Wednesday, 21 July 2021

Coronavirus streets in Manchester - XXXVII

The pandemic is over to some

Before it was midnight on what was termed Freedom Day, a nightclub already had its speakers booming shaking the walls of the venue to their foundations and anyone gyrating to the music on the long hard road to eardrum damage and deafness.

Out on my walk on Monday, I had gone so far away from home that I had to hail an Uber cab back home. Round the corner from my home was a long queue rounding the block of young revellers trying to gain entry into another club, very much like the pandemic never happened.

The pandemic is really not over

If anything, the dangers are still there, people are getting ill, even those who are double vaccinated, and they are ending up in hospital under mechanical ventilation. A close colleague of my boyfriend, though fully vaccinated and then contracting COVID-19 for the second time, passed on yesterday evening. May God rest her soul.

Whilst I have absented from the assemblages of crowds in the throes of pandemic amnesia, my visit to the local Sainsbury’s supermarket showed that the cautionary principle is essential vigilance. Most of the customers were wearing face masks, but the self-checkout tills and counters were all open rather than having alternate spaces closed off, we have reached the full abandonment of common sense in a pandemic. The staff for their own safety still wearing masks.

We lead again in infections

I can imagine there are places where reckless and wanton excess would be the order of the day, the freedom to socialise most likely becoming the dreaded super spreader that would result in a heretofore avoidable clampdown of self-same freedoms.

We are led by gamblers who have lost the advantage that a successful vaccination programme provided us just a few months ago to become the country with the highest daily rate of Coronavirus infections, yesterday, the false narrative about safety in vaccines is the slippery slope into an unmitigated disaster. We need to hear Boris Johnson say, hand on heart with full-throated conviction, “If you die, you die.” [Worldmeters.Info: Coronavirus]

The UK tops the list of new infections globally on 20/07/2021.

At least, we would really know what we are up against as everyone realises it is each person for themselves.

Tuesday, 20 July 2021

His acts betrayed, "If you die, you die."

Using old cow sense

Generally, one would not have time for Dominic Cummings, the once chief adviser to Prime Minister Boris Johnson on questions of character, integrity, honesty, or discretion. Yet, I must as I have learnt for a long time from a preacher of old, he wrote, “Have as much sense as an old cow, eat the hay and leave the bailing wire.”

What this nugget of wisdom has taught me is people who one would normally not like or entertain does not mean they do not have ideas, expressions, views, or opinions of things that one might find interesting. The person or personality might be unlikeable and odious, without redeeming factors, yet do not have to condemn outright, and completely ostracised from gaining one’s attention.

By their actions and words

You assess the viewpoint and by your determination decide in the information without necessarily making it about the person. It is for the same reason that I am interested in what Dominic Cummings has to say about how the government of Boris Johnson faced and handled the pandemic. He was in the room when the decisions were made. It is very likely that from what we know of Boris Johnson and some other sources, things can be corroborated too.

On the 12th of March 2020, Boris Johnson said, “I must level with you, level with the British public, more families, and many more families are going to lose loved ones before their time.” There is no other context that could be read into this than to say that he was of the mind that people should be sacrificed to the pandemic rather than act decisively to save lives.

Blog: Thought Picnic: The vulnerable to be martyred to the Coronavirus in the UK

They cared nothing for us

The snippet from Dominic Cummings’ interview suggests the Prime Minister was of the mind, the pandemic essentially killed those over 80, the parents, the grandparents, the great-grandparents and relations, in that age bracket, the loved ones that were expendable to keep the economy going. We were as we had known before to be Guineapigs in a quest for herd immunity in a time where there was no vaccine. To the vulnerable it was a heartless statement, “If you die, you die.” [BBC News: Covid: Boris Johnson resisted autumn lockdown as only over-80s dying - Dominic Cummings]

Everything the government has done seems to have followed this lodestar, the late lockdowns, the poor testing regimes, the gambling between options until there was no other option after which the virus had taken hold within communities.

Indeed, there will be much to learn from Dominic Cummings this evening, I just wonder if enough people would see how criminally negligent and culpable our government was in allowing the pandemic to cut a swathe of tragedy and death through the populace and how hollow their talking point of taking the "necessary action to protect lives and livelihoods, guided by the best scientific advice" is, because it was anything but that.

Monday, 19 July 2021

The dizzying policy pirouettes of Freedom Day

COVID has no respect

When the Health Secretary, Sajid Javid revealed Saturday that he had contracted COVID-19, it would have been easy to be uncharitable and consider it careless and reckless that within a month of taking on the role, he had become a victim of a situation he was supposed to help prevent the public from suffering. Yet, one must wish him a quick and speedy recovery.

If anything, it indicates glaringly that despite the vaccinations, no one is immune from being touched by the virus, even if you are the Health Secretary and as the pandemic is the most critical issue in our politics, it would hit the centre of government with the risk of crippling it.

Rules are for fools

As he had met the Prime Minister and the Chancellor very recently, the exorbitant Test and Trace app had pinged Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak respectively to self-isolate, they first indicated on Sunday that rather than self-isolate, they will participate in the pilot ‘workplace testing’ release programme that involved daily Coronavirus testing allowing them to remain at work, totally contrary to what they have required of the populace who were under severe risk of expensive and custodian sanctions if they breached quarantine rules.

In response to recriminations and protests, they soon reversed their decision, attempting to play it as being considerate of following the rules everyone else has been compelled to follow. Essentially, the government cannot admit they have been wrong even if it appears everything they do is as if done on a dare to see if they can get away with it.

Rudderless manoeuvring

The prompt U-turn would put a pirouetting ballerina into a dizzy spell, but nothing is beyond the incredulity of the Boris gang, they would create and foster embarrassment where it seems impossible, seize defeat from the jaws of victory like they lost the momentous advantage of the vaccination programme to return to infection levels last seen in January.

