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.


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. [ 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

Funny writing blogs

Funny at a stretch

The funny things I write where funny could be interpreted to mean anything from amusing and humorous to utterly disagreeable and disturbing. Funny is quite versatile, and depending on context, you can only wonder what can be read as funny.

If I am being funny, I may not be making you laugh at my funniness even as I would like to entertain everyone with a perspective of things that hopefully would elicit a reaction better than fits of conniption. Indeed, my kind of funny can leave you feeling strange and cold by taking you to places you will rather not be, but some journeys are necessary.

Funny as in funny?

Obviously, what I intend and what is perceived might be worlds apart. If I now propose to make apology for what I express before it is written, I might bind myself in the wrong when there is no offence committed and things are portrayed as they are. I seek not to be misunderstood as much as I desire to be comprehended, I cannot account for the difference in the positions we might find ourselves when my funny is not all that funny.

If I then say in the corruption of a song by Billie Holliday that ‘these funny things remind me of you’, we can agree that it is probably that things that made us laugh, the things that make merry, the things we like to remember that means more about us than the things best forgotten. Let’s keep funny funny and see the humorous side of things that might not entirely be the funny we expect.

The funniest thing about this blog is one observation that Brian made some time ago, he said, “Darling, you can take one word and make a whole blog of it, I have seen you do that.” Funny that. Someone has been reading funny things in my blogs, I wonder if I am writing funny blogs or it is funny writing blogs. 

Sunday, 20 June 2021

Strange case of the dead burying the living

Closing the accounts before year-end

I believe it is customary for media organisations to have draft obituaries or prepared documentaries for prominent society figures such that at the demise of such people, only cosmetic changes are required to the drafts and that is out to press.

A case in point was the recent passing of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, the long and glowing obituaries were out within the hour of the announcement, the BBC literally had hours after hours of rolling commentary and documentaries about him, it all had to have been pre-planned and produced in readiness for his death.

On the 17th of June 2021, Kenneth Kaunda, the 1st President of Zambia died at the age of 97 and soon after the Guardian had published a 2,000+ obituary written by Guy Arnold, a British explorer, travel writer, political writer and specialist in north-south relations, according to his Wikipedia page. [The Guardian: Kenneth Kaunda Obituary]

When the dead speak

I learnt much about Kenneth Kaunda in secondary school because his political autobiography titled Zambia Shall Be Free was one of our required literature texts in my second form. When I travel to South Africa, place names that appear on the navigator maps look quite familiar, Kitwe and Livingstone, seem to have that déjà vu quality and now I realise why.

Anyway, back to the original point of canned obituaries. It is one thing for the living to read of their obituaries to which Mark Twain on reading his own obituary sent a cable from London with the message, “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.” It is quite necessary to have a good sense of humour at the premise of death. [ Mark Twain]

However, it becomes a bit disconcerting if certain words ascribed to Jesus Christ in Luke 9:60 begin to fetch true. “Let the dead bury the dead.” For indeed, we have a strange case of the dead writing obituaries of the dead. As it transpires, Guy Arnold who penned the obituary of Kenneth Kaunda, died on the 4th of January 2020, a good 530 days before the person he eulogised. I would expect the estate and survivors of Guy Arnold will receive payment for this publication.

Just the way it is

It is very likely Guy Arnold had written the obituary many years ago when there was some anticipation of Kenneth Kaunda’s death as he passed the 3-score-and-10 threshold into his 80s and 90s, with a few edits and updates depending on the news.

Guy Arnold himself was no youth, he was just 8 years younger than Kenneth Kaunda when he died at 87. The Guardian might have done some editing prior to publication, but the bulk of the copy had been completed by the dead.

Strange one, but should not be allowed to go unnoticed.

Guardian obituary of Kenneth Kaunda authored by someone who died 530 days before.

Coronavirus streets in Manchester - XXXV

Gilded horses to ride

Looking at another aspect of living in Manchester, on Sundays, I walk a route to church that takes me past the bespoke outfit called Gotham Hotel at 100 King Street and at the doors you see staff bedecked in vintage and sophisticated livery, all buttoned-up, wearing a pillbox hat at times and you can spot a bowler hat too, they look menacing enough to make you feel slightly intimidated by your standing.

Packed outside is a luxury Bentley Flying Spur that I thought belonged to the owner as a show of having arrived. It now transpired it is part of a fleet that includes a Bugatti, Ferrari, Lamborghini and Aston Martin, all available to guests or for hire for events and so on.

The hotel somewhat served a barometer for the return to a kind of normalcy as it is also in my walking exercises route. I could see when it was closed when it was preparing for opening and indications that it was back to receiving and entertaining guests was when I saw the laundry services truck outside.

