Tuesday, 11 May 2021

Dreamscape: Flying out to places

Fishing for dreams

Dreams can be an outlet valve of unresolved conflicts and bothersome conundrums. It is one of those things that filters through the gills of my mind as I sleep from which I get some oxygen of inspiration or the carbon monoxide of distress.

Strangely, I choose a piscine analogy in a watery existence considering I cannot swim. This is something others approach with ease that I am yet to develop any skill for. On the matter of ease, it is dreams where the easy becomes insurmountable or impossible, frustrated by thinking, people, events, or situations, sometimes working in concert.

Beyond your self

Such one strives to forget lest the concept takes any root and begins to impact the order of things. Yet, dreams can change you, in some settings your agility is legendary and superhuman, you can fly as long as you are far from those who think you might be a witch rather than challenge their lack of imagination.

Elsewhere, you are galumphing and hesitant, tardy and infirm, lacking in strength and resolve, contrary to what you know you can do. I want to believe the hard is resolved therein and in waking up, you are beyond it, that phase ending for something new to happen. You just lost 2 hours of sleep after that.

Monday, 10 May 2021

The auction of grey matter is open

Matters concerning

Let me see, we have a situation where a contractual engagement is up for renewal and that is a good thing for the prospect was incumbency put the principals ahead of the game, or that is the sweet talk that had presaged the circumstance.

On review, an extension was granted to allow for the formalities of the renewal be engaged from first principles as the whole assignment is now out to tender. The bland assurances that went before has now pitted the incumbents against 4 other rivals who might be bidding at different rates with a redefinition of the roles involved.

Markets in churn

Invariably, the agency now has to calibrate their bid competitively with a sweetener to keep the incumbents interested having dealt them a rather bad hand. The encumbrance is unnecessary, and the terms are hardly as favourable as obtains at present. Having only 3 weeks to go with this new development, the marketplace might be a better option than to continue in drudgery.

Marketing literature updated, profiles refined, and old contacts visited for possibilities. There is a pretence that the incumbents are being done a favour. Nothing could be further from the stark reality, that suitors are plenty and options abound, it is a chooser’s bazaar, bring your bids and get to use our brains. Miffed does not begin to convey displeasure, just push against an open door.

Taking a stand against religious abuse

Of parental example

Both my parents are religious, along with other belief systems they have that has informed my miseducation and re-education hoping to jettison the holds of superstition and irrational thought whilst adhering to a pragmatic perspective of things.

Of that exposure, my apparent proficiency in Yoruba that is my parents’ mother tongue comes from being coerced into reading the Psalms in Yoruba into drinking and ablution waters almost as a ritualistic practice advocated by my mother, in case of my father, it is my affinity to the established church, the Church of England; I find my expressive spirituality in Anglicanism.

My service is over

He once told me a story of attending a church service that appeared to be extending into an interminably long activity of discomfort and endurance that after 90 minutes, he got up to leave. The president probably attempting to embarrass my father called out to ask where he was going. He responded, “My service is over.” And left.

The need for us to stand up to religious abuse and so-called religious leaders taking liberties without being answerable or accountable to anyone but deities cannot be overemphasised, it engenders cults and and creates cults of personality that then distract from core religious principles.

I am gone, gone, gone

Prince Philip, who passed on just over a month ago is said to have commented on long sermons, “The mind cannot absorb what the backside cannot endure.” I guess after a while of sitting in a pew listening to exhortations, admonitions, expositions, repudiations, condemnations, and whatnot, it does get tiresome, and you want to go home, because there is nothing else to gain or learn when you are uncomfortable.

From these two men I have learnt something, my devotion is regulated by what I willingly subject myself to, when I am done, I am gone. Thank you for keeping me engaged for as long as I could endure it, nothing is by compulsion, especially when it comes to religion. If only religious leaders can check themselves. God is not a cruel prison warder.

Sunday, 9 May 2021

Don't call me comrade

Ideologies and realities

The spectre of the Communist Party of Britain in front of the Central Library at St Peter’s Square this afternoon after church was one for amusement. Do not get me wrong, there is room for diverse political thought and ideas, though the system might not work here, there is a possibility that good ideas might gain the attention towards being considered for policy.

