Monday, 19 October 2020

Blessed is the day with all its troubles

The day started slowly

Going from my telephone consultation last Wednesday, it had been arranged that I visit the hospital today to see a phlebotomist and pick up my prescription. It was an afternoon appointment and I had decided I would take the day off.

Waking up a little later than usual, I went for my morning walk and returned home for another nap. At noon, I made what you could term breakfast and soon after called an Uber cab to take me to the hospital. Much as I had considered walking the 6 or so kilometres to the hospital, a headache was not giving me the pleasure of the feat.

Not here nor there

In what was a test of temperament and attitude also quite unusual for my consultant, when I checked in at the pharmacy, my prescription had not been submitted for preparation and it was even suggested I return on another day to collect it. Much as I was having none of it, the pharmacist took the initiative to put things in motion.

At the outpatient’s reception, I was directed to the waiting area for the blood room. We do have a good natter when I visit and she immediately chased up my prescription, altogether, I was assured I can pick it up after the bloods. At least, I was sure the prescription will be correct.

When I was invited to give blood, the phlebotomist could find no recent requests on the computer. There was a pending request from 2018, I think that was when the computer system could not be accessed, and the requirements were written down. No one went back to synchronise the record of activities.

Fixed through communication

The last fulfilled request was in October 2019, which left me wondering about what happened to the vampire conference donations of April 2020. As my consultant had the results for our conversation last week, I guess what is required is a bit more housekeeping to match the blood work requests with the fulfilment of the orders.

Returning to the receptionist, she phoned up the nurses and got the blood requirements straightened out, entered in the computer system and I returned to the waiting room, waiting to be called in again. This time the order was in for just 3 vials of blood, when I usually give 5 or 7 vials. I was not complaining, I could not even see a vein and it required a bit of jiggery-pokery with the needle to get the blood flowing out.

With humour and honour

Before that, I was asked to give a urine sample, on my way in I had only seen the female toilet and telling the nurse, she said, any of the toilets will do. Not that other patients in the waiting room would allow that to happen, as a chorus of voices pointed out the male toilets. The much older man quipped about my having a sex change and I cupped my breast, shock, mirth, and laughter arrived as contortions on the faces of the others. I guess we could all do with a bit of humour.

All done, I picked up my prescription, walked to the Manchester Super Store on Cheetham Hill to get some fresh fruit before boarding the tram back to Manchester Piccadilly and settling for some fresh air in the village garden. Looking at my watch, it was already 5:00 PM, the day had gone but not as eventful as Brian had his, tough and resilient, smiling through it all. I hope he has a good night’s rest. My poor dear, for his good heart, is on for a wonderful blessing. Love him to the stars and beyond.

Sunday, 18 October 2020

Coronavirus streets in Manchester - XIX

See me in the morning

Stepping out of my home before the break of dawn for my walks, I was into my 5th kilometre and 4th crossing of the River Irwell and I as I turned left onto the path, a cyclist was about to crash into me. He apologised saying he never saw me, it was dark, I am dark and at 6 foot tall, I was hardly imposing, maybe I need to get high visibility armbands, because a mishap cannot be afforded.

Then at another brighter time, two men in high visibility gear had entered a park bordered by the oxbow outline of the meandering River Irwell. When I got to them, they were inspecting an abandoned motorcycle leaning on a bench. You wonder, how did it get there?

Trolleys on the roam

That left me a bit flummoxed about the journeys of supermarket trolleys to the banks of the River Irwell, all seem to have travelled and run out of steam somewhere. Marooned on the pavement and tipped over, left in the middle of the path in the park and not with any shopping. Though the ones that have fallen down the sloppy banks of the River Irwell read to try out their amphibian tendencies are the two I have had my eyes one.

Lest I forget, it is getting cold, I usually have to pull up the hand covering sleeves that allows me to hook up the sleeve between my thumb and first finger. So, I am baffled that at temperatures barely in the double figures, ice cream vans have been let loose on some communities, the chimes upsetting the peace and some seeking the joys of a summer, long gone. Three at my last count, I need to understand what is going on.

Until human are considered first

As to whether we would be locked down or not, it has become a battle of wits or rather one of self-preservation. The government has lost its message, conviction, or persuasiveness. Much as they are beginning to forget that they govern by consent, the mantra of saving the NHS has worn thin. What we need is to put people first, their lives and livelihoods, some compassion without bluster and a bit of humility with contriteness about how they got many things wrong.

Most importantly, completely decentralise the testing, the tracing, and the reporting. Let the local experts and talent have more control as they have more visibility and the local knowledge essential for contact tracing and fixing on where the virus is spreading.

