Friday, 12 July 2019

Just for the asking

We have been put to the test,
At the drawbridges of Fortress West,
Where a gatekeeper says lest,
The invited returns not to their nest,
They cannot, for now, be a guest,
For reasons that we must contest,
And quite vehemently protest,
Though our means are modest,
Our aims are completely honest,
Once more we find we must wrest,
To show our very best,
Against policies that do suggest,
We can’t be better than the rest,
On this, we are really pressed,
As it must well be stressed,
That what was then professed,
And would like to be redressed
At the point that it’s again addressed,
Is the leave granted to the quest,
To enter freely unsuppressed,
To be trusted wholly as possessed,
Of good character duly manifest,
To act as agreed and expressed,
And depart without arrest,
When due as one did truly attest,
We stand the readiest,
To leave you all impressed,
It is just a simple request,
A visit as if you haven’t guessed.

Monday, 8 July 2019

Thought Picnic: The changing dynamic of familial allegiances

Beyond the conventional
There comes a time when you can no more think for just one, even though for such a long time, anytime I have been asked about my family, I have answered, I have a large family of one.
One person can be a family, just as a family can be traditional, extended or unconventional, and I have been in all of those to different degrees with experiences and influences that are extensive.
That one has not followed the convention of the traditional family setting does not mean that the individual does not have responsibilities and obligations to keep their own concept of the family unit intact, safe, provided for and secure. There is sometimes that misconception that the absence of dependants means the commitment of means and resources to demands and requirements of others following the traditional family concept.
Assumptions taking liberties
Obviously, in terms of numbers, there is probably more to distribute towards achieving much for the comfort and liberties of the singular, but it cannot be imposed as a duty, just because the person for reason of circumstance, opportunity or fate has not conformed to the heteronormative mindset.
The contemporary family unit now respects no conventions, what is adopted is what is found suitable for the individual or partners in that construct. The composition is fluid as well as committed and decisions that concern that unit then must take all parties into consideration, for partners and dependants alike.
The extended family becomes peripheral to that family unit, their requirements and demands, secondary to the focus needed to maintain family unit cohesion.
Setting your family goals
This can become a source of conflict, if certain do feel ignored or left behind, it might occasion emotional blackmail and put to test the matter of allegiances.
You can love and care for your blood relatives, but in the matter of spousal relationships and the development of those into your own family unit, there should be no question as to with whom loyalties lie, where faithfulness matters and to whom the greater devotion must be found.
It could be a tough course to navigate, but the person with whom you choose to spend life together on matters of the heart and things that evolve from therein must know that they come first and above in the scheme of things.
When you’re in this together
In the evolving commitment within relationships, you begin to affirm a few things, like, we’re in the love together, we grow interdependent of each other, decisions require the consideration of the partner, and for the elimination of any doubt, what each person does is done with the mind that affects both in the relationship and consequently, all around that relationship.
That is the confidence those in that family unit need to have, that progress is a lock-step activity of persuasion and conviction, communication and information, assurance and endurance, and, encouragement and affirmation. Whether it be a large family of one or any other viable construct of relationships that matter to the people involved.