The questions the vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi could not answer this morning included where the Prime Minister was when he was pinged by the app before he decided to self-isolate at Checkers and how many other people in the corridors of power had taken advantage of the pilot scheme which had been in the system since around January. I do not think any of the vaccines had that stretch of testing and pilots.

Beware of these gangsters

If it were a pilot, you also had to ask when it would be rolled out to the wider public because it had become obvious that pilot was a euphemism of inducing one rule for them apart from the rules, we were supposed to obey.

In any case, on our supposed Freedom Day, the muddled message of masks, self-isolation, social distancing, travel restrictions and much else leaves us celebrating the height of confusion with the prospect of more pandemic carnage before things get better, if they ever do at the cack-handed ineptitude of this Boris gang.

Friday, 16 July 2021

Chicken Licken unsafe in Ejigbo

Ideas from mother

I do wonder if those who dare me to write about them on my blog are indirectly asking to be written about. The conversation is usually topical enough to find a few lines of interest. Whatever, the idea sown, until it is executed, it stands alone.

Like this morning, I called to chat to my mother, who answered her phone with strict formality, I had to say, this is your son calling. She was no doubt pranking me as we exchanged greetings and got a message to her that I should have done, a couple of days ago.

Chickens lost and found

During our conversation, we were interrupted by a neighbour who had apparently come round into her compound looking for their chicken, though, I did not ask if it was a cockerel or a hen. Whilst chickens do stray into neighbouring compounds, my mother said two of her chickens never returned home.

One would not want to suggest the neighbours have been chicken-napping, but chickens are intelligent enough to know their way back home except if by happenstance they have met an expected end at the hands of someone else. Chickens that free-range into my mother’s compound are safe from danger, and that is why neighbours can expect to collect their flock if they have strayed there.

There was Chicken Licken

This brought me to the idea of giving one’s poultry names, and though one cannot vouch for the mental capacity of the galline (adjective for chicken) flock to have individual identities, there might be possibilities therein.

It would ensure that when chickens wander off, they can be called by name, just as one would any of the canine kennel and have then cluck and chuck back home long before they are stewing in strange neighbouring pots. Honest neighbours matter, but hungry neighbours make chickens an endangered species.

Thursday, 15 July 2021

The UK: Protective avoidance is far better than disease survival

A careless regime

The government of Boris Johnson superintending over England as the fiefdom in which they can decide and determine action over the Coronavirus pandemic have concluded that on Monday, the 19th of July, they will absolve themselves of any responsibility for the people’s welfare and expect that we as individuals would decide how we live with the virus.

The number of new infections exceeded 42,000 people; a figure last breached on the 15th of January. Yet, the government is hellbent on removing all legal restrictions with the enforcements we once had, and moving to an optional free-for-all situation for anyone to act in whatever interest best serves them. [1]

A reckless principle

By making the wearing of face masks optional and just appealing to our presumably better nature to be considerate, they have lain open avenues of risk and concern for people who cannot for where they work or what they do expect protection except if the organisation, establishment, or company they represent decides to unilaterally impose safety restrictions.

The politicisation of mask-wearing as one of the presence or absence of freedom and autonomy is a most insidious poly of this government that has shepherded 128,593 souls to an early grave by their mishandling of this pandemic. Though, this does not seem to feature in their lessons learnt or avoidable mistakes, just as the third wave takes hold. [2]

Towards herd impunity

We can agree that government policy is careering towards a herd immunity strategy predicated on surviving a bout of the COVID-19 disease because the vaccinations make hospitalisation after contracting the disease quite unlikely. There are 729,701 people currently infected with 3,786 patients in hospital, of which 545, up 23 from yesterday are on medical ventilation. [1]

COVID-19 is a serious disease, of those who have survived it, some have acquired chronic conditions labelled long COVID and their stories purposefully indicate that survival is not what one should aim for, but that the virus, the symptoms, and the disease must never be contracted and totally avoided as much as is practicable regardless of your vaccine status.

For my own safety

Even though I am vaccinated and into the third month after taking both doses of the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine, I am not throwing caution to the winds, the protocols of safety will remain stridently adhered to. I will wear a face mask in public places and have one to hand even in places where they might not be necessary, for my own safety. I will avoid crowds, crowded places, closed places, and poorly ventilated environments as much as possible.

Social distancing still matters if I have no reason to be near you, anyone can be a vector of disease, it is better to be safe than sorry. Indeed, the washing of hands, the use of sanitisers will remain a thing of habit. I will sequester myself, if I do not need to be outside and social engagements can wait. We have to outlast this pandemic by sensible measures and consideration for ourselves and others. The time for freedom will come, it is not in 4 days’ time.

References

[1] Gov.UK: Coronavirus website

[2] WorldOMeter: Coronavirus – The UK

The UK: Funny if you believed today was COVID-19 Freedom Day

The UK: Protect yourselves against Boris' recklessness

Monday, 12 July 2021

A failing flycatcher

The fly is a spy

One of the nursery rhymes, if it were a rhyme in my childhood, was about the lady who swallowed a fly and then a spider, and many more predators to go after the each subsequent prey she ended up swallowing and for each ingestion, I bet she died, but she seemed to have more lives than a cat. [Wikipedia: There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly]

I have been trying to get at a fly, just one fly and it has been a menace. I do not intend to swallow the fly, but anything that can help me kill it would be a joy beyond measure. Last year, I bought an electronic fly swat racket and that was ambitious of me if I were to recognise my limitations.

Hand-eye mis-coordination

My parents took me for tennis lessons when I was 8 and I was completely useless at the game, I could not even hit the ball, much as my dad was an avid tennis player. Whilst I cannot say I was ever a sportsman, the main reason I could not hit the ball was because I had astigmatism, my right eye was not aligned for stereo vision, though it was not diagnosed until I was in my late 20s.

