Saturday, 26 September 2020

Coronavirus streets in Manchester - XVIII

New arrivals as potential vectors

It was only two weekends ago on a Saturday just into the second kilometre of my 7-kilometre walk to the banks of the River Mersey ensconced by the Chorlton Water Park and Sale Water Park that I saw arrivals to the student halls of the Manchester Metropolitan University. Young men and women brought over by their parents to begin a new phase in their lives.

Then, I wondered about how my city was changing as if we had now found a cosy arrangement with the pandemic where life could somewhat return to normal. Life did return to a kind of normalcy for the freshers’ week, for each time I went out for a walk there were crowds and groups, hardly social distancing, revelling into the night, it was concerning.

Neither here nor there

Then at the beginning of the week, the government began backpedalling on the lifting of restrictions, their urging that we return to our offices was less so, we were now to work from home as much as possible, the whole saga was becoming more comedic and tragic than how the Grand Old Duke of York marshalled his men up and down the hill till they were stuck in the middle, being neither up nor down. At least they were receiving clear directions even if the purpose was unclear.


On a personal level, health is wealth, to a country in the times of a pandemic, public health is national wealth. The latter cannot precede the former. The bungling administration of Boris Johnson who when he resigned as Foreign Secretary in Theresa May’s cabinet suggested there was a failure of statecraft, in his case, there is a total lack of imagination.

Believing in human ingenuity

Without assuring public health, the national wealth will suffer and all efforts to protect the economy would be exorbitant and consequently fruitless.

We have to believe in human ingenuity that when all things are equal with public health, regardless of how the economy has been battered, it can be revived. History has shown how war has damaged economies and the end of the war ushered in growth and productivity through some pain, but the trajectory is always upwards.

The failure to address the public health emergency with competence and strategy has left us in the throes of a second wave that would be more damaging than the first and possibly leave the economy in a more sickened state than if things were properly dealt with in the first instance.

A student life halted

The students that returned to campus life have somehow met up with the Coronavirus with 127 of them testing positive with COVID-19 leading to the self-isolation of about 1,700 students in Cambridge Hall and Birley Campus, just within 2 kilometres of my residence.

Their self-isolation is to prevent them from spreading it in the community and further down the line, if this is not contained, there is a likelihood that students will not be allowed to return home for Christmas, just to prevent community contact spreading. [BBC News: Covid outbreak: Manchester Metropolitan University students in lockdown]

Can’t blame the students

From another perspective, the students have been short-changed and scammed, universities opened to justify their tuition fees, the hostels opened to keep the landlords afloat through their justifiably collecting rent. Now, they are stuck in their rooms, they can neither attend classes nor return home. It was a catastrophe in the making for which the government would shift the blame to the victims of this pandemic, the students in this case and the public in the general surge in infections nationally.

Whereas, it is without a doubt that the UK government is totally responsible for the mishandling of this pandemic and that is why we have the highest number of deaths due to COVID-19 in Europe. We cannot spin that any other way than say it with conviction as the incontrovertible truth.

Everyone for themselves and for all

On our streets, one thing is evident, the virus is invisible, it is pervasive, it is spreading and the need to maintain social distancing, wear masks, avoid gatherings, wash hands and so on remains a matter of personal safety and self-preservation. There is no telling where in this city of three large universities there are other pockets of infection. Within the week of opening primary and secondary schools, 15 schools were shut with the pupils asked to self-quarantine.

My other concern is how from outside the UK, other countries might be watching things go awry and so place us on a restricted list of travel as both a destination and place of origin. It is obvious that Boris Johnson and his big tent of circus clowns will never get to grips with this pandemic, we as individuals must save ourselves.


Thursday, 24 September 2020

When I had the murderous cancer of denial

When I was in denial

Amongst the many other things, I find to do, this September week usually starting from the 20th day of the month and on to the end does provide a time of reflection in many ways. Writing about the 20th, I remember it as the day I got an HIV positive result confirmed from the week before in 2002.

As I reflect on the circumstances, it is quite strange that for years I had been taking tests but expressly said I did not want to know the result. How that could have served me any good, I cannot say, but either way, my wishes were respected in both the UK and the Netherlands. Whether that would have been negligent and unethical on the part of the medical personnel, if any of the previous tests proved positive, I cannot tell.

It was another 7 years before that diagnosis began to run its full effects on my physiology, my immune system was completely compromised, and I was now vulnerable and presenting opportunistic infections. That at the end of June, the loudest alarm bells of impeding danger was ignored is still something that bothers me.

When I was foolish

Suffice it to say, I was looking for a miracle, a sudden and spiritual Eureka moment when something I did out of faith or someone renowned of the calling would lay hands on me and I would be miraculously healed. Though, the healing would have been suspect as I had not to that point given myself to essential medical scrutiny first to confirm the conditions manifesting in me, before a confirmatory check proved the fact.