Thursday, 4 July 2019

Thought Picnic: Living a storied life

For the quiet around
Even without hearing a sound, there can be a lot of noise, deafening and debilitating noise, banging on your eardrums from the inside of your head.
They say the battle is mostly won in the mind, but how do you acquire the silence and quietude to concentrate on resolving the issues that give you much discomfiture?
I find my comfort in many things, the times when the turmoil proves too upsetting, I would probably just go to sleep. It keeps the thoughts from getting overwhelmed with imponderables and the implausible, hours later in wakefulness, the mind has settled into some resolution and purpose, it is a strange journey to acceptance that I have travelled many times before.
Not for a thing
Worry is an illness that can infect all organs of the body and make you terribly ill. The residue of religion left in me is the insight into how worry can change nothing. If nothing can be changed for the situation, you’re in, why bother expending energy in ruminating over the wastelands about you?
This is where other aspects of the residue come to play, for many stories from the Book have the narrative of coming to pass, rarely ever coming to stay. Nothing stagnates to the point of having no movement of time. Time rarely stands still, things might seem long in passing, but never immovably stopped that all the laws of nature are upturned. This too shall pass, and it will pass into the realm of stories told in the future as if it mattered not at all.
Talk to thy self
Beyond that, I speak to myself, loudly in my Anglicised name, I tell myself, it would come out right, I expect things to turn, I prepare for the future ahead that I cannot see, but know that life creates stories that you are given to help others see beyond their walls, their clouds, their chains, their gates, their inadequacies and anything that makes you think any less of who you can be.
I have a vision of the possible, the possible that walks through the impossible, usually not as miracles, but as the gift of fortune and fortitude with a mind set to rise and be lifted above the fray. Then, because I found it when I was in the Pentecostal movement, I still speak in tongues, it might be gibberish, incantations, prayers or commands that turn nature on its head like the parting of the seas, that is my teaspoonful of sugar that makes the medicine go down in a most delightful way.
I can find my peace in storms that rage so violently that the hearts of some men fail, I have stood in the whirlwinds that swirl the dross and dust off me to leave me feeling refreshed and ready for the next challenge. There is a life to live, live it well, for from the very first day, it was a struggle to thrive and a blessing, it remains each day, what I am thankful for, a life so ordinary, yet made extraordinary by the stories I have been given to tell.

Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Looking like I do, happily

Of weight and form
For a man my age, I am pretty much comfortable in my own skin, in my identity and generally in the way I express myself. Yet, I do suffer from middle-aged angst about my body, I obsess about my weight even though my doctors would prefer I maintain the weight I have considering I lost 25% of my body weight when I had cancer 10 years ago.
I probably would be happier with myself if I lost a few kilograms. That, along with middle-aged spread that can plague you if you are not committed to an exercise and fitness regime. A gym membership languishes with monthly extractions from my account, the gym in my apartment block has not seen a visit in aeons and the swimming pool that gives my the yearning to learn to swim, leaves me with the best of intentions, good intentions, but intentions do not keep you fit.
FaceApp on WhatsApp
Then with the fantasy of desire and probably the means to acquire, I was visited with a remodelling of my face, a full beard that is attractive to someone but a complete irritation to me. Five days after shaving, every pore of the nascent beard growth is itching stimulus receptacle asking a tug, a pull or a scratch, it is only assuaged with a shave, a good clean close shave with 2 days for my skin to heal.
What I could be in the imagination of FaceApp and none look the least attractive to me.

It drives me to distraction; I would rather I had no beard as I did not even start growing one that responded to shaving until I was in my 30s.
There is much else I could change, male pattern baldness with a dusty brown Caucasian wig as bangs. I know of no other male in my immediate family that has this condition, but when I saw that I was losing the hair, I did not agonise about it, I took it all off especially after watching a film of people with a snake oil remedy for hair growth inject people with hair loss issues with a serum that grew their hair at unbelievable speeds, until it became clear that they were being used as hosts for aggressive follicular snakes. [Body Bags – Wikipedia]
All the makeup MAC can make
Maybe there are things I would have liked to change, my teeth, the front two which I lost in a childhood wheelbarrow game and the stories that follow. It is somewhat unsightly, but I am not that self-conscious about these things, I have faced more life-threatening situations than the absence of a complete set of fitted mandibles and maxilla. I could tamper with my nose and fiddle with my ears, but I would no more be who I am after all that.
Then I think of the girl with her boyfriend in the video of TLC’s Unpretty, he was not happy with her as a person, he wanted her to have bigger boobs and persuaded her enough to feel so inadequate that she contemplated cosmetic surgery until it dawned on her that she was just good as she was.
I don’t feel unpretty
The battles we fight in our heads where people who are naturally beautiful get to the point of thinking something is so wrong with their looks that after rounds of plastic surgery, they become grotesque caricatures of their former selves and bizarrely contented with the butchery of their bodies.
I pray I never have to suffer that level of psychological discontent leading to the physiological hacking away of my natural features. I have lost a few teeth, had a crown or two inserted, but for everything else, I am blessed with much more than I have ever been grateful for. No, I don’t feel unpretty, I love my body, I could do much more to be fitter.

