Sunday 31 May 2020

Thought Picnic: They are never dead in dreams

We are touched at all times
In conveying my sympathises at the passing of a loved one, I strive for a form of words that hope to give comfort and succour in addressing irreparable loss. Part of the cycle of life is in the record of the birth, the living, and the death of people interweaving generations and leaving their marks in the lives of the persons they have impacted.
Impact on an individual basis is fundamentally significant from a miscarriage in the short existence of foetus to the passing of a matriarch or patriarch wizen with age as eras turn to epochs of history and genealogy. Grief is an expression that lives in our humanity.
When I condole in words to the effect that in the passing of someone, they have passed in the memories and recollections of experiences, fondness, and love, things we remember of them that are now forever crystallised in reminiscences, I believe there is some truth in that sentiment.
In dreams and memories
On my blog, I remember anniversaries and birthdays, I write tributes, maybe not so much eulogies. There are many things I do not understand, of what might be or not be of the afterlife, I do sometimes wonder if in my passing something of an eternal consciousness that could be a remnant of my lived existence can review the things said of me. I would not know if the people dear to me that I have lost can read of my fondness for them, even for those I failed to cherish enough until they were gone.
The Yoruba would eulogise the dead and rather than decline into the fortuitousness of the termination of life, we move on to another phase and of the dead, we look to meet in dreams or bump into them in places where our minds are given to the suggestion that a reincarnation has placed our loved one in another place.
Resurrecting utter discomfort
I sometimes wonder about what would have happened to the people of Jerusalem who experience the resurrection of the dead from their tombs when the earthquake struck at the death of Jesus Christ on the cross. It probably would not have been a comforting sight to suddenly see a known dead relative alive and interacting with you.
51 Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, 52 and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; 53 and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many. [Matthew 27:51-53]
It remains a mystery for which there might be a revelation in due course. I have dreams and many of them are vivid, the recesses of my mind folding the landscapes of times past into the tapestry of the present continuous.
Dream a little dream
I create a theatre of dramatis personae who have never met in life making conversation and interacting in my dreams. A subconscious part of me recognises these people are no more alive, but in my dreams, I can live the impossible and not be overwhelmed by the incredible.
Maybe, the things we do for the dead are not essentially for the dead but are part of the coping mechanisms of the living. We who remain need to manage the complexities of the presence and the absence of those who were integral to our life experiences. We may not have our transfiguration moments, but when Jesus brought Moses and Elijah into the sight of Peter, James, and John, you knew that the stuff of dreams is an exposition that is not bounded by the strictures of time, manner, or space. [Wikipedia – the Transfiguration of Jesus]
Our dearly departed and not really gone, they remain alive in the fond memories we have of them. That is also a celebration of their lives in us.

Saturday 30 May 2020

In memory of the lessons of a love departed - Chris

In memory of loves before
At the back of my mind is the thought of this day, one we never did celebrate together but noted without much emphasis. I maintain good friendships with most of my previous relationships, the people I am still in contact with.
Some have already sadly departed, but from each and everyone there is at least something significant they contributed to my life and those things I cherish. Lessons learnt, insights had, considerations made for a pearl of continually new wisdom for the present.
Today would have been Christopher Clark’s 47th birthday, the memory I have is keen and instructive. When he died in October 2009, I found that I could not carry on to new fulfilling relationships for almost a decade because there were many opportunities I had to make something of it, which out of fear, uncertainty, cowardice, insecurity, and doubts, I did not.
What I can say now is I understand why and how one should take chances on life and on love, put your heart in it and go the whole way if your partner wants to go that journey with you, to the ends of the world, to love like you have never been loved before.
Happy Birthday, Chris, thank you for the lessons I learnt too well.