I was looking for a shortcut, absolving myself from any responsibility for my situation and in denial of the seriousness of my condition even as others were beginning to notice the rapid deterioration of my health. It took the better part of 3 months from the 22nd June when I came down with shingles through July and August as fungating tumours formed on the sole of my left foot with associative pain that the only way I could walk on the foot was to have it firmly bandaged up, for me to come to my senses in a way.

When I was persuaded

The process eventually got me visiting my doctor who then expedited referrals to consultants that culminated in my admission to the hospital in the 22nd of September, after which I began to understand what I was facing and the graveness of my situation.

There are many factors that contributed to my reticence, I was wishing and hoping, it would just go away, the real danger was, I could just have died, foolishly, stupidly, ignorantly, and unnecessarily, when there was much medicine could have done to help me.

Those factors, I need to find time to articulate, products of positive and negative influences, incomplete understanding of ideas, principles, doctrine and spiritual matters, religious naivety and the convenience of sticking my head in the sand.

The 18 nights I spent in the hospital 11 years ago are journaled and bookmarked in The Cancer Tales section of My Blog Themes.


Wednesday, 23 September 2020

It's walking and it's working - II

Getting it done early

Just over a week ago, I decided to start putting in a lunchtime walk exercise to take the burden off trying to meet my 10,000 steps in the evening into the night. At first, I was satisfied with getting about 6,000 steps in, so that whatever I did later filled up the quota easier and the extra was just a boost on my activity.

However, on Sunday morning before church, I had done over 10,000 steps that when the day was over, I was just 231 steps short of 30,000 steps, it should not have taken much more exertion to beat the most steps of 31,687 steps that I set on the 13th of September.

Useful results to celebrate

Four weeks ago, I wrote about the fact that all my exercise was just walking and it was working, I am losing weight which has fallen from 88.2 kg to 80.9 kg today, I am sure the girth around my belly button has reduced too, the prominent and ironically named love handles are literally non-existent and I am breaking other personal records in the process.

Blog - It's walking and it's working

For instance, on Monday and Tuesday, I got my 10,000 steps during my lunchtime walk, then yesterday, I did 7 kilometres in 56’47”, this morning, having walked 11.76 kilometres by the time it was a few minutes past 8:00 AM, the first 7 kilometres were done in 58’33”, until yesterday, I had not been able to fit 7 kilometres into an hour.

The other amazing thing was I also broke the 4,000 steps in 30 minutes barrier, I stepped out at 4081. All this I did in the pouring rain and with much gusto. My goal is to bring my weight below 80 kg, though, I can’t convince Brian of taking it down to 75 kg.


Monday, 21 September 2020

I remember, it was in December

Love started intending

I do remember the many times that September brought us back onto the dancefloor as the disc jockey realised that the last few tracks did not inspire any excitement.

It is to the credit of the lively beat that Earth, Wind & Fire’s September still endures 42 years after it was recorded. You can be sure to get the party started with this, not to mention a night a passionate of love.

Besides, the lyrics also, signify a night in which love became the reality between two, the rest was the stuff of sonnets, hearts, hands, nights, skies, the whisperings of tenderness and much else that is implied, that we know goes a long way beyond unrequited teenage infatuation.

For me, it was the 27th night of December, in which I met someone who made my heart glow, it was as if I knew, for in my first message I said, “You’re every dream of a man.” I have been living that dream since.

Ba-dee-ya, say, do you remember? [Genius: September – Earth, Wind & Fire]



Sunday, 20 September 2020

Thanks for the day

A day attached to things

The 20th of September when it comes to dates is one that just happens to have offered itself up for association, whether it was 40 years ago when it fell on a Saturday with a housewarming ceremony and birth of a cousin or 18 years ago; a Friday, when that dreary morning I was visited with a medical result that changed my life.

The 20th of September becomes a placeholder, something to set focus on in the midst of many distractions, like every other day, yet, one that by arrangement heralded a new beginning, by expectation ushered in a new life and by accident revealed a new prospect.

In all, what is means is one new opportunity to give thanks for the house still stands, the lady does thrive, and we are still here as a new year begins the count to the next.


Friday, 18 September 2020

Psalm 23 comes alive with new insight

A Psalm in troubled times

Psalm 23 was the recitation of refuge that I woke to say every night probably hundreds of times in my first term of boarding school, haunted by things only I could see and sounds only I could hear. Such was the menace of my disturbance that the first half of my second term was spent as a day student living with my aunt.

Psalm 23 however is like a rare diamond, which when put up to light has a colour too mesmerising for words, a cut by the craftmanship of divine providence, a clarity in message that is individualised in revelation to those who meditate on it and a carat weight of priceless value.

I say this because just under 5 months ago, I received a revelation that came at a time that I needed to understand how the Lord is my shepherd. With it came a calmness in my soul and an assurance that things would turn out right. Soon, I got a new job in the midst of a pandemic and the way it came about was just too amazing to describe.

Blog - The changing texts of religious meditation

New treasures in old mines

As I was engaged in a conversation this evening, I was persuaded to share my new understanding as a word of comfort. We were communicating by text on WhatsApp as I began to write what I thought I was going to share.