There will always be a cost to shutdowns and at this time the government needs to bear it. We need to believe in human ingenuity to revive things that humans do, that applies to the economy and jobs, what we have not yet mastered to bring ourselves back to life once dead.

Richard Quest does not need your permission to be happy

A marriage is a marriage

I did not read of this development until I saw the Facebook posting on a “Friend’s” page that castigated and excoriated it, the comments that followed maintained the same theme. Yes, Richard Quest of CNN had tied the knot in a same-sex marriage ceremony with his long-time partner.

Apart from the Instagram message Richard posted, I do not think it made the news anywhere else except in a sensationalist stance on African newswires in Ghana, Nigeria and Kenya. What is surprising is how little people know about Richard Quest, not that it matters, but he is a gay man, he has spoken about his sexuality a few times, and he has made no secret of his, as it were, proclivities. [Instagram: Questinny]

That is a wrong choice of word, proclivities, but it is a sop to the ne’er-do-wells who cannot countenance the idea of difference in the lives of others. For whilst many may not understand sexualities different from heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality and transsexuality has always been in humanity since long before history was recordable.

It never hindered him

However, this is not the space to argue that, despite and in spite of his sexuality Richard Quest has a high global profile as a news anchor and presenter, his quirks and expression is uniquely individual, entertaining and enlightening, what is not to like about Richard Quest as a professional?

In the aid of full disclosure, I am also a gay man, I have always been a gay man, I did not change from one thing to another and never have I had any interest in the opposite sex, that is just my nature and I make no apology for it. I am engaged to be married to my partner Brian, and once the cloud of this pandemic is lifted, that will be done.

As if you matter

Back to the issue itself, Richard Quest does not need the permission of anyone to be happy, he finds his happiness and fulfilment in the companion he has chosen to spend his life with, who just happens to be male, as much as the person could have been female. It is neither here nor there.

Richard Quest has lived a rich eventful and highly achieving life that he would be proud of and many would aspire to and I celebrate him for having found the kind of exemplary balance in life as in his profession and gone ahead with living his full life.

His gain, your loss

If out of this, some now decide they will no more entertain the views of Richard Quest as he enters our homes on CNN screens globally, that would be your loss because there is no one else that does what he does in such an engaging and interesting way that has brought his global following. What we must agree to disagree on is this, his sexuality is more your problem than it is his.

I wish Richard Quest and Chris Pepesterny a very happy married life, may they grow old together and be beacons of light and hope to many who find it still too difficult to live their best lives. It reminds me of William Haines who forsook a burgeoning acting career in Hollywood in the 1920s for his gay relationship that Joan Crawford was reputed to say, they were “the happiest married couple in Hollywood.”

Now, if you cannot be happy for a happy event in another life because of your prejudices, that, my friend, is entirely your problem, your burden, your whatever it is, but definitely, it is not good.

Blog - Opinion: When William Haines decided against a sham marriage

Friday, 16 October 2020

In motion by lotion

The roll and stall

In it we move by bearings and bushes,
Maybe I thought I heard brushes,
Then we have to spare our blushes,
For in the way we go not by buses,
Even as some think it be what flushes.

So handled tenderly lest it crushes,
And by shifting motion we find it gushes,
Either fungal or avian both be thrushes,
For a cure many have become lushes,
Yet neither of the first will work for mushes.

It's walking and it's working - III

Competing for myself

Making a modification to the timings of my walking exercises, I now get up at the break of dawn and depending on when I step out from 6:00 AM to 6:30 AM, I can do between 10 to 12 kilometres, getting back home just before 8:00 AM to start work.

In the evenings, I add a few more steps to my already fulfilled quota from the morning. I even entered a competition for a medal that required I complete 5,000 steps every day for 4 days in a row. There were no additional medals for the 36,000+ steps I did on the first day and the over 90,000 steps I had done by the fourth day.

My Manchester anew

In a few days, I should reach 5,000,000 steps having done the bulk of that from an average of 60,000 steps a month in the last 2 and a half months. It is notable that I completed 3,000,000 steps on the 31st of December, I have probably not felt any fitter for 25 years.

Sometimes, my pace in slow, I try not to compete against the clock, I have set enough personal records that the sense of euphoria is becoming juvenile with every achievement. The morning walk is routine, and the evening walks lead me on new discoveries around my city. I am surprised that I am still seeing new places within miles of my abode in the 7th year of my residency. You need curiosity and interest to discover and experience.

My burden lightened

One thing that almost frustrated me and left me wondering if there was much else, I could do was getting my weight down, the last kilogramme has been the hardest to lose. It would probably not remain as low but seeing 79.8 kilogrammes this morning was both a shock and a surprise.

