronavirus streets in London - XXXVIII

We are not there yet

The pleasure of the walk is always fun. The discovery of London by foot and the surprise of finding strange and new places you have only heard of or driven past. It is the condemnation of the Tube to a loneliness it could never have thought could befall it. We are in the age of the pandemic, the Coronavirus has left us seeking the natural away from the superficial and we are the healthier for it.

English placenames are Shibboleths of possible embarrassment for I do remember playing the Monopoly board game thinking Angel Islington had the sound of the first syllable of island when in fact it began with the sound of is, for I began in Islington. Yet, I saw Angel, the London Underground station that is, danced by Sadler’s Wells and could have been a phantom of operatic earache in Shaftsbury Theatre.

The West End is alive

In the court of Palace Theatre were crowds gathered to watch Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, queued up in a press without spacing, their expectations of entertainment probably delivering them from the plague of COVID-19 or so they think. I pulled on my mask without a second thought.

Into Old Compton Street, I strutted, a haunt from the 90s, now fully pedestrianised and barely passable because of al fresco dining, raucous and gay like a summer camp of queens or drag that would make you blush. There is no pandemic here, and you are not invited to the masked ball, as we have come to live life, to die would be unfortunate, and those who passed on will be remembered after we have enjoyed ourselves, is the message on the streets of London.

Nay, be not one of the Les Misérables that is doing time with the butler in Arthur, and I really did like Sir John Gielgud, he died at 96 and a theatre is named for him. Les Mis as we know it, once did 19 years at the Palace, it is the West End, the world of theatre and spectacle. That was after Oxford Street and Carnaby Street much changed from what I remember, memory is not just a lane but a bustling city of dreams.

History and pageantry

Eros did try to smile on me and Haymarket I ignored at Piccadilly Circus and turned onto Regent Street St James’s and do not be bewildered, the possessive James peculiarly carries a full apostrophe S and The Court of St James’s is the royal court of the sovereign monarch where the Queen receives ambassadors to the Court of St James’s never to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Now in peak Establishment territory, I was at Waterloo Place with statues of famous Field Marshalls, kings and politicians making an avenue of the revered, Florence Nightingale even lights her lamp here in the day and the night, if you have the vision for such. Down the steps by the Duke of York Monument whose fame is recalled in the risible The Grand Old Duke of York nursery rhyme.

To the river and over

I cross The Mall to Horse Guards Road with Horse Guards Parade where the monarch’s official birthday is celebrated in June at the Trooping the Colour, to my left and St James’s Park to my right, I could have ventured a walk to Buckingham Palace to see it for the first time, but that would be another time, for I was pressed and the toilets closed.

The Palace of Westminster, the British Parliament with all the surrounding famous buildings including Westminster Hall, came into view, but I could barely see Big Ben, it was bedecked in scaffolding and I crossed the River Thames on Westminster Bridge onto the South Bank with the London Eye on its last rotation for the day, my sister called from America as I was lapping a soft ice cream on a black waffle cone after which the Tube took me back to Angel from Waterloo Station.

Tuesday, 27 July 2021

Funmi, in your year of the Jubilee

Extraordinary mensch

Funmi Iyanda, I first met in circumstances celebrating the loss of a friend, there was no indication at the time that we would be friends, but through meetings and conversations, an unusual and close friendship developed.

There are many things to write about Funmi Iyanda, the talk show host, broadcaster, Film and TV producer, media executive, philanthropist, journalist, and blogger, according to her Wikipedia profile, but to view her through her celebrity alone would be to miss the beauty and the essence of the person, her humanity, her generosity, her qualities in principle, in motherhood, in friendship, her stoicism in the face of adversity, betrayal, and other challenges, her indomitable spirit, her tenacity, her storytelling prowess and the all-round extraordinary mensch that she is.

Humanity champion

Funmi has always championed unpopular and difficult causes, bringing light and life to people, issues, and events, extricating the detail and the underlying human story to which many can relate, from the time that she fronted New Dawn with Funmi to her recent venture of Public Eye.

