Thursday 27 September 2018

The memories of sexual abuse never fade

No two are the same
Each case of sexual abuse is different and unique. The age at which that abuse first happened can be life-defining. However, one thing you cannot discount is the personal memory of the abuse to the individual, to the person and to the child.
Following a blog written about friendship early last year, the write-up went viral and by happenstance ended up in the readership of my father.
He had a perspective and an expectation of who I was supposed to be and where I might have been lacking, in another conversation from over a decade ago, it was one lacking responsibility. That comes with all sorts of connotations, but I challenged it.
Stand up for who you are
My response was, “If after all this while, you think I am irresponsible, that is unfortunate.”
He replied, sensing my hurt and disappointment, that was not what he meant. As I shook and trembled, I was not backing down when I said, “I know what you meant, I speak English too.”
Even to our parents, we have to come to a point where we are ready to stand up for who were are, regardless of who they expect us to be.
Soon, we continued our conversation on other topics until I received a text message of instructions to follow and respond to last August, following his knowledge of that blog.
The memories well up again
I was a few months short of my 52nd birthday when my father learnt that as a child under his roof and where people employed to care for us, were on the side, taking sexual favours.
It was not my intention to share certain dark episodes of my early life that my parents were completely oblivious of, but occasion warranted the need to talk about it at that time.
My memories of these events over 40 years ago are keen and vivid, they are not insignificant and for all that I have written about abuse in well over a decade, I have been fortunate not to consider myself a victim or be victimised for the experiences I have had. I have been blessed and lucky.
I know how the loss of sexual innocence consequently affects relationships, healthy choices, trust and confidence. This is always on my mind when people talk about their experiences of sexual abuse. We would prefer we never had to recall and recount any of it, and whether or not anyone believes us, one thing they can never do it consign us to irrelevance and relegate our lives or history to obloquy.

Monday 17 September 2018

Your father is on Facebook

Yes, it is him and no one else
This question came from my sister this morning.
“Morning (or whatever), Is your father now on Facebook or one of his sons is impersonating him?
To which I responded, “Your father is on Facebook.”
Even I was surprised that he was on Facebook, but the story goes back to some time ago when I was trying a get a laptop over to my dad. The last few months have involved a lot of impromptu travel related to work that it has been impossible to plan anything.
Time, space and wherewithal
On another note, I sometimes contrast my professional life to that of my father, he was a corporation man with assistants and people he could call upon to do the somewhat important and mundane things. Almost 23 years of my working life has been as a self-employed and freelance consultant, maybe, if I had entered a partnership of consultants, we would have employed an office manager to handle affairs like that.
Then, in arranging to send the laptop, he also asked for a phone making the point that he wanted to have a go at technology before he departs.
An unexpected response
As it transpired, I took a few pictures yesterday evening and posted to Instagram with a cross-posting to Twitter and Facebook, I also included a short poem.
The absence of bright lights,
Does not diminish the clear sights,
My face showing the provenance of my father,
Especially now that I've refused to lather,
The unshaved greys are proof of a youth,
Before you say I am long in the tooth,
For many times I was addressed as young man,
I laughed for that was just another fan.
Shortly after it was posted, I received a message with two pictures of my dad from my brother, who then informed me that the pictures were my dad’s reaction to my pictures and poetry. And there was my discovery that my father had joined social media to be engaged under the tutelage of my brother.
Welcome to Facebook
Obviously, my sister is concerned that she might have to temper her views because of the scrutinising pair of eyes of her father. However, I am of the view that if he did not know we were opinionated, forthright, controversial and frank in our postings, he would soon find out on Facebook, and that is a good thing.
He would be proud to know that the privileged education we all had has not gone to waste, we can discuss, debate, argue and banter, with grace, erudition and dignity.
My father is 78, he lives an active life pottering around on his farm or being actively involved in the community. Now that he has the added occupation of Facebook engagement, all I can say is welcome.
For all who care to know, our father is on Facebook.

Wednesday 12 September 2018

Thought Picnic: Am I just being silly?

