Monday, 21 June 2021

The dead hand of bureaucracy

Agency is supreme

If there is anything a free agent as I can desire is that one never loses agency, the need outside the machinations of systems put in place to implement processes with no consideration of the people affected.

Incensed does not begin to describe the sense of unjust and atrocious manipulation one has been subjected to whilst apparatchiks go about ticking boxes, dotting their I’s and crossing their T’s, ensuring the P’s and Q’s are just right, aligning forms to readers and auditors whose main purpose is to see to the rules being followed as an embodiment of mendacious misrule.

One has suffered

How my person has been abused, the man in the middle trying to manage expectations completely oblivious of the indignities suffered at the hands of mindless bureaucracies seeking relevance where common sense has deserted the fray. Whilst one cannot say it has been intentional, the consequence has been no less demeaning, one’s interest in the project is now barely there but for the genuinely nice people we once called colleagues.

In all the toing and froing, it has been impossible to plan anything and in the process, a month has passed in what was supposed to be an interregnum of not more than a week. In my heart of hearts, finding something else would be the better part of the story. No one, I mean, no one, should be subjected to this sham of a system pretending to ensure everything is in order.


Blog - The auction of grey matter is open

Blog - Sitting here in limbo

Blog - Like pawns in the game of spaghetti red tape

The UK: Funny if you believed today was COVID-19 Freedom Day

A promise they couldn’t keep

Lest we forget, today, the 21st of June 2021 was supposed to be our Freedom Day, the day when all lockdown restrictions would be fully eased, and we can return to a new normalcy according to Prime Minister Boris Johnson. This was announced as part of a roadmap published on the 22nd of February and I had no confidence in the expectation that this government could pull it off.

Blog: A roadmap of potholes

This was two days before I took my first Pfizer / BioNTech jab and whilst we were ahead of Europe by a long mile in the vaccination stakes, the idea that the vaccine would be a talisman or a panacea to the rampaging effects of the pandemic in the UK was a farfetched as it could ever be. The greater pandemic afflicting us is government hubris, policy inertia, prime ministerial indecision and executive incompetence.

Everyone but the one

The breakdown of order that is redolent of this government ably and valiantly snatching defeat from the jaws of victory started from the end of March when a variant first discovered in India, now referred to as the Delta variant was one of concern. By the 2nd of April, it was concerning enough for the UK Government to immediately put the neighbouring countries to India of Pakistan and Bangladesh on the red list of countries requiring a mandatory 10-day assigned hotel quarantine, but leave India off where the virus was festering at rates higher than the red list countries.

With pernicious Brexit thinking in the fray, Boris Johnson was planning to visit India to negotiate a trade deal and hoping not to annoy Narendra Modi, the Indian leader, our government inadvertently, if not deliberately and carelessly, allowed traffic from the Indian subcontinent whilst he vacillated for weeks on whether the trip was possible whilst affirming there was nothing that indicated Freedom Day should shift.

Come on in with variants

It was not until the 19th of April, after the impending trip to India was cancelled that India was put on the red list of countries with a 4-day notice before the enforcement of the assigned hotel quarantine requirement. In which time, there were 20,000 arrivals from India with no scrutiny of their status or conditions, some of whom might have contracted the Delta variant prior to arrival and seeded community transmission that it ranks as the most prevalent infection in the UK today.

Obviously, as this government is wont to do, they will accept no responsibility for this debacle, but it is not oblivious to neighbouring countries that this matter has been badly handled that the UK is on the red list of some countries and Scotland has banned travel from Manchester or Salford which apparently now boasts one of the highest Delta variant infection rates in the country. [BBC News: Covid: Manchester-Scotland travel ban comes into force]

Well done for 4 weeks more

Anyway, this is what informed the government to shift Freedom Day back another 4 weeks to the 19th of July and going by this government’s record, I will believe it when it happens, because their penchant for bungling with bombast for excuses can never desert them. They have credit and accolades for that ability to lie barefaced with no sense of embarrassment and utter lack of shame. They are reprobate to the core and their maleficence has cost many lives.