Monday, 1 July 2019

A survivor does not owe you a convincing story

A sex story
In the main, I have kept my counsel on a developing story in Nigeria because the commentary covers the spectrum from the totally agreeable to the utterly reprehensible, so much so that one engagement can leave you mired in the completely incomprehensible.
She was twice his age when she called him into the toilet, closed the door and crouched down, then she pulled down his shorts and handled his member, brought him down, centred him to her exposed self and asked him to move in on her. That is all he can remember of that event. Like so many crazily eerie moments that litter over half a century of life, this one still plays back like a slow-motion replay in the inner recesses of the mind.
That was the only instance with her, probably she decided she should look for someone else, but in that seemingly insignificant moment, the seeds of an outrageous scandal had been sown whilst at the same time the treasure of innocence had been plundered by an act of senselessness that you probably would not impute on either party.
Other sex stories
However, beyond that day, there were other instances where those presumably entrusted with the care of minors whilst the parents pursued their careers in the confidence that their wards were safe completely unaware that were being fast-tracked into irresponsible adulthood for the personal pleasure of their male servants.
You wonder why the kids said nothing to those they trusted then because trust by proxy now went to through the servants, not that the parents were too busy to engage the children, the parents just naively thought everything was fine on the home front and by inference, fine with the children.
When eventually, a report of one of the servants interfering with the kids got to the notice of the parents, they did all the motions, a hospital visit and a sacking of the servant without involving the police, it would have been too scandalous for such a respectable family. This was three years after that other episode, they had moved to another city by now.
Can’t forget sex
Little did they know that the report came at the instigation of another child, who found that they could easily confide in another child than go to their parents. Without the prompting of the other child, nothing would have happened, and the abuse would probably have continued. The parents were completely caught up in the trauma of the event, that first, they did not bother to inquire whether others might have been abused, when one other was previously the plaything of that abuser.
I guess they thought with time childhood memories would be erased and forgotten, if only. If one were to add to this a greater indictment, it is after the servant was sacked the kids were told to watch out for his return, no adult with them as they were terrified of what might happen next, all they had for safety was the instruction to scream, a boy of 10 being the eldest against the servant, 29 years old.
The scars of child sexual abuse run deep and only a few survivors of such events go on to live in healthy relationships with a complete blank on the past. Sexual innocence once lost can never be replaced, but there is a lot parents can do in caring, in nurturing, in showing unusual affection and doing everything to regain the trust and confidence of their children being readily able to report any violation of their bodies.
Earn sex trust
Whilst some parents might find this strange, the trust a child can have in their parents to report sexual abuse has to be earned, earned beyond the standard of just being a parent and expecting every child to worship you from the day they were born. Parental provision is a responsibility on the shoulders of the parent, the child does not have to be thankful for that, but the child would be more exceedingly thankful for the opportunity to open their hearts to their parents long before the problems come.
Yet, what parents concentrate on is ensuring they are respected and obeyed at the cost of everything else. They lament about being disrespected, get out the whip to lash out at every opportunity, make all physical and economical provision and have no concept of emotional engagement, then later in life think the child owes them everything.
That was lost on the day the child lost their sexual innocence when all the parents did was ignore, scold, treat the child as a commodity and leave to chance the healing of time. In most cases, the child never forgot, today becomes a day of reckoning.
Unconvincing sex stories
This is a story told, personal and raw, there was a conversation where the legalism of a child became a matter of dispute, and though recent events need attention, past events are no less significant because the seeds sown then mature in the person affected from that time, they have just learnt to cope better with the hurt.
I wrote this because within the commentary that followed the developing story on Facebook, someone said everything that matters to every victim, every victim of child sexual abuse whether you hear that story immediately after the abuse or decades after that it all seems incredible, implausible or even unbelievable, “A survivor does not owe you a convincing story.” 
To that, I would say, neither does a victim owe you a convincing story. There are liars and blackmailers out there, but to allow those few to determine your view every other story is a grave injustice and too many of these stories cannot be tested to its limits in court, you only need a good lawyer to get a murderer off the charge. What two sides of a story you are not convinced of that would allow you side with the perpetrator against the victim, victimising them a second time, because the victim can't tell you a convincing story?
There are many stories left untold because the victim and survivor is left second-guessing themselves unsure of whether they would be believed about what was done to them, be it child sexual abuse or rape, they are heinous crimes against the person, to which there are rarely any corroborating witnesses. The victims internalise their trauma and their fate, there is courage in keeping silent and there is unusual courage in speaking out.
Tell your story
The many victims of child sexual abuse I have watched being told to shut up, they have a story they cannot tell about what happened to them, because they cannot make their story dramatic enough, fantastic enough, or convincing enough to the majority who think child sexual abuse or rape must follow a rational course of action by the perpetrator.
One can almost say a murder scene almost definitely yields more forensic evidence than a child sexual abuse or rape event, why that is the case when the victim is a witness to their own violation continues to baffle me.
In that story is a boy, an aunt, a sister, many houseboys, some distant relations and no strangers, all before he was 11.

