Sunday, 12 May 2019

Thought Picnic: About being neither there nor near

Everyone's taking control of me,
Seems that the world's got a role for me …
Michael Jackson – Will You Be There (1993) [Lyrics]
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Carried along
It was just 25 years ago when I was given two tickets for the Michael Jackson concert at Wembley Stadium by a friend who I had always helped solved solve computer problems without taking a fee.
The first scheduled concert was cancelled, and we were offered refunds on our tickets, but there was no way I would give up the opportunity to see Michael Jackson. Two weeks later, Michael Jackson did come to London, to Wembley Stadium and that remains the best show ever that I have seen.
For all the controversy that has trailed Michael Jackson, I cannot ignore the musicianship he had, the entertainer he was and the songwriting abilities he had.
Being there
Surfing the net from a Tumblr profile that led to the 1998 impromptu performance of Nessum Dorma by Aretha Franklin in the stead of Luciano Pavarotti at the Grammys and a YouTube random playback of related music and tributes to many, I found myself listening to Jennifer Hudson’s rendition of Will You Be There at the funeral service of Michael Jackson and previous to that was Aretha Franklin playing a piano singing I Will Always Love You at Whitney Houston’s funeral.
It was almost a morbid celebration of amazing talent, yet, on my flight back from South Africa and we’ll cover that in another blog, I only listened to the music of the unfortunately departed, first to Barry White, the Aretha Franklin and closing off with Prince.
I was weary
In the weeks that have passed where phantom blogs have been written in my head but most of my social media engagement has been on Instagram feeding Twitter and Facebook with snippets, thoughts and pictures of my wonderful time with Brian, I have wondered about what would inspire my next blog, the last which was full of premonition and uncertainty.
Eventually, as things fell into place, I realised happiness is not exclusive to the other, it can be personally experienced and enjoyed in the company of those you love as you celebrate it to the world.
I’m only human
Yet, I watch as many Friend requests flood my inbox on Facebook from people I barely know to the many I have literally forgotten or cannot deign to remember, as over three decades of no interaction has interspersed what was a fleeting or tenuous relationship at best. Sometimes, I agonise about whether I need to explain myself, the choices I have made that in terms would be radically different from those others have made.
Considering the fact that I could both be nonconformist and rebellious. Strike that! At the risk of repeating myself ad nauseam, my life is uniquely mine, it shadows no one else’s, it finds an example in the broader expression of our humanity. I will play my own chosen role, not one someone else has arrogated to themselves to decide for me out of the need to satisfy some aim, tradition, custom or any other creed. Then, I find some who seek to enter my affairs and begin to control events having never appreciated anything about who I am, what I am, where I am, what my storied existence has been.
You were not there
Let’s put it in the context of the words of the song, nobody has any influence or control whatsoever, if you were not there when the chips were down, the storm raged, hope was literally extinguished, and life seemed to hold no purpose. I have bitten my tongue when what I should have said is, “Mind your own business.”
However, let me assure those who need that assurance, what you see is true and I reviewed my profile on Facebook the other day. “I thought and concluded, do not presume you know me, this is really not a biography, it is guidance.”

Monday, 15 April 2019

Thought Picnic: A quandary of the soul


In the mind of me
There are things I need to process that I have had some difficulty putting into some sort of perspective of possibility and continuity, like a foreboding that seeks to paralyse if I do not find the means to escape the thoughts that wander into my consciousness unwelcome, yet demanding of attention.
I have come into a happy phase, in fact, I don’t what it to just be a phase, but a fulfilment of a lifelong desire that many take for granted. A companionship that is growing out of the heart, the meeting of someone that has all the characteristics I never dared dreamt could be one with whom there could be a story of a life lived together.
Willing beyond the dark
It is like I cannot believe I am deserving of love, that happiness should just be fleeting moments of events and social interaction with nothing beyond it. I am allowed good things to happen, but not good people to endure, especially when that person has come into my life.
I have a battle on my hands, I need to will myself beyond the dark clouds that loom into the brilliance of the sunshine that brings warmth. The burdens of failed relationships want to gain seize a platform in the future that I am planning without them having any hold.
For blessing and more
My story is filled with amazing twists and turns, everything that appears to be by chance has a backstory that can go back to the day I was born. I am not here by chance, I have not lived by chance, I have survived by chance, rather, I have been blessed and fortunate, caught up in the rapture and wonder of love.
If there is any doubt in my mind, if there is any heaviness of heart that makes me drift, I have to find an anchor to hold on to, the anchor of love, purposeful love given to me by a universe of things I could never have ordained, yet that I have been given the privilege to participate in. I am a man of possibility; I will live to fulfil the dreams that have made me smile from within deep sleep.
Let the dawn rise upon the thought,
That I not be overwrought,
If things were not as they ought,
Only with love can I can be taught.