Teargas and smoke in pandemic times

The root of public unrest
I do wonder if the right questions are asked that try to determine why people protest and those protests sometimes lead to the destruction of life and property in the aftermath of what the people consider is police brutality as the wheels of justice roll with lethargy and inertia if they do ever turn at all.
If there were a sense of justice that law enforcement was fully accountable for their actions in their call to duty without a seeming blanket of exculpation built into the system to exonerate working from the premise the police are infallible and the victim can never be innocent, maybe, just maybe, the frustrations of the people won't be pouring out onto the streets, they would allow the system of justice to run its course.
Weed out the rotten cops
The police forces know the bad eggs amongst their lot, sworn allegiances and unquestioned support amongst the ranks leaving the institutions operating beneath the standards of probity and integrity and they harbour the undesirables always stores up trouble for the future when for each infraction by the irresponsible crew they are assured immunity to go out to act with more impunity.
They should stop shielding the worst amongst their ranks, punish them and kick them out before they kindle the tinder of societal unrest and set in trail irreparable damage.
America is imperfect, grossly flawed, and has constantly been in a pressure cooker tensioned situation since its birth. The more we think things are improving there are many examples of where things are no better. To then be cursed with a leadership that has no facility or capacity to unify the people in a common purpose for the good is like Ichabod is enthroned on One Nation unto God.
Teargassing, smoking, and respiratory pandemics
There is much difficulty controlling violent protests, angry mobs, and riotous crowds in ordinary times. Crowd dispersal with tear gas during a global pandemic exacerbated by a possibly airborne virus that could cause respiratory distress and grave illness as we are instructed to keep safe distances between each other computes on the side of the unbelievably incredulous like no one is using their senses.
One other thing, I would hope the pandemic addresses with some determination is smoking on the streets either from cigarettes or vaping. For if the social-distancing requirement is to prevent contracting COVID-19, what should not be happening is people walking into the clouds of smoke or vapour expelled from the lungs of possibly infected people.
Ban it, treat it
I do not think it would be safe to have people trying to dodge smoke trails too as they walk the streets. It would call for designated smoking areas along with radical programmes to get people off tobacco because it would not augur well for pavement rage to develop from people taking umbrage to others who in their carefree use of tobacco products visibly pollute the air we breathe as we incidentally, walk into their smoky slipstream.
For the purposes of full disclosure, I started smoking at 14 and gave it up at 18. I cannot remember what inspired it, I just stopped, I did not enjoy it anymore. I used to smoke menthol cigarettes then. Now, my doctor considers having dropped smoking over 3 decades ago as being a non-smoker.

Friday 29 May 2020

Thought Picnic: The fields of clouds carry winds of creatives

Fields of people
Each day as you look out onto the fields with the pathways that lead through to sit in the grass or on a bench, sometimes bearing you on a shortcut from one place to another. Everything is not as it seems.
The people you see on your way or as you sit, some alone, some in company are a world to themselves, the moments you observe are but an instant in life you cannot begin to fathom. For from whence they came to hence they go remains a mystery. If you follow one, where goes the others?
Clouds of distress
You hear the cackle of laughter, yet, it might be a shield, an escape from another situation for which words cannot be found. We roam our worlds almost like listless clouds some bearing violent storms that ruin the landscape below, life and livelihood brought to waste. Some shifting for the brilliance and warmth of the sun to come through, others shielding from the radiative destruction of the rays of our planet’s life-giver.
You wonder if each cloud has a purpose, the present and absence of which that make the difference in a day and as you add up the days, the end of the year is a harvest, for some other clouds brought the rain to water the grain. One is not a nephologist and do not mistake that for a nephrologist.
For me, there is a mystery in people as there is of clouds, their forms, their motion, their dispersal, the experience of standing in a cloud on a tourist trip to Mt. Teide on the Canary Island of Tenerife.
Winds of change
In people, there is another aspect of clouds, the ones that cloud the eyes that you cannot see clearly or worst still, a clouded mind that finds it difficult or impossible to comprehend, to reason, or to think. These clouds have given some countries the worst leaders in the most trying times.
If only there were a wind of change and this wind is a carriage of the people by their voices, in their acts and through their votes to sweep these stormy clouds way out to the seas where turbulence and meet turbulence without harming anyone else.
Creatives of empowerment
Back to the fields, the fields of life and even the expansive field of the Internet, whilst taking a bench on Twitter, I saw a kite of such beautiful colours and when it landed, it was in the Instagram flower garden of the Uncles David, two amazing married men who have been together for decades of love and life, pairing up in the same apparel and smiling encouragement to us all, even as they face the frailties of the body.
It is from Uncle David that I found this saying and it is one I will not forget. “I challenge you to invoke your creativity, not as an escape, but rather as an empowerment.” David K North.
Away from the clouds and within the beautiful garden of flowers carved out of the wild fields we find ourselves in from time to time, I present the Instagram page of David K North, many things to many people, a place I found to meditate and get inspired. [Instagram – David K North]