Wednesday, 26 June 2019

Nigeria: Don't let your passport be handled like junk mail

A few weeks ago, a Nigerian citizen vandalised many vehicles around the offices of the Nigerian High Commission in London out of frustration with their poor customer service practices, not excusable, but understandable. [Punch]
In reaction to that event, the Nigerian High Commission in London has released a poorly written notice on their website that invalidates the use of third parties or electronic booking systems for applying for Nigerian passports.

However, there is one requirement that I cannot ignore, written in their own words, “applicants are required to submit pre-paid self address special delivery envelop on completion of bio-metric capturing.
A passport is a critical identity document that cannot be allowed to fall into the wrong hands, there must be a chain of custody from when a passport leaves the Nigerian High Commission to when the recipient verifiably receives it.
They can employ a low-cost postal option with a next-day delivery, secure, signed for with proof of delivery or returned to the sender, all this with tracking and tracing along with knowing where the responsibility lies if the document is lost. Introducing a parallel insecure archaic service does not cut it and this idea should be stopped before more damage is done to the literally irretrievable bad reputation of this rotten bureaucracy.
I advise the Nigerian High Commission to avail themselves of this service and hope the staff would at the very least stop behaving like they are impervious to using systems that work.
This is what the Royal Mail does - Royal Mail Signed For® 1st Class
[Picture 2]

Monday, 17 June 2019

I'm raining on the inside as I pine

Daydreaming is an existence of wakefulness
Where the thoughts wander and ponder,
On and off to things and places,
Within which many memories are relived,
Of the company of people you’ve been with,
And the things of purpose you’ve done,
Beyond these, you create new worlds,
Of dreamy existence unquantifiable,
That you can hardly frame or draw,
Your mind is active and alive,
Urging on the eerie into your reality,
Caught in the middle of this and the other,
You’re raining on the inside,
Pining, yearning, longing and desiring,
For your love and your joy,
The strength of why aches the heart,
As you refuse to forgo the hope,
Of being together once again,
With the one who makes it all matter.