Anyway, it was the coincidence of events that made for a wry observation of ironic consideration. They were gathered with their many flags applauding someone giving an address, not that I cared to listen. I had a cup of Starbucks latter with a piece of cake, and Starbucks does not come any more multinational bastion of global capitalism than that.

Life is a different story

Whizzing past on their bicycles were Deliveroo couriers, workers with needs that demand the exertion of the physical, facing dangers to earn a crust, most not covered by any employee protections, collectivism, or unionised representation. It is them against a system, yet, to increase productivity some have electric bicycles which means they probably would not tire as early as those who need to muscle it out for each errand.

As a settled down to drink my coffee, watching them and chatting to Brian, a group of people probably Chinese from their appearance, took an interest and stopped to take pictures. We were not that far from Manchester’s Chinatown, but they could have been thinking whether this gathering was an offshoot of their party in government back in China. I could not read their thoughts.

Back and forth they go

Then they marched off towards the war memorial where they stopped for some minutes before marching back past the Central Library towards the Manchester Convention Centre, stopping in the square opposite Barbirolli Square, by which time, I thought they were acting in the spirit of the Grand Old Duke of York, it was just left to them to march back and forth until they stopped somewhere neither here nor there.

For all that amusement, you never know, they might great ideas and democracy is the act of persuasion. Whatever the case, never call me comrade, I am not of that persuasion, not by any stretch of the imagination.

Saturday, 8 May 2021

Some things we see and remember

Stories and recollections

Reading a piece about Nicky Clarke, a stylist of the stars and handler of the tresses for occasions significant and there was one that made for some rue moment of recall. Only this afternoon, I happened upon a video of Lionel Richie starting off the singing of We Are The World at a concert in 1999.

It was Pavarotti & Friends for Guatemala and Kosovo, Luciano Pavarotti had hosted a War Child benefit concert that he had invited some fellow artistes and performers to. Well, it so happens that Nicky Clarke was doing the tresses of Sarah, Duchess of York’s hair, when she asked him to do the hair of her mate also. That mate was Diana, Princess of Wales who was to attend a Pavarotti in the Park concert at Hyde Park in 1991.

One word is everything

I remember that occasion well because that night, it rained everything the heavens could offer, and one of all the headlines, it was ‘Pavawetti’ that stood out as unforgettable. Nicky Clarke gives us something to reminisce about, he says, “There was a torrential downpour, and her hair was drowned. She still looked fabulous.” [BBC – On This Day: 1991: Pavarotti sings in the British rain]

The casual nature of going from doing the hair of a duchess to that of a princess and more so the relationship between sisters-in-law, the uncanny situation that links Pavarotti from a passing Internet surf to a magazine story, for all the many concerts at which Pavarotti performed, the English weather made this stand out. Many different stories creating a new narrative.

Some thoughts on the vaccines

I am feeling good

Two days after taking my second Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine, the only discomfort I have had is a pain in my arm where I took the shot. Whilst I did take a painkiller yesterday, I do not think there is any need for one today, the pain will subside, and things should be fine.

Then, I have heard from friends who took the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine, all their reports suggest that for at least a couple of days, they almost feel like death, terrible headaches, feverishness, and sweats.

Fears and cheers

It is a bit concerning that some people are not returning for their second shots and that is news from the United States of America where it is the Pfizer / BioNTech and the Moderna vaccine are the more widely dispensed and the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine is yet to approved there. [National Geographic: Why we shouldn't panic about the millions who missed their second vaccine dose—yet]

With such first experiences and side effects, some who took the Oxford AstraZeneca might be reticent about returning for the second and reliving their ordeal. The reading is whilst the side effects are serious for the first dose, on the second dose, there have rarely been serious side effects afterwards. [British Heart Foundation: Getting your second Covid-19 vaccine]

It takes two shots

It still remains if we decide to take the vaccine, we should follow the full dosage to be fully vaccinated. Despite the reports of debilitating side effects which are statistical rarities and I know I have written about statistical versus personal realities of experiencing side effects, the preponderance of evidence makes taking vaccinations a safer bet over no protection or contracting COVID-19.

Blog - Opinion: Between statistical and personal side effects

Blog - Rather the vaccine than COVID-19

Obviously, the AstraZeneca product has not had the best of the press, who can receive it is being reviewed constantly as we learn more of how people are affected by it, but on balance it is part of the arsenal against this Coronavirus.