Thursday 28 May 2020

As I luxuriate in abundance

Knowing abundance is life
Every moment is suffused in abundance, my nostrils drawing in fulness into my lungs and giving life, the abundance of life and the many things that make a story of the life we live.
I wake up in the morning and breathe a prayer like an abundance to my nostrils to bring a blessing on Brian and me, our families, our friends and many more things. That grace may abound towards us, that favour shall come from men and everywhere to shield us, that mercies might be found in every place and that we are bathed in goodness.
In these tough times that have made my voice quaver in conversation with those who seek what they have heretofore not had to ask for to get it, they are unrelenting to upset my peace, but I cannot allow my composure to desert me as I find the abundance to fill the lack and meet the need.
A shepherd guards my soul
In my life, I have the knowledge that this walk through another valley of the shadow of death is on the way to new abundant green pastures and still calm waters. My soul is continually restored with the protection from anxiety and the turbulence of worry. Things will come good, and time is a process in the direction of the things that will make this pass.
I take no thought for the abundance in which I exist to enjoy the beauty of life, for it is a blessing for which thanks and praise can never be sufficient. The completeness is where love and peace abide in the company of those who matter, with my Brian first, he prospering amazingly and with all that are connected to me or can be impacted by me. I am made tough, toughened, and tougher, yet with effortless ease live in abundance. [A vision of Psalm 23]

Wednesday 27 May 2020

Thought Picnic: Amy Cooper and Christian Cooper - A better conversation

In a more decent world
It is very possible that Amy Cooper and Christian Cooper when they met in the Ramble at Central Park could have had a different conversation.
Seeding it with the initial exchanges between them, I do wonder how this whole sordid affair could have ended differently. I have no skill in creating dialogue, but I hope my crude attempt gives some perspective of a kinder and more respectful world.
The original conversation. [From Christian Cooper’s Facebook Page]
How to have a polite and friendly conversation with strangers
Christian: Ma’am, dogs in the Ramble have to be on the leash at all times, The sign is right there.
Amy: The dog runs are closed. He needs his exercise.
Christian: All you have to do is take him to the other side of the drive, outside the Ramble, and you can let him run off leash all you want.
Amy: It’s too dangerous, [How the conversation changes from here.] but I appreciate what you’re saying. I’ll put the leash on. I’m sorry.
Christian: No problem Ma’am, it’s just that dogs run through the Ramble chasing the birds off.
Amy: I’m really sorry. I see you have a fine pair of binoculars there, are you are a birdie [UK: birdwatcher]?
Christian: Yes, I am, Ma’am. The Ramble does have some surprises in the quiet of the day, I am hoping to see an unusual bird.
Amy: I have always been fascinated with birds, I did not realise the Ramble was a sanctuary for birdlife. I’ll be sure not to let my dog run around here again.
Christian: Not to worry, Ma’am.
Amy: Please call me Amy.
Christian: I’m Christian, nice to make your acquaintance.
Amy: My pleasure, it's lovely to meet strangers with fascinating interests like birdwatching.
Christian: It is a good break away from my work at Marvel Comics.
Amy: Wow! What do you do there?
Christian: I am an editor.
Amy: That’s nice. A friend of mine who loves Marvel Comics told me of a recent change in characters and depictions. Like it has taken on the zeitgeist with queer characters.
Christian: Yeah! We thought our storylines should be more representative of our broader community.
Amy: I can understand, diversity and inclusion is something I have tried much to spearhead in our company. I have felt there is an amazing pool of talent we have not yet begun to tap effectively to make a difference in our company and to our clientele.
Christian: Interesting, what do you work as?
Amy: I am a VP at Franklin Templeton.
Christian: I have heard of the firm. Look, let me not keep you, your dog is straining for a run.
Amy: That’s alright. Here’s my card, it was really nice chatting to you.
Christian: [Looking at the business card.] Cooper? What a coincidence, I am Christian Copper.
Amy: How uncanny. I’m sure our paths would cross again. Have a good evening.
Christian: Thank you, have a good one too. [They smile at each other and go their different ways.]
Christian returns home to write about the chance encounter with an amiable and pleasant lady in the Ramble. Sadly, they both found out they shared the Cooper surname as a consequence of the malignant cancer of racism. Knowing what we do now of Amy and Christian, they were capable of considerably intelligent conversation. It never happened.
Background blogs

Thought Picnic: Can we pass the test of character and virtue at a chance encounter?