Have the nose to drive

They have a little problem, in the onslaught of Brexit and the pandemic, the hospitality industry is suffering a staffing crisis. There are jobs and no one to fill them. Where there are people available, the requisite experience might be lacking. The delicate issue is they are seeking a chauffeur to drive the Bentley, I guess that comes with a whole set of snooty soft skills to cater to a particular clientele, not just any driver will do. I’ll end it there.

Anyway, I saw the car driven twice around my locality a few days ago, I do not know if they had already filled the position or the car was just being given a warm-up. Let’s just say the issue was serious enough to make it beyond the classifieds into a full news story along with unnecessary but albeit interesting detail about luxury car clubs and whatnot. [MEN: Manchester's 5-star Hotel Gotham can't find anyone to drive its Bentley and supercars]

Saturday, 19 June 2021

Beyond the hurt of yesterday

Beyond the hurt of yesterday

For the many wounds to heal,
Down to where you do feel,
True love is the very seal,
To make the dreams come real.

When you’ve sought and found someone,
From whose smile the light has shone,
Let your heart be fully won,
To begin a brand-new dawn.

By the past be not defined,
Let the pain be left behind,
All those things be now consigned,
To a world far from your mind.

Ever wondered what could be,
When you thought could that be me,
What you dreamt you now can see,
Is the love I pledge to thee.

Living around shadows of childhood violation

In the loss of innocence

I found myself offering some counsel on a very intimate matter of shared experiences that with difficulty I could not find the right form of words to address some particularities. Too many of us were violated in familiar and trusting environments by people known to us and decades after, those people are in the periphery, within reach, if we so needed to contact them, though we usually avoid them.

On the matter of experiencing sex earlier than legally or morally allowed, I opined that our exposure to sex, even the desire for it at such a young age does not make us catamites obligated to pederasty; it was wrong even if we appeared to enjoy it, because it robs us of essential childhood innocence which in development is to help how we build trust and relationships, beyond that our innate confidence is messed with.

Through the valley of realisation

In times, we even had juvenile infatuation, probably all of us experience it, the dreamy idea of that one most desirable person to be intimate with and the memories that took hold. That same-sex attraction that defined a journey of exploration that we travelled to destinations of thrill and expectations of more, unknowing of the fact that we were being used and abused for sexual ends.

We grew up, maybe found new distractions or our attention got arrested by other things, yet, we have our lives and stories, some secrets we never do share. The effects of those childhood encounters remain even if we blank out the memories. We are forever changed by the premature loss of innocence that leads to conflicted prepubescence with the characteristics of wondering adolescence. It is somewhat devastating and yet, so of us have survived and escape irredeemably consequential trauma.

Queer keyboard atrocities

Busybodies on Twitter

It could have been a bruising encounter but before it upset me too much, I nipped it in the bud. Twitter provides an asymmetric engagement with a global audience with whom the exchange of opinions and ideas can be life-enhancing and affirming.

Yesterday, I posted a response to an organisation postulating on Twitter completely oblivious of the crux of the matter. My riposte as the organisation is local was to suggest charity begins at home and issues of discrimination and representation need to be addressed in our community.

The privilege of petty

For some comfortably well-off and privileged people, with fingers twitching at their keyboards seeking the slightest thing to take offence at, the community qualifier was too much to handle, so, they latched on the qualifier and left the issue of discrimination and representation untouched. With that came a pile on from others who had an aversion to the word that many others were happy and ready to identify with.

After a few exchanges in which I desperately tried to reason with them, they were implacably unreasonable political ideologues immersed in gender identity politics to the exclusion of anything else. There was no other option than to expunge them from my purview by blocking them on Twitter. Our brief encounter was just that, as we were not followers of each other.

Q is for Queer

It is funny that the letters of LGBTQ refer to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and the Q is for those who identify as Queer or who are still Questioning their sexual or gender identity. Whilst Queer to some might be derogatory and disgusting to some for the history that comes with persecution, prosecution, violence, ostracism, and worse.

For those that choose to identify as queer, they cannot be ignored, erased, disappeared, or cancelled, just because some are uncomfortable with the word. It is their prerogative not to be identified as such even as it is every right for those who desire to choose the queer identity. We need to find co-existence rather than antagonism, the weaponization of identity serves no one any good.

I eventually concluded, our humanity has been hijacked by the politicisation of identity, such that the substantive issues are completely ignored for open warfare on gender identity. Is there any wonder it is literally impossible to be represented because you have to fit a mould, or you don't belong?