Getting to go on

I did not take it and was ready to exercise the option not to if offered because I am a frequent traveller to South Africa where the vaccine apparently offers minimal protection against the prevalent variant there. [British Heart Foundation: Covid variants: latest on the Indian, Brazilian, UK and South African variants]

Even the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine still being studied for efficacy, is apparently 100% effective against symptomatic COVID-19 disease. All the vaccines worked on for boosters to tackle the other variants. My beau has had his two Sinopharm vaccine shots in Zimbabwe, after a bit of hesitancy. [Xinhua: Feature: Chinese vaccines rollout gains steam in Zimbabwe]

We need to unlock the world and get going, the vaccines are part of the newer world order. Let’s go.

Thursday, 6 May 2021

The Second Amendment to my immunity

A recruit of the regiment

Brian had laid out the day for me and if we were together, he would have ensured I did not deviate from the script, insisting, demanding, encouraging, persuading, and then back to insisting through to persuading until all my resolve was broken and I was following instruction without resistance. Beneath that innocence is a taskmaster Sergeant-Major and for this I will be registered for a boot camp I will never forget.

Anyway, I was to get to bed early and rest, but I was out walking until just before midnight, then on waking up I was to have a big breakfast and go about the things I needed to do, quaff up lunch and something more before getting my vaccine.

I tried, I am not a breakfast person, alright a slice of bread, a cup of coffee, many cups of tea, then after I returned, I ordered a prawn and spinach pasta, from Vapiano; Gamberetti e Spinaci on campanelle pasta, doubling on the prawns and spicing it with chilies, quite filling.

Making the day work

I was up at 5:00 AM and out of the door for my walk by 5:45 AM, 12 kilometres later, I was sat at work before going out around noon to vote in the local and mayoral elections. My vaccination was after work, rather than walk over, I boarded an Uber cab. The driver whose name was Mohammed Ali made for easy conversation, it was chuckles all through the ride, more pussy cat than pugilist, I was in good spirits.

Checking in at the clinic was smooth and professional, I even had a nurse bring chairs over for us to sit down. Soon, I was in a queue and when I asked if pictures could be taken one of the nurses immediately volunteered to take the pictures. I have always wondered about the use of language when you are about to pricked and punctured with a vaccination needle, the nurse says, just a scratch.

Needles prick, nails scratch

You do not want to be scratched by a hypodermic needle in reality, but the mind appears to entertain a scratch than a prick because that probably suggests drawing blood when you are being injected. Now, I recall, the phlebotomist says the same thing, a scratched and 9 vials later, you are close to death by exsanguination from a mere scratch.

Once I had my vaccine, I was taken to a waiting area where if in 15 minutes you begin to froth from the mouth and keel over, they can attend to you, I extended my stay for another 5 minutes. After my first vaccine, I had a tingling sensation for up to an hour in the hand and fingers of the vaccinated arm, I felt alright that I walked back home a long route.

Up, up and away

It was dreadfully cold and that is when I realised, I had worn the wrong coat, my gloves were in the other coat at home. Drat!
Brian could not wait to chat to me about my experience, the network was so bad where he lived, he drove up to the base station headquarters of his network provider and we did have a good long conversation before I got into bed for a long nap, to wake and write this blog.

Now, after my second vaccination, I hope we get the whole vaccine passport thing sorted with the essential waivers for those who have been fully vaccinated as the world is unlocked for us to get out to meet friends, colleagues, and the lover. I so look forward to getting out travelling again where in the old and modern sense one can be both happy and gay.

Thought Picnic: Being here for yourself

All that show

Coming from my left side crossing the road, he began running in front of me to what intent I could not determine. I felt like saying to him, “Dude, I am already in the 8th kilometre of my walk and on my way home.”

I move at my own pace, with lots of people running past me and into the horizon by the time I have blinked twice. There are people who walk faster than I can, and they are not exercising, they are strolling along and what has that to do with me?

Steady I go

My pace works for me and the benefits of what I do for myself will be noticed on me rather than on other people. I am usually into my 5th or 6th kilometre before I meet anyone, I can exchange a greeting with, in the mornings, I am left to my own thoughts most of the time and the riverside sounds of nature.

