Thursday, 26 January 2023

(Un)Defining Queer @ The Whitworth

A cultural outing

This evening, I was invited to the preview of the (Un)Defining Queer exhibition at The Whitworth, an art gallery that is part of the University of Manchester, featuring exhibits by various artists.

Prior to arriving at the gallery, I met one of the more prominent artists with two exhibits on display, Ajamu X. I have heard of him and known about his work, but I had yet to have the opportunity to make his acquaintance. It was quite propitious.

We had a quick view of the exhibits before it was opened to viewing and then attended an opening function of introductions, acknowledgements, and a speech before we were entertained by a drag act and some dance performances.

A rather well-attended event, it was, whilst I am not that deposed to networking amongst crowds, Rev Jide Macaulay and Ajamu X were in their element. I found a place to sit down and engage in conversation with a German lady, met a rather active 93-year-old lady who preferred to stand than sit down and took in the atmosphere with the occasional engagement to familiar faces.

It has been years since I last visited the gallery, this exhibition would require a proper visit, and since it is running until December, I should consider a return before long. Sir Joseph Whitworth, for whom the gallery is named was renowned for the standardisation of machine equipment and screw threads and also has major streets and a park in his honour around Manchester.

(Un)Defining Queer at The Whitworth, Manchester from the 27th of January to the 3rd of December 2023.

Image: Ajamu X, Bud Kim, 2018 © the artist, Ajamu Studio

Wednesday, 25 January 2023

Home homing homely and homily

An offering to see

The home front presents a quiet but obvious din from the traffic on the street, a feeling of being present without any participation in the tumult that suggests living in a city centre. It is the quality of being a hermit that one enjoys as the world comes to visit on different screens, large and small.

First, my peace is interrupted by my intercom system, a postman, well, a lady at door seeking ingress to the apartment block to deliver letters and I receive an unexpected parcel, an incendiary device, I thought aloud; it was a peace gift with apologies that leaves me a bit flummoxed.

Meanwhile, almost six months after returning to my home which was hardly recognisable because of how it had been rearranged by my house-sitter, I soon find things that have been out of place; the top of a screwdriver set, the lost hand of a pair of winter gloves, and somehow, I am beginning to feel I am back in my own home, knowing where things I have looked for by turning the house upside-down now are.

Boris to feline skies

Back to my study programme of keeping up to date with technology, a long slug of concentration given breaks of expert-level Sudoku, re-certifications I have to consider by July, something of a reprieve but to put on the back burner for now. As other studies for certifications continues apace.

Then around 9 years every time I step out of the back door to go to the railway station for work, there was a stray black cat that peeked at me, but never came close even if I talked and cooed to it. The cat soon was named Boris and he became the neighbour’s pet. Always, reticent, shy, and swift, he would dart away through the door to avoid me. We had a distant acquaintance and there were times I would have had to feed him when my neighbours were away.

A knock on my door this afternoon brought some unexpected and sad news, Boris had to be put to sleep yesterday. When he was taken to the veterinarian, his vital signals were at a point where he was quite poorly and not much could be done for him. It is one of those moments when you wished your pet could have told you long before, that they were unwell. Boris has gone to feline heaven; he will be sorely missed. Alas! No homily for the puss.

Back to the thoughts that occupy the mind after a teriyaki beef stir fry and that peckish feeling for a bowl of cereal, a siesta, or an early nap. You give the day its due and I am thankful for how in my quietude there is event and eventuality.

Tuesday, 24 January 2023

Purposefully walking away

Walking through and away

If I have ever had a grace that has blessed the many times, I have faced any kind of trauma in my life and there are many that have signalled themselves better in a narrative than in how I choose to be defined, it is the force that drives the determination to walk away.

As I reflect on what the fourth verse of Psalm 23 says to me, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” [Bible Hub: Psalm 23:4 (KJV)]

Even on reading that verse again, I am getting new insight just from observing the punctuation, and indeed, in life, yes, we do walk, and not stop but walk-through issues, situations, trauma, circumstances, adversity, infirmity, and much else that identifies with human existence in its sorriest state, but we press on, refusing to be defined by the experience.

This has been a default response in my subconscious many times before I consciously realised I am on a journey rather than at a destination.