Wednesday, 16 June 2021

Mind your tone or get stoned

Mind your (use of) language

Many years ago, during my postgraduate programme, there was a class interaction where I challenged an assertion and demanded the proposer defend their position or rescind their premise. This was supposed to a rigorous and robust exchange of ideas and opinions, I did not think anything about it until our lecturer sent me a stern email asking me to apologise and withdraw my comment.

I apologised and withdrew my comment even as my colleagues could not see or understand why I was asked to reflect on my way or tone of expression. Within an international setting of the use of English, the lecturer had set the lowest common denominator of expression that mollified tone, crippled expression, eliminated nuance, and elevated the perfunctory to making an art of the bland.

Language is getting difficult

If anything, it stifled debate because no one was sure of what the arbitrary rules were as different versions of English sought a level of uninspired thought processing, each of us walking on eggshells just biding our time through the 8-week module in the hope that we will not lose purpose for the next challenge.

I now find that the language of our once globally understood and easily accessible discourse is evolving so rapidly into Shibboleths of war; you get usage, context, meaning, structure, tone, or grammar wrong, and you risk punishment and losing everything at the onslaught of excoriation and disapproval. It is like there is a cohort of readily offended seekers with feelers sniffing any mode of communication to find something to be offended by and set off a pile on.

The shifting sands of meanings

It is literally impossible to keep up with the terms and the redefinition of terms, the surfeit of sociological and anthropological jargon in search for a situation to contextualise in psychobabble, and whilst I have kept up with gay changing from happy to homosexual in common parlance, when I woke up this morning, I realised woke hardly referred to getting out of bed but a sense of awareness that triggering culture wars. Whatever that means.

Wiser counsel would suggest one keeps out of the global conniptions that pass for healthy debate. It left me wondering, if you have to qualify a noun, then the noun is qualified because it cannot stand alone for understanding, appreciation, and context at first use, else there is no need to qualify the noun in the first place.

Dare I even mention the noun in dispute? Not if I want my peace. I can contend with the debates in my head it is when you have to deal with people who are unpersuadable and entrenched, fully convinced of the rightness of their apparently unassailable views; it is a case of banging your head against a wall. Fundamentalist and extremist, they are, just avoid them.

Back II Eden from stress to recovery

From intensity to recovery

After I updated my smartwatch, there were two additional features that I found interesting the Stress assessor and after my walking exercises depending on the intensity based on the heart rate, the estimated full recovery time. These are readings I did not have before and without that knowledge, you probably do not know when to pace yourself, when to take some rest, or when to stop.

I find that this might also apply to my blogging. I could be quite prolific with writing, but there are times when you have put out so much, you are so totally vulnerable and exhausted from the depth of feeling and expression that has come out in words, you need to pause, reflect, and consider what direction you want to take after.

Easy does it nicely

That I did not feel compelled to just tap away at my keyboard in the last two days was good, I did not have to do anything even if there were earwigs of blogs percolating in my head and incubating in my mind. I am under no duress apart whatever stress I place myself under. You can let things flow just naturally, unbothered and unperturbed, then return at your convenience to address other issues.

There is so much happening and many things that have not found the form of words that would help the conveyance of purpose, context, and intent. Each day is a story told of love and life. Like the words of a song that wafted into my consciousness like the jingling of tubular bells to the gentle breeze in the middle of the day, “Let’s get back to Eden, live on top of the world.”

Sunday, 13 June 2021

Can you accommodate what nature allows?

We are the same and different too

What a terrifying existence it must have been to be different, where what some term alternative is your normal. It is not that you cannot function in society; you can with aptitude, intellect, talent, resourcefulness, gifts, and much else. As a human being, you have a lot to contribute to your community and to society. Yet, because of who you are there may be trouble ahead.

The discovery that your attraction to the similar than that the opposite sometimes comes rather early in life. You work hard inside yourself struggling and outside yourself seeking solutions to problems you think you have. Deprivation and ritual, adjustment and reconditioning, maybe an exorcism or conversion therapy might help. Guilt is the default for finding expression to your feelings that you never grow fully into who you are.

The struggle of accepting oneself

Then, there is the fear, the fear of revealing who you truly are, the fear of exposure about what your feelings are, the fear of rejection and ostracism from those of your blood who learn of what you are, and the fear of interventions imposed to radically change you into something you are not. For tradition has interpreted and translated events of antiquity wrongly and from that legal sanction has been created to criminalise your nature, that is a discussion for another time.

This is the encapsulation of sexuality conflict, where your normal is considered abnormal even to the more conservative an abomination. What is an abomination when even in its rarity nature accommodates difference, diversity, divergence, evolution, individuality and apparent abnormality? That is usually a matter of perspective and opinion rather than what some might term unnatural.

Can you accommodate what nature does?