What transpired just blew my mind for as I was writing, some new insight came to me that I had never seen before, unveiling to the eyes of my understanding that it was as if I was now sermonising to both myself and the person I was chatting.

A Psalm of David. [KJV]

1.    The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

2.    He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

3.    He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.

4.    Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

5.    Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

6.    Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

Doing waters and feeling pastures

There are a number of themes running through these 6 verses, repeated over and over again, whilst each successive verse reinforces the relationship between the shepherd and the sheep. I have before indicated that if the Lord is my shepherd, by inference, I would be His sheep and that is why we end up at the green pastures where the sheep can feed and the still waters where the sheep can peacefully drink.

I also find that there is the thread of what the shepherd does as a shepherd and for the sheep and what that does for the sheep and how the sheep feel. There is an anthropomorphic quality to these relationships, but please forgive my amateurish attempt at expounding this text.

Finding the recurring themes

Taking each verse, I address the themes.

1.    The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

Here, what he does is shepherd and by reason of that, I want for nothing.

2.    He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

Here, he does lead the sheep beside the still waters, a place of peace and refreshing, as the sheep lays in the verdant pastures they feed to their satisfaction unperturbed.

In King James’ English, the -eth suffix denotes a present continuous tense. So, read maketh and continues to make and leadeth as continues to lead. The job of a shepherd when the sheep are about is never left undone at any time.

3.    He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.

As he leads the sheep in the right and sure path continuously, for that is what the shepherd does by profession, by duty, and by name. There, you see a form of still waters.

Where he continues to restore the soul bringing comfort, peace and assurance reads like a form of green pastures. An abundance of mental restoration means we are never left exhausted by any situation.

4.    Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

The still waters might get turbulent or the green pastures might be exhausted after a time of grazing. This would mean the shepherd has to herd the sheep to new green pastures and still waters.

The sheep are always led by the shepherd and the shepherd knows the many green pastures and still waters all around the wilderness to lead the sheep to, to ensure never want for provision of comfort.

Getting to the next green pastures and still waters might include traversing the valley of the shadow of death where dangers lurk from the sheep straying and brought back into the flock with the rod or where predators are warded off with the staff.

The shepherd, ever vigilant is with the sheep and the sheep should fear no danger or accident as the shepherd is there. In our lives, we also traverse difficulty, adversity, trials, tribulations and negative circumstances. The Lord with us will lead us out of it to new triumphs in life.

5.    Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

Here we are, having gone through the valley of the shadow of death with the sheep, the new green pastures are a table set before us where our enemies can see but never assail us. The new still waters are the anointing of the head, succouring and empowerment with capacity. We can only thrive for we are in a place of joy.

We have become warriors, celebrating victories over situations, circumstances and issues in life.

6.    Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

Yet, the table is just a place of transition for there is another possible valley of the shadow of death that the shepherd has to herd the sheep to, where the still waters are now goodness and mercy in all the days of our lives and the green pastures of the final destination is dwelling in the house of the Lord forever.

At this point, we are no more mere sheep, but people, living and enjoying the blessings of the Lord. Goodness being everything right, good and desirous for wellbeing, health, and a sense of contentment in not wanting for anything. Mercy in that there is no guilt or condemnation, we have been continuously led in the paths of righteousness from verse 3.

Some insight into the Jews of Manchester

A religion of observances

A few years ago, after walking past the Manchester Jewish Museum on Cheetham Hill Road, I decided to go in for a visit. As I am wont to do, I had seen a plaque celebrating Dr Chaim Weizmann who once lived in Manchester and went on to become the first president of Israel, there was much to the history of the Jews in Manchester, I thought. [Wikipedia: History of the Jews in Manchester]

In my mind, I thought I knew a lot about Jews and Judaism, I was knowledgeable as an outsider but hardly informed. I had learnt from the Christian bible how the feasts of Judaism related to Christian festivals, teachings derived from the customs and traditions of Judaism giving some context of how Christianity is by terms a Middle Eastern religion that just happens to be so radically westernised.

Difference without indifference

In church last Sunday, during the sermon, the preacher said we should consider our relationships with other religions, seeing first the person before their beliefs, accepting we are in the quest for some spirituality and that we should not claim either superiority or inferiority in relation to other belief systems, for we each in our ways are seeking and worshipping God.

As Judaism celebrates Rosh Hashanah which is the Jewish new year from this evening that would culminate in the feast of Yom Kippur, between them in the space of 10 days is Yamim Noraim; the Days of Awe or the Days of Repentance, the preacher recommended we visit a website, Judaism 101 to learn more about this root Abrahamic religion.

Through a shop window of Judaism

One could consider it an occasion of propinquity that as I switched on my television and was scanning for something to watch off my Amazon Fire Stick 4K, there was a television programme on Amazon Prime called Jewish Law which happened to be a documentary about Orthodox Jews in Manchester, filmed in 2004. They then numbered about 30,000 living in the Prestwich area of Manchester.