It reminds me of when I arrived at the Federal Polytechnic, Ilaro to see a junior of mine from secondary school, in fact, the first I exercised seniority rights on, he was in the final year, whilst I had wasted 5 years before. It probably would have been a testimony of karma for him, but I was not there for him, I was there to find myself, make my mark and thrive, I did.

A wonderful life

I have no idea what he went on to do, but the story it became for me was I was minding my own business, there were times I was ahead and winning, other times I was behind and losing, many times failing woefully, but the sum of it all when put in the ledger of life, I have been blessed beyond measure and have lived an extraordinary life. My story is mine, not for others to be written into it to take away my voice.

The chap who ran ahead of me was soon panting and slowed down to a walk, can I even remember what he looks like? It does not matter, live your life, your truth, on your terms and in your own way. It will come good and in the scheme of things, it can be beautiful, wonderful, successful, joyful, full of love and excellent. You run along, my pace suits me well. Thank you.

Wednesday, 5 May 2021

Fit on the walking side of lights

I am not for the gym

You will not see me in a gym pumping iron, the truth is I have never been a consistent gymgoer, the draw, the interest, the desire, and the drive soon wears off in novelty whilst the gym happiest cashes in a direct debit payment monthly with glee.

When it comes to gym equipment, I have enough stashed away around my apartment and under my bed for any regime to tone anything you want on your body to the muscles that can make your ears wag like elephant ears.

The walks do suit me

Yet, I find myself enjoying the walking exercises with some consistency that surprises me. The rain, the sun, the cold, the time, and whatever the weather is no impediment to getting out to do the basic 10,000 steps and a little more.

Now, I might not wake up early for my dawn walks especially if I have not put in enough sleep overnight, but soon after work, I will be on the trot, the regular route if there is still some light or the major well-lit roads when it is dark.

Black objects in the dark

I do worry about many of my fellow road users, the cars would obviously have their lights on, too many cyclists have no lights, especially the delivery couriers and they are in dark clothes too, a danger to themselves and others as moving black objects in the dark. I will have flashing LED armbands to at least make people aware that I am there.

Four vehicles flashing their blue lights, some with their sirens blaring probably needing to be somewhere fast to bring help or take the wounded or ill to the hospital. Emergency Ambulance the writing on the vans read. It made we wonder when is an ambulance not an emergency vehicle? Then, maybe there is a fee for the number of letters painted on the vehicle, do you know?

Tuesday, 4 May 2021

A trivia of collective nouns

Four and twenty blackbirds

I have always been fascinated by collective nouns, some so interesting you wonder how they come about. On my walks a few days ago, I came across an interesting sight, blackbirds I thought were crows or even rooks had settled upon the poles of a fence, but when I was speaking to the lady with her companion that feeds the birds, the other day, I used the collective noun embarrassment which I knew was wrong and she suggested parliament.

A parliament of rooks or a murder of crows

A parliament of crows, I thought when I next went by, but it was another few days before I saw a sufficient number settle on the poles of the fences to make it necessary to take a picture and tell a story. Then, she might be correct if the blackbirds were rooks rather than crows; the collective nouns are, a murder of crows or a parliament of rooks. Apparently, the collective noun for crows comes from superstition; the belief that they are harbingers of death sent by the devil or are witches in disguise.

An embarrassment of SANs

Rightly, it is an embarrassment of pandas, but I have also applied that collective noun to SANs, SeniorAdvocates of Nigeria, senior lawyers that the influential troop to the courts to intimidate the prosecution and the bench, usually in the tens that the cost of justice is prohibitive even when the defendant is guilty as sin but has more legal firepower than the state can muster.

I will not go into the list of collective nouns, but one that anyone would love to know for trivia is the collective noun for geese, they are a gaggle of geese on land, a skein of geese in flight and a plump of geese in water. Never give the wrong collective noun to the appearance of things or you are set for, should I say, am embarrassment?

References

Country Life: Collective nouns for birds

Merriam-Webster: A Melody of Harpers and a Poverty of Pipers

Wikipedia: List of animal names

A life in a year at work

Like everything else

Today marks the first year of my working for an outfit of significant consequence, and it has been interesting in view of the pandemic that has been with us for over 14 months. If we put aside the qualifiers of ‘virtual’ or ‘from home’, I have been working and making the same contributions to my working environment that demands the efforts of my expertise whether present or absent.