Walking towards and into

I am confident that every adverse event presents new opportunities to earn laurels than acquire scars. The scars are for stories and the laurels are for a life of testimony. Yes, the force of hope and possibility propels me in ways that defy logic or understanding, I do not wait around to try to explain how or why, as what is ahead presents attraction beyond immediate distractions.

Digging through archives of blogs I have written before; I am reminded that there is much to walk away from and the beauty of love and wonder to walk into. Even when I am processing things, it is a process of compartmentalisation, a way of ensuring that the darkest moments do not become the milestones of my storied existence.

“One cannot deny that these things happened, but one can decide with all the help one can get, spiritual, psychological or with friends and family to ensure that these events do not become milestones, goalposts or walls.” [I walked away (January 2007)]

It is that thinking that gives me the strength to walk away, not because I do not want to deal with an issue, but because I can better utilise my time and resources on other wholesome things, I choose not to be a victim when I can be a victor.


Blog - Walking away (February 2017)

Blog - I walked away (January 2007)

Blog - Walk away! (December 2013) – A poem.

Monday, 23 January 2023

Gratitude as a salve of calm

Choosing gratitude over all

You find that you must purge yourself of things as situations and circumstances are taken out of your hands and superseded by the actions and activities of others. It is where you need to be given the allowance to process things at your own pace.

Everything points to the urge for annoyance, grievance, upset, or anger, but you catch yourself thinking that your reaction to any situation makes the difference regardless of what happened to you.

It is with that in mind that I will count my blessings, be thankful for the wonderful friendships and relationships that allow me to review, reflect, reassess, or even reject things that do not help me feel the way I hope to be. It is not just a matter of need, but one of purpose, to be grateful and full of gratitude that the times of now are hardly defining of all times, phases create the experience for insight and knowledge for living.

In my clam for calm

If anything, I hate drama in my life, there are reasons why I am protective of myself, my mind, the influences that aim to intrude, the voices that seek access to my hearing, the scenes that present for my viewing and observation, they are all for finding my place of calm that some think is me clamming up.

Then maybe, I do need to clam up, some things are just that way as we use the mechanisms newly learnt or from times past to command state and status to stand firm whatever wind blows one’s way. I cherish the deep friendships that help to think things through, even as that shell is a place of temporary safety for that need of some security for self and welfare.

Sunday, 22 January 2023

Thought Picnic: In the omerta of abuse

No perfect narrative exists

There are taboo topics that society, community, or situation makes too difficult to talk about for many reasons from not having a frame of reference in which to conceptualise and understand to the need to avoid engagement so that the horror of that reality does not inflict on our comfort.

In the matters of child sexual abuse, domestic violence, sexual assault, or bullying, some of which I have addressed in my almost 20 years of blogging, finding the form of words to discuss with the hope that it does not upset is one for which there is neither art, skill, nor perfection to convey silent suffering and the associated issues.

Why they suffer in silence

I would guess that is the reason that obvious and apparent victims do not share their experiences and mostly never report anything because of shame or embarrassment, worse still the default audience sits in judgement with the view that there is much more that could have been done to prevent things happening to oneself.

Yet, reporting any abuse is not as easy as making a customer complaint or reporting a theft, the violation of the person is visceral, it starts with the body, as the mind considers what has happened, and the spirit is grieved in the realisation of that truth. Maybe, the bruised body can be healed, and the conflicted mind can with time find peace, to reach into the spirit to enliven it is a whole different matter. A person must find their way just as they have to work with the dreams and imaginations that play in their heads.

Wrestling back some agency

That these taboos need to see the light of day through expression, sharing, and talking about it so that perpetrators realise that they do not hold any power over the people they violate or are emboldened to act with impunity is necessary. However, navigating the present to gain the support, sympathy and empathy needed to grow would never be an easy task.

The child abused who on mentioning it is shut down because the adults who should protect them cannot deal with it, the person who has suffered domestic abuse takes the blame for instigation rather than the abuser getting excoriated, sexual assault is seen as opportunistic and victimless that partners of victims are more hurt than the one molested, being on the receiving end of bullying considered an act and state of weakness when one is expected to fight back and put a stop to it.