What exists in nature is natural and that should be the end of the discussion. Whether your mind is open to new knowledge and the appreciation of how nature allows rather than abhors is another thing, but you cannot blame nature for how nature decides to express itself in ways misunderstood, radical, and let us allow chimerical. That becomes part of the human experience whether you choose to believe your eyes, your ears, or your existence where that situation presents.

Indeed, we are afraid of what is unfamiliar, we might even label things in ways to differentiate because those things are beyond our frame of reference. Learning new things is part of the progressive human existence. Sometimes, the things we have to accept are probably too close for comfort that you decide to afflict the subject.

Even humanity evolves to a point where understanding nature will afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted. It is what it is, different characteristics and attractions within human beings does not make them any less human. Most people do not need a cure for who they really are, the acceptance of that piece of wisdom is harmony and peace to our humanity.

On parental interference and sundry matters - II

Incubating a man

As a 55-year-old child and I use child expressly because I still have my parents alive and well, it is a blessing beyond measure, yet, our relationship has a fragility stuck in transition, for as a 55-year-old, if fortitude had allowed, I would be a grandparent besides the other achievements and tribulations that define my life story. I have no regrets.

There are long periods in time that my parents have not been part of any of my decision-making processes, I have made choices and lived by them even with life-threatening consequences that I have survived leaving me in gratitude to the divine and medicine. That is part of the construct of influences that informs my worldview.

Apron strings shredded

As parents, I would think there are times where they do presume, they control and direct what I do, it might come as a surprise to them that they lost that kind of influence when they were unwilling to negotiate way back in my teenage years.

On the part of my father, it was when we were on a break at our village of Ijesha-Ijebu, I wanted to spend a night away with friends in Sagamu, he flatly refused, not only was I embarrassed by it, at that point I swore never to return to our village again, I have not for 36 years, and whilst many may dismiss my fit of imperious petulance, that decision is made.

Umbilical cords destroyed

My mother however who I love so dearly has sometimes conflated her profession with her parenting, she is a retired schoolteacher and principal of many secondary schools. I do remember once when she asked me to do up a shirt button and I snapped back that I am her son not her student. My religious diversions brought much conflict at home in what they thought was taking me away from my studies, considering we came from mixed religious backgrounds and the deepest religious affliations have always differed between my father and my mother.

On returning from my chosen church one Sunday, my mother in a fit of rage deployed the sternest ovarian disapprobation that stuck like the branding of a hot-iron poker, searing me to the core. As I walked out of that encounter, I was probably saved from the more damaging effects of it by inspired words of Scripture that escaped my lips at that point. “For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.” [Bible Hub: 1 Peter 2:25]

He’s gone, really

Indeed, I have forgiven my parents, but no, I have not forgotten, the encounters they have long dismissed as trivial are for the recipient literally life-defining. I am their child and their son; however, I will define the parameters within which that operates. The episodes above happened when I was already nominally an adult, and an adult is fundamental not a child regardless of what parental control they seek to exert even at this time.

It might seem that I am protesting much on this matter of apparently unresolved conflicts, I believe there are many for the truth is my parents do not know much about me or even a lot about me from when I left for boarding school at the age of 10. They might have seen some foundational personality traits, and some character-forming predilections, but that is where their understanding ends.

Participate well, police not

Much as I seek not to be confrontational, the fragility I referred to earlier is easily exposed to fractiousness by misplaced commentary or even obduracy on their part. In my usually mild-mannered demeanour, my individuality, and my independence are totally sacrosanct, how I choose to live my life will not be dictated to me by anyone.

The blessing of the ease of communication and social media interaction allows for participation, but I will brook no policing. I blocked my father on Facebook, I did rescind the block but declined a new friend request.

Blog: On parental interference and sundry matters (February 2019)

I will listen to a lot of insight, wisdom, and advice, but I will respectfully make my own decisions. I suppose the other views I have might end up in a series of blogs.


Saturday, 12 June 2021

From the gift of a cemetery

An end as a new beginning

Inexplicable is the word that came to mind when I heard the story of Ruth Coker Burks on BBC Radio 4 some nights ago during a usual bout of insomnia, and many a tear I did shed. Imagine a girl born into an abusive childhood who lost her father at 5 and whose mother suffered tuberculosis and out of a dispute with between her mother and her uncle inherited a cemetery on the passing of a mother.

You would wonder what a young adult would have to do with a cemetery until she found herself spending the last 13 hours of the life a young man with AIDS calling out for his mother that had rejected him. She found prejudice, bigotry, ostracism, homophobia and much else along the way with no place to bury the young man until it occurred to her that she had a cemetery and the first AIDS victim’s ashes she buried were scattered in the grave of her father.