Wednesday, 12 June 2019

To The Runaways, The Misfits & The Radicals

What I negotiated for me
When my father first learnt that I had travelled out of Nigeria to the UK, he was not in jubilant mood at all even though that first trip was to acquire equipment for a company in which I had 30% equity. I returned and, in the meanwhile, the relationship between my business partner and I deteriorated because I was neither obsequious enough nor too enamoured by the opportunity I had, I had many professional responsibilities of which NextStep Limited was just one.
After my return, I visited the British Consulate to fix my status, both to be able to travel to the UK and if I needed to, emigrate. The need to leave Nigeria was not pressing, though one of the contractual engagements I had from a year before included the full payment for my flight ticket to the UK.
When I seized control
I was not mindful of that prospect, even as Deji Sasegbon engaged me as a desktop publishing consultant at his legal publications outfit. My father thought I had abandoned academic pursuits to the whim of activities he never really understood. He took it upon himself to attempt to secure my admission to an HND programme at the Federal Polytechnic, Bida and despite his engagement with the Rector, my name appeared to be switched with another in the rector’s files.
None of this bothered me, as after my visit to the UK, I found that there was a market for my Nigerian-acquired skill because I was more knowledgeable about the things I wanted doing compared to the technical staff who were there to demonstrate the kit I was acquiring.
Then I cared less
In the background, in communications between my father and guardians who had direct influence over me and access to me, he had suggested I was running away from responsibility. Responsibility is a nebulous concept, but it is never 'responsibility' in its distilled form, rather it is one of whether you can control, decide, instruct, and require without question, someone to do your bidding.
It is one where your independent view must seek the permission of another deemed superior, where your initiative must encompass the pleasure of another who has set the expectations, where your individuality and uniqueness is a function of conformity to some generally accepted norms and values or you are a misfit, you cannot chart a course of difference else you would be excoriated, called to order and commanded to obey or risk ostracism and be condemned as a radical.
Yes, I could run away
We were the runaways, though I do wonder what kind of a runaway I am. My father is essentially Nigerian, a proud one at that. I doubt if was ever Nigerian even if I spent some of my formative years there. Daily, I was reminded that I was born abroad, certain quirky mannerisms and my accent modified by influences from England and in Nigeria put me in a limbo of identity.
I probably found ways to navigate the system, but I really do not think I belonged. After having moved to the UK, my father was a resident of the 60s, I became a resident of the 90s. His experience of society then was radically different from my experience. He was treated like a second-class citizen and hardly appreciated, yet, in Nigeria, you could be a first-class citizen and it counted for nothing.
My storied identity
The greatest benefit of our returning to Nigeria after the Civil War was that I attended really good schools with an international pupil population, I grew up a world citizen, self-assured, confident, curious, precocious and inquisitive, our teachers open to questioning and discussion that we were free to be ourselves.
Within the non-formal educational setting, I learnt without noticing it, to appreciate who I was in terms of my identity and consequently my sexuality, though along the way, I was abused, exploited, violated and much else. The end-product is tried by experience good, bad, hard, and bitter, it would not be traded away to anyone, if I could help it.
Nigeria? On my own terms
I can understand my father’s desire for me to return to Nigeria, maybe to visit, even dare to settle down, I do not share any of that sentiment, especially the latter. I am first, an Englishman who happens to have Nigerian parents, I don’t expect many to agree with that, but it is my story to tell, not for others to usurp and retell to their own intentions. I owe no explanation to anyone about my sense of self, you can accept me for who I am or leave me be.
I ran away for my freedom to be who I want to be, I ran away for the need to be independent of influences I cannot reason with to get across my point of view, I ran away to take on responsibilities I choose to shoulder rather than those thrust upon me, I ran away to have my own prerogative in matters concerning myself, my welfare, my sanity and my life. I ran away to thrive outside the confines of unwarranted interference and according to my own terms.
Would I be returning to Nigeria soon? I don’t know, but if I do, it would be on my own terms, at a time of my choosing and if I find it convenient. I guess that is the most inconvenient thing if it gets to the notice of my father, we are not the same person, not by a running mile. Maybe, I could be given a little credit for having my own mind.