An irrevocable damage was done
I feel no sense of justice because very little can be righted that was manifestly wrong, if not evil. There have been life-changing consequences for which all the parties involved have become the story of our times.
His name was George Floyd, he was 46, he was black, he had family, he did not resist arrest according to the storekeeper that called the police, he was already subdued and handcuffed, yet, Derek Chauvin, the policeman who knelt on his neck until he expired just lost his job, leaving us seething with rage that such a blatant public murder has not already had the perpetrators and conspirators charged.
Mayor Frey of Minneapolis said, “Being Black in America should not be a death sentence.” But we are still handwringing, genuflecting and outraged, a man is dead and there is no Lazarus moment to be expected, George Floyd is gone forever after a chance encounter of hardly 10 minutes with law enforcement.
Having humility when humbled
In New York’s Garden of Eden, the Central Park, Amy Cooper who called the cops on Christian Cooper because he had the audacity to ask her to respect the rules and put her dog on a leash has now lost her job. Her Oscar-winning theatrics of feigning being attacked by an African American what seen for what it was, white privilege deployed to maximum effect to compel a situation where Christian Cooper could have lost his life, if an irrational mob of policemen had attended the scene.
Another chance encounter of hardly 10 minutes again brought to an end many things for Amy Cooper, the loss of her dog companion, the loss of her high profile job at Franklin Templeton, and the loss of many other significant things to do with her person, her status, her standing and probably her relationships.
The unpredictability of chance encounters
It is scary how chance encounters can change a life or bring about the loss of life. The many unscripted, inadvertent, and unintended situations that bring us before strangers of whom we know nothing but in the unfortunate majesty of time, moment and place can in short order our carefully ordered lives.
Nothing prepares us for the outcomes, but we must be prepared in character, in virtue, in humanity, and in consideration to do no harm, bring no hurt, attend to heal, flee from a threat, assess the situation in the mind and heart of the other to treat our momentary neighbour with respect and courtesy just as we would like to be treated.
If only the police in Minneapolis had given just that little consideration to the humanity of George Floyd, he would still be alive, the four policemen would still have their jobs, the community would be at peace and life will go on as usual. Maybe not the best, but better than the situation right now.
Amy Cooper was in a public place violating the rule to keep her dog on a leash. She was informed by a stranger to follow the rules. She could have apologised, put her dog on a leash and walked away. She did not have to stand her ground or prove a point. The simple recognition in humility of her being in the wrong and the act of contrition of doing the right thing would have saved her from the heap of global opprobrium.
Having the presence of a sense of responsibility
She was however deficient in capacity just like the four policemen of the temperament, wherewithal, and facility to deal with random strangers in chance encounters, knowing you that you have opportunity, power, and privilege that could be abused, whilst have a mind of understanding the responsibility that comes with it is redolent of a strong character ready to exercise the characteristics of emotional intelligence and the consideration of others.
The absence of a sense of responsibility will eventually catch you out and it is rarely in familiar settings, but in these chance encounters where some hand of fate tests your mettle, your humanity, your reasonableness, and your ability to handle unexpected situations without losing your head.
A brutally objective test
The test is usually brutal and the life lessons when that test is failed can to so consequential that Karma is running a far second to when retribution and punishment have breasted the tape on your behalf and in your name. You cannot pass a test that requires the study in preparedness on every topic in the syllabus of character and virtue, because it adaptively examines your weakest points.
If anything, our greatest prayer should be that in whatever random situation we find ourselves in chance encounters with strangers, that we are not found wanting and the experience would enrich the lives of all concerned.
What would be the aftermath the Amy Cooper or George Floyd situation, I cannot tell. For George Floyd, may his soul rest in peace and some justice be found for his brutal and untimely death at the hands of law enforcement. For Amy Cooper, I wrote a ditty, she will live if she wants to and she has the opportunity to change her life for the better. Whether she has the capacity to weather the storm depends on what wholesome relationships she has cultivated before now.
Oh dear, it's Amy Cooper,
She did wrong to Christian Cooper,
Now her embarrassing blooper,
Is dog shit without a scooper,
She thought white was really super,
Called the cops on him like a trooper,
Now lost her job, what a whooper,
Please, don't be like Amy Cooper.