In doing so, she shone the klieg lights on many, giving them insight and blazing the trail for others who have followed and gone on to become leading lights to their various areas of endeavour. She was the pioneer, the frontrunner, the blockbuster draw in an environment where the conservative, the patriarchy, the powerful, and the influential felt threatened by one who was neither fawning nor obsequious, her voice was strong, loud, and effective.

Life changer

In founding Change-A-Life Foundation in 2002, she with the team around her were intervening in the lives of vibrant, talented, gifted, determined, purposeful yet disadvantaged individuals, according to their Twitter profile. Even those who would not consider themselves disadvantaged were given platforms to showcase their abilities and from there found the global audience that brought patronage and opportunity to their worlds.

Having the courage of her convictions borne of a deep sense of duty and willingness to nurture, uplift, and promote, she has boldly showcased issues too many have been afraid to touch, associated with people who the generally supercilious won’t deign to entertain, but the haughty are the poorer for it, even if in their conceit they are oblivious of their lack of humanity, doing the motions without the heart.

Quiet dignity

I am sometimes astounded at some who were lent more than a helping hand who having now made it have surreptitiously pushed the ladder away, presuming to pay forward with no recognition of how they got where they are or who gave voice, mentored, advised, counselled, negotiated, and facilitated their rise.

It is an endearing virtue to witness the dignity and bearing of this woman whose quiet disposition and silence is too frequently taken advantage of by those who knowing the quality of person she is, feel safe from being exposed for their villainy, calumny, malevolence, apathy, indifference, wickedness, ingratitude, disrespect and much else. They are a lesson and story of the fallen human that would not change the grace, the style, the comportment, the humanity, and loveliness of this lady.

Trailblazing still

Those points being made, I have come to celebrate Funmi Iyanda as a friend, a confidante, a sister, an ally, a person of exemplary conduct that I so highly respect for who she is, her achievements, the successes, and failures are woven into a tapestry of life telling even better stories, the laurels of the past fading into the distance in the presence of new ideas, amazing opportunities, and projects leading to places that could never have been prospected or imagined; genius is just what genius does and it is awesome to behold.

There is a coming of age and the coming into the centre of who you were born to be, a world-changer, lauded and recognised by the powerful, the influential, the establishment and institutions around the world. Sometimes, a prophet is but without honour in their own land, it does not make the prophet any less an impactful messenger to the global communities and humanity where the gift blossoms.

Unbeatable excellence

Sometimes, I say, you have nothing left to prove other than to continually excel effortlessly in what you have perfected over decades. Indeed, many will be envious and jealous, probably militate against you, where they can and are able to contribute and team up, they hold back fearful of being eclipsed, myopic in vision and purpose, but we choose to be proud of you, celebrate your many talents, find encouragement in your many efforts and have great expectations of mind-blowing exploits by your individuality, initiative, industriousness, and ingenuity.

Your friendship, your playfulness, your wit, and your use of expression are things your friends exude in and treasure. Along with Morenike, you are both an incomparable, uncompromising, unbeatable, and unchallengeable winning team.

Happy Birthday

Dear Funmi, on your 50th birthday, may your smiles turn into joyous laughter and exuberant ululation, may your light shine as bright as the sun in the day and in the night, may love encompass, shield and bless you, may you find favour in every place, even in the impossible and unfavourable places, ways open that would leave many in awe of the opportunities that come your way that you are spoilt for choice.

May you rise to be seen, to be heard, to be honoured, to be celebrated, and to be feted in the stratosphere way beyond those who heretofore glowered at you with satisfaction, they will be dwarfed by the little things you do. It is your day to breakout and breakthrough with the impact and forceful demonstration of a nuclear detonation. Brian and I wish you a very happy birthday, you have been our greatest cheerleader and supporter, a friend like no other.

Most of all, remember the words of the brighter future that we have progressively lived in and continue to find new experiences to cherish. A ma fi pàtàn ni. Have a most wonderful day and many more glorious days and years are coming in your year of the Golden Jubilee.