The lazy eye meant I could not track speed and distance, my awkward handling of the racket in trying to hit the ball was simply with funny eyes, my hand-eye coordination was off. At that age, something could have been done, like my wearing an eye-patch for a period of time to correct the alignment, but in my 20s, the best that could be done was to attempt a correction in the lenses of my glasses.

Not seeing too clearly

However, I was not suddenly going to be a tennis professional once I began to see as I was apparently supposed to see things. My brain had already programmed some compensation into having a dominant eye and I managed the rest by not risking life or limb crossing roads when I was not sure, though there was one time I did cross the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway at the Isolo flyover completely oblivious of the car speeding towards me, everyone screaming and I none the wiser until long after the event. It could have been the end of me.

This eyesight deficiency has also informed my decision not to drive because of the necessity of judging the speed of approaching vehicles and how fast the vehicle is closing the distance between us is one that could make me both a poor and dangerous driver. There is nothing I need to prove in that area, I will not be able to drive. My fly-swatting racket is a dud, not so much because it cannot swat flies, but because somehow, the fly also has a mind of its own, if I do get it, I might just play the lottery too.

Sunday, 11 July 2021

Better luck next time, England

I feel the pain of defeat

It was the summer of 2010, and I was on holiday from the Netherlands in Spain when the World Cup final taking place in South Africa became the focus of my day. I was in my Oranje (Orange) strip, found a friendly Dutch pub and gathered with fellow supporters to cheer our team.

Alas! The game did not go our way and I was marooned on an island of jollity, many of us Dutch visitors crestfallen and disappointed as the Spanish celebrated through the night. My lonely walk back to my hotel, a lesson in the cloak of defeat.

More expectation than presentation

Whilst I have been quite happy with the progress of England through the belated Euro 2020 tournament, I have tempered excitement with much realism. No game was won until the final whistle was blown, though I only watched the last 10 minutes between England and Germany, and we exorcised the demon on our backs.

In supporting Nigeria and England, the level of anxiety is just too high for me to watch a live match, for the semi-final and the final, I followed the match slightly distracted on the BBC live reporting text webpage, giving it a glance every few minutes and hoping for the best.

Better luck next time

If anything, I have never been caught or enamoured by football nationalism or jingoism, each game had to be played on the field in the heat of the moment by the team eking out a clear win or they are left at the mercy of penalty kicks in which we have had very little luck.

That England got to the final was a commendable surprise, but they were to meet a formidable opponent, the statistics of the game suggests Italy had the most possession for little reward. I dared wish there would be a celebratory outcome, but it would not have mattered apart from my joining in the euphoria of the many.

There would be analyses and commentary regarding England’s performance, but the game is over. There are aspects of managerial leadership that should be up for learning lessons, Gareth Southgate, did a good job of preparing the team for the challenges they faced. I literally sat this tournament out like my 7-month self in 1966 when we won the World Cup. Better luck next time.

We are social beings

Companionship always matters

I was watching a nature programme some years ago where a silverback gorilla had been fought and defeated that he had to leave his troop of gorillas. Within weeks the condition and state of the silverback had deteriorated, he was emaciated not because he was not eating, but because the loss of company, companionship, interaction, grooming and society had a radically detrimental effect on him, he was depressed and could most likely die soon after.

Then, I remember an event where some members of my family piled on me for not keeping in communication, all with the inkling that I was getting on with my life with no concern for them. Nothing could be further from the truth, I was alone and lonely whilst being expected to shoulder issues that should and could be resolved between people who see each other daily at home, but the mistaken belief that from abroad I could manage things was to absent themselves from the power of power and importance of human proximity.

The hard distant circumstances

Much as we can be social beings, we can also be hermits by choice or through circumstances beyond our control. We all need intimacy of a sort that is not available to all, but we cope with the situation we are in until opportunities come. I find that it strange that people still make no effective use of human interaction where the proximity exists. Invariably, we find scope for ignoring that benefit which for others is a luxury.

We treat those near with contempt because we feel those who are distant can fill in for that sense of community forgetting that many of those far away do not have that resource. We may not deteriorate like the silverback gorilla, but the need for companionship and intimacy cannot be insignificant.

Use proximity better

If only some of us did not have to be alone and find some social setting to feel just simply human, for we are not boundless in strength and capacity even if we appear to be so. We are vulnerable and sometimes envious of the community that others fail to appreciate.

It goes without saying that those who have friends and family around to see, to touch, to interact with and to find that social animal expression should exploit it better, if they can. If with proximity you cannot find your best humanity, how really can you do much more at a distance? In the same vein, have in mind that many do not have that situation, do not stress them with demands they can hardly meet.

Thursday, 8 July 2021

Thought Picnic: Laying bricks of course

As the hours count

The day ebbs and flows with the feeling that I am watching the waves by the seashore. Every moment is a state of meditative contemplation of how each passing minute that mounts into hours might have been usefully lived.

Then there are times when the quiet, the idle and the void of nothingness feels cavernous enough to swallow you in dispirited awakening, you ask whether a better day is possible, even as you arrest yourself from despair.

Slowly getting there

Methodically and sometimes painfully so, I direct my concentration to things I need knowledge of. Things of which practice is needed to gain expertise and dexterity with good recall towards informed comment and I am surprised that slow but steady progress made.

Between reading, striving through curiosity and discovery, and watching courses played back on my television, the building blocks of knowledge with insight are being laid. Just something said and many other things begin to make sense. Handwritten notes and typed out comments on OneNote become the compendium the art and science of my profession.

I guess the most important thing on my mind is not work, it is life, love, and Brian.

Wednesday, 7 July 2021

To Brian, my special one

For a man so special

If I ever had a wish, it would not be to just write something but to be right there with Brian celebrating him on his special day. It is the third birthday since we met, as I have the sheer luck of being a yuletide baby, he gathers all the numbers in the mid-winter of his hemisphere, it is another July of us being apart.