Tuesday, 11 June 2019

Thought Picnic: In the husbandry of futility

In the stream of time
As the end of an era beckons, the reckoning begins from the closing of accounts and the realisation of balances, many uneven between the credits and the debts, that whether there be profit, loss or a break even, life is never as simple as the figures you see.
In the memories of the past are the stories for which no value can be placed, there is virtue and there is emotion, the feeling you get in clarity and in turmoil, nothing giving you a sense of finality.
Yet, in the irreversible event of things we have learnt of from the miraculous that seems to escape reality apart from in theatre, sometimes as absurd as never to be witnessed but relayed to the corners of the earth, time is a perpetual motion machine, only stopping or slowing down in the expanse of galaxies and the knowledge of astronomy that blows away your imagination.
In a wasteland of barrenness
No, we cannot turn it back, much as we might have hoped, rather we live many of these events in the subconscious, in the dreamy landscapes of slumber bringing to life that incongruous or even the incomprehensible, difficult to process or understand.
For a moment, there was a shock, a numbness, resignation and then a journey into the annals of the mind to retrieve episodes and snatches of the somewhat insignificant that paints the pictures of the relationships and person you once knew. Then, in the light of the present, you were overcome with a saddened pall, for what could have been and what never did become.
If a man were half the big brother of the many who were given so much and yet made little of what they received, you can only marvel at the parable of the talents. For the servant given one talent should probably have never been given anything, but the one talent was the least that could be given to that servant, the master knowing before he gave the talent that it would profit nothing.
A harvest of little
In another tale, many servants were given several talents in access, in opportunity, in prospect, in advantage, in advice, in business and much more, but it all came to naught for both servant and master, the servant remaining poor and the master made poorer in means and in spirit.
Dare one believe that the husbandry of many lives might yield a harvest of very little gain, much regret, and a multitude of hurts impossible to assuage in any way? Must a farmer know the soil in which he sows? Can one hope that life can arise in the valley of dry bones cracking from the searing heat of the desert? Alas! In the untold is the mystery of the unfortunate to be bewailed in a dirge for which there are no words.

Sunday, 9 June 2019

In the hours of paths to Harare

On the waters of adventure, I bid Godspeed,
For the purpose to which we both agreed,
The ideas of where this trip might lead,
Is after all for it to succeed.
Until you came, I have never so smiled,
In your grasp, my imagination ran wild,
You lit in me, the infatuation of a child,
This is true, I’m not beguiled.
When heart finds heart to laugh and sing,
As we did without knowing one thing,
As strangers that met for a just fling,
For all that’s said, we’re meant to cling.
For you, my love, I have a desire,
In everything that for which I aspire,
The sight of you has lit my fire,
From this time on, we take it higher.