In three episodes which covered families, major feasts, religious practices, the management and regulation of kosher, and mitzvahs or commandments, there was a lot to learn, though this would require second and consequently more viewing to get a better grasp of things, the attention of particularities and details made everything seems so onerous except for within the community itself.

And I never knew

Seeing how meat products should not touch dairy that in some households they had separate cooking sections to handle each, like having two separate cooking hobs, ovens and fridges was an interesting revelation. The ceremony of circumcision, without the whole detail was just as moving.

The commandment that Jews should not eat blood meant that eggs were first cracked into a clear glass and viewed from underneath before use. A boy’s hair was not cut until they were 3 years old, when a ceremony that included prominent people in the community cutting a snip of hair whilst contributing to a piggy bank. The act of mourning a close relation does include renting one’s clothes.

Of intrigue and interest

If you thought Judaism was dull, you need to see the revelling during the feast of Purim that was initiated when Esther in the bible mediated on behalf of her people preventing their total annihilation by the Machiavellian hand of Haman. The mitzvah includes getting drunk.

None of this begins to demonstrate the intricate observances of Judaism, but it should pique one’s interest enough to explore this religion in that is probably close to its fourth Millennium. The building of the Manchester Jewish Museum which is Grade II listed is currently under renovation, but the museum artefacts and documents are in temporary residence at the Manchester Central Library.

To all my Jewish friends, Happy Rosh Hashanah! Shalom!


Thursday, 17 September 2020

Cape Town, a place of love

Then nature set a table for a mount,
And gathered 12 apostles to sit around,
From where we stood and looked,
We saw the shimmering sea and more,
From Lion’s Head to Signal Hill,
Where cannons boom at noon,
The waterfront presents great views,
Of billowing clouds of awe.

It’s a place where love becomes a fount,
In which we land and kisses abound,
The love nest we sought and booked,
To write a story better than folklore,
For nuptial bliss we stake our will,
Even plan the time to honeymoon,
Our union blessed kneeling at pews,
This Cape Town is such a draw.


Wednesday, 16 September 2020

Things that make you think of tomorrows

In the scheme of things

As we anticipated and waited with great expectation, we found laid before us possibilities with prospects of dreams coming true. Yet, we must be aware of considerations, the plans coming together in ways quite unpredictable as the picture begins to take form and show a masterpiece of the work of providence.

Excitement drenches us like a summer rain in which we have willingly run out to play like children without a care in the world. Hearts racing towards a day when they would be so close that they will beat together in syncopation. Even as the world has changed, the changes it has wrought in us means there is a future before us that is beckoning for the joy of living.


Tuesday, 15 September 2020

In a place of serenity

Above the fray

Much thought can be given to situations and circumstances around us for which we have little influence or control. Existing within these settings the only thing we have is how we react and handle the things presented our way, so our equilibrium is not upset to the point of throwing us off our perch.

The perch is an interesting illustration of stability, for out of the corner of my eye I saw what looked like a man perched on a branch just as an owl or an eagle might settle on the branch of a tree. Comfortable in their chosen space, surveying their surroundings with such awareness of safety, danger, advantage or invasion, looking like the hunted but well into the hunt.

Knowing the difference

The variance is in understanding how that perch serves you, you are visible and much as you are invisible. In the former, for those with intent and an obsession, a vulnerability exists for which a cloak of invisibility is but a wish that you have to have assured yourself of some invincibility through being unperturbed about dangers you cannot manage.

In the latter, the advantage you have is useful to the end that if you are after something, it is caught in your gaze and you can be as evasive enough not to be noticed by your quarry. That why from my lips, the Serenity Prayer proceeds, “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.” Reinhold Niebuhr


Monday, 14 September 2020

What I learnt about sleep

The beauty of sleep

After about 5 weeks of observing the sleep analysis data produced by my Honor Band 5 tracker, I am gaining some understanding as to how my body works. Yet, the use of the tracker is only indicative, it does not replace proper medical supervision and analysis that would require attending a sleep clinic.

Taking a day at a time, looking at the sleep data can be disconcerting for there are nights when I literally got no sleep, maybe just under 3 hours and I could not attribute it to anything, in particular. The Huawei Health app is full of suggestions, if I wake up more than twice in the night, I might have drunk too much water close to my bedtime.

Just about enough

Depending on the quality of sleep, there are dietary and fitness factors introduced, it almost becomes prescriptive, yoghurt is good, do more exercise or exert yourself less. You get to a point where you decide none of this really matters in the bigger scheme of things, but some adjustments can be made.

I know on average, I am getting just over 7 hours of night sleep, the stages of sleep are within the tolerable limits of normal, that is; REM sleep, Light sleep, and Deep sleep. Deep sleep continuity is low, but that is one switch I am not sure of how to tune, the charts are show me transitioning between the stages, spending more time in the Light sleep stage.

Worrying about nothing

My bedtime habits need considering, like when I go to bed and the whole idea of being a nocturnal animal needs putting aside. My tracker and app scream with curtains if I am not getting enough hours of sleep. I am good at waking up, I guess because most times, it is by alarm clock.

