Monday 15 April 2024

Thought Picnic: In time we travel in strange individuality

Using time for a purpose

Time is a journey that we traverse for which we know neither the length of it in the existence of things nor the sections that punctuate the start or the end of what defines a life.

Life is represented in birth, living, and death, events becoming milestones that govern the stories we get to tell. Indeed, I write a lot about telling stories, my own stories, the stories of interactions, and the stories that I narrate of my observations of others.

Relationships form a significant part of how these stories develop, some of these relationships thrive on nurturing with due consideration and others wither because selfish posturing pervades the context.

How it made you feel

Invariably, I curate my relationships in interesting ways. The ones in which I naturally belong that I did not initiate have suffered more because ties are generally of obligation rather than of interest. The influences from nativity into adolescence have laid a marker of unresolved trauma and consequences that leave one in a state of sad disinterest.

Yet, these are my roots, in need of understanding and exploration even as the outlook that becomes me suggests I am totally different from where I am supposed to have some affinity.

It is not what many may understand and there is a likelihood that some regret might greet the further passage of time for which I am wont to allow resignation than ruefulness. Emotions can be attached or detached, and this is within the model of feelings of direct or indirect abandonment that constitute the upbringing I enjoyed that others might recall differently.

With autonomy, you find your own posse in the partners and friends, acquaintances and networks, communities and involvements which are parts of your interests and give some purpose to living.

I will tell my own story

What no one can do is tell my story just because they are part of my story, they can choose to forget what I remember vividly or even misremember the details of how I was affected. It is not a gift many possess to read the mind of another or sense the internal turmoil that is the reflection of a situation.

This is what makes us unique, consanguinity hardly affords similarity in looks, character, personality, experience, or life. Having the same source is hardly indicative of the direction of flow, we diverge from the moment we draw breath and travel these storied journeys until the last breath.

When the books are closed, an account is made that constitutes a tribute of sorts, where is fondness, there is much to mourn and the absence of which leaves us untouched to the point of being unconcerned and indifferent.

What we do for the dead is more for assuaging the conscience of the living for the dead can do nothing for themselves. In the end, what they have sown in life bears fruit as to how they are revered. What is cultivated poorly yields a poor harvest, where there is no work, whatever the result, that is what is there to see.

Beyond cancer threat to stories of health

Winded by the speed

The speed at which things have moved presented a cause for concern much in the need of allaying any anxiety. As you pay attention to your health and seek the best outcomes, some processes and procedures become a medical requirement for ensuring things are nipped in the bud at the earliest opportunity.

A few blood tests, a conversation with my GP and a visit to the surgery for a preliminary assessment have set me on the path to a date with some of the best urologists in the field and what my GP casually suggested would be a scan, might well be a bit more uncomfortable at this studio that offers a one-stop shop of tests superficial and intrusive, aided by a local anaesthetic.

The scheduled duration of 30 minutes could last up to 4 hours and all that is in an appointment letter that landed before I picked up the post proposing an analysis of my GP’s request.

Checking off cancer prospects

Before one is a potential cancer diagnosis or just the discovery of the cause of symptoms that could not be explained from being felt up in a funny place. Having dealt with cancer before, I can safely suggest it does not entirely prepare you for the prospect that you might be checking for it and unsure until you are given the all-clear.

Health stability in managing long-term conditions can lull one into complacency and a renewed sense of invincibility. Life is fleeting, each day is a gift and a blessing for which we should be thankful and grateful.

Beyond every looming threat

What you find in certain issues of life, is you need to cultivate your support network of significant persons that would buoy you through tough times. People with whom to share burdens and talk about things, partners, friends, and others, depending on how comfortable you feel about things.

My faith is also a critical source of succour and strength, feeding on the encouragement of the Word of God in the Bible and in the sermons of anointed preachers to confidently call those things that be not as though they were.

The times I have faced life-threatening diagnoses and conditions with the hope and assurance that I have the grace of a better story and a testimony seeking to be told; whether the threat or reality of cancer, it would not be the last you’ll hear of me.

Other reading

Blog - Cancer is a human experience, not a battle won or lost

Blog - When I had the murderous cancer of denial

Blog - Thought Picnic: I share hoping it can help

Blog - Cancer: No journey is the same

An inspector calls again

Just moved in?

In the tenth year of my residency, I get asked questions like I had just moved in 10 days ago. “Are there any leaks?”, she asked. You know damn well if anything was not functioning, I would have logged a call. That reminds me, to save my manicure as apparently the union of nail technicians is on strike for better conditions of work and pay, my dishwasher needs looking at.