I had languished above 81 kilogrammes for weeks. Brian however assured me that I will eventually lose more because my exercise was continuing in earnest.

What Brian will not countenance is allowing it to fall to 75 kilogrammes, which was my original target. What we can agree on is, it’s walking and it’s working. I’m happy with that.

Blog - It's walking and it's working - II

Blog - It's walking and it's working

Wednesday, 14 October 2020

That human touch is always necessary

Meetings for the body

When it comes to my health and wellbeing, I look forward to my biannual medical consultation not with any anxiety but in anticipation of presenting myself to my consultants who have overseen my health over the last decade.

For instance, when I get the opportunity, I would like to return to Amsterdam and see the professor who first took on my care and gave a glowing reference reflective more of my personality than my medical condition, it prepared consultants in the UK for an interesting patient coming under their care.

My longer-term consultants have been in Manchester, in Wrexham and in London, I only had a few months of interaction before I was referred on to others. The reference from London brought me in contact with my first consultant who has retired to embark on humanitarian activities in Asia.

Meetings for the soul

When he left, my new consultant sent a letter of introduction from which I researched her background and career activities, I was better read up on her than she was on my medical notes, from it a relationship has developed that we are quite pleased to see each other when I go for my appointments.

The medical matters are quite quickly dispensed with and we get onto matters of life, of the heart, of happiness and much else. A patient is more than the notes and the medication, doctors who explore beyond the medical into the person and personality hopefully have a more rewarding doctor-patient experience and it helps them know that what they are doing contributes to demonstrably improving the quality of life of their patients.

Meetings for the mind

Another thing I enjoy visiting the hospital and consulting room is we sometimes have medical students sit in on my consultations, something I welcome. I engage with the students, find out their intended specialisms and encourage them that what they are doing makes the miracle of medicine possible in the lives of people like me.

However, with this pandemic, that last time I saw my consultant was last year. I had a telephone consultation in April and a rescheduled one from next week to today this morning. It is very likely my next appointment in April next year will also be a telephone conversation.

Meetings for the touch

We were able to pass considerable information between ourselves from the medical to the personal, but it was over in about 20 minutes as she had a full book of calls to make. That interpersonal connection was lost even though we deployed the art of conversation to the best we could. A 15-minute window was scheduled for phlebotomy on Monday when I could also pick up my prescription for another 6 months.

All other indicators were good apart from a concern with how one of the components of my combination formulary interacts with cholesterol. That will be monitored and reviewed for our next session. Much can be done with technology, but you do without essential human contact and interaction, especially in medical settings. I would suppose my next human touch will be at the prick of a needle, something I am used to and I am happy all is well.

Tuesday, 13 October 2020

He holds me up

Then I found freedom

It was one Wednesday night in early April, 36 years ago that I discovered something on campus, a livelier form of religion and devotion that put me at odds with everyone apart from the community that embraced me.

There was some turmoil I did not understand going on in my life, one in which I was at school and attended lectures without any inkling of what was going on therein. Sadly, there was no one I could explain my predicament to, but I found the distraction of student union representation and religion to keep my head as things swirled around me.

My sanity mattered more

That I was a failed student probably did not surprise me, though the reasons were quite different from what my parents and some friends thought. I was fighting a battle for my sanity whilst everything else fell apart around. Maybe, I would have liked for everything to all come together, but what is a life without the trials and tribulations that make for the quality of experience?

Indeed, I can say that now, when in the midst of it, I was both helpless and hapless, yet taking each day as it comes writing the story I can tell today. Seminal in those experiences were events quite a few and one of which was the music of the time.

It’s a new sound

I had heard some Christian music that did not suggest the singers were ready to explore the talents they had, pedestrian, uninspiring, perfunctory with words that just needed mouthing and hands clapping without a sense of rhythm like God was a boring sad and an unfunny deity of the sort that mother’s religious proclivities embraced.

Then I heard Andraé Crouch, the whole concept of praise and worship changed, the uplifting music that you will learn, sway and dance to that you were moving too well to even consider clapping. You were dancing before the Lord and even if you become naked in the process like King David once did, it did not matter. [BibleGateway 2 Samuel 6:14-23 (NIV)]

He holds me up

Too many songs that became the way by which God held me through the difficult and seemingly impossible times, for I did not see any light at the end of any tunnel, I groped in the darkness and the Lord led me through the valley of the shadow of death to new green pastures and still waters, but it was a long journey through that wilderness where I strayed at times and predators were on the prowl to devour me. I was spared, saved, and protected, to tell a better a story.