Monday, 26 July 2021

Dreamscape: Of friendships, in conflicts and strong voices

The outlay

I cannot remember how long ago the dramatis personae were in the latest dramatic episode of parasomnia where the script is an ad hoc exhibition of wild and vividly imagination occluding and folding time into a present continuous of endless juxtapositions and unlimited human abilities that science fiction will not dare to touch.

My father had gone away when his best friend who passed on last November had come round to ask for the use of his car. I promptly deactivated the security my mother having consented, and the deed was done. In dreams, there are backstories that come to view as memory during the playback of events you cannot place, and this one, I do not remember giving access to the car, yet I was bought into the premise.

The setup

When he returned, he had no knowledge that the car was used until it came up in conversation with his friend. As he is wont to do, he was completely sceptical that the car had been moved at all because there was no record in the odometer or tracking system that the security had been tampered with. That was where fingers were pointed at me by his friend that not only had I bypassed security, but I had also overridden all protective systems, it became a thing of jest that so seriously annoyed my father.

Rather than have a discussion with me about the issue, he took his frustration out on me resorting an instrument of corporal punishment that he handily wielded from our childhood to exert authority and respect. As it was in a public place, I was apparently conversant with customs not to resist or attack, I let him have his way, humiliating me as others watched without intervening even as what I did was at their insistence.

The fightback

Later, he came at me again in private and we got into a struggle, I was having none of it and then I went to bed. Quite overcome with the injustice of it all, I got up and was in a crowded courtyard where my mother was serving food to quite a few people. I attracted her attention asking to talk but gave way to a few desperately hungry and possibly homeless people hoping once their urgent requirement was served, I would be allowed a hearing, but I was altogether ignored.

I adjusted my voice and bellowed, “Can I have an audience?”, at which point, I could no more be ignored and the whole crowd fell silent to listen to what I had to say. I am not much of a public speaker, but I gave it my best shot occasionally losing my voice but recovering soon enough to make coherent sentences.

My statement

Uncle Jimi, though I have never called him that before, I said, was a father-figure such that if my father were absent, he would not have to be asked to take on that role. There was no way I would have refused him access to use my father’s car and with my mother’s consent, he did have the car when he required it. I was rather disappointed that they allowed my father to abuse me without even attempting to restrain him.

Whilst I was busy speaking, my implacable father came wielding a big stick again, but this time we had a full-on confrontation as I tackled him the apparently big stick shrunk into a length of flimsy string, his hand hanging down with the incredulity of how his instrument of power and enforcement became nothing of any threat. Yet, it was in the words I spoke than in any physical tussling that this happened.

Leaving the courtyard to return to my bedroom with my brother, along the way, he wanted to go to see my father as I worried that he might not have access to the house if we did not go together. Then across the stream just before a bridge that could be easily crossed, I saw a wolf with a colourful iridescent coat approaching as if towards prey. I growled at it, it cowered in fear and slunk away. My phone rang and that is how I was awoken from my apparent nightmare; it was Brain on the other end.

I prevail

All day, I have been reviewing the events in my mind as I narrated the dream to friends, the seemingly incessant conflicts between my father and I, caught in a time warp of when we were literally of equal strength and I always gaining the upper hand. The situation where the presumed reasonableness he possesses is quickly dispensed for the physical, but more pertinently, the bond of friendship with his best friend that we all celebrated.

Then, one thing I have realised and learnt through life is I have to speak for myself, for fairness, for justice and to arrest that abuse of power and authority by those who think they are unassailable and inviolable. The voice against oppression must be heard and it is there to disarm completely. Another dreamscape.

Sunday, 25 July 2021

Thought Picnic: In terms of the friend I have become

Unwittingly winning battles

Sometimes, we are unaware of the lessons in adversity that through what we have lived and experienced become the pointers for others in their times of trouble. When in my own situation out of ignoring the essential and the circumstances of disease progression, I came within 5 weeks of expiry according to the prognosis, I had no other choice but to face what was ahead of me.

There were battles I had to fight, mostly in the mind and usually unseen in the pain, the fears, the uncertain, the unintended, and the anxieties that could bring on debilitating worry, in those, I could not afford to be defeated, my circumstances were part of life, and people do live it, for it belongs in the spectrum of the human experience.