Yet, as we plan and desire, things would come good eventually, that each special day would be spent in each other’s company, for he is a companion like no other to me. I fell in love with him when I thought there was no more love to experience in life but to trundle along.

The fact is our lives have been intertwined from long before our encounter, in the person of a mutual friend that had passed on years before. A glow came over me and a calmness enveloped my being, I found love in the strangest place and the person that embodies love is the most extraordinary personality.

Words would never suffice, I just know that I have been blessed with beauty, kindness, caring, love, hope, and a brilliant future with Brian. I wish him a most wonderful birthday, all the very best in life, boundless joy and happiness, and every good thing.

Brian, you mean everything to me, to have you as my partner is better than wildest fairy tale ever told. Happy Birthday! My love.


Monday, 5 July 2021

The UK: Protect yourselves against Boris' recklessness

It is out of control

The level of recklessness and incompetence that has greeted the government of Boris Johnson in the handling of the pandemic in England has been beyond the pale.

Having another look at the ignominious Coronavirus league tables, the United Kingdom comes in at third globally behind India and Indonesia in the number of new cases, and still ahead of its European neighbours in total deaths and at 7th globally. [Worldmeters.info: Coronavirus]

The fact that the United Kingdom is ahead of its European neighbours in the vaccinations stakes has been squandered on allowing the Delta variant to run rampant in the country that we now have the highest infection rate of any industrialised country in the world. Nothing but incompetence and ineptitude could have allowed this to happen.

The vaccine talisman is lost

With the increasing trend of infections, the government with its penchant for running headlong into obvious disaster with far-reaching consequences is in full throttle. The Prime Minister announced today that most Covid restriction rules will be lifted on the premise that the vaccination drive is going so well. It makes one wonder how then with the vaccination we still have such a high number of new cases. [BBC News: Covid: Most rules set to end in England, says PM]

For instance, I was out at Primark for a cheap thrill on Saturday and more than 50% of the customers in the queue either did not have face masks on or the masks were worn like chin stirrups. This is in a city with literally the highest prevalence of new infections. People might be thinking having escape the scourge of COVID-19 they are invincible and untouchable, those who have had it and survived will tell a different story – you don’t want to catch this thing.

The other day, it was allowing apparently important people into the UK without restrictions or quarantining measures. The UEFA officials and their entourage have full fiat to come and leave at will. A minister even suggested important people are exempt from checks, in what might have looked like a Mosaic Passover of the Exodus times. The pall of the Coronavirus avowing, “If I see your importance and your entourage, I will pass over you.”

Masked lives matter

The question of masks has become unreasonably political, even the officials will not be categorical about the use of masks but devolving that to personal responsibility and common sense, this considering under strictures the virus gained footholds, at freewill, the thought of what might result is terrifying at best. Everyone knows, the virus is NOT under control, the new cases show it, the death roll confirms it.

This is my situation, I am in a vulnerable cohort, I cannot afford to be careless and reckless with my wellbeing. I will avoid crowds, closed places and improperly ventilated places. In public places and on transport services, I will wear my mask for my protection first because the Coronavirus must not be trifled with. Whilst masks can be uncomfortable, I wear a strap that takes the strain off my ear lobes and have a muzzle or guard over my nose and mouth to keep the mask from pressing on my face.

I would rather the discomfort of a mask that expose myself to the possible contracting of the Coronavirus. I can live with having a mask on, the idea of living with an out of control virus does not bear thinking off. For all the good intentions of reviving the battered economy after the impact of this pandemic, the more the people are in fear of the virus, the less bold they would be to dare getting infected apart from the foolhardy amongst us.

Protect yourself against the government

The mask is not a sign of the loss of freedom, it allows the freedom to do things with due consideration of the fact that there is trouble and danger unseen out there. That anyone would think personal protection is for wimps beggars belief, or they just have a masochistically breathless death wish. You never can tell.

Regardless of the number jabs you get like an opponent of Muhammed Ali, we know that vaccines are not enough and every like thing we can do to keep ourselves out of the statistics and memorials of COVID-19 would give us opportunity and hope to put this pandemic behind us. The government does not care, we are left to care enough for ourselves and that is the smart ticket around here.

The patience medication might not work

A walk of patience

Getting somewhere takes time and deciding to walk there when there are other means to travel faster or possibly safely is a test of patience, I determined to teach myself with the hope it might be beneficial.

Then, I consider the fact that I could be quite impatient, my capacity for endurance gets tested in many ways for which I should muster a lot to contain reactions I would rather not express. In the things that I have been fully persuaded of people or things, I can find a lot more to give whilst expecting little or nothing in return. My heart is in it.

Doing what I won’t

Yet, there are things that I would rather not do, things that have brought remonstration and reticence usually well-expressed but poorly received. My interest is forced, my engagement is coerced, and my patience is too easily exhausted. I rarely wait around to exercised, for my sanity, those chapters find closure long before they are fully written for others, but beyond completed for me.

With one who shares filial piety, that has been my regret. For to be who they could be seems to elude their availability. Too many have called me into situations I would rather not find involvement and when I did, I was quite disappointed. My anger I have contained, the harshest words have been in the phraseology of business-like formality, no excoriation or condemnation, just displeasure with a withdrawal somewhat recondite.

No seconds on minutes

Time is another factor for which my patience is quickly worn, whilst I do not watch my watch with addictive distraction, the use of time and the purposeful adherence to it being kept or where it might slip, communication exists, cannot be overstated. I then must understand that many are not conditioned to timeliness to the extent that one is punctilious.

When I think about it, I might have to admit that I am an in-patient taking treatment in a patient ward. The cure for elements of chronic impatience is being administered in ways no one is sure will produce the expected result. It is in progress, a work of hope and yearning.

Friday, 2 July 2021

Coronavirus streets in Manchester - XXXVI

Students of escapism

This time last year, the cars were arriving to drop students off at their accommodations to resume at university, it was a pandemic disaster for them in so many ways. The cars have now returned to take the students back home. The holiday season is now upon us.