I applied for the job from a job board, the interview was conducted as a scripted and written activity, it was not a conference of any sort, before I completed the interview activity, I was offered the position on a good rate, but I still completed the formality of filling the interview questions as everything was fast-tracked in the space of days.

Normal is here

My device arrived by courier, all my accounts were set up on account of the submissions and verifications I had provided, and I was soon within a team where the most we have seen of each other is switching on our camera in Microsoft Teams conference meetings.

After a year of doing this, we should dispense of the idea that this is the ‘new normal’, it is just normal, it is work, it pays, we are effective, solving problems, crafting solutions, and responsive to major incidents, even more so as our user community regardless of where they are working just want the same experience to help their productivity.

Pressing the flesh

Of the team in which I work, we are men at arms, each with their eccentricities and abilities, humour and witticisms; we work so efficiently together, we understand our vision and purpose and are led by a good manager with insight and empathy. At no time have we been left to run around like headless chickens because of a situation, we are allowed the courage of our convictions even if conflict ensues by reason of differently informed perspectives.

Obviously, we look towards that time when we can all meet up for a drink and a meal somewhere, I guess that is to fulfil the need for being social beings. In the end, we are getting paid for doing the job and I am looking forward to a contract renewal which everyone has sanctioned to go ahead, we just need to clear administrative hurdles. That is the year at work, normal, effective, and thriving. I am grateful for it all.

Sunday, 2 May 2021

May the mercury rise soon

In the chill of May

Exasperation and consternation, the tumult in my mind as I woke to see that it was just one degree above zero and this is the second of May. What really could be going on? We practically had a sunny day for all the days in April, yet, we rarely had the double digits for temperature, it could have been February.

Halfway through my walk the sun came out, radiant and bright but not moving the mercury by much. By the time I stepped out for church, it was only 4 degrees above zero, even the confines of the church building were warm enough that after walking over 18,000 steps, but the cold I had endured created a soporific effect, I was nodding off before the service began; I barely kept awake if not for the times we had to stand up.

The short time I had hoped to spend in the sun sipping my Starbucks latte after I left the church was promptly aborted by a drizzle, other plans put in abeyance, and even in the company of friends, I was soon caught away by the heaviness of my eyelids, there was no other option but to go for a nap. Things would not be warming up soon, as the Bank Holiday Monday is supposed to present more rain and hardly the comfort of warmth. It might be May, that is the only thing going on.  

Saturday, 1 May 2021

The shop of things

The spices of people

Out shopping at the new ethnic shop up in sprawling Salford passing through the potpourri of the world of South-East Asia and just before we get to the conurbation of those of the scroll, I veer right to a place that is a magnet for Africans, the sounds and phonetics getting ever so familiar if you stop to listen.

People in chariots of fancy, none horse-drawn, the bit on the bridle is a pedal, and the carriage yields to the turn of the steering and the stirrups are more commanding of posture; the seat belt is soon undone as they come to a halt at the stables behind the shop, I guess that would be the car park.

Lost in the aisles

Two men, probably husbands, as they looked out of place, sent on an errand completely oblivious of what they were to purchase, the questions they asked the staff did not carry them any further until they had to set up a video conference and the instructions became clearer, they left before I did and may not have to return having fulfilled what they were sent to do.

The commander was probably twice the size of his friend, what I tried not to notice was too obvious to ignore. If he ever kept a doctor’s appointment, there is some advice he has not heeded to that he desperately needs to consider for life and wellbeing.

A lady who tried to draw their attention was ignored, she had mistaken one bottle for another, and as she was already at the till, I exchanged the drinks, taking the fermented from her for the unfermented that she required.

The things we eat

The Jafro Foods coconut-flavoured chin-chin was back on the shelves and even in a bigger container, I fetched 2 off the shelf, some moin-moin in leaves, and I even ventured frozen fish for which the French lady behind me offered a good recipe tip. A mother of 4 boys with appetites insatiable, I was not going to pretend I wanted to know what her monthly shopping bill was.

Meanwhile, someone had bought snails for a princely sum that he decided he could not afford and brought them back for a refund. I could not be bothered telling him off for jumping the queue, I obliged him and felt the better for it. Checked through my stuff and took another route back home exploring parts of Salford and Manchester I might have been before but never considered could be reached down those ways.