As I collect more sleep data, I think I will get a better idea of what minor habits like having an early pill time, not taking food after a certain hour, and probably varying the light and sound environment in the bedroom need to be altered ever so slightly. There isn’t a problem, just a situation to study, understand and keep under constant review, as for worry, that is completely unnecessary. Sleep tight!

Sleep data for August 2020
Sleep data for August 2020

Sunday, 13 September 2020

Coronavirus streets in Manchester - XVII

All change with no change

When I stepped out for my long walk late yesterday afternoon, I had planned to walk all the way to Sale Water Park which by the route I trek is 7.4 kilometres, Stretford Road to Chorlton Road onto Withington Road left onto Mauldeth Road West and Hardy Lane, through Hardy Farm and the bridge over the River Mersey that gets you to Jackson’s Boat Pub.

In the last 7 weeks we have been through various levels of local restrictions with the reality that the Coronavirus is not going away soon. There have been surges in infections all around Greater Manchester and I cannot honestly say by the way I view things that we are in any considered awareness of either the restrictions or limitations, everyone seems to be going about their business as usual.

Returnees in stranger times

I have once ventured a Thursday morning brunch in a restaurant in New Islington where the seating arrangement was socially distanced and one time when I did sit in a Starbucks café two Sundays ago, having left all my personal details on a strip of paper with the staff. My only social interaction would be when I go shopping for essentials and attend the Unsung Eucharist at church.

What I noticed was a busy university precinct, car boots, hatchbacks, and van doors flung open with suitcases, furniture, utensils, books, and other personal effects being moved into accommodations. I sensed university students are back. Life is returning to some normalcy even with pandemic hovering around us, hoovering up souls that have lost their battle to it.

It is still very much here

It would appear we have decided to get on with life, despite infection rates being at dangerously high levels, social distancing is now the norm with students threatened with exclusion if they don’t respect the requirement, have your masks covering your faces or face stiff penalties, keep washing your hands, thankfully, there is no one inspecting your hands in your home. From Monday, gatherings must not exceed 6 in a group, except at places where they are allowed. [MEN: Latest coronavirus figures show infection rate has doubled in a week in parts of Greater Manchester]

During the week, in faraway Wales where my office is and I have not attended since I started, two of the staff contracted Coronavirus, that anyone of my team who attends the office must if they leave their desks don a mask, wear gloves and document every floor visited. Things have changed too radically, the desire of the government to put us back into workplaces and offices is not one that would entertain mass consideration for a while still.

Elsewhere, I read, after the clamour to get the kids back in schools, 15 schools in our Manchester area have had to close with the pupils in self-isolation for 14 days. [MEN: More than a thousand pupils isolating after 15 Greater Manchester schools see positive Covid tests]

We can’t live in fear,
But we must remain aware,
However, we may fare,
The pandemic is out there,
Social distancing is here,
Mask your face, not as a dare,
Wash your hands, the pair,
For each and all we care.


Saturday, 12 September 2020

In a shocking pair of shorts

It is a work in progress
There are things I am probably not yet ready to acknowledge about the way my walking as exercise might have changed aspects of my fitness, my girth and my weight. Brian, for instance would protest until the cows come home that I have lost weight and I am looking trim, I would retort with a vehemence that he is only being biased.
I cannot say he has been that much help in an objective manner because only days ago, he acknowledged that my concerns about my weight that he regularly dismissed as inconsequential before I embarked on my walking regime was quite valid. I was looking like I needed to do something, but he was not going to leave me feeling that I must do something until I started to do something about it on my own, for which I have received enthusiastic partner encouragement.
He is perfect beauty
Now, Brian would most likely ask that I slow down, tone it down a little, get some rest, or something along those lines. Obviously, I do not want to harm myself with excessive workouts that I have considered I might need some deep tissue massage.
Conversely, and definitely, not inversely, I do find Brian quite attractive as he also expresses concerns about filling out places that I think are amazingly perfect as if crafted by a sculptor of incomparable talent. There is no excess, he is man-perfect or all-man, as I would tell him, trim and better than Michelangelo’s David, if I added sexy to the description, I have not even begun to give credit to the form and beauty of art that he is.
Maybe there is some bias in my appreciation, I am attracted to trim and slender men, yet, it appears, we both are caught in degrees of body dysmorphia about how we would like to change some things. In all honesty, the work has mostly been on my part to rise from a sedentary lifestyle to one of moderate to intense activity acquiring a level of fitness, especially for my age. Brian is nature’s perfect form, the model for musculature that you will teach your biology and anatomy on.
There are signs, I admit
Getting up this morning, after a long lie-in, I needed to grab something to wear and as I reached out, it was a pair of shorts that I would have strained to get round my waist just over a month ago. They would be called hot pants as to be illicit or even termed indecent dressing in conservative places. They slipped on and fitted with effortless ease, I think we are getting somewhere.
It reminds me of that nursery rhyme as we prepare for the opportunity to meet up soon within our domesticated set up in Cape Town. I, the personification of Jack and he like the wife or vice versa, which is no reference to roles we play for we are both men in a same-sex relationship without any of that heteronormative stereotyping.
Jack Sprat could eat no fat.
His wife could eat no lean.
But, together both,
They licked the platter clean.
That is the story, he is trying to put it on, I am working hard to put it off, however, we have to agree, we love good food. Then despite the occasional subjective view of how I look, I am grateful that Brian is the greatest and best supporter of my quest to fitness.
I am beginning to look quite good for my age from my perspective even if others have arrived at that conclusion long before me. There is still more working out and walking about to do, to get to the body I am happy to stand in front of the mirror and smile at.