In the numbers game, whist we have moved down to 7th in the death rate from the pandemic, and apart from Russia that straddles Europe and Asia, we are still ahead of our erstwhile EU partners even though they caught the waves first and are still behind in the vaccination stakes. It should be obvious to anyone by now that the excuse for this situation being unprecedented is weak, all countries faced the same pandemic, some just handled it better especially in saving human lives. [ Coronavirus]

Abandon hope with this lot

We instead trying to save the NHS and lose people in the devastating spread of the virus in care homes, and whilst we needed to save or store up NHS capacity to handle infections, the focus should always, always have been on people and not institutions with vacuous slogans deployed to distract us from pertinent matters.

For how much longer we can endure this murderous cabal in government, I cannot tell, but let history note that at the time of our greatest existential crisis this century, we are cursed with the most incompetent hands to ever hold power in the UK. I dare say, we are in the unconscionable grip of a mendacious kakistocracy. It is scary if it were not damningly so true.

Blog: The UK: On easing the lockdown, we're being taken for fools again

Funny writing blogs

Funny at a stretch

The funny things I write where funny could be interpreted to mean anything from amusing and humorous to utterly disagreeable and disturbing. Funny is quite versatile, and depending on context, you can only wonder what can be read as funny.

If I am being funny, I may not be making you laugh at my funniness even as I would like to entertain everyone with a perspective of things that hopefully would elicit a reaction better than fits of conniption. Indeed, my kind of funny can leave you feeling strange and cold by taking you to places you will rather not be, but some journeys are necessary.

Funny as in funny?

Obviously, what I intend and what is perceived might be worlds apart. If I now propose to make apology for what I express before it is written, I might bind myself in the wrong when there is no offence committed and things are portrayed as they are. I seek not to be misunderstood as much as I desire to be comprehended, I cannot account for the difference in the positions we might find ourselves when my funny is not all that funny.

If I then say in the corruption of a song by Billie Holliday that ‘these funny things remind me of you’, we can agree that it is probably that things that made us laugh, the things that make merry, the things we like to remember that means more about us than the things best forgotten. Let’s keep funny funny and see the humorous side of things that might not entirely be the funny we expect.

The funniest thing about this blog is one observation that Brian made some time ago, he said, “Darling, you can take one word and make a whole blog of it, I have seen you do that.” Funny that. Someone has been reading funny things in my blogs, I wonder if I am writing funny blogs or it is funny writing blogs. 

Sunday, 20 June 2021

Strange case of the dead burying the living

Closing the accounts before year-end

I believe it is customary for media organisations to have draft obituaries or prepared documentaries for prominent society figures such that at the demise of such people, only cosmetic changes are required to the drafts and that is out to press.

A case in point was the recent passing of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, the long and glowing obituaries were out within the hour of the announcement, the BBC literally had hours after hours of rolling commentary and documentaries about him, it all had to have been pre-planned and produced in readiness for his death.

On the 17th of June 2021, Kenneth Kaunda, the 1st President of Zambia died at the age of 97 and soon after the Guardian had published a 2,000+ obituary written by Guy Arnold, a British explorer, travel writer, political writer and specialist in north-south relations, according to his Wikipedia page. [The Guardian: Kenneth Kaunda Obituary]

When the dead speak

I learnt much about Kenneth Kaunda in secondary school because his political autobiography titled Zambia Shall Be Free was one of our required literature texts in my second form. When I travel to South Africa, place names that appear on the navigator maps look quite familiar, Kitwe and Livingstone, seem to have that déjà vu quality and now I realise why.

Anyway, back to the original point of canned obituaries. It is one thing for the living to read of their obituaries to which Mark Twain on reading his own obituary sent a cable from London with the message, “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.” It is quite necessary to have a good sense of humour at the premise of death. [ Mark Twain]

However, it becomes a bit disconcerting if certain words ascribed to Jesus Christ in Luke 9:60 begin to fetch true. “Let the dead bury the dead.” For indeed, we have a strange case of the dead writing obituaries of the dead. As it transpires, Guy Arnold who penned the obituary of Kenneth Kaunda, died on the 4th of January 2020, a good 530 days before the person he eulogised. I would expect the estate and survivors of Guy Arnold will receive payment for this publication.