Acceptance leads tomorrow

The other issue was cancer, that I could neither battle nor fight, not with my already ineffective immune system nor with some pretense of mind over matter. I had to rely on the efficacy of the drugs and the treatment hoping that my body could carry me through the ordeal to a form of survival and recovery.

The greatest battle was in my mind, the transition of responding to pain alone whilst being in total denial of my condition to the point when I accepted that this was serious, I had cancer and so, what next? Once providence and I were in agreement that things were going to look and get better, we were on a long hard journey to recovery.

You are first in your situation

Inadvertently, the gruelling encounters with medical personnel and medical science have informed me of how to seek and obtain the best medical outcomes for whatever situation is under review. Whilst not getting doctors and consultants to second-guess themselves, it is important that they are convinced and convincing of what course of action to take.

If at any time I have had to encourage anyone, it is to be appreciated, respected, and treated with dignity. The superiority of a doctor’s knowledge, experience, and expertise should never be ahead of you as their subject and patient, it should be subject to your understanding with detailed explanation of what they want to do, the purpose for it and the outcomes expected.

Afterall, it is your body first, before it is their Guinea pig. That truth alone is sometimes enough to give a new sense of purpose and acuity to your situation. To my friends, I am a living miracle, a message of hope, a teller of better stories, and as one so endearingly said and I have heard in different modes of expression, I am their role model of resilience. I am just thankful for the life I have been given and the example it lends to others.

Wednesday, 21 July 2021

Coronavirus streets in Manchester - XXXVII

The pandemic is over to some

Before it was midnight on what was termed Freedom Day, a nightclub already had its speakers booming shaking the walls of the venue to their foundations and anyone gyrating to the music on the long hard road to eardrum damage and deafness.

Out on my walk on Monday, I had gone so far away from home that I had to hail an Uber cab back home. Round the corner from my home was a long queue rounding the block of young revellers trying to gain entry into another club, very much like the pandemic never happened.

The pandemic is really not over

If anything, the dangers are still there, people are getting ill, even those who are double vaccinated, and they are ending up in hospital under mechanical ventilation. A close colleague of my boyfriend, though fully vaccinated and then contracting COVID-19 for the second time, passed on yesterday evening. May God rest her soul.

Whilst I have absented from the assemblages of crowds in the throes of pandemic amnesia, my visit to the local Sainsbury’s supermarket showed that the cautionary principle is essential vigilance. Most of the customers were wearing face masks, but the self-checkout tills and counters were all open rather than having alternate spaces closed off, we have reached the full abandonment of common sense in a pandemic. The staff for their own safety still wearing masks.

We lead again in infections

I can imagine there are places where reckless and wanton excess would be the order of the day, the freedom to socialise most likely becoming the dreaded super spreader that would result in a heretofore avoidable clampdown of self-same freedoms.

We are led by gamblers who have lost the advantage that a successful vaccination programme provided us just a few months ago to become the country with the highest daily rate of Coronavirus infections, yesterday, the false narrative about safety in vaccines is the slippery slope into an unmitigated disaster. We need to hear Boris Johnson say, hand on heart with full-throated conviction, “If you die, you die.” [Worldmeters.Info: Coronavirus]

The UK tops the list of new infections globally on 20/07/2021.

At least, we would really know what we are up against as everyone realises it is each person for themselves.

Tuesday, 20 July 2021

His acts betrayed, "If you die, you die."

Using old cow sense

Generally, one would not have time for Dominic Cummings, the once chief adviser to Prime Minister Boris Johnson on questions of character, integrity, honesty, or discretion. Yet, I must as I have learnt for a long time from a preacher of old, he wrote, “Have as much sense as an old cow, eat the hay and leave the bailing wire.”

What this nugget of wisdom has taught me is people who one would normally not like or entertain does not mean they do not have ideas, expressions, views, or opinions of things that one might find interesting. The person or personality might be unlikeable and odious, without redeeming factors, yet do not have to condemn outright, and completely ostracised from gaining one’s attention.