Thursday, 11 April 2019

Maintaining relationships beyond when we worked together

Beyond working together
On Monday, I was out at the Leander Club in Henley-on-Thames, a private members club which boasts the membership of some of the most successful Olympic rowing champions the UK has ever produced. It is also the oldest rowing club in the world.
I was there at the behest of my one-time IT Director who in 1994/95 headed my department as I made the transition from the public sector to the private sector, a lowly technician hired to manage the Novell Netware network as the company began a concerted migration to Microsoft Windows NT.
In a UK-based and European-based career that spans almost 30 years, I am actively in touch with most of my managers, at least the ones who do want to keep in touch with me too. This includes my first two in the 1991 to 1995 timeframe. They have initiated and maintained contact with me through the years, long after our professional engagements.
Demons in control
I also have two managers who stand out as sociopaths and psychopaths who engaged in systematic and sadistic abuse of their staff for reasons I cannot care to research. I made immediate career shifts from under their management before they caused irreparable damage to my mental health and wellbeing at work.
You can never properly understand people like that whose little power with the ability to upend the lives of their reports instils fear, loathing, suspicion and disorder pretending to organisational effectiveness in their staff, by adopting a divide and rule team control regime, using the more malleable and pliant members of their teams in an unprincipled Big Brother device to exert absolute authority and obeisance from those fearful of their status and prospects.
We are people first
They are the complete opposites of the other managers I have worked for who treated their staff as human beings first, dispensed inexhaustible emotional intelligence, took interest in people beyond being drones and slaves at work and opened opportunities for progress and promotion to their people.
These managers became friends because they had that human touch, treated people with courtesy, consideration, and respect, they are mensch.
Hugs and more
Out of the blue, I got an email from my director, full of humour and ribbing asking after my welfare and hoping we get to meet up before we pass on. He had sent me an email the year before and suggested meeting for dinner, but I never really got to arrange anything. The last time we met was in 2013 and this was after a 14-year gap during which I was in the Netherlands.
I took an Uber ride from Reading arriving early at the club for our dinner that he had booked and offered to pay for, probably knowing that at other times, we had tossed coins and I always lost the bet. We met up at the bar, had our dinner and ordered from the menu before going for a short walk to the pontoon on the river whilst catching up in ideas, events and people in the intervening time between our last rendezvous.
When we sat for dinner, we were treated to a beautiful meal as we conversed like old friends. He was the one who persuaded and convinced me of going contracting in 1995 and I have been in typical consultancy and contracting roles for all that time, except for two years between 2002 and 2004.
Work life matters
Relationships matter, friendships from work can endure, the workplace, whilst a professional environment is also where you are probably interacting with the same people most of the time for the duration you are there. Why you would not attempt to engage and relate with those people and possibly build friendships escapes me.
That is not to say some of these colleagues are not hard work, Machiavellian in their attitude and impossible as human beings. You manage them out of having a negative effect on you as much as you can. Smart in their own conceits, you eventually part ways, hopefully never to meet again as they lay in store for themselves unfavourable references if you ever get to have a say in deciding to work with them again. Work is life, people would remember you for how you made them feel.
My old director is a member of the Leander Club, he goes rowing a few times a week on the Thames, looking quite good and fit for a man in his late sixties. I have an invitation to the Henley Regatta, I was invited almost 25 years ago, I didn’t take up the offer then.