Tuesday, 4 June 2019

Opinion: When William Haines decided against a sham marriage

A lavender marriage sought
A few days ago, I read of someone in a quandary of sorts. A young successful Nigerian man in his 30s under pressure to conform to tradition and in the parlance of his community become responsible, that is, get married.
This man knows in his heart, in his mind and in his body that he is not in any way predisposed to conventional marriage as he has no attraction to the opposite sex. Fully aware of this, he has no plans to escape the strictures of the society in which he exists, so he has a cunning plan.
He is looking for a lady who identifies as lesbian under the same pressure to get married with whom to contract a lavender marriage that would to satisfy the yearnings of community and involve having a child but with the broader freedom for each of them to live life on the down-low in an open relationship where either party is at liberty to fulfil their other desires.
This is not the solution
He is definitely not up for outing himself, he has already thought this matter through as a marriage of mutual convenience in which no one would get hurt.
I beg to differ, for I only wonder for how long this façade of a sham lavender marriage can go on for with its secrecy and scheming, before some unanticipated event breaks this neatly cobbled together alliance apart scandalising everyone involved, the child. the parents, their community and beyond. This man with his plan is building himself up to some crescendo for blackmail for which he would probably do very stupid things than damn the consequences.
Don’t complicate the complicated
If your life is complicated, it cannot be simplified by complicating another life with self-conceit, a complication doubled presages an unravelling that no one would be able to control when the duplicity finds the light of day.
Now, I know that the situation in Nigeria has led many people to contract lavender marriages, it might work, but I realised long ago that I would rather bear the burden of my sexuality alone than for the purposes of conformity and satisfying the desires of anyone else mess up the life of someone else to hide my true self.
A touch on Winfield House
This brings me to an interesting piece of history that shadows life. President Donald J. Trump is in the UK for a state visit and such heads of state would typically stay at the Buckingham Palace with the Queen. We have the convenient situation that the palace is undergoing extensive renovations and so he is staying at Winfield House, the residence of the US Ambassador to the United Kingdom, since 1955.
In the story of Winfield House which is situated in 12 acres of grounds making it the residence with the second largest private garden in London after the Buckingham Palace, it was built by the 7-times married American heiress Barbara Hutton in 1936 to whom Cary Grant was the 3rd husband. The house was sold to the US Government for $1 just after the war.
William Haines, a man apart
Whilst the house has undergone extensive renovations and alterations it is notable that in 1969, William Haines was engaged for this activity.
What makes William Haines remarkable is that he was one of the most successful film stars into The 1930s contracted to MGM Studios. At the height of his success, the head of the studio gave him the ultimatum to choose between his career that would have involved contracting a lavender marriage to hide his homosexuality, which was popular in those times, or James Shields, his ultimately lifelong partner.
He chose his partner and ended his film career, a decision to which he referred later in life with these words, “It's a rather pleasant feeling of being away from pictures and being part of them because all my friends are. I can see the nice side of them without seeing the ugly side of the studios.”
William Haines and James Shields formed a successful interior design and antiques dealing business and were together for 47 years until the death of the former in 1973. It is reputed that Joan Crawford described them as “the happiest married couple in Hollywood.”
Choosing your life over a required lifestyle
The moral of this story has many strands, from a man who from a young age in times of difficult societal pressures and ostracism decided to live his own truth, pursue his own happiness with passion, find love and refuse to give up that love for the sake of his career or anything else.
In being himself, he was able to leave the success of one career to another successful one with his partner, that friends noticed that they had one of the strongest relationship bonds in Hollywood. These friends supported them, respected them, patronised them and honoured them, not judging them for who they were that in the year of the Stonewall Inn riots, they were invited to renovate the palatial residence of the US Ambassador to the UK in London.
The difficult but true choice
We can make choices, the choices to be our true selves rather than try to serve a different normality that brings grief. Obviously, the biggest hurdle is one of acceptance. Accepting who you are first, then loving yourself enough to live your own life than live a lie. I admire all those who have found that essence of being, life and love.
In William Haines who I never knew of until I did some research on the lavender marriages, many big stars like Rudolph Valentino, Robert Taylor, Barbara Stanwyck, and Rock Hudson sacrificed their true selves for maintaining a façade and their careers.
Here was a man, principled, with integrity who followed his heart and lived a wonderful life. I hope many might find some truth in the story of William Haines.
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Monday, 3 June 2019