Friday, 11 September 2020

Good Old Pa Cole

Of history living
My Grandpa Cole of whom I know little, but I am learning of in snippets would by terms have been an interesting man. He was tall, affable and quite generous, I am told.
Even though I only learnt of his real names recently, Cole was a moniker by which he was known and called, by reason of his apparent predilection to English ways in mannerism, conduct and apparel. His names were Joel Adebambo.
For one, I thought there were other ways in which we might have been similar, I could not see any signs of male pattern baldness on the paternal side of my genealogy that I immediately presumed it would have come from the maternal side.
A little Bethlehem
Old Pa Cole died just over 4 years before I was born and there are many stories around how he passed on. That he died well before his time is beyond question and the presumption that he was poisoned is quite likely.
However, the more enduring memory of the great man was his sense of fairness and justice. Our hamlet has some special significance in the Ijebu kingdoms, along with being one of the smallest places to have a proper beaded crown king, taking the title of the Àyányẹlú of Ìjẹ̀ṣà-Ìjẹ̀bú.
There was an interregnum of tolerance of around 40 years from the end of the 1950s where a pretender to the throne took out all his rivals and some prominent kingmakers, which he succeeded in doing through animist practices, but he was denied the crown; he ruled as a chief (baálẹ̀) and the crown did not return to our hamlet until after his death.
A stand for justice
Not long after the tussle for the crown, an emissary was received in the hamlet just when rituals were demanded by the animist gods by appeasement through human sacrifice. The shamanists were intent on using the emissary as a stranger was required. Good Pa Cole withstood the council that a guest and emissary could not be the victim and they should seek an alternative. For that audacious move, there were consequences, and he consequently paid for it with his life.
One such story was that his chewing stick was laced with poison that on using it, he had a coughing fit that resulted in his demise. At his death, a dirge was sung that stuck in the memory of the children of that time who are well into later adulthood now. Like many things in Yorubaland, much is said for which the meaning is somewhat obfuscated, yet, the truth stands as a witness of those responsible for diabolical acts.
Though I knew my other grandparents and even had a paternal great-grandmother on the maternal side, there is an affinity I have with Old Pa Cole that none in their living times with the names they gave me and how they might have doted over me have with me. I hope to learn more of him and bring to life the memory of an extraordinarily amazing man whose sense of right and integrity is an example for our humanity.

The three ages of the elders

The age of control

In a conversation with my uncle and mentor, he succinctly defined stages of parenthood that he broadly the called The Three Ages which for me was quite instructive that I feel the need to commit the thinking to a blog.

The first age is when parenthood begins, the children through to a certain age receive instruction and correction as part of their development process, there usually is little room for negotiation, but that is down to style and form of parenting along with the societal allowance and strictures that might govern discipline, guidance, and education.

The age of negotiation

The second age includes a transition of the child into maturity and where the parent has to change the tools of interaction to discussion, reasoning, consideration, consultation, and negotiation. The parental respect of the child should be present and growing.

The child recognising their individuality attains autonomy and responsibility for life-changing decisions and the parents reluctantly find themselves in at best, an advisory role which can be useful if deployed with a modicum of wisdom and urging rather than instruction.

The third age, by the grace of maturity of the parents into retirement or number of years and the children quite fully independent working through a late first age or well into their second age changes the dynamic of the child to the parent and it is probably the most difficult transition for the elder parent who would now be a grandparent or even great-grandparent.

The age of instruction

In this age the parent should naturally realise they now take instructions from their children, the liens of control are radically reduced. They can obviously expect to be honoured and respected, but they cannot order their kids around like in their youthful years.

There is no doubt that parents who by terms have become matriarchs and patriarchs would expect to rule over their brood, but even if capacity is not diminished, roles and authority is to the extent that if they refuse to engage, it would lead to damaging ostracism between generations and this often occurs.

The transition of relationships

The times of transition, if the elder generation is not perceptive, would be forced upon them through disagreement and conflict, hopefully with redeemable consequences. A child after a certain age needs to be able to break from parental authority and control to chart the course of their own lives in every sphere of their endeavour, seeking counsel mainly on their own terms.

In all this is a cautionary note still, a saying of unknown provenance, “If you raise your children, you spoil your grandkids. If you spoil your children, you raise your grandkids.”