Wednesday, 10 April 2019

Checking up

Setting up
A few months ago, my biannual consultation was scheduled for a week later than originally planned. I had a mental note of the date but was unsure and I did not want to miss the appointment, so I called the hospital to determine when the time and date would be.
Having entered the appointment times on my patient card and my calendar with a few alert notifications for two days, a day and an hour before my appointment. The precision and timing are necessary as if I do arrive for my appointment flustered or in a hurry, the momentary reading of my blood pressure is irregular and by that, concerning.
Slicking up
As I had no other plans for the day, I could not fathom why my night’s sleep was a bit disturbed, I was awake for most of the night, maybe in anticipation of my consultation as in the intervening time between the last and now, I had had my pills changed for 7 weeks of hell which I documented in a 47 -day diary to convince the specialist nurses that I should be allowed to go back on the prescription that had served me well since May 2010.
Whilst my original prescription could introduce neuro-cognitive impairment in some subjects, the lapses I have noticed seemed to be highly compensated for, that it did not bother me that much. My doctors used that to impose by relentless persuasion from a choice of 4 different medications, a choice that theoretically would not have changed my routine even though one of the side effects if that was not scary enough was sudden death.
Ticking up
The side effects I endured apart from flatulence, insomnia, nerve twitches, unexplained aches, vivid dreams, constipation and a host of other forgettable experiences that made life almost a living nightmare made me remonstrate ever so strongly against trying another cocktail of medications besides the ones I stopped using just over 7 weeks before.
Also, I had undergone the colonoscopy that involved the excision of a benign polyp and all these events almost scuppered my desire to visit South Africa for the Christmas holidays. The medication would have affected my travel insurance as you are asked if you had changed medication in the previous 30 days, then the advice after a colonoscopy is not to fly for at least two weeks after the procedure.
Then, usually, one would do some blood work a fortnight before the consultation, but there was a lot of work-related travel in the last month that I could not find the time for a phlebotomy session. It all culminated in making today of the utmost importance.
Keeping up
I arrived for my consultation on time, sat on the weighing stool that elicited readings on the higher end of the scale I normally dread. My blood pressure readings had the nurse intone, I was a rather ‘chilled-out’ person. This amongst other comments about my dressing.
I met up with the chief consultant of the department, we met a few years before when having done my reading up on her research and career history, I probably was better equipped for our meeting than she was acquainted with my medical notes. We have a healthy rapport and sitting in with her was a student. I welcome students to my consultations as this exposes them to real-life scenarios necessary for them to appreciate what it takes to practice medicine and it could open aspects of medical research that might better help others in the future.
Making up
We discussed my state of health, the change of medication, the post-procedure results and what led to the procedure, my mental state of health and other sundry matters of the heart and social life. My medication would switch to generics as it is now out of patent and as I am visiting South Africa soon, we needed to determine whether any of the places I would visit are in a malaria zone.
I have to be mindful of this, if I decide to visit Victoria Falls, Harare and Bulawayo are safe. Another appointment is scheduled for 6 months’ time, but it was a relief that the spectre of Brexit did not impact on obtaining my medication. I was a bit concerned about it.
At the end of my consultation, I gave a urine sample and offered up 5 vials of blood, in a few weeks I should get the results. It was a good day.


Monday, 1 April 2019

Being a fool for love in April

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I would gladly be a fool,
For there is so strong a pull,
You have to break the rule,
Yet never lose your cool.
It was first in the eyes,
The thing that tells no lies,
With it, you rise and rise,
And put away your sighs.
The beauty of your face,
Does my heart quite race,
With you, I’m in a place,
Where I find true solace.
The month of April brings,
A treasure trove of things,
Let you and I on wings,
Get beyond the basic flings.
And soon we plan to meet,
Our hearts would skip a beat,
When we do hug and greet,
It really would be sweet.
I would gladly be a fool,
It’s love that is the pull,
Let’s make another rule,
For with you I feel so cool.