Thought Picnic: Levitating on the confusion some have about me

This is who I am
On the public pages of my Facebook profile, I wrestle with the urge for an outburst whilst exercising considerable restraint. To be honest, I don’t do much on Facebook, the greater traffic of material comes from Instagram.
I take pictures and write long captions to them and post on Instagram, with the option for the same posting to go to Twitter and Facebook. Before Facebook severed the automatic posting facility from Twitter, the bulk of traffic to Facebook came from Twitter.
Other activities on Facebook involves posting reactions to comments, I find I can get involved in several discussions, debates or disputes, it is all good for engagement.
I am not taking that
However, the issues on Facebook are some questions that get posted to inputs from Instagram. I was kissing my boyfriend and someone I hadn’t had any interactive contact with for over 3 decades came round with the question – What am I seeing? I didn’t bother answering the person, I deleted the question and eventually removed him as a friend.
Nothing is as annoying as people who have lived abroad for decades but have not escaped the myopic frame of reference that limited their vision of a diverse humanity since they were in Nigeria. It is no secret lest there be the surfeit of assumption, my normality is different and probably does not fit in the concept of the normality of others. I am different, not abnormal. Difference is a function of diversity, not one of abnormality.
I owe no explanation
There are realities about myself that I know, and I do not need to explain to others, just as I do not intrude in the affairs of the busybodies who cannot hold their counsel. All the conclusions you probably want to draw have been drawn, I am not conventionally married, I have no children in or out of wedlock and fundamentally, I have never been attracted to the opposite sex.
It is something not understood in some societies, yet it is fully understood in others from a scientific, medical, logical, psychological and physiological perspective that we not only have the abrogation of Victorian-era laws but the promulgation and enforcement of laws and rights for protection and acceptance of the somewhat minorities who need not fear to be themselves and in that thrive as worthy and celebrated members of their communities, little and large.
My life is not a lifestyle
Then let’s disabuse ourselves of that misconception, lifestyles are about choices you can make when there are options available to you. Sometimes, a lifestyle is an adoption of a persona, a façade, a veneer behind which you hide, hoping no one would find out who you are. A lifestyle is usually looking for a sort of conformity, a pretension to normality you do not have, and you are constantly looking for a mask when you’re not looking in the mirror.
Living your own life is a long way from living a lifestyle, it is the point where you have become true to yourself regardless of what others think. It is where your individuality is expressed, and uniqueness is what you choose to be. It is where your heart beats, your soul rests, your mind sings, and your happiness begins to glow. Life is where you are becoming the best of who you are not caring about pleasing anyone, but if anyone is pleased, it is a bonus.
Life is where you have accepted who you are and know you do not need a cure for who you are. It is also where you can travel with those who accept you and jettison those reject you. It is where you soar like an eagle and find the champion in life that you are. I would marry who I choose to love and marry, and we would together decide what we want to make of our own family. Those choices would not be made for me by anyone else other than with whom I have chosen to live my life.
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Monday, 27 May 2019

Love is an urgency in a lifetime of cherished moments

Never grow old in your outlook
Listening to the radio the other day, I chanced upon a conversation with women of a certain age who had decided they would live their lives to the full. I was encouraged by how their youthful thinking honed to acuity by a lifetime of experience gave them a perspective of courage, daring, and adventure.
Even though well above 70, they were looking forward to life, living, happiness, enjoyment, and fulfilment. It reminded me of the couple I bought my apartment from in Amsterdam in 2001. They had lived in Eindhoven for 25 years and as they clocked 70, they bought an apartment off the plan and then came to live in Amsterdam for just over 3 years.
Look for new experiences always
Realising they needed a quieter environment to retire to, they in their mid-70s sold their apartment in Amsterdam and bought an apartment in a riverside nursing home in Arnhem. I was just taken by the youthfulness of that kind of thinking. They could have lived out their days in Eindhoven, but they embarked on an adventure and enriched their lives considerably.
Back to the radio show, one of the ladies in the conversation was Isabel Allende and she said she is always being asked the question, “How do you fall in love at 76?” I believe her answer was, “Like 26, but with a little more urgency.”
I got that message loud and clear, I understood it fully as I have circumstances in my own life where an amazing love has entered my existence and given me a feeling I can never say I have had before.
Live the moments to the fulness
Urgency is not necessarily rushing into things blindly, rather, it is bringing to bear knowledge, experience, understanding, and appreciation. You are at a point where you have clarity about what heretofore you might not have known you were looking for. Much as you can understand the caution and reticence of friends, only you can know if you have found it and when you have, grow it, nurture it and embrace it.
The gift of life we have is there for the moments, it is from the moments that we create a tapestry of life, stories of heart to heart, soul to soul and the unique bond that is obvious to the lovers whilst somewhat invisible, misunderstood or baffling to others. Like in the song at the top of the blog, it says, “People search a lifetime to find what we have.”
For what I have found, whilst for some, the grass might well be greener on the other side, it also hides the snakes better. Yes, I found love, I have put in a little urgency and I am living for the amazing moments we share. Brian is the love of my life.
With a little more urgency,
Quite close to an emergency,
The thoughts do wonder,
As one should well ponder,
If life just happens or it is a chance.
To fall in love is good,
Amongst the things I could,
For chance brought us close,
That I swoon in overdose,
To love that has me in a trance.
With you, I find purpose,
I am ready to see how it goes,
This I seek for a lifetime,
To be together for all time,
For you caught me from the first glance.

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]
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.