Thursday, 10 September 2020

Dreamscape: Twice the dereliction of responsibility?

Doors not closed
Maybe there is a cautionary note to it, as I am aware the dream world does portend a kind of awareness that should not be dismissed without consideration.
In that realm, I found that I left a temporary residence ensconced in my memory from my teenaged years on a bicycle late at night in search of activities that happened more into my 30s. Nothing had happened by the time I decided to return when I found myself in the company of other female cyclists who were tenants there too.
On getting to the house, the main garage door was ajar, and a thought occurred to me that I might have been responsible for leaving the place unsecured, but I could not tell. It meant I had to go in first armed with a chair to check if there was an intruder on the premises and thankfully there was none and it did not appear anything had been lost or stolen.
Realms within dreams
As I went to bed, I was troubled by the idea that I should have owned up to being careless with security even though I had no recollection of it. Then, within the same dream, I relived another instance when I had returned to see the door ajar, my reckoning then suggesting it was my fault.
My cousin then became a protagonist, saying the issue of the lax security had been escalated and he needled me about being the one responsible for the lapse which resulted in some valuable lost property.
Assume before it’s presumed
His magnanimous praise and elevation of a young man who at first appeared to have no prospects deepened my sense of guilt and regret of not immediately taking responsibility with the indication that I would be disgraced and punished, when I was delivered from the nightmare with wakefulness.
Whilst I can think of no interpretation of the dream, it crept into my consciousness that today is my cousin’s birthday, I am not laying too much store in this, but I could not ignore the distress it caused me; the possibility that there might be something I am responsible for that has been left undone requiring I immediately without hesitation assume blame for than prolong the mental agony of concealment in the search of exculpation or acquittal.

This thing called love

A mystery I live
This thing called love I cannot really explain, as I feel it in my heart, an emotion but not in the singular of thoughts and feelings that occupy my mind. All my senses are focused on the object of my desire, a desire that transcends every concept of what I can perceive with my senses. I think of him and I am in another universe of bliss and beauty that no words can describe and no talent in an artist can capture on canvas.
The capacity that in ourselves has for the reciprocity of feeling, passion, expression and love is written in poetry and sonnet, heard in song and music, yet is so uniquely individual and personal, the experience of another only partly describes the relationships of others.
The one who matters
You wonder how in the ocean of literally unlimited choice, one and just one becomes the one you find the unity of heart and life with. Notwithstanding that some one time lovers do drift apart for all sorts of reasons, we do not start the journey of love on the premise of its ending, we seek that it goes on forever.
That fact that we cannot see the future is a good thing, because we take what we have today, infuse it with hopes for the future and launch out on a journey of uncertainty with the view that the growing bond of strength predicated on an affinity that makes us glow from inside out in the presence and the arms of each other would see us through the storms and sustain us within the joys.
Love is a wonder
Not only that, but it is also how we draw strength from each other, knowing that we no more face the world alone but with an unimaginably formidable force of unity, in purpose, in direction, in attainment, in achievement, in success, in life and much more. The mystery of love and how it empowers lovers in the face of everything is still a wonder to behold.
I fell in love almost suddenly, and I know that this means so much more than I have ever felt with anyone else that we will get married and celebrate it to ourselves and anyone who will join us in this amazing thing. I love you, Brian, that is all that matters.

Tuesday, 8 September 2020

40 days in walking mess

More walk than talk
I would be the first to tell you that not every day of the last 40 since I started my walks around Manchester as my exercise routine has had me excited and rearing to go, for I have been tired, the weather inclement, and the drive expired, yet, I have persevered.
This evening, after a night of barely 4 hours of sleep, I wanted to fall into bed after work and dream, and snore and enter the realm of deep sleep for longer than I had managed before, I could not because I felt my walk was important and I only had to make my 10,000 steps.
Numbers up and down
In that time, I have done 657,850 steps and my recorded exercises have stretched over 446 kilometres, but those are just figures, my figure according to Brian is changing, not that I can see myself, though last week I found I had lost 4 inches about 10 cm off my belly and I am today, exactly 6 kilogrammes lighter.
I guess the greatest feat in all this was on the 5th of September when twice I managed sub 8-minute kilometres, even to my surprise at 7’56”, I am not looking to break records, I am happy with keeping it under 9’30”, though I can consistently keep it under that. I will keep at it, I think just by the results, it is a good investment in both health and wellbeing at 54.
The pace for 05/09/2020