It was a house inspection by the letting agency that was first dated for the month before arriving 3 weeks later than intended. It just so happens; that the same inspection was conducted by the building managers a few weeks ago but I entertained the knock on my door this morning, without remonstrating too much about the obvious fact that these activities need to be coordinated.

I allowed them the run of the house as I returned to my desk to oversee the screens of engagement before me. Doors open, cupboards inspected, mutterings among them and then Jobsworth supercilious becomes her.

Hear it scream

My fire alarm and before I knew it, the riot act with every act of parliament, the law and whatever else was being read to me in the tone of an emphatic Gotcha! Heck, the other guy who was here a few weeks ago inspected the same fire alarm.

As she sang the refrain, “By law, it is the responsibility of the tenant to ensure that the battery is changed in the fire alarm.” I picked up my piano bench, moved it under the fire alarm, stood on it and pressed the test button. We were greeted with a shrill sound that no one had the readiness to shield their ears from and she was fully clipboard-equipped to my utter glee.

Then, I pressed the test button again which I think made her tick the required box, no apology but a full acquiescence to the fact that the fire alarm is working. By then, they must have felt fully welcome in my abode and before I could offer them tea and biscuits, they were ready to leave. What a shame, I was just beginning to enjoy their company. Not!

Friday 12 April 2024

Men's things

Keeping an eye on it

When you get within a certain age range, you need to pay a bit more attention to a few things and more so, your health. I have attended talks, groups, discussions, seminars, and conversations about men’s health and ageing, these things interest me enough even if I do not seem to act on the much I have learnt.

I guess because I have usually had blood work done twice a year, I seem to be a bit conversant with health issues, my kidneys, my liver, bone health, and other indicators in the blood results that I chase up with medical personnel to have a handle on the issues when a result falls out of range.

One month on prescription folic acid and the folic acid deficiency anaemia is now a thing of the past, the last reading put it at borderline high when it was well below the minimum range hardly 7 weeks ago. The other things as red blood cell counts and thyroid activity we need to monitor over a longer time.

That erogenous zone of life

The elephant in the room, the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test, that I have ignored and done nothing about for years. Friends report their experiences and I sometimes pretend not to be in the affected cohort. My GP even sent me messages inviting me to assess this facility, it is one of the more intimate men’s things that we find ourselves too coy to talk about.

Two blood tests later, in early February and late March, my GP called to have a chat and then immediately scheduled an appointment to have me felt up in a funny place. I duly attended and before I could draw a sharp breath, it was over.

Well, it is slightly enlarged but smooth, and a scan is needed just to be sure. This matter is important but we rarely want to attend to it, either out of fear or embarrassment, both of which can kill you if a situation could have been caught early, but left too late.

Deal with it early

After my many encounters with the medical establishment for all sorts of life-threatening conditions, this should be the easiest of matters to assess, review, and understand, and hopefully, after the scan, I might just lay my mind to rest, absent of any worry or anxiety.

You have to know, to know, that once you are over 45 and black, the statistics can be scary, but do not become a tragic statistic, make that appointment, have those checkups, know the situation or at least have the knowledge to face up to it and have it dealt with promptly.

1 in 4 Black men will get prostate cancer in their lifetime. Black men are more likely to get prostate cancer than other men, who have a 1 in 8 chance of getting prostate cancer.” Prostate Cancer UK

Men’s things are also about life and well-being, better the finger now than a scalpel blade later.


Prostate Cancer UK: Black men and prostate cancer

Thursday 11 April 2024

Let's delve into this

We delve deeper

Some parts of this blog started off as a comment on Facebook that I decided should not be left there but given a bit more context that might go into a series of discussions on language, expression, vocabulary, usages, culture, and influences. Other rather succinct views on this topic have been expressed as tweets on Twitter. God, forfend I suggest the other name.

The matter of the word ‘delve’ has been a burning topic for the past few days on social media, where someone of privilege and influence inadvertent revealed a bugbear about the use of a word in an email and attributed it to the use of Artificial Intelligence because by his assumption, it was an unfamiliar word and people do not write like that.

Now, I write this in the context mainly of my own upbringing rather than in the broader spectrum of how Nigerians have reacted to this as I 

The different cultures

I was so miffed, even annoyed; the bounding dunce, (and I use that charitably to suggest he is slow to see his own blind spots), in every other area except for his computing nous and venture capital clout, who is just over a year older than I am, was British-born but left for America at the age of 4, meaning my Britishness at that time was even more impactful as to appreciate the good use of the English language than him.

He was schooled in the American system, and what he has retained are vestiges of the English aversion not so much to pomposity, but that unfortunate inability to pigeonhole the unfamiliar into trenchant class structures that remain significant in Great Britain to today.