Just the way it is

It is very likely Guy Arnold had written the obituary many years ago when there was some anticipation of Kenneth Kaunda’s death as he passed the 3-score-and-10 threshold into his 80s and 90s, with a few edits and updates depending on the news.

Guy Arnold himself was no youth, he was just 8 years younger than Kenneth Kaunda when he died at 87. The Guardian might have done some editing prior to publication, but the bulk of the copy had been completed by the dead.

Strange one, but should not be allowed to go unnoticed.

Guardian obituary of Kenneth Kaunda authored by someone who died 530 days before.

Coronavirus streets in Manchester - XXXV

Gilded horses to ride

Looking at another aspect of living in Manchester, on Sundays, I walk a route to church that takes me past the bespoke outfit called Gotham Hotel at 100 King Street and at the doors you see staff bedecked in vintage and sophisticated livery, all buttoned-up, wearing a pillbox hat at times and you can spot a bowler hat too, they look menacing enough to make you feel slightly intimidated by your standing.

Packed outside is a luxury Bentley Flying Spur that I thought belonged to the owner as a show of having arrived. It now transpired it is part of a fleet that includes a Bugatti, Ferrari, Lamborghini and Aston Martin, all available to guests or for hire for events and so on.

The hotel somewhat served a barometer for the return to a kind of normalcy as it is also in my walking exercises route. I could see when it was closed when it was preparing for opening and indications that it was back to receiving and entertaining guests was when I saw the laundry services truck outside.

Have the nose to drive

They have a little problem, in the onslaught of Brexit and the pandemic, the hospitality industry is suffering a staffing crisis. There are jobs and no one to fill them. Where there are people available, the requisite experience might be lacking. The delicate issue is they are seeking a chauffeur to drive the Bentley, I guess that comes with a whole set of snooty soft skills to cater to a particular clientele, not just any driver will do. I’ll end it there.

Anyway, I saw the car driven twice around my locality a few days ago, I do not know if they had already filled the position or the car was just being given a warm-up. Let’s just say the issue was serious enough to make it beyond the classifieds into a full news story along with unnecessary but albeit interesting detail about luxury car clubs and whatnot. [MEN: Manchester's 5-star Hotel Gotham can't find anyone to drive its Bentley and supercars]

Saturday, 19 June 2021

Beyond the hurt of yesterday

Beyond the hurt of yesterday

For the many wounds to heal,
Down to where you do feel,
True love is the very seal,
To make the dreams come real.

When you’ve sought and found someone,
From whose smile the light has shone,
Let your heart be fully won,
To begin a brand-new dawn.

By the past be not defined,
Let the pain be left behind,
All those things be now consigned,
To a world far from your mind.

Ever wondered what could be,
When you thought could that be me,
What you dreamt you now can see,
Is the love I pledge to thee.

Living around shadows of childhood violation

In the loss of innocence

I found myself offering some counsel on a very intimate matter of shared experiences that with difficulty I could not find the right form of words to address some particularities. Too many of us were violated in familiar and trusting environments by people known to us and decades after, those people are in the periphery, within reach, if we so needed to contact them, though we usually avoid them.

On the matter of experiencing sex earlier than legally or morally allowed, I opined that our exposure to sex, even the desire for it at such a young age does not make us catamites obligated to pederasty; it was wrong even if we appeared to enjoy it, because it robs us of essential childhood innocence which in development is to help how we build trust and relationships, beyond that our innate confidence is messed with.

Through the valley of realisation

In times, we even had juvenile infatuation, probably all of us experience it, the dreamy idea of that one most desirable person to be intimate with and the memories that took hold. That same-sex attraction that defined a journey of exploration that we travelled to destinations of thrill and expectations of more, unknowing of the fact that we were being used and abused for sexual ends.

We grew up, maybe found new distractions or our attention got arrested by other things, yet, we have our lives and stories, some secrets we never do share. The effects of those childhood encounters remain even if we blank out the memories. We are forever changed by the premature loss of innocence that leads to conflicted prepubescence with the characteristics of wondering adolescence. It is somewhat devastating and yet, so of us have survived and escape irredeemably consequential trauma.