Help, don’t worsen it

The long hard mile that others would never walk in the shoes of the wearer is deemed the easiest feat of endeavour. People in pain from living through it are doubly hurt by others taking on the same pain for what they never lived. It is a strange world, you begin to believe that the cruellest thing to allow to happen to yourself is to suffer pain, to be a victim, to be caught in circumstances you should have controlled but you failed to.

Whilst silence cannot be the answer, we have to find it somewhere in our human nature to consider, to appreciate, to understand, to commiserate, to empathise, to feel, and to know, that others will have experiences beyond our comprehension, if we cannot help them, we should not make it worse. Sadly, this all is part of the story of our humanity, much as we would love better stories. I do not have the answers, we should be careful of taking offence in the hurt of another.

Once again, “Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth.” [Romans 14:22b] The journey of self-healing is lonely, scary, unsure, and not guaranteed. You take each day as vulnerable and human with the hope that there is better ahead.

Monday, 16 January 2023

To the liberation of the lamb

Another uncommon narrative

Her black eyes are concealed behind the makeup that provides the window dressing for the terror that is the shop she calls home, a place that was supposedly built on the union of love that went awry for all sorts of reasons. That story told daily is one to which we are almost inured, the regularity and commonality obfuscate other realities that never find a voice to express.

Like a man, all too vulnerable met in the circumstance where intentions differ between a welcoming host and a predatory guest. Who would have thought of the consequence of that encounter? What you open your door to in altruism is sometimes not what visits to aspire, but to conspire. It is churned in the mind as a silent review of shame and embarrassment, for which you find quiet consolation in the tears that refuse to come.

Indecent assault allowed

It is a battle of conflicts and knowledge ignored, even if needs are there, a sacred trust was betrayed in the exploitation of opportunity. Such is the incomprehensibility of the scenario to the onlooker until caught in the web of the spider, the many older vulnerable men who are victims of the machinations of youth are not what makes the discussion at most times, it is one of those taboo subjects found in the secrecy and confessional of a therapy you fear to sit in.

Young is attractive, but as long as temptation is kept from ingress, it has no power to overwhelm. In naivety, all resistance is worn down with unrelenting persistence, an advantage is acquired and there emerges a submission to a violation of the person in the helplessness of the situation. Like sheep to the slaughter, it is a willing suspension of inhibition for the moment to just pass unheralded.

Gaslighted into culpability

Liberties, the liberties seized in the freedom to act with imposition and intrusion whilst afterwards defanging possible accusations with feigning innocence by gaslighting and asking if they have done wrong or they were bad, knowing the response would never be negative as the personal hurt is absorbed in victimhood that dare not lay a charge. The sacrificial lamb was on the altar lain, though interminable was the watch to when it was to be slain.

The lamb momentarily unbound rises to flee as the worshipper intones with incandescent incantation, “I’m not done yet.” The lamb bounds with hinds like a mountain goat, a hardy escape from the blade of slaughter, it is well asunder. The end of that is the end indeed.

Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth. [Romans 14:22b] Maybe happy is not the feeling one has, but the rest is where some consolation from the ordeal does come.

Thursday, 12 January 2023

Thought Picnic: Defined by impediment of speech

Deference for acquisition

There are encounters of amusement and vulnerability that come with life’s experiences, ones that make you wonder about ability, capacity, and identity. There are inflections on fluency that could inadvertently surprise and allude to deficiency, a conclusion that is borne of ignorance, for want of a better word.

To be courteous is a demonstration I should rarely be found wanting in, even as I sometimes compensate for my lack of curiosity in inquisitive by the keenness of observation, eliciting fact from happenstance and codifying that for future reference, for assurance purposes I would ask how a name is pronounced before it is mangled in incomprehensibility.

Reference in identification

That desire for knowledge is sometimes misconstrued for inadequacy and so it is tested with the supposition that flaws are indicative of the unschooled. In self-deprecation, I do sometimes suggest my proficiency in the Yoruba language is poor, as it is not my mother tongue; it is hardly to be accepted as fact, I am pretty fluent in expression and rich in prose.

Yet, I am sometimes caught in a flux of identity and identification as to where I have affinity regardless of heritage and where I belong in terms of roots. With time, my understanding of the cultural underpinnings of my forebears and relations with respect to mine would indicate variance and difference that dictates my worldview and outlook. I realise I am many things from many places to many people, a complex of simple humanity trying to make something of life.