One student, a lady probably on a dare took was about to go for a ride with her friend. They hired the hostel bicycles and the first rode away whilst the one I observed needed a different kind of dexterity to have a riding start on a bicycle uphill. She was unsuccessful, that she wheeled the bicycle up to flatter and more level ground.

Signs of a lie

Further on, it was a deceptive fig tree moment as I saw a large shopfront sign that suggested Caribbean and West African foods and goods. Out of curiosity, I crossed the road, donned my mask and pushed at the door, it was locked. Soon, an Asian lady came to the door, it was locked because she had to go to the toilet.

Obviously, I told her why I had come to the shop, and she immediately said there was none of that fare in the shop, the sign had to come down. How I suppressed the Jesus anger in me not to curse like he did the fig tree that appeared to be quite leafy but without fruit eludes me, I did not even take umbrage at having wasted my time, I brought drinks before leaving. [Bible Gateway: Mark 11: 12-15]

That sign however should have come down a long time ago. Stepping out, I faced a Caribbean street food truck with jerk chicken and all that. I cannot say it is suited to my palate.

And I laughed like Sarah

A diversion from destination

About coincidences, I would err on the side of the uncanny, or what would I attribute an encounter I had this evening to? My walk was to take me all the way to River Mersey and Chorlton Water Park, just about 9 kilometres in all until I came to a standstill where the police and fire engines had sealed off the main road that I had to take a detour.

When I first started my walks almost a year ago, I did circuits around Alexandra Park, that it came to mind, when I returned home to pick up a notepad and pen, was interesting, but it was not my direction of travel. As it transpired, my detour led to Alexandra Park and walked into the park and took a seat on a bench.

A nod and a greeting

I made a few phone calls and played a couple of Sudoku games on my mobile phone before I got up to return home, first needing to dispose of some litter in a bin. To my left as I walked up the wide path, an older black man nodded in acknowledgement towards me before I answered back and then he suggested he might have met me somewhere. I could not say.

He asked if I was Nigerian, I responded my parents were and he volunteered he was Nigerian, from the West, from Abeokuta. I had visited Abeokuta twice as my father used to work at a brewery that had offices there. One of those visits allowed a tour of Olumo Rock.

I laughed like Sarah

Typically, he asked if I had a wife to which I answered I have not been blessed with that kind of companionship and I have learnt to be content with the situation I am in. It was at that point that he averred that to God nothing is impossible. I intoned, he made me laugh like Sarah. This referring to a biblical story where Sarah the childless wife of the patriarch Abraham was promised a child in her old age within the year. She laughed at the incredulity of it, she did eventually give birth to Isaac. [BibleHub: Genesis 18:12]

The conversation continued, on the theme of the omnipotence of God with verses from Jeremiah, the Psalms, the book of Job, and the epistle of Paul to the Ephesians. This was interspersed with testimonies of success, inspiration, and ideas for progress in his life.

He had many stories

He was a career soldier who diversified into poultry business, suffered a failed first marriage yet got introduced to his second wife by his first and through his new wife’s British citizenship, he shuttles between Nigeria and the United Kingdom, pastoring a church in both countries. His repartee was engaging whilst serious and meaningful too. A good deal of it was in Yoruba.

I am wary of being proselytised and avoid the prospect of ritual, I have done too many from childhood into adolescence, but much of what he shared would be useful for meditation and consideration. We ended with a moment of prayer before asked to show me his wife’s store on the main road and after walking together a few hundred yards, he veered off towards his home as I did mine.

To laugh like Sarah

To laugh like Sarah is not so much an expression of disbelief but one measures a current situation against a promised outcome that literally seems impossible, yet, it is put in the scheme of things as possible, if you dare to consider it. To laugh like Sarah is to prepare yourself for something good, something long longed for that you might have now given up on it. To laugh like Sarah is to begin to write a different story in anticipation of the transformation from the ordinary into the extraordinary.

To banish all my fears and realise my hopes with my wildest dreams coming into a reality I could not begin to imagine. There will be much to laugh about, the laughter of joy, the laughter of goodness, the laughter of the miraculous, the laughter of gratitude. We can all begin to laugh like Sarah when we are told what we thought can never be is just about to happen. I am laughing like Sarah.

Wednesday, 30 June 2021

Singing to child wish lusts

Pastoral indulgences

In a spurt of scandalously sacrilegious inspiration, I read a tweet earlier that gave sprite to a poem written to the tune of the Christmas Carol - O Come All Ye Faithful.

“Pastor Divorces Wife, Marries Choir Mistress And Opens New Church Branch For Her In Delta.” [Sahara Reporters]

So many themes to pick apart here, the pastor obviously abandoned his marital vows and began an affair with the choir mistress whose melodious talents within the choir made her a suitable mistress to the available and fully tempted amenable pastor, who yielding to his lusts jettisoned his wife for her.

Then by unction or more that we may not know, he generously gave the gift of ministry to his old mistress - new wife who probably will pastor the new boudoir for to call the meeting place a church might be blasphemous even from the most liberal viewpoint.

The evidence of slime

Upon further research, Prophet Evidence Chikason had been consumed of a Henry VIII complex, his third child by his wife Praise Chikason was not the expected boy, as if it is primarily the function of the woman to determine and choose the sex of the child. He took the hand of Helen with whom he had been having an affair and ordained her resident pastor of the new boudoir.

Ex-wife meanwhile apparently performs signs and wonders with holy water merchandise to boot, much of this would have been the stuff of a Nollywood script, but life in Nigeria could be more realistic than the art that imitates it.

The poem

Sing choirs of adultery,
Sing indecent liaisons,
Sing all ye mistresses,
Of heathens in lust.
Just can't behold it,
Living in sin and debauchery.
It is a shocking story,
It is a tale of reprobates,
It is the news of pastors,
Who can't zip it up.