Monday, 7 September 2020

Thought Picnic: I will be heard

Many words and no fords
What occupies me is a sense of purpose, a desire to experience the difference between things and their purpose. For I have heard a lot of words, but do they have meaning and to what intent have they been spoken?
Even when I speak, I seek to set a watch on my tongue for in its capacity is the speech to bless and even more to sting. For I will speak the truth without leasing and to the hearing of some shall be shock and disbelief, but the truth shall not be unspoken for an uneasy calm to rest upon us like a plague.
Careful of my speech
Though I wish to speak to be listened to and heard without any misunderstanding, it is with difficulty that one has had to address some men to whom I have allegiance and relationship, be they filial or marital.
I do not arrogate to myself speech that creates universes, but I feel the crashing sound like plates of Chinaware dropped from a great height to the ground, the clatter of dishes broken to pieces as the scramble begins to probably put it back together but never with its original undamaged self again.
I love agreement and detest conflict, but to the apparently stiff-necked, there must be a deployment of voice and strength, of consideration and force, of assertion and assertiveness to ensure that you have not been heard wrong the many times you repeat yourself to their hearing.
I am not tongue-tied
In one day alone, this cup from which I would refuse to drink was brought to my table twice in the thirst of times when I would have preferred to fast than to quench it. From it, I drank twice for what was to be said had to be said and for a long time it was brewing for a showdown.
My silence has been taken for being dumb, for no one knows the wells of memory from which I can draw the waters to speak the unpalatable and inconvenient truth. It is not something I want to be practised at, but when it is called for, you will hear me to the hills that would reverberate with echoes that would deafen. I have not come to speak for nothing.

Friday, 4 September 2020

Barclays Bank has severed its relationship with Core Issues Trust, that's fair

A petition I could not support
I was invited earlier today to register a protest in favour of a British Christian organisation called the Core Issues Trust that according to them works to help people with homosexual inclinations reform and realigning towards what might be pertaining to a norm.
Now, Core Issues Trust has a lot to say about themselves and that is a valid issue, I also want to know what others say about them because they are and the premise of their petition which I do not support is to have the Barclays Bank reinstate the backing services they have allegedly withdrawn from their putative customer at the behest of the agitations of certain forceful LGBTI groups.
Core Issues Trust avers that they are “a non-profit Christian ministry supporting men and women with homosexual issues who voluntarily seek change in sexual preference and expression.” Then reinforces the point by saying, ‘It respects the rights of individuals who identify as 'gay' who do not seek change, and supports dignity for LGBT persons. It does not support gay "marriage" - usually considered an "equality" issue, premised on the belief that being gay is "biological" and is therefore unchangeable.’ [Core Issues Trust]
It is Conversion Therapy
Yet, when I view the Wikipedia entry for the same organisation, I see another face of the organisation, “The Trust claims it is possible to change sexuality and offers "psycho-therapeutic" conversion therapy for homosexual behaviour and feelings. Core Issues Trust states it believes human sexuality in both men and women is a choice; and that sexual preference can and should be changed. The Trust says it does not consider homosexuality a native human behavior, but rather a relational or sexual "damage" that causes "deviancy" that it may be "cured".” [Wikipedia: Core Issues Trust]
My reading of this is unequivocal, this organisation is engaged in Conversion Therapy in everything but name, it is well understood that Conversion Therapy is not only harmful, there are laws being promulgated around the world with outlaw it. “There is no reliable evidence that sexual orientation can be changed and medical institutions warn that conversion therapy practices are ineffective and potentially harmful.” [Wikipedia: Conversion Therapy]
However, I respect the right of Core Issues Trust to render whatever services they deem necessary as their somewhat wholesome contribution to society whilst bearing in mind that many organisations involved in sexuality realignment have folded in comprehension of the reality of what core sexuality pertains.
Freedom to harm others
Core Issues Trust remonstrates that this matter is one of religious freedom and from their perspective, it might be, but I take exception to people and organisations who project their freedoms as the licence to act according to their beliefs that would inadvertently or demonstrably harm others.
I see no difference between their situation and that of hoteliers who provide services to the public but select their customers in line with their prejudices against the broad spirit and letter of trade descriptions laws. It is illegal and they get sanctioned when it comes to the notice of the authorities.
As I have written before, if you want to limit the scope of your services or influence to a particular cohort, you have to be in a confined ghettoised community of that homogenous cohort, the moment your doorway is in the public space, your prejudices would have to be lost to a liberal clientele.
Find a Christian bank
Whilst I do sympathise with the loss of banking services to the Core Issues Trust, it is a matter of reputational consideration that they have also lost the services of PayPal and MailChimp, they have courted controversy for a while that it probably does not need much activism to render them a negative customer to consider a business relationship with. [BBC News: High Court hears 'ex-gay' ad ban 'a political issue']
On the point that Barclays Bank unilaterally without notice or consideration withdrew their banking services, I would quite reticent to think a global organisation like Barclays Bank did not have extensive and involved processes that put this matter before panels of intensive debate and analysis before reaching that conclusion.
It made amusing reading when in their petition they attempted to join issues with Barclays – Qatari deal of 2008 when the Qataris came to the aid of the bank during the financial crisis. It was neither germane nor necessary, yet, interesting.
My advice to the Core Issues Trust who have such high Christian principles is to find a bank that supports their value system, maybe a Christian bank. Barclays Bank is not the only bank in the world, and it is not that Barclays Bank has seized their funds if they do find another bank to provide those services. Petition all you want, the decision has been made, contest it in court, if you’re so aggrieved.