Today, from my Amazon Music subscription I decided to ask Alexa to playback Andraé Crouch and that has been on for hours, reminding of how in times of trouble, I need not be troubled, I am held by the righteous right hand of God and my unsteady gait on the rocky path is kept firm in the knowledge that I will not fall, nor will I come to any harm. We have a destination and it is good to the end. [Andraé Crouch on Amazon Music]

The timely message on Our Daily Bread – God Holds Us just reinforces the sense, feeling and assurance that it is well with my soul. I want to get my maracas out for this.


Something with someone who's somebody

Something, Someone, Somebody

To know what it is like, to love somebody,
When your heart is knit with not just anybody,
That someone that makes you so precious,
Calling you baby and not at all precocious,
You find great safety in their arms.

To have that feeling, just with someone,
With whom it is so perfect apart from anyone,
They care for you that much to make a fuss,
The one who is there and close to discuss,
You get to whisper in their ears.

To give the needed support, in something,
They are there holding you firm in everything,
Being a friend and lover more than ever,
Giving you all need to soar and recover,
They have you deep in their hearts.

Monday, 12 October 2020

Reaching beyond to the unlimited

Not beaten at last

Visualising a scene where a heap of rubble has been poured from a height like an avalanche on the person of the Incredible Hulk we watch as the silence descends on the moment as if it were the end of his story, destroyed by an event over which he had no control or foreknowledge might come to be his lot.

Then, a stirring begins from beneath it all, he clambers out with a defiant roar and whoever thought that was the end of the Incredible Hulk by their hand will find retribution beyond what they have started.

Out of the overwhelming

It is the feeling that has crowded my last week, almost a sense of helplessness against so many things. The pandemic compounds the feeling of loneliness and separateness from the ones with whom you have communion in heart and mind. An activity from far away, if it were better handled rather than unilaterally done, would have been less of a strain of one’s mental health.

Exhaustion and weakness creep upon you to deplete your resolve, you begin to doubt yourself, your strength, your fortitude, and your faith, then your health wants to follow into a decline of despair and distress. This is not what you can allow.

As dawn broke, I do not know what the day would bring, many uncertainties needing some direction so that plans can come into view. Where do you go when there does not seem to be anywhere to go?

His giving has only begun

Then I remembered a song by Danniebelle Hall, she has been gone almost 20 years and this song goes back to 1974, it was a hymn, though it is difficult to find the author, as the attributions look suspect. He giveth more grace is the titled to what I played back in my mind on my walk and then back at home. [AZLyrics: He Giveth More Grace – Don Moen]

Let us revisit the last paragraph, He Giveth More Grace started as a poem written by Annie Johnson Flint (1866-1932) who was orphaned and had a life of crippling arthritis, yet had unwavering faith in the grace of God. [Amazon: He Giveth More Grace: One hundred poems.] [He Giveth More Grace]

The words soothe me and assure me that when I have exhausted my hoarded resources, my God out of His infinite riches, riches in Christ Jesus, continues to give strength, hope, grace, power, ability and supply, there is no rubble of life that can stop me in the way, in my tracks or in the superhuman leaps and bounds to places of amazing wonder, the green pasture and still waters where my soul is completely and fully restored.


Friday, 9 October 2020

I will be a son but can’t be my dad

A drama in my head

There is an American situation comedy series titled, How I Met Your Mother, I have never watched it nor do I know much about what it is about apart from what the title suggests.

On my walk this morning, a whole series of conversations played out in my mind, possible conversations with my dad that I expected might end badly that I resolved to put it to one side, but what transpired between the dramatis personae in my head was vigorous and vituperative, I was angry, probably too angry.

A question seeking answers

The other conversation was between my mum and me; we have developed a friendlier and communicative rapport, I enjoy it. I was going to introduce a topic with humour and move it on to the fact that I was feeling unnecessarily stressed out by my dad. He is becoming as impossible as he is inconsiderate and obdurate; I don’t use those words lightly and they explain to a larger extent why we have much conflict.

Then a sense of exasperation overcame me, I felt like asking my mum, how did you meet my dad? What was the significant moment that brought you both together as husband and wife? Materially, without the union of these particularly significant people, I would not have existed, someone else would have been born in circumstances and situations quite different from the one I have inhabited.

A son a bit different

It is almost like the bane of life, a fate over which there is no autonomy or agency, we happen upon a state and wish upon a star, each second, minute, hour, day, week, month, year becomes a story writing itself as each moment passes. You then find that of the things you can neither change nor alter, you make peace, make do and make the best of it towards telling a better story.

Where I might have found my dad to be a reasonable listening person, I find I have not been persuaded of the reality of that thought. It saddens me, but I will not agonise, I find that it is our attitude and our forbearance that gives us the means to deal with many things, especially the difficult. I will be a son but can’t be my dad.