Restoring faith in humanity

Here was a single mother in her twenties who out curiosity and oodles of human compassion chanced upon a person and before you knew it, she became an AIDS carer directly and indirectly to over 1,000 people and buried over 40 AIDS victims in her family cemetery.

Even quite poignantly, when AIDS was a death sentence and long before there were therapies, those she cared for seemed to have a longer life expectancy until her care that the National Institute for Health sent researchers to investigate. It just came down to giving care and hope, even in a hopeless situation.

The story I heard was of an angel of mercy, full of compassion, and whilst at risk, she put the fullness of her humanity into the end-of-life care of many young men rejected and disowned by their families, giving them dignity in death and whose story has only begun to be told. [Amazon: All the Young Men: How One Woman Risked It All to Care for the Dying]

Giving dignity and hope to strangers

There is no hopeless situation and every gift we receive might well be for a purpose we could never conceive at the point of acquisition. The many who could not find in their humanity to face the suffering of their families and relationships, she stood up to and whilst standing in with love towards all that came to her. Her kindness is a beacon restoring faith in our humanity.

What do you do with a cemetery? You give strangers the honour and the dignity of a decent burial and memorial and put others to shame.

Thursday, 10 June 2021

Lo, I sniff the summer

The weather undecidedly moving

Going out for my walk this evening, I left home in my shorts and short-sleeve vest with the prospect of a dry evening of exercise. A few errands earlier meant I only needed 5,000 steps to meet my daily quota.

Within minutes, I had broken a sweat with a heart rate in the aerobic range when 4 kilometres in, raindrops were falling on my head, it did not become a rain shower but it felt like warning enough and having not taken a mask out with me, it was sensible to turn back towards home having already done 10,000 steps.

No sooner had I taken a different route back, the sun came out. Suffice it to say, I did miss the solar eclipse or any sign of it in the morning, not that it would have been that visible here or through the cloud-strewn skies.

Wheeze, sneeze, squeeze

I could tell my summer had begun, I was sniffling with a running nose, sneezing loudly every few steps and sometimes bent over, though thankfully not doubled down with those longish sneezes that could last from about 30 seconds to a minute, congenital, I presume down the maternal line, but rather exaggerated in my case.

By the time I got home, I had walked 9 kilometres, completed over 12,000 steps and was ready for a good blowing of the nose before having a drink. I might just get my antihistamine medication out; Beconase nasal spray is the advent of the summer season.

Like I have said before, one apparent benefit of the chemotherapy I took just over 11 years ago was it shortened my hay fever suffering from a March-September stretch to just within June to August. On the steps front, I need to get out of my funk and do a bit more walking too.

Wednesday, 9 June 2021

Like pawns in the game of spaghetti red tape

Probably the end of an unplanned break

The fervent wish of a pawn is promotion,
If it has not been sacrificed in the commotion,
That scatters a chessboard in pandemonium,
As the players each seek to win and overcome,
The sudden employment interregnum,
Imposed in bureaucracies rather glum,
Has now apparently brought fruition,
The prospect of renewed utilisation.

Yet, we must not be too urgent and forward,
At the many assurances, some quite awkward,
As the bills are not paid with wishes and promises,
We are pawns tossed around by market forces,
If you are not paid to maintain allegiances,
You are open and considering other advances,
Until the contracts are signed with a seal,
We can confidently agree we have no deal.

Tuesday, 8 June 2021

Words spoken lightly that land heavily

Words always matter

To mind what I say and choose the words I speak very carefully has always been something I have held close to my heart and in my communication. Words so easy spoken and forgotten by a speaker can be indelible markers on the listener and hearer to whom the speech is directed.

The choice of words, the order of the words making sentences, the delivery of words in emphasis and cadence, how that variance conveys meaning and intent whilst governing comprehension or misunderstanding, is an art in itself, of effective communication.

Words can be seared into memory deeper than they can be reached to be erased. In the unguarded use of words can be the seeding to an avalanche of destruction. Yet, with words, you can lift and elevate, encourage and bolster, bless and praise, turning things around in unimaginable and unexpected ways.

I have the surfeit of words and the economy of words, in what I write and what I say, if I have nothing to contribute, give, or say, then the absence of words in maintaining my silence and my peace is good too. Choose your words in the consideration of how it can affect people or situations and be constantly and totally aware of the effect of what you have said or written.

Monday, 7 June 2021

Thought Picnic: A child has memories that last a lifetime

Caught in a body of lustful desire

Lasciviousness is a word I first saw in the Bible, and I could only wonder what it meant and why especially in the Pauline epistles, it had consequence on church building and church discipline.