As I was saying

Order to the chaos

There is much to be thankful for, the uncertainties that greeted the beginning of this month eventually found a useful and beneficial resolution. Back into the mix of things that have hardly changed from when we left, one can only hope that opportunity will come to do much more.

As my desires fluctuated between offers that did not represent the newness of things required, the greatest support through times when days passed listlessly away with little to review of what might have been achieved came from Brian. His inimitable self-deprecation usually unaware of how central he is to my sense of purpose and being.

Doing the undoing

Then again, the month has been lazy if not uneventful, the furthest I had been from home was on my walk to Chorlton Water Park some 9 kilometres away which included a 2-kilometre walk by the River Mersey. The promise I tacitly made to get out a bit more undone by occasional restlessness.

The most productive time was on my test lab, slow and painstakingly, I wandered like a sloth with very little deliberation. My notes might suggest I got more done than I give myself credit for.

Significantly the other

June is assigned the Pride month even though the Pride marches I used to attend would have been in Berlin in July and outside my door in Manchester at the end of August. Berlin, I have not visited for 3 years already, and Manchester presents discovery and the mundane in equal measure, the pandemic still affecting us more than anywhere else in England.

One constant has been Brian, his voice, his smile, his sweetest messages that characterise amazing inspiration and talent I aspire to. To love with a love that dares speak its name and feel that no one else can begin to fill that sense of belonging and companionship is wonderful. The answer to the many questions is Yes and yes, I am happy too. Thank you.

Monday, 28 June 2021

On the faith of my fathers

Of mixed religious heritage

Something excites me about the notion of the return to the faith of my fathers even though fathers in the plural would hardly be the word to use with regards to generational providence as my grandfathers were quite interesting and radically independent persons.

My paternal grandfather was Muslim, and that heritage goes down the line as many of his relations from the town he originated from were mainly Muslim. Of my maternal grandfather who predeceased my birth by almost 5 years I have only recently been learning of, he was essentially Christian, literate, royal, and an anglophile that he was more commonly known by his very English nickname.

Impactful influences

Then my paternal grandfather married my Christian grandmother and together they had children split down the middle as Christian and Muslim; with my father, the first choosing to be Christian, my uncle, the other male of his siblings was a lifelong Muslim.

I think my great-grandmother’s family on my paternal grandmother’s side probably had an overbearing influence on my father’s childhood and development, she, my great-grandmother and her brother, my great-uncle seemed to have decided together my father will be educated in Western ways to the extent they were able to sponsor and encourage.

Each to their beliefs

In any case, having made the rounds of many Christian denominations and beliefs, I have settled into the Anglican faith of my childhood, at least, for some time, it was where my parents seemed to have some agreement and put up an appearance even if they were eventually persuaded of other things.

Upon review, it appears a majority of the grandchildren have adopted the Christian faith apart from what their parents believed and have chosen names that no longer belie their original Muslim allegiance, I am left literally not recognising who they are now.

A grandfather’s example

It goes to show that each person in their individuality would determine what belief system they would follow, the kind of purposeful individuality that set my paternal grandfather as probably the most moderate Muslim I have ever known because he was amazingly pragmatic and deferential to the choices others made without imposing his views even in the names he gifted his grandchildren.

Each Sunday I attend church in the Anglican Communion, here in Manchester or when in Cape Town, I am caught in awesome wonder, the ritual, the traditions, the ceremony, the uniformity, the congregational setting, all of that suits me well.

Now, I seek to exercise the kind of pragmatism of my paternal grandfather, accepting that the way people believe is essentially theirs to choose and should be respected without interference or a pretended audacity to proselytization, with one caveat; cults are untenable, where freewill and agency is under threat, it must be challenged on all fronts completely without relenting.

Sunday, 27 June 2021

Accountability for naught

Coming to bury Caesar

It would be easy to mock Matt Hancock but there is much more for which he should be justifiably excoriated. His resignation yesterday came as a surprise to many of us and like I had indicated before, that would not suddenly mean integrity has found some exposure in Boris Johnson’s government, Matt Hancock’s position just became increasingly untenable, there was no other option than for him to resign.

In my view, Matt Hancock’s tenure as the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care was marked by abject failure damningly exposed by the pandemic from the poor PPE provision, the lack of adequate testing, the seeding of care homes with infected discharged persons from the hospitals, the failed and exorbitant track and trace system, the multiple waves of infections all resulting in the highest deaths from the COVID-19 in Europe.

Torched by a fling

If there is any commendation to be given, it is that the NHS was allowed to run the vaccination programme rather than farm it out to friends of the Tories. Yet, none of those failings in office were enough to hold Matt Hancock to account until he was caught in a clinch. Something is wrong with our systems of accountability in public office if peccadillos matter more than performance.

Matt Hancock’s situation is maybe a personal human tragedy of the absence of self-control with far-reaching ramifications that cannot in any way begin to compensate for his professional failings and political misjudgement, his wife apparently is not available to stand by her man and play the doting Tory wife.

And so he got away

He is ensconced in their constituency home in what suggests the end of their marriage. The other lady who got squeezed and snuggled, has resigned from the posting that gave them proximity in his office and one can only wonder what story would result from this sordid saga.

There is no more to add to this tale than to feel Matt Hancock has escaped essential scrutiny for monumental catastrophe on his watch, he according to his boss, Boris Johnson “fucking hopeless” and Boris might have said that whilst he was shaving too.

Thoughts of love distant

Out of my funk

A sense of feeling a bit low and every attempt to cheer myself up looking for something that will lift me out of my funk. It is quite strange that I am in a relationship, a really meaningful one but we are not together because we usually rendezvous in South Africa and this pandemic keeps us apart.

Since we were last together the residual effects of the elixir of our meeting has depleted, we could do with a reunion again. Whilst they say absence makes the heart grow fonder, presence does make the heart glow with wonder. I guess what keeps us going is hope and expectation, we are closer now to our next tryst than when we said our goodbyes.