This, I have desired
All my life, I have always wanted to be a positive influence on the people I met in different walks of life. In social and formal settings, at work and at play, I have hoped that any encounter would be enabling, encouraging, inspiring and building.
In many ways, I hope I have a good sense of self, some awareness, the ability to reflect and take a long view. There is a backstory that is full of events and episodes of life that I am grateful to have been able to review with the knowledge that tough times pass, and tough people laugh.
Yet, there are people I have been unable to influence in any way towards a better self and direction. I get to a point where I begin to regret and find fault in places that bother me in not sometimes enabling, encouraging and acquiescing to the demons that afflict the lives of others.
May I never burden you
By terms, I am an easy-going person who grants latitude and scope to explore and express, my entreaties and advice would always veer towards realising great potential and I see a lot of that in people, long before they see it in themselves.
My hope invariably is to steer people towards what I believe they can achieve whilst not driving or urging them but giving them a clearer vision of possibilities that they can work towards if they so wish. In most cases, I have achieved between limited to glowing success, however, I fear that some have become abject failures.
What I have desired my example, my conduct and my deportment to convey to some by proximity and observation has made no impact. Some people are quite set in their ways that I dare say have become impervious to persuasion.
Finding perspective beyond ourselves
Now, it is no desire of mine to create clones of myself, I would hate that I am mimicked, copied and mimed. That is never my intention when I am involved with people. There are in my view certain things I still hope to impart, the ability to handle responsibility, the ability to face adversity with a sense that one would not be overwhelmed, having function and bearing to manage situations that the avoidable does not become a disability, the practice of moderation even in your vices.
Beyond that, I hope there is humanity and empathy, the knowledge that the world owes you nothing, nor does it revolve around you. The ability to be grateful and full of gratitude for all things, recognising the need to count your blessings and by that fill your mind with an appreciation of the good things in life.
Some of this is probably too much to ask of some. They are selfish and self-centred, navel-gazing and full of self-pity, constantly complaining of others without any inkling of how they might well be complaining of themselves, by which they lose perspective, direction and focus. If by then I have found a way to extricate myself from the negative influence, I find myself burdened with issues I could well do without.
I am just being silly
I do wonder if I have had expectations that have crashed into disappointment, high hopes that have left me despondent and a deluded sense of influence that has left me feeling responsible for what is heading for the rocks and a shipwreck.
Maybe, I am incapable of tough love, the point where my liking a person beclouds my ability, to be frank, and honest about the truth of a situation. I am slow to wrath and sometimes my patience holds for longer than is necessary to retrieve a situation.
Then I think, why do I even think that I can influence anyone either way? What hubris has infected my sanity to suggest I can help anyone to any end? Whilst it is possible by some accident of circumstance, someone somewhere might have benefitted from knowing me and I knowing them. I do wonder if I am just being silly.

Sunday 2 September 2018

Hotel life: Habits and loyalty

On loyalty and benefits
I would be the first to tell you that loyalty schemes and customer loyalty matter. This especially when you are a frequent traveller for business and for leisure.
Now on holiday in Gran Canaria, as is my custom when I have the time and the means, which I did more frequently before my encounter with cancer, I see that benefit even more.
On a broader note, it is only in exceptional circumstances that I fly on airlines outside the SkyTeam alliance, usually when there are no connections or I really want to save time on travel, as travelling out of Manchester always included a stopover in either Paris or Amsterdam. Being a SkyTeam elite member by reason of frequency of travel or the class one chooses to travel grants privileges of access and service that takes the humdrum out of the travel experience.
When it comes to accommodation, most of my bookings are through, with them, for every 10 nights spent in hotels, I get the average cost of the 10 nights as an award to use for another stay.
A hotel to show and tell
However, back to Gran Canaria, I cannot stay anywhere else but the Hotel Riu Palace Maspalomas, which sits as a white colonial-style edifice backing onto the dunes of Maspalomas. I first came here in September 2007 and I have probably spent over 200 nights at this hotel altogether, which a number of stays were up to 3 weeks at a time.
Too many things set this establishment out as unique, exquisite, exclusive and one of the top hotels to stay at in Playa del Ingles. On service, on location, on comfort, on friendliness, I feel so much at home here. I walk into the hotel and there is always someone that recognises me at the reception and I am known by name. I have never had to introduce myself after my first visit.
In all, I am welcomed, like family, well beyond just a returning guest. Firm handshakes, the banter, the laughter, and much else, signals to the new recruits at the reception or the restaurant, that this is a guest that is also family. The refrain is almost always, “Welcome Mr Akintayo, to your second home.”
Just what service is about
On the quality of service, I will just leave this here, I was last here in time, November/December 2016 with my best friend. Once we had dispensed with greetings, the Chef de reception went into the inner office and brought out an envelope containing a USB key that had been forgotten by my friend.
There are many observations to follow this, that they kept a seemingly insignificant thing that even my friend had no idea had been lost at this hotel, that they believed sometime in the future, I will return and that they immediately had the presence of mind to present the lost item even before I was checked-in.
Then, upon being given a room, I was not satisfied because it was on the first floor and the view obscured by palm trees. Without insisting, I just asked if it was possible to change my floor. One of the newer receptionists recognised I was a returning customer and had a chat to her manager. The next day we were moved to a top floor room with stunning views.
Whilst, I may have noticed some changes to the service I have been accustomed to, the quality remains high and the number of returning guests still maintains a high percentage. People might say hotels usually have a high attrition rate of staff, that is rarely the case with this hotel. I know staff that have been at this hotel since I first came in 2007. That is life at this hotel and a little homage to loyalty.