The gospel had been taken to heathen nations with completely liberal and sometimes abusive human relationships along with the absence or lack of moral restraint. People just did what they tended to do until someone came with the message, that was all wrong and not how to behave as Christians.

Until a moral code was introduced through Christianity or some religious instruction, human beings were just themselves to live, strive, maybe thrive and die.

I never had a virginity

That I had to answer a question, ‘Are you so loose?’, left me pondering the many things that I have covered on my blog many times which pertain to the consequences of child sexual abuse and how I have hopefully used my experience to help others who might have had even more debilitating outcomes in life than I have been fortunate to have.

For instance, I was introduced to sex a lot earlier than I should ever have been. There were probably signs in my character and personality that something had happened to me, but only the trained eye might have been able to notice. On that point, this was at the age of 7 and who it was will not be revealed to anyone except if I decide to put it in a book. My first reference in January 2007 covers some of that experience.

Blog - My Sex Post (January 2007)

Then, I wrote a blog about virginity with the conclusion that I never knew I even had one. There are people who later in life got to experience sex for the first time in a place and manner of their choosing. What does a child know about those kinds of choices?

Blog - Thought Picnic: How do you lose your virginity? (August 2011)

And I am one of the lucky ones

I went to watch the film Spotlight in 2016, it was about the investigation of clerical child abuse in America. I was the last to leave the cinema theatre when the film ended, it was not only distressing, but I was also weeping because I knew what those children had gone through. Many victims of child sexual abuse do not even know they are being groomed, programmed, and abused.

The people who exploit children for sexual pleasure are good at winning the confidences of both parent and child that by the time the child has been violated the odds are so stacked against the child that they have no one to run to in time of need as the abuse is perpetuated.

Blog - Shine a Spotlight on child sexual abuse (January 2013)

The impact of indirect action

My father was a strict disciplinarian in every sense of the word, he probably meted out his most violent punishments on his youngest sister. I hate to think of the ways she might have sought revenge against her brother, inadvertently, I was a casualty a few times.

As a child observer of what was happening, my father became unapproachable, even an ogre of sorts, when we began to have our disagreements in my teenage years, we were long past a place of useful reconciliation and confidences. Yet, he had this seething displeasure with me for so long, with the view that I was constantly disrespectful of him as I did not subscribe to the obsequiousness that others had towards him. I am a son; I would scream within myself, but a relationship did not thrive.

“When our parents confused our fear of them with our respect of them, they lost the many times we could have confided in them.”

Blog - Thought Picnic: The Barrier to Confiding in our Guardians (May 2013)

We talked about sex once

Time does not heal the loss of innocence; it simply compounds the experience to the inability to either discriminate or make the right choices about something as intimate and serious as sex. I do wonder how many of my generation ever had a conversation about sex with their parents.

I know I never did and the first time that topic ever came up was when our housemaid fell pregnant. She, under interrogation of my mother, my mother asked her if I was responsible for it.

Well, whilst the houseboys and sometimes gateman had taken sexual favours off me from the age of 8 into my teens, I doubt I gave the house-girls a third look. As I would not have initiated anything.

It was recently that I learnt a whole new truth about that sordid event because all the while, I remember returning home from seeing my mother at the hairdressers with my cousin to see her dishevelled and apparently roughed-up, I asked no questions, but I thought whoever I thought was responsible was apparently not the person who violated her. Anyway…

Blog - Thought Picnic: We Never Knew What a Healthy Sexual Relationship Was Because ... (May 2013)

I can’t speak evil of my parents

There are two episodes in my childhood that mark out the relationship I have had with my parents and the sad reality that they might only learn some things for the first time out of reading my blog.

I was taken ill and sleeping in my bed when a female family friend of ours came into my room and sat on me. I knew who she was because of what I said to her, “I will tell your husband.”

My mother was in the next room nursing my brother when she called out to me to determine what was going on. I completely drew a blank, it was as if the memory of who assailed me had been erased, eventually out the recesses of my memory, I now remember who she was.

However, this began a number of ritualistic and religious activities apparently contracted to save me from harm, the extension to that is how my mother bought my silence many years later after a visit to some spiritual figure by threatening with that kind of experience again.

Then, my aunt, my father’s youngest sister was chatting to our houseboy one day about paranormal activity in the presence of my utterly impressionable mind. That night we had visitors and I was called to clear the dishes to the kitchen, though the washing area was in the garden in the dark.

When I returned to the kitchen with the dishes, my aunt adjured me to take them to the washing area and as I stepped up to the table and before me, I saw a tall, big red-chested beastly apparition, that I heard later that night and saw again in the presence of my mother, I believed was the devil and screamed in terror. Everyone ran out and I told my tale, well, my dad dismissed it, the burden fell to my mother to deal with and that was one of the things I was threatened with if I revealed where we had been.