Tuesday 26 May 2020

Thought Picnic: Black Lives Should Matter Always

Are we that quick to be noticed?
Sitting at home and catching up with the news has caused me no end in distress as a black man in the UK and observing the world at large.
In these Coronavirus pandemic times, first, I read of the indication that Black, Asian and ethnic minority [BAME] people are 54% more likely to be fined for the contravention of Coronavirus laws than whites, considering we hardly make up to 15% of England and Wales population. [Guardian: BAME People Fined] [GOV.UK: Ethnic Population Distribution]
Law enforcement would contend that the distribution of fines is proportional, I would beg to differ. One can only wonder what proportionality means to them in the face of the numbers, yet, one must endeavour to keep an open mind. Whether it is over-enthusiasm or an unfortunate predilection to attract to and intimidate the BAME by the police, something does have to shift, because it does not augur well for community relations.
This is not to forget that BAME are also disproportionately affected by the Coronavirus with poorer outcomes that the government has instituted an enquiry to determine why. It is as if there is no respite in going about our business or being afflicted. The little triumphs in the overturning of some of the convictions and fines are almost worthy of celebration when they should never have happened, in the first place.
Flushing out no guns
I have once had an encounter, where on visiting a public toilet there was a SWAT raid, apparently, the coincidental presence of 4 black men in a large facility that could have 10 standing at the urinals and 4 water closet cubicles. Someone had called the police to report that one of us was in possession of a gun.
The ordeal in the early 1990s was as unsettling as it could be, we were bundled out, searched, questioned and had our details taken down. They found nothing and offered no apology. Despite their elaborate and extraordinary intervention is what amounted to a ruse, I could not obtain a record from the police at that place or after two visits to the police station as to how I was roughed up.
They basically got away ultra vires exercising untrammelled authority without accountability or consequence, we, being left hard done by. I have probably only had one encounter with the police out of maybe 5 in the UK and the Netherlands, where it has been courteous and satisfactory. Thankfully, the only thing harmed has been my pride and a knock on my self-esteem.
Being Black in America
Crossing the pond, when I first saw a video of a woman choking her dog by the collar, it was without the sound on. It was bad enough. My Twitter timeline was lit up with outrage and indignation about being ‘Black in America’. When I then returned to watch the video with the sound on, it was a woman who had been called out to put her dog on a leash as she was required to do taking umbrage to being spoken to by a black man. [BBC News: White woman called police on black man in dog row]
She then called the police on the African American feigning being violently attacked, the good fortune of it all was it being caught on video along with the police not attending the event at the time might just have let the man live another day, safe in America. What kind of providence allowed for both their surnames to be Cooper? Quite uncanny.
Black Lives Must Matter Always
As if this was not bad enough, a black man was apprehended under the influence and found sitting on the bonnet of his car. To a man inebriated, one would expect some consideration as to their incapacity and irrationality. When he was asked to step away from his car, he resisted. He was overpowered and handcuffed only for one of the policemen to kneel on his neck whilst he was in medical distress and he died. [BBC News: FBI to investigate death of black man in Minnesota after arrest]
It is like being Black in America puts you high in the list of threatened and endangered species, from those who cannot countenance the presence of black in any space to the point to a sighting of a black person is tantamount to violation of every law of humanity, a threat to existence and the need to exterminate their person. Touching on the topic of police brutality and use of excessive force leading to the violent deaths of black people, that is a plaque on America for which a remedy is yet to be found.
Things ought not to be this way, it is why movements as Black Lives Matter exist because there is a discussion we all must have about our common and diverse humanity regardless of race, the need for consideration, courtesy, respect, humility, fairness, and justice is paramount.