By their actions and words

You assess the viewpoint and by your determination decide in the information without necessarily making it about the person. It is for the same reason that I am interested in what Dominic Cummings has to say about how the government of Boris Johnson faced and handled the pandemic. He was in the room when the decisions were made. It is very likely that from what we know of Boris Johnson and some other sources, things can be corroborated too.

On the 12th of March 2020, Boris Johnson said, “I must level with you, level with the British public, more families, and many more families are going to lose loved ones before their time.” There is no other context that could be read into this than to say that he was of the mind that people should be sacrificed to the pandemic rather than act decisively to save lives.

Blog: Thought Picnic: The vulnerable to be martyred to the Coronavirus in the UK

They cared nothing for us

The snippet from Dominic Cummings’ interview suggests the Prime Minister was of the mind, the pandemic essentially killed those over 80, the parents, the grandparents, the great-grandparents and relations, in that age bracket, the loved ones that were expendable to keep the economy going. We were as we had known before to be Guineapigs in a quest for herd immunity in a time where there was no vaccine. To the vulnerable it was a heartless statement, “If you die, you die.” [BBC News: Covid: Boris Johnson resisted autumn lockdown as only over-80s dying - Dominic Cummings]

Everything the government has done seems to have followed this lodestar, the late lockdowns, the poor testing regimes, the gambling between options until there was no other option after which the virus had taken hold within communities.

Indeed, there will be much to learn from Dominic Cummings this evening, I just wonder if enough people would see how criminally negligent and culpable our government was in allowing the pandemic to cut a swathe of tragedy and death through the populace and how hollow their talking point of taking the "necessary action to protect lives and livelihoods, guided by the best scientific advice" is, because it was anything but that.

Monday, 19 July 2021

The dizzying policy pirouettes of Freedom Day

COVID has no respect

When the Health Secretary, Sajid Javid revealed Saturday that he had contracted COVID-19, it would have been easy to be uncharitable and consider it careless and reckless that within a month of taking on the role, he had become a victim of a situation he was supposed to help prevent the public from suffering. Yet, one must wish him a quick and speedy recovery.

If anything, it indicates glaringly that despite the vaccinations, no one is immune from being touched by the virus, even if you are the Health Secretary and as the pandemic is the most critical issue in our politics, it would hit the centre of government with the risk of crippling it.

Rules are for fools

As he had met the Prime Minister and the Chancellor very recently, the exorbitant Test and Trace app had pinged Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak respectively to self-isolate, they first indicated on Sunday that rather than self-isolate, they will participate in the pilot ‘workplace testing’ release programme that involved daily Coronavirus testing allowing them to remain at work, totally contrary to what they have required of the populace who were under severe risk of expensive and custodian sanctions if they breached quarantine rules.

In response to recriminations and protests, they soon reversed their decision, attempting to play it as being considerate of following the rules everyone else has been compelled to follow. Essentially, the government cannot admit they have been wrong even if it appears everything they do is as if done on a dare to see if they can get away with it.

Rudderless manoeuvring

The prompt U-turn would put a pirouetting ballerina into a dizzy spell, but nothing is beyond the incredulity of the Boris gang, they would create and foster embarrassment where it seems impossible, seize defeat from the jaws of victory like they lost the momentous advantage of the vaccination programme to return to infection levels last seen in January.

The questions the vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi could not answer this morning included where the Prime Minister was when he was pinged by the app before he decided to self-isolate at Checkers and how many other people in the corridors of power had taken advantage of the pilot scheme which had been in the system since around January. I do not think any of the vaccines had that stretch of testing and pilots.

Beware of these gangsters

If it were a pilot, you also had to ask when it would be rolled out to the wider public because it had become obvious that pilot was a euphemism of inducing one rule for them apart from the rules, we were supposed to obey.

In any case, on our supposed Freedom Day, the muddled message of masks, self-isolation, social distancing, travel restrictions and much else leaves us celebrating the height of confusion with the prospect of more pandemic carnage before things get better, if they ever do at the cack-handed ineptitude of this Boris gang.