Blog - The damage done when parents fail to listen (February 2015)

If anyone touches you: A parent talks

I wonder if there is much to say about the need for parental involvement fully in sexual education. It should not be ignored first in the view that the child is innocent or secondly in the fear that it might corrupt the child.

Just imagine for one if a parent as the child was growing up had said, “If anyone touches you there, run to me and tell me, do not think twice about it, I am here to protect you.” It is speculation, but I think a lot of child sexual abuse might have been nipped in the bud.

Then, who knows?

Blog - Sexual Education and Parental Naivety (August 2019)

I write to help myself and others

I am not looking for anyone to believe me or even pity me for what I have experienced, but what I will not allow to be taken away from me is my own story in my own words. What my blog has done fore me and to help me come to terms with many things is immeasurable.

Fundamentally, I hold nothing against anyone including my parents, but that does not obviate the essential necessity to bring these things into the open so they can be discussed privately, if that opportunity comes up or publicly with others who might find that what I have written resonates with them.

What matters the most is that the old mistakes are not repeated in the generations that come after us. If anything, that it is the most important thing.

Blog - A survivor does not owe you a convincing story (July 2019)

Back to the question

Lasciviousness: unrestrained sexual behaviour, or a habitual inclination to such behaviour; lustfulness: []

So, the question was, Are you so loose (sexually, morally, whatever)? How would I know, if I lost my innocence at 7? Sex became utilitarian and I was already sexually active from 8 and it is from sexual activity that I contracted HIV almost 19 years ago, and all the things that emanated from that.

I am thankful for what new love has given me in preserving and preparing myself for intimacy that has value, I cannot escape from my history, but I can refuse it let it define me.

Am I so loose? Go figure!

Warning! My blogs might shock you

I find the words to say

My blog may not necessarily be my undoing, but it is a journal and compendium of snippets and snatches of memory, experience, and observation that if I could commit myself to the rigour of an autobiography, there is little else I might need to put in a book apart from flesh out some stories for content, context, and contemplation.

In the versatility of the use of language is the revelation of much that might elicit inquiry and confirmation, yet, what is read should be taken at face value, for there is neither obfuscation nor dissembling, just some finesse, and if one could rise to that standard, the sophistication to make the usually unspeakable readily palatable.

Too many assumptions exist that in the spectrum of believing the worst to fairy tale bliss, the truth is not so much a search for a needle in the haystack, it is in plain sight once disbelief is suspended for accepting an unconsidered reality. It is quite likely a variation on the art of storytelling.

Did you really not know?

There are discussions and difficult ones they are that have made a showing on my blog before they have become a conversation with certain close ones. Too many things to learn about me that it is surprising that the profile texts of my blog and Facebook do not seem to have had the in-depth reading and comprehension desired.

On my blog, I have a play on the meaning of my name Akin in English and any other translation or interpretation you might consider. “Essentially similar to what is known, compatible to what is expected and related to the unexpected…” It would be supercilious to consider myself enigmatic, but the ellipsis at the end is both deliberate and suggestive of much more about me that is unknown.

The Facebook profile changed some time ago because acquaintances from long ago had impressions about me in need of addressing forthwith. Adopting a broad statement was supposed to stem the tide of inquiry, even as I pruned my following to contain aggression and disapprobation. I could not be clearer than this: “I thought and concluded, do not presume you know me, this is really not a biography, it is guidance.

Shock is the wrong reflex

Then comes the other conundrum, I write quite openly about very personal stuff that gets read by an audience beyond those I am directly in contact with. Even amongst those I know, I do not know who cares to read my blog, though the statistics suggest I have a readership in as far-flung places as Indonesia in the last week, that country taking the lead with the UK, the Netherlands, and Nigeria where I have lived coming 5th, 7th, and 9th respectively. I cannot begin to fathom why the interest from these places, but something is engaging them.

This is my advice to those who read my blog; you will probably learn more than you expected to see, if you have any doubt you might want to give it the benefit of the doubt that what you have read needs no further explanation than what it has said at your first reading. Mental gymnastics are a cause for unnecessary angst, we can agree, your writer does not mince words.

The thought sometimes crosses my mind to be reserved, reticent, or dabble in a form of self-censorship, but rather than curtail, I usually prevail by finding a form of words for whatever I want to express. Finally, I ask for some open-mindedness and the need not to make a shock your first resort in the acquisition of knowledge; the world is a big place, some things might extend your worldview to places you never thought possible. That is the biggest teaching about our humanity.