Monday 25 May 2020

Coronavirus streets in Manchester - VIII

Here comes the sun
This is the fourth Bank Holiday under the Coronavirus lockdown, one in which we have been under certain restrictions in terms of movement and travel especially that we have pleasant weather.
For me, it was the first opportunity to expose myself to the sun and build up naturally occurring Vitamin D which I should consider taking supplements for, in general.
When I fell ill, I had asked my friend to get me a box of cornflakes, whilst I expected the Kellogg’s brand, it was a store brand from one of the more affordable supermarket chains. Checking the nutritional information on the box, it had no vitamins and minerals content. I thought it was a given that boxes of cereal had a basic set of those.
On another low-cost brand he bought at the time he was housesitting for me had the full complement of Vitamins B6, B12 & D, and Folic Acid which I do require, along with Niacin (B3), Thiamin (B1), Riboflavin (B2), and Iron. All at various required daily intakes. However, as I do sometimes have Weetabix or Kellogg’s Rice Crispies, I might increase my breakfast consumption of those.
Longing for him
With my arms and legs exposed, I took to sitting in the sun at the New Islington Wharf. It was quite busy, but I had the concrete bench to myself, watching the world go by. The biggest feeling of regret I had was not being out with Brian as I remembered the many times we walked from our apartment in Cape Town to the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront. As there were many same-sex couples holding hands taking in the atmosphere.
My outing was counter clockwise to my Friday walk, through Angel Meadow Park that was crowded without a bench free or a patch of grass with enough distance from others. Not that I would have sat on the grass. I did stop beside the Co-operative Group head office building, which had long rows of unoccupied benches in the sun and then with a nerve ending twitch in my hip hobbled into the shopping precinct.
Flower snatching crazy woman
Another resting point before the final stretch home, there was a flowerbed behind me, a violated the social-distancing requirement without apology lunging for full-blown flowers to give to two kids in strollers, one of which she was pushing. I probably should have shouted at her or even waved my stick, a typical public vandal who cared nothing for others around them. I did not have the strength, not that it would have dissuaded her entitled mien.
On getting home, I was tired enough to take a nap. I hope when tomorrow comes, strength, verve and enthusiasm are at peak levels to enjoy the first day at work.

Sunday 24 May 2020

Beyond dwelling to possibly revelling

Things are no more the same
There are so many things two months of total lockdown have changed in our lives and I had already put myself into a kind of seclusion for two weeks already whilst the government tried to figure out how best balance their public relations against essential public health.
The many things I have missed range through socialising, human interaction, travel, eating out and basics of human touch, from handshakes, hugs, kissing, conversations with strangers and dare we say copulation, though I will have to wait a lot longer to experience the emotionally rewarding qualities of that with my beau.
Last night, my neighbour slipped a note under my door asking if I would like to meet up in our courtyard for drinks. We had over the last three months had conversations in the secluded long corridor of our apartment wing with the suggestion we have drinks together.
Our little neighbourly drinks
The weather permitting today having been quite dull for most of the day with a slight chill, it was convenient for us to meet in the courtyard, their ground floor veranda looking out onto the meeting place. She brought the wine; I brought the chocolates from Groot Constantia and the four of us conversed for just over 2 hours.
That was my first social event in months, and we think we’ll do it again next Sunday. Whilst we sat there, other occupants of the village walked by, some stopping for conversations beyond the greetings. There was one who had lived there for 26 years and we were just meeting for the first time, I having spent over 6 years in the village.
More social beings than apartment dwellers
We have a large village of 5 apartment blocks, but hardly a community that knows each other. I cannot identify more than 7 people I share this village with. This is the kind of society I live in. We were inadvertently social distancing long before it became a requirement for our safety, health, and wellbeing. We have settled into being just apartment dwellers when there is more that unites us in this situation.
What needs to change in our psyche to create more neighbourly acquaintances, I cannot say, but I have always been proactive in know my immediate neighbours. It is very likely that as we adjust to the changes that would greet the new world of existence, some adjustments would come to give the village less of occupancy of apartments and more of there being lived in by people.
Our little courtyard gathering.