Meanwhile, I rest in the comfort of the messages we regularly exchange buoying up each other in the expression of love and care that we have. For that, I can both be thankful and grateful as I pray for and dream of the wonder of not-too-distant time ahead.

Friday, 25 June 2021

Character in Amsterdam

Absent from presence

Amsterdam, and what comes to mind is the Red-Light District and coffee shops, to the initiated, the former refers to legalised sex trade and the latter to easy access marijuana. There is a likelihood that people would visit Amsterdam to observe and experience that part of the city which is hardly the full story of a city of culture, architecture, music, and amazing diversity.

Fundamentally, Amsterdam residents do not spend their lives in sex shops or getting stoned, there is more to life than that and I lived in Amsterdam for almost 13 years. Now, I appreciate that when I first moved to Amsterdam, many of my colleagues did get carried away with the fun at the expense of their purpose for being there, once the novelty wore out, many had exhausted the goodwill of their sojourn.

Some of us knowing what was available chose not to be amenable to the vicissitudes of lasciviousness, regularly invited we did not participate even if we had the freedom and latitude to indulge with reckless abandon.

Damned either way?

We must however separate the place from the person, that a person visits a place should not mean the person defaults to the reputation of the place in its notoriety. People have discipline, character, and purpose, in the midst of great temptation, people do have the resolve to resist and not succumb just because the opportunity and possibility presents.

In the same vein, there is a need to know the difference between the person and the place by reputation. Knowing the person and trusting what the person will do especially unsupervised is to ascribe a modicum of integrity on the person. The person might be given to mischief and yet be quite honourable and full of consideration for others. Then by reputation, Amsterdam can be a crazy place; damned if you do, more damned if you don’t.

The dreadful life of a Tory wife

Temptation is a full platter

To one of my closest friends, I would usually say, we all have needs. The fact that we forget that we are human with all our inadequacies and frailties is sometimes evident in the way we judge or prejudge others. Now, I am not advocating a race to the bottom of moral rectitude and the absence of integrity, but there is a reason why in the Lord’s Prayer, there is a line, ‘Lead us not into temptation.’

Temptation is always there as an easy distraction from what we should be doing. We are prone and primed to yield to temptation but for other factors of self-awareness, discipline, the consideration of others in needing to be careful rather than carefree and careless.

Men in power with the trappings of it are sometimes insulated from scrutiny in what they are allowed or what they think they can get away with. Audacity and hypocrisy are stock in trade of the people who lead our country today.

The examples of sleaze

There is no virtue they have not overturned with impunity as they forget that power is transient, it is their time now, it will pass. Pass into history and on the coattails, I fear of ignominy.

Affairs and adultery used to be untenable with regards to those holding high office, but we now have a permissiveness that has no moral guardrails, ministers lie with no pang of conscience, they fulminate on the acts of others with a complete lack of reflection on themselves. It is really one rule for them and another for us. We are to do as they intend and say, but we must never hold them accountable for their example, for they have none to show.

On the matter of the Secretary of State for Health having an affair, even if he consequently resigns it would not be a turning point towards a course of integrity in Boris Johnson’s cabinet, because the Prime Minister himself is not of the standing where he can honestly demand a resignation. Meanwhile, one can only wonder at the unfortunate public spectacle on the women involved, the lady in the affair and the dreadful Tory life or a Tory wife.

Wednesday, 23 June 2021

A Black Englishman? He laughed

An Englishman he is

He scoffed on the verge of derision; the thought of a black Englishman of Nigerian heritage was beyond him, 'How is that remotely possible?' He remonstrated. A docket for which he could not find a pigeonhole as the more common black British of Nigerian heritage would have gone down better with him.

Obviously, I was being asked to follow him down the classification of Black British, which broadly, I might be, but particularly, I am not. Great Britain comprises the three nations of England, Scotland, and Wales. The identities being English, Scottish, and Welsh, the United Kingdom is of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Whilst I can understand there are elements tending to hijack the English identity for nationalist purposes, what we cannot allow is for them to rob us of how we choose to identify just because some have deployed that identity to nefarious ends.

An Englishman I am

That I identify as an Englishman is quite fundamental by reason of birth and with an appreciation that the British influences that moderate my sense of being are exclusively English and quite different from if I were born and bred in Scotland or Wales.

I became acutely aware of this when I lived in the Netherlands and between the question of where I was originally from and what my heritage was, people still found it difficult to understand that in the last century or so, with much travel, immigration, emigration and settlement, the question of identity is rarely fixed by parenthood alone, the congenital elements notwithstanding, the rest can be so radically different from your forebears.

And a black man too

Living in Nigeria, I looked like everyone else until I began to speak, as my accent was not typically local. It set me apart in advantageous and sometimes disadvantageous ways, what they call a British accent is anything but, accents are regional, and they can also be influenced by teaching and conditioning; that mine became a smorgasbord of Black Country in the West Midlands, a bit of Received Pronunciation in school and Nigerian hearing, it has become literally nondescript whilst tending to an accent you might hear in England than anywhere else.

I now find that depending on where I am certain aspects of identity projection breakout more than others. My being black has never been in dispute though I could remember the shock of arriving in Nigeria to see that there were more black people than white people, until then, I knew a different world, but that sojourn in Nigerian solidified my black identity, I am comfortable in my own skin.

European to the core

Returning to England, there was a time of adjustment, whilst I was fully aware that I had every right by birth and by the law to live and work here. However, my sense of identity was in flux, I was in a phase of just being Black British until I found that I could be broadly European too and with that, I emigrated to the Netherlands, and there, I was an expatriate rather than an immigrant; an Englishman abroad. Funny, the issue of identification tags.