Wednesday, 7 October 2020

Experiencing the mental health detriments of a pandemic

One feels alright

Are you alright? I hear people ask, and I answer, I am fine, thanks. I think I am fine; I feel I am fine, generally, things are fine and well. Yet, they are not so.

Some of the consequences of the pandemic are not as studied or appreciated to any extent, the mental health consequences. In terms of relationships, I am engaged, but we are on different continents almost 9,000 kilometres apart, we were last together in January and communicate daily keeping faith, hope and love alive until the circumstances allow us to meet up in South Africa soon.

To feel human

However, at the crux of this issue is the fact that I am a lone occupant of my apartment in a big city of impersonal glances or stolen greetings. My social interactions are only on Sunday, first at church in our socially distanced seating with masks on, no singing, no touching and pleasantries at a distance. I have not shaken a hand or felt the tight grip of a handshake in probably 9 or 10 months.

Sunday evenings, I meet with my close neighbours for wine and snacks, much banter, smiles and laughter, they have companions and family, I return alone to my abode comforted by the video conferencing with my fiancé or telephone conversations with friends I have no seen in ages.

Touch feels good

The last time I hugged someone was when we hugged at O. R. Tambo International Airport in mid-January. My social humanity is under stress and seriously strained. I was probably last touched when the nurse donned gloves to take blood in April, it remains the last significant human touch I have felt.

I am at work with colleagues I have never physically met, we have been working together since May, but I have been working from home or living at work as the case might be. They have families, some even visit the campus of the workplace, so human interaction takes place to an extent, which for many like me, we live in an electronic age of sight and sound, smell is local or just home as the restaurant culture is literally gone, touch is anathema as it is to be avoided and taste is what you cook or put together to eat.

Senses feel lost

You wonder what this pandemic has wrought upon the earth, it takes away your sense of smell and taste, then robs you of the enjoyment of the sensation of touch, whilst the use of sight and hearing is constrained to a world bolstered mostly by electronics. As social animals, we have lost the social and the animal begins to disintegrate without the grooming that comes with the socially enhancing qualities of human interfaces, much of it physical.

I am fine, I have found coping mechanisms, I am working with the expectation that things will ease up and soon a semblance of living like a real human being with all senses in deployment will come. That sensation of skin on skin, the warmth of touch, the whispering that triggers and excites the ear from breath to sound, the expression of love when lips meet and tongues tussle, you melt into each other with a longing that no words can yet express.

That is what keeps me sane, for I reckon, all this shall pass, the night always ends in the breaking of dawn, no matter how long it seems to our consciousness. There is stress, there is strain, but we prevail.

Tuesday, 6 October 2020

I'm not losing more

Always get decent gear

Come rain, come shine, I am up at the crack of dawn for my walks, as I found I am usually up early and what better time to get my steps in that doing it early. Today, I found that there is nothing as good as a decent raincoat with a hood. The one I have is an all-weather light coat with zippered air-vents on the sides.

By the middle of my walk, in the fifth kilometre, the rain was pouring down, you would have been soaking wet in a minute without good protection. Some had come out to run in the rain with shorts on. I simply kept my walking pace, my knees strapped with Velcro supports, to ease the discomfort that developed a couple of days ago.

Kneading my knees

I have been advised to try a hot and cold compress; I probably need a good sports massage instead. I can report that I have never felt fitter after over 2 months of walking. I am a bit concerned that I am not dropping any more weight having shed about 8 kilogrammes.

It rained the whole day on Saturday, the volume of water when observed on River Irwell was like a torrent, the embankment that people run on was completely flooded, the river had risen well over half a metre with the swell from the rain. By Monday, it had subsided, I can only wonder what I will see tomorrow.

Numbers, records, maintenance

By the time I get home, I would have done almost 12 kilometres and I will be ready to start work, the jacket, the track bottoms, my trainers and socks hopefully will dry out to consider a walk for lunch or sometime in the evening.

Not that it matters much apart from how measurement enforces competition against yourself, completing 7 kilometres under an hour, getting over 140,000 steps in a 7-day week, maybe we’ll get to 5,000,000 steps soon, considering we are at over 4,700,000 steps now. Why does it matter? Because the charts show improvement and rarely celebrate recidivism.

The Bible still flies beautifully

A book that flies

An encounter on Facebook suggested I believed in a book of lies, he was referring to the Bible. Now, I would be the first to agree that there are incredible and incredulous narratives in the Bible, but this does not suggest you discount the wealth of knowledge, insight and wisdom that constitutes the Bible.