The education context

Imagine being so well-spoken and still having an accent, it upsets them no end, they cannot believe we had schools that did Eton College for a pittance abroad. (We had reading, writing, comprehension, and spelling classes at the primary schools that I attended in Nigeria, which had a large foreign contingent of pupils and staff.) You attend to every variant of the same question, “How do you speak (or write) better English?” You want to answer, that I had an exceptionally good primary education.

Obviously, using a rich vocabulary is seen as trying to be clever, writing mellifluously is considered beyond our capacity, it is damned with faint praise as flowery. We are just too well-read to use English in a perfunctory and unimaginative way.

The class issue

Every inner self-loathing was inadvertently embodied in that tweet about delve, so unawares. We need to begin to understand that how people express themselves reveals just as much as they intend to say as it is about who they are. We are already self-profiling to observers and to an audience by our conduct and conversation.

On the class matter, I had to tick a box in 2024 that asked about my social mobility status. Well, I was never working class and there are settings where sophistication is effortless that it is more than attainable for many, in speech, comportment, or just the basic sense of self. The world will never attain true egalitarianism, but we can make the world a better place if people use their privilege to lift others rather than knock them down.

In other situations, it is to allow one’s worldview to be open to new ideas, understanding that cultures differ, usages are myriad, and diversity suggests there is not just one perspective. Even in the quest for simplicity, what is simple varies and that is subject to too many variables that we cannot control that we make allowances and gain new opportunities from stretching the limits of our purview.

On the delve matter, there was a bigger issue at play, especially as Paul Graham and his family have returned to the UK since 2016, we have not begun to delve into the many layers involved. I can see through him as through plain glass. Yes, I also use AI in my writing, it is Akintayo Intelligence.

Saturday 6 April 2024

A play for time

Playing with time

Time is one of those things that seems immaterial to many, that the need to keep time is rarely important. While I am not obsessed with time, I like to have time, keep time, know time, take time, and use time. It matters in a lot of things, time is precious.

Yet, when it comes to setting appointments, I prefer to defer to others, and this might seem like ceding control to setting the agenda. We should not confuse agenda with schedule, the agenda is a series of points to discuss, and the schedule is when you have chosen to have that discussion.

I accept there might have to be adjustments for time, manner, location, and some other variables. However, when I concede the setting of the time to others, I already know I will be on time.

Playing on time

If you have then set the time and for whatever reason you have failed to keep to time, one element of irresponsibility has inadvertently been displayed, especially if parties to that arrangement have not been duly updated and informed you will be late.

Communication is key, but what I find amazing is for someone given all the opportunity to dictate the time not meeting conditions they had set for themselves and others.

I consider keeping people apprised as both a duty and a sign of respect. It is valuing their time, the idea of being fashionably late is pomposity passing for self-importance and insouciance.

Playing to time

Maybe punctuality is not a virtue, being punctilious saves you from avoidable stress in travel, appointments, and decisions.

There's not much to anyone who abuses or misuses time, wasting the time of others. Don't call me impatient if you are late, and if you are doing me a favour, please, do not take liberties too.

This brings me to African time and the picture I found in a restaurant convenience in Franschhoek, South Africa, my observation then was it was a bespoke watch, not for the purposes of keeping time.

African Time, Franschhoek, South Africa

Friday 5 April 2024

Flicking my ingrowing hair

The urge

My penchant for making small talk leading to interesting conversations and possible friendships is one I enjoy very much, but it does not always work out like that. There are times I have spoken out of turn creating avoidable embarrassment or out of certain curiosity or enthusiasm, put my foot right in it, I might well sink into the quagmire of mortification.

Nature itself can be cruel in the joke she plays on us. I saw a man the other day who seemed to have patterns of intriguing amusement shaped at the back of his head as if a barber had created designs that looked like two big eyes sitting on the edges of a maple leaf-looking representation.

The purge

In my amusement, I said to him, those look like eyes, to which he responded, alopecia. All I could say was, “Forgive me.”, even as I upbraided myself for being too forward and probably not observant enough. Then who would have thought the loss of hair would come in such uniformity as to look like it was designed rather than a natural thing?

Then hair has its many stories between those who want it to grow in some places they do not need it to appear and those who cannot grow it for the want of trying, out of loss or what nature intended.

The scourge

The many jokes made of how your hair is cut or shaped, the malevolence of the Pọmbé haircut that took an inch off all the sides, it seemed you have a rag placed on your head, or when it was all taken off and I was called Jagoo at school. Why my dad allowed that to happen still escapes me.

Now, that I have male pattern baldness, another side of ribbing comes into play. Yes, this time, I was supposedly flicking my ingrowing hair. Revenge is a dish best served cold; I am waiting the table of that cool customer.