I guess the dominant side of my European identity came to the fore when I went to South Africa, even though the complexities of racial identity still bedevil interactions, you begin to see the intersections of identity and propriety in how where you are, what you do, how you speak, and so on puts you in the system whilst setting you apart again. That I can understand Afrikaans and nothing of Zulu leaves people questioning and a long story if I could be bothered. Yet, I have felt more European when in South Africa than anything else.

I identify as my identity

Now, where were we? I am a black Englishman of Nigerian heritage; I think that portrays a keen sense of identity with a lot of detail and no need for extraneous justification. That one chooses to identify as such is one’s prerogative and whatever anyone thinks about it is totally irrelevant.

Yes, I always tick the ethnicity box of Black Other or write in Black English. I am sure the Scots or the Welsh would take umbrage at being classed as broadly British when they have a keen sense of their primarily national identities, why does it have to be different when you are Black or any other colour for that matter?

Monday, 21 June 2021

The dead hand of bureaucracy

Agency is supreme

If there is anything a free agent as I can desire is that one never loses agency, the need outside the machinations of systems put in place to implement processes with no consideration of the people affected.

Incensed does not begin to describe the sense of unjust and atrocious manipulation one has been subjected to whilst apparatchiks go about ticking boxes, dotting their I’s and crossing their T’s, ensuring the P’s and Q’s are just right, aligning forms to readers and auditors whose main purpose is to see to the rules being followed as an embodiment of mendacious misrule.

One has suffered

How my person has been abused, the man in the middle trying to manage expectations completely oblivious of the indignities suffered at the hands of mindless bureaucracies seeking relevance where common sense has deserted the fray. Whilst one cannot say it has been intentional, the consequence has been no less demeaning, one’s interest in the project is now barely there but for the genuinely nice people we once called colleagues.

In all the toing and froing, it has been impossible to plan anything and in the process, a month has passed in what was supposed to be an interregnum of not more than a week. In my heart of hearts, finding something else would be the better part of the story. No one, I mean, no one, should be subjected to this sham of a system pretending to ensure everything is in order.

References

Blog - The auction of grey matter is open

Blog - Sitting here in limbo

Blog - Like pawns in the game of spaghetti red tape

The UK: Funny if you believed today was COVID-19 Freedom Day

A promise they couldn’t keep

Lest we forget, today, the 21st of June 2021 was supposed to be our Freedom Day, the day when all lockdown restrictions would be fully eased, and we can return to a new normalcy according to Prime Minister Boris Johnson. This was announced as part of a roadmap published on the 22nd of February and I had no confidence in the expectation that this government could pull it off.

Blog: A roadmap of potholes

This was two days before I took my first Pfizer / BioNTech jab and whilst we were ahead of Europe by a long mile in the vaccination stakes, the idea that the vaccine would be a talisman or a panacea to the rampaging effects of the pandemic in the UK was a farfetched as it could ever be. The greater pandemic afflicting us is government hubris, policy inertia, prime ministerial indecision and executive incompetence.

Everyone but the one

The breakdown of order that is redolent of this government ably and valiantly snatching defeat from the jaws of victory started from the end of March when a variant first discovered in India, now referred to as the Delta variant was one of concern. By the 2nd of April, it was concerning enough for the UK Government to immediately put the neighbouring countries to India of Pakistan and Bangladesh on the red list of countries requiring a mandatory 10-day assigned hotel quarantine, but leave India off where the virus was festering at rates higher than the red list countries.

With pernicious Brexit thinking in the fray, Boris Johnson was planning to visit India to negotiate a trade deal and hoping not to annoy Narendra Modi, the Indian leader, our government inadvertently, if not deliberately and carelessly, allowed traffic from the Indian subcontinent whilst he vacillated for weeks on whether the trip was possible whilst affirming there was nothing that indicated Freedom Day should shift.

Come on in with variants

It was not until the 19th of April, after the impending trip to India was cancelled that India was put on the red list of countries with a 4-day notice before the enforcement of the assigned hotel quarantine requirement. In which time, there were 20,000 arrivals from India with no scrutiny of their status or conditions, some of whom might have contracted the Delta variant prior to arrival and seeded community transmission that it ranks as the most prevalent infection in the UK today.

Obviously, as this government is wont to do, they will accept no responsibility for this debacle, but it is not oblivious to neighbouring countries that this matter has been badly handled that the UK is on the red list of some countries and Scotland has banned travel from Manchester or Salford which apparently now boasts one of the highest Delta variant infection rates in the country. [BBC News: Covid: Manchester-Scotland travel ban comes into force]

Well done for 4 weeks more

Anyway, this is what informed the government to shift Freedom Day back another 4 weeks to the 19th of July and going by this government’s record, I will believe it when it happens, because their penchant for bungling with bombast for excuses can never desert them. They have credit and accolades for that ability to lie barefaced with no sense of embarrassment and utter lack of shame. They are reprobate to the core and their maleficence has cost many lives.

In the numbers game, whist we have moved down to 7th in the death rate from the pandemic, and apart from Russia that straddles Europe and Asia, we are still ahead of our erstwhile EU partners even though they caught the waves first and are still behind in the vaccination stakes. It should be obvious to anyone by now that the excuse for this situation being unprecedented is weak, all countries faced the same pandemic, some just handled it better especially in saving human lives. [Worldometers.info: Coronavirus]

Abandon hope with this lot

We instead trying to save the NHS and lose people in the devastating spread of the virus in care homes, and whilst we needed to save or store up NHS capacity to handle infections, the focus should always, always have been on people and not institutions with vacuous slogans deployed to distract us from pertinent matters.

For how much longer we can endure this murderous cabal in government, I cannot tell, but let history note that at the time of our greatest existential crisis this century, we are cursed with the most incompetent hands to ever hold power in the UK. I dare say, we are in the unconscionable grip of a mendacious kakistocracy. It is scary if it were not damningly so true.

Blog: The UK: On easing the lockdown, we're being taken for fools again