The things I can believe, I study more, those difficult or impossible to believe, I do not agonise over. For a book that is a human narrative going back thousands of years, there are many things we know now that in the language of those times would not have found the proper expression, explanation, or exposition in words.

Present ignorance to future insight

Even today, there are things we still do not understand and the form of words we use to indicate the absence of insight might in the readings of the future made us look quite ignorant of simple concepts. There is a growth of knowledge and understanding that is progressive and enlightening.

I believe in the extraordinary and the supernatural, much of which I may not be able to explain or articulate in any convincing manner. What I believe does not have to become what others do too as I do not expect to be made to believe what others believe. It is sometimes of conviction or persuasion, quite esoteric and amorphous might be the way to view it.

Rise to the bait, I did not, rather we agreed to disagree respectfully and parted ways, until a thought occurred to me this morning forming the inspiration for this blog without re-entering the conversation that was abandoned on Facebook.

Always find the useful

Maybe, I should have asked if the person had written something to distract me from the book of lies, I would not even seek a hefty tome, just a fantasy of a children’s story would do, a use of imagination or the application of studied observation. There also, I would have offered my compendium of 3,267 blogs, with the hope that one might just be interesting.

For me, the Bible is collection of human experiences and there is nothing wrong in having a look at how people tackled similar problems of humanity in those times and had the opportunity to have their story told. If there is nothing new under the sun, then the Bible is probably as a good enough a manual of life from which I have found much help even when it is difficult to believe I could be helped.

Rather than dismiss things out of hand, sometimes, it is good to find the useful out of what you might think is broadly useless. At the very least, have as much sense as an old cow, eat the hay and leave the baling wire.

Sunday, 4 October 2020

Thought Picnic: I share hoping it can help

Making others matter more

One thing I am trying to learn better is how to be considerate of others. More critically, how not to make my life experiences the prism from which I view others, because, even if we do experience the same thing, how we are affected would most definitely differ.

It is that difference I hope I can accommodate fully so that I do not arrogate to myself the omniscience of saying, I know how you feel, even if the feelings are similar enough. Then, I understand when someone comes to me and says, I am sharing this with you because I know you have been through this before, I know I am being asked to engage and bring my experience into the fray.

Experience as a guide

I hope what is being asked for is to relate my experience so they can find ways to navigate the experiences they will have. I have seen where people gain confidence that their pre-term baby will thrive because they see me, a grown-up person who was born quite premature.

In respect of failures in life, my encounters with that many times might help give insight that failure is not the end of opportunity, it is a temporary setback from which many do recover and prosper. Attitude is the construct in which to manage adversity for in accepting it is part of a storied life, we do get to tell better stories.

Sharing builds relationships

Having had cancer, there is much I know about pain, the life consequences, the losses that follow and the despair that can take over your life that you are literally losing hope of anything getting better. I would not deign to make my cancer experience a template, my understanding of it is primarily based on my experience and I resist being tempted to extrapolate it to others.

However, what I found is more effective is sharing my experience, telling my own personal story, in that, people, can relate, find relationships and a frame of reference. The story contextualises the human experience and allows others to reflect that if anyone can come through this, then they also have a chance, a possibility, or a prospect of seeing it through too.

If you can, tell

You cannot say to what extent sharing your experience will help another, but I have found out, without the stories, everyone feels alone, isolated in the cocoon of thinking their personal issue is unique, separate and insurmountable.

The saying goes, there is nothing new under the sun, that is only helped when someone you know and can relate to can show you that bridge has been crossed many times before, there is nothing to be afraid of in the experience called life.

Friday, 2 October 2020

The village girl is a sex doll

When they decide for you

The village girl made an appearance again in the documentary of the continuant present, beautiful, naïve and unsophisticated, homely, nubile and fertile, presumably pliant and like clay ready to be moulded and sculpted to the desired image or idol that worships you.

The village girl is vehicle of low expectations offered in the failing of decisions you were expected to make that you did not. The assumption that you are lacking in both capacity and audacity, an eye is out there having decided on your behalf that this would work for you.

They got you sex doll

The village girl is an intrusion an expanse of denial of choices you have already made. In some cases, they will enquire of you but are never satisfied by how you respond. Your sexuality being an issue you may not be at liberty to discuss, for it is expected that a heteronormative expression is the only game in town.

The village girl is a doll, plastic to the feel and dressed as you will. Mute that she cannot talk back, though they forget that she is also deaf that she cannot hear. There is nothing sensory in her adoption than to fulfil a predilection. They seek a grandchild, and any would do, you just need to play with the doll and let nature do the rest.