Saturday 23 May 2020

Thought Picnic: The business of not becoming arboreal fish

When fins are not limbs
Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” This saying is usually attributed to Albert Einstein, but there is much controversy as to whether he ever said these words. Whilst it is important to responsibly source the provenance of a quote, we should not be distracted from the import of the uncredited aphorism.
There are times I have wasted my energy as a fish trying to climb a tree. I moderate and caution myself in how I represent myself, hoping not to use the negative to incapacitate my ability, just in case, I find the insight eventually to excel in an area where heretofore I could not begin to believe I had the means or wherewithal to have a voice.
Collapsing the plinths of adulation
Just over 6 months ago, I was contacted enthusiastically about a business proposition, that appeared to have scope and prospect even if the basic idea was in need of refinement. With me being looked upon as a leader, I immediately put aside my doubts, more personally about what I could do that I did not pose the essential questions to help refine the focus.
Strangely, I felt quite uncomfortable that demands would be made of me that would leave me exposed even as I did not want to disappoint my beloved interlocutor nor dampen their passion. As I was in the midst of planning some personal activities, I put the thoughts aside.
About a week ago, I saw that the sketchy ideas that were discussed had taken root and gained a vehicle of expression. This dream had become a reality and the next stage of marketing had begun, this is place where this person had all the expertise to carry a product to a market and begin to make a business that met a need.
Encourage creative expression
In trying to escape from the trite, I opined to another, “I'm glad you're getting to do what you love, nothing as fulfilling as doing things that are impactful; food leaves a memory and creates an enduring desire to relive the moment. It comes from the artistry and expertise that produces it in the first place.
Someone who had taken the joy of cooking to the point of creating an online kitchen and fulfilling orders was having a time of their life, I could only be pleased for them. Yet, in me, there was that fish again attempting to climb a tree. I needed to provide encouragement without the use of clich├ęs, recognise that what was being done was more than commendable and avoid allowing my sense of inadequacy get in the way of earned and deserved acknowledgement.
There are people who see us as sources of inspiration, living up to that kind reverence that we decline in self-deprecation and apparent lack of achievement in our own eyes presents a chasm between where we are placed and where we place ourselves. Our modesty becomes a refuge from the responsibility demanded of our counsel, guidance, and advice.
Not everyone can do business
Entrenching the accolades, I was offering, I averred, “It’s a journey you’ve started, and it will get better and more rewarding.” The process of setting up is hard, it takes a lot of perseverance to keep at it and make a success of it.
In the end, combining the separate events of two people taking their dreams to the market and working on growing their custom, I found I could still remain a fish, though not one trying to climb trees; just one that is naturally suited to its environment and thriving therein, a fish in freshwater, swimming in the abundance of life and resources.
The spirit of business is an awesome thing, it's not something I have had much insight or acumen in, I am just a knowledge person. I think it takes amazing ability and talent to build a business around ideas meeting a need and I wish you the very best.
Being an entrepreneur demands the skill, the drive and the expertise I have not realised currently I possess, my kind of fish is not striving to climb trees, yet, for everyone who had been able to take an idea to the place of selling a product growing in demand, you have found waters in which you can be the best fish you can ever be. Swim, live long and prosper.

Friday 22 May 2020

Coronavirus streets in Manchester - VII

To the centre of a few
Getting into a pair of gym shorts and a top that felt as if it had been painted on my skin that my nipples were prominent and the shorts verged on outraging public decency, I stepped into my highly cushioned trainers whilst still needing my cane and set out for a walk. No, there is no picture of this outing.
It was much cooler than Wednesday as I made it up to Market Street where the main shopping mall was closed to the public, but essential shops on the street were open to active crowd control. Somehow, I have noticed all chemists and pharmacies I have visited have run out of constipation suppositories. Not vital information, but for its relief and uses, the reason is to be determined.
Leaving the large Boots Chemist, I walked towards the Manchester Cathedral, all gates closed and then by the Manchester Arena remembering that today is the third anniversary of the terrorist bombing after an  Ariana Grande concert that left 22 people dead and many more injured. [Wikipedia – Manchester Arena Bombing]
From old sorrow to a new meadow
Then up towards the Co-operative Group head office building, sauntered by the upper side lane, crossing the road to Angel Meadow Park. A place of history that comes from the most deprived conurbation, to the largest cemetery in Manchester and now regenerated into a tranquil park for meditation almost devoid of the poverty, destitution and death that greeted its heyday. Built with money from the European Union.
All around the park is a beehive of construction activity, workers out in their PPE garb some sitting on park benches or on the grass for lunch. There is life in Manchester but far from the typical hustle and bustle or rat race of what is typically one of the largest cities in the United Kingdom.
My brisk walk through the park brought me to a distinctive location, a little garden given to the issues of mental health. These pandemic times apart from the obvious sequestration might present invisible mental strains on people who are forced to stay at home alone, without social interaction or human interfaces.
The help we need
The theme ‘Every Cloud Has A Silver Lining’ prospects to see beyond the gloom of the present, but it is not that easy to find the silver lining on the clouds that obscure our view of the sunshine and sunny things in life. With Anxiety leaving us uncertain, Stigma borne of affliction and shame, being Alone leaving you caught in the miasma of loneliness and isolation, you wonder what prospect remains for finding the will to continue for anything.

Angel Meadow Garden
Maybe in somewhere there is the Support to help with our Wellbeing bringing Hope for the future, we do not know, but we press on. With that, I left Angel Meadow out to Rochdale Road where for those who need it, a Brazilian Booty Lift beckons with its attendant side effects and dangers, for Ancoats; a section of Manchester populated with old cotton mills converted to luxury apartments and pockmarked with new developments that look so out of character with their surroundings.
The manmade waterways of my city
Over the Rochdale Canal to get to New Islington, passing by the Islington Wharf with narrowboats docked on the banks, down the Ashton Canal towpath towards Piccadilly Basin before passing the long driveway to Manchester Piccadilly Station on to Canal Street, down by Sackville Gardens and then home in just over 90 minutes of walking.
The city is different and changing, I have no idea what would become of our city when the restrictions are lifted. People are generally staying indoors; the social distancing rule is adhered to even on pavements or bridges. I do not think the people have much confidence in the rhetoric of our government with regards to safety and security, either out of the abundance of caution or fear, we are keeping ourselves as much as possible out of harm’s way.

Thursday 21 May 2020

With your scar, you're a superstar

Yes, you can embrace your scar,
Sometimes it is quite bizarre,
When you do, don't let it mar,
For it might present a bar,
Though the sight of it can jar,
As you contemplate nary even tar,
That it plays to set you below par,
You want to strut like a jaguar,
Bid the self-aware au revoir,
Resist it leaving you distant and far,
From where you can be a star.

Remembering the blog aggregators that were plagiarists

Crawling for references
Looking at my blog statistics today after noticing a sudden spike that had already doubled the number of views yesterday, I checked on the traffic sources and impacted pages with piqued interest.
The prominent page appeared to be someone searching for all the blogs I had written about my dear friend Dick van Galen Last who passed away just over a decade ago.
However, I could not help but notice another blog that represented a dispute about blog aggregation in July 2007. I had noticed that a site many bloggers of that time subscribed to was down, the Nigerian Bloggers Aggregator (NBA) referenced hundreds of Nigerian blogs, showing the headers of the latest blog and linking back to the source blogs.
When aggregation turned sour
It appeared the owners of the blog, which was free allowed it to fall out of maintenance with an error pertaining to the lack of disk space. The domain is now parked, but not in use.
A carpetbagger cohort in the demise of this NBA aggregator decided to launch the NaijaLive SuperBlog that the movers with all good intentions executed quite badly. They published our blogs without reference, attribution, or citation whilst taking commentaries to our content without feeding back to the source blogs.
After a bit of back and forth, I asked for my blog to be removed from their curation because I thought what they were doing was unprofessional and unethical.
For the passion of blogging
Revisiting the whole sordid episode today, it is interesting to note that the NaijaLive SuperBlog did not live up to its promise, it is now an entertainment site without anything particularly entertaining there. Oluniyi D. Ajao still has his blog running now as Tech dot Africa and Global Voices Online ran a piece about the dispute.
It is a shame that I have not found a service that provides the kind of blog aggregation we are happy to subscribe to, and many of the competing platforms then have failed. For many, it is was a passing fad for which they had no passion or purpose, they simply coasted on the content of others to gain influence and maybe credibility.
My blog remains a non-commercial and personal vehicle of expression, we were not looking for popularity or traffic to boost our egos, we just knew and enjoyed what we were doing and simply demanded the courtesy of being informed of having our content curated and presenting the same content differently only after agreed consultation.
The blogs below take you back to the history and events that ensued. The NaijaLive is lost because for all their bluster, they could not keep their side of the bargain.