A wife never by your side

The village girl is a slave, a non-person without autonomy or ambition, the calling is to serve and deign eternal gratitude for being rescued from no expectations to great expectations. Rarely do you hear of her for her mission is defined and non-negotiable. Her lot is sealed in the contract that will eventually invite abuse for the union was imposed to satisfy a whim.

The village girl is behind the veil, a woman in purdah that you can’t afford to show. The distance to be bridged in that relationship is probably too great, it would take more than many are willing to give to grow into companionship for display. As you grew up in radically different environments there is no guarantee that things would work out. They do not care for those intricate issues; the fulfilment is in issue and the troubles you must resolve yourselves.

Used and abused for others

The village girl belongs elsewhere where she can be fulfilled in the things she understands. Indeed, her horizons can be broadened, and so should she have prospects, but not at the behest of others interfering in your life to fulfil dreams they have of you at the expense of the destiny of another co-opted into a Machiavellian ploy.

The village girl will leave the village, the village of your grasp, the village of your pact, the village of the grand plan and the village of subservience, when she does, she will go to the city and in that city, even the village of your mind will not survive. I plea, stop sacrificing village girls to machinations of getting your sons into engagements and marriages, they never wanted, ever.

Thought Picnic: A mindset not to resent the present

Seeing beyond the limits

There are times when situations and circumstances get together to frustrate that you begin hitting out allowing the negativity to consume your thoughts and reactions. This is when you need the quiet and quietness around you to reassess how you are responding to things outside your control.

We can so easily be helpless and forlorn, completely unable to see a way out that we are trapped and immobile. It happens to many of us and it is part of life.

Yet, I have the good fortune to sometimes step back and ask myself whether I am tackling issues in the best way, if there ways in which I can change my mindset and adjust my frame of mind so as not to be frustrated in the first instance and consequently overwhelmed.

Beyond just coping with it

There are many things I have been able to shrug off or ignore, others I have tackled head-on, in certain circumstances it is just a matter of accepting the situation whilst looking for alternative remedies to mitigate the impact. I am affected, but what long term effect and hold would I allow to define my outlook.

I believe in prayers; the problem is usually not the prayer but finding the right words for the prayers you want answered. You may not get a miracle, but a speedy recovery with the medication working well for you, your wellbeing and quality of life, might well be a great miracle when looked back on as a blessing to be counted.

We are a storied existence of feats that do not have to end in defeats. Whilst every defeat we face is most definitely an old feat better understood for new strength, renewed courage and acquired skill.

Mindful of better prayers

We are not always assailed by enemies, sometimes what we require is mercy, grace, and favour. To looked favourably upon when you are applying for something. To be given good consideration, time, and space to meet obligations. To have others treat you kindly, respectfully, with courtesy and a sense of dignity could be all headway you need towards some achievement.

Today, my concern is with a whole range of plans, my desire to travel, the opportunity for remote working from anywhere on the globe, meeting up with my partner, getting married, planning our future together with all the means that help many of our dreams come true. A cloud appears to be in a way of the sunlight of warmth and life to these visions.

I cannot be preoccupied with the clouds; the limitations are momentary, and clouds move on eventually. In the exercise of patience and the assurance of hope that the temporary will always be that and the desires of the heart put into prayer does come true in more fantastical and mind-blowing ways than anticipated, I find new peace, to lie down in green pastures and beside the still waters, this walk through the valley of the shadow of death, will soon be over.

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Thursday, 1 October 2020

Nigeria, we hail thee at 60

A preamble

I left Nigeria for the last time, just after her 30th Independence Anniversary, now at her 60th, I wonder about how the country has changed, its leadership has delivered, and her people have prospered. Sadly, I do not have much to celebrate apart from the numbers of years, the promise has not been kept, the prospect remains distant, and the potential unrealised.

Yet, I return to the speech given on the day of independence because it still holds a possibility and vision, my affinity to Nigeria is strong even if I do not plan to visit in the near future. The least I can do with the fond memories of my childhood and youth and wish all Nigerians at home and abroad a happy diamond jubilee of independence.

Nigeria, we hail thee, our own dear native land.

Prime Minister Abubakar Tafawa-Balewa’s Independence Address to Nigerians

TODAY is Independence Day. The First of October 1960 is a date to which for two years every Nigerian has been eagerly looking forward. At last, our great day has arrived, and Nigeria is now indeed an independent sovereign nation.

Words cannot adequately express my joy and pride at being the Nigerian citizen privileged to accept from Her Royal Highness these Constitutional Instruments, which are the symbols of Nigeria's independence. It is a unique privilege, which I shall remember forever, and it gives me strength and courage as I dedicate my life to the service of our country.

This is a wonderful day, and it is all the more wonderful because we have awaited it with increasing impatience compelled to watch one country after another overtaking us on the road when we had so nearly reached our goal. But now we have acquired our rightful status and I feel sure that history will show that the building of our nation proceeded at the wisest pace: It has been thorough, and Nigeria now stands well built upon firm foundations.

Today's ceremony marks the culmination of a process, which began fifteen years ago and has now reached a happy and successful conclusion. It is with justifiable pride that we claim the achievement of our Independence to be unparalleled in the annals of history. Each step of our constitutional advance has been purposefully and peacefully planned with full and open consultation between representatives of all the various interests in Nigeria but in harmonious co-operation with the administering power, which has today relinquished its authority.

At the time when our constitutional development entered upon its final phase, the emphasis was largely upon self-government. We, the elected representatives of the people of Nigeria, concentrated on proving that we were fully capable of managing our own affairs both internally and as a nation.

However, we were not to be allowed the selfish luxury of focusing our own interest on our own homes. In these days of rapid communications, we cannot live in isolation, apart from the rest of the world, even if we wished to do so. All too soon, it has become evident that for us Independence implies a great deal more than self-government. This great country, which has now emerged without bitterness or bloodshed, finds that she must at once be ready to deal with grave international issues.

This fact has of recent months been unhappily emphasised by the startling events, which have occurred in this continent. I shall not labour the point, but it would be unrealistic not to draw attention first to the awe-inspiring task confronting us at the very start of our nationhood. When this day in October 1960 was chosen for our independence, it seemed that we were destined to move with quiet dignity to our place on the world stage.

Recent events have changed the scene beyond recognition. So that we find ourselves today being tested to the utmost, we are called upon immediately to show that our claims to responsible government are well-founded, and having been accepted as an independent state we must at once play an active part in maintaining the peace of the world and in preserving civilisation. I promise you, we shall not fail for want of determination.

And we come to this task better equipped than many. For this, I pay tribute to the manner in which successive British governments have gradually transferred the burden of responsibility to our shoulders. The assistance and unfailing encouragement, which we have received from each secretary of state for the colonies and their intense personal interest in our development, has immeasurably lightened that burden.

All our friends in the colonial office must today be proud of their handiwork and in the knowledge that they have helped to lay the foundations of a lasting friendship between our two nations. I have indeed every confidence that based on the happy experience of successful partnership; our future relations with the United Kingdom will be more cordial than ever, bound together, as we shall be in the Commonwealth, by a common allegiance to her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, whom today we proudly acclaim as Queen of Nigeria and Head of the Commonwealth.

Time will not permit the individual mention of all those friends, many of them Nigerians, whose selfless labour has contributed to our independence. Some have not lived to see the fulfilment of their hopes - on them be peace - but nevertheless they are remembered here, and the names of buildings and streets and roads and bridges throughout the country recall to our minds their achievements, some of them on a national scale. Other confined, perhaps, to a small area in one division, are more humble but of equal value in the sum total.

Today, we have with us representatives of those who have made Nigeria Representatives of the Regional governments, of former Central Governments, of the Missionary Societies, and of the banking and commercial enterprises, and members, both past and present, of the public service. We welcome you, and we rejoice that you have been able to come and share in our celebrations.

We wish that it could have been possible for all of those whom you represent to be here today. Many, I know, will be disappointed to be absent, but if they are listening to me now, I say to them: Thank you on behalf of my countrymen. Thank you for your devoted service, which helped to build up Nigeria into a nation. Today we are reaping the harvest, which you have sowed, and the quality of the harvest is equalled only by our gratitude to you. May God bless you all.

This is an occasion when our hearts are filled with conflicting emotions: we are, indeed, proud to have achieved our independence, and proud that our efforts should have contributed to this happy event. But do not mistake our pride for arrogance.

It is tempered by feelings of sincere gratitude to all who have shared in the task of developing Nigeria politically, socially, and economically. We are grateful to the British officers whom we have known, first as masters, and then as leaders, and finally as partners, but always as friends.

And there have been countless missionaries who have laboured unceasingly in the cause of education and to whom we owe many of our medical services. We are grateful also to those who have brought modern methods of banking and of commerce, and new industries. I wish to pay tribute to all of these people and to declare our everlasting admiration of their devotion to duty.

And finally, I must express our gratitude to her Royal Highness the Princess Alexandra of Kent for personally bringing to us these symbols of our freedom, and especially for delivering the gracious message from her Majesty, The Queen. And so, with God save our Queen, I open a new chapter in the history of Nigeria, and of the Commonwealth, and indeed of the world.

Courtesy of