Sunday, 6 June 2021

The man, T. B. Joshua

No grudges held

The passing of Prophet T. B. Joshua is no doubt a tragedy and that is where I would start. There are many people who will attest to the humility, the generosity, the religiosity, the godliness, the charisma, and the powerful ministry of the man, and I am not here to question any of that.

To some, he was a mighty man of God, to some a possible charlatan, to some so absolutely above reproach and the law, unassailable, and unaccountable to anyone, the latter by reason of the building collapse that led to the death of over 100 victims of which 80 were South Africans for whom no justice has been done. Yet, I cannot blame him, I blame the Nigerian system that allowed it.

Blog: Nigeria: The Collapse of Order

Some people would have a big bone to pick with him, be it what they sought that they did not get, or what they were not sure they wanted that they received a good measure of. Between the unhealed and the traumatised may their hopes be realised and their prayers be answered.

And God willing

A few days ago, the man was planning for his birthday and released a video notice about plans towards it, he paced up and down with a sense of apparent unease, at least to my observation, I did wonder what might have made him look a bit discomfited until he held the railing at the end with the comforting words to those who might not be able to attend his birthday this year due to the pandemic having the opportunity for many more birthdays to come.

To anyone who watched that video [YouTube], we can somewhat agree that the prophet had no inkling of his pending demise. Man proposes and God disposes, we find that we need to reflect on the ephemeral nature of our humanity in all the resilience we tend to exhibit that we only have the moment in which we are, the future we do not know, and whilst anticipation and planning is necessary, we of a religious disposition might want to bookend all our schemes with ‘God Willing’.

After it all

In bidding the man farewell and sympathies to his family and to his flock the hope for a worthy shepherd to continue the ministry and legacy of the man. Prophet T. B. Joshua has written his own account in his life and his deeds and gone, what we make of it is now left to us, he cannot edit it to suit his requirements anymore.

There is probably an undiscovered prophet in the wilderness preparing the way for the needy to have their needs met in a fashion, that prophet will be found, and another chapter will begin the munificence of lofty promises, fantastic rituals, and spectacular flashes of the miraculous to the extent of believability or ridiculousness, that would keep the flock enthralled. We are who we are.

Saturday, 5 June 2021

HIV Long-Term Survivors Awareness Day 2021

Coming to terms

I probably have been exposed to it long before I took up the courage to find out for myself. For years, I would go for check-ups but ask not to be informed of the results of tests I did not go there for, that was the HIV test even though I was in a high-risk category.

Between a sense of invincibility and probably mind-numbing stupidity exacerbated with denial, I continued to escape the responsibility to know, and it was not until I was living in the Netherlands for over 2 years that I decided to face the music. I also presume at that time, I belonged to a cohort who if that knowledge was acquired became an uninsurable risk especially for life insurance.

Getting to know

Anyway, it was in early September 2002 that I went for a test that I was almost entirely sure would result in the news I was now ready to hear, that I had been infected and my life was about to change in ways I am not sure I was prepared for. The first result arrived on Friday, the 13th of September, but there was a second confirmatory test that needed to be conducted on my blood, which I received the next Friday, alone.

Returning home, I informed my pastor of the news I had already told him I was expecting and settled into contemplation about the life ahead of me. I took no immediate decisions and even avoided taking the next step to therapeutic address as prophylaxis against full-blown AIDS presenting as cancerous Kaposi’s sarcoma, 7 years later.

All in gratitude

On this day, the 5th of June, HIV Long-Term Survivors Awareness Day, with the theme, AIDS at 40: Envisioning a Future We Never Imagined; I am in the 19th year of knowing with episodes that have so radically changed my life in ways I never have envisaged for planned for.

For all the stories I have to tell, I am grateful for the gift of life, the efficacy of the drugs that keeps wellbeing and holds disease at bay, the amazing friendships of those who have always stood with me, the grace of God and the indescribably amazing love I found in Brian.

To many more years of purposeful living, those we lost too early out of whose experiences have grown advances in medicine and life expectancy, the continued battle against stigma and in their memories, we hope never to forget each of us touched by this plague who are no less significant in the story of our humanity.

Thursday, 3 June 2021

A review of the kilo howler

Scales fall as weight rises

It is the rudest occupant in my bedroom, beckoning me on sight without proper address, not averting a gaze when I am in nuditate and indeed blurting out figures with no regard for my figure. As it considers itself modern it gossips the secrets to everyone listening and logs it in a journal as a tale of my excesses.

No, you are not allowed your own opinion or thoughts, for the facts hit you right in the face and the truth, bitter as it might be is served up right up the nose.

The scale of the damage is weighty, the pending disaster is best avoided. Yet, he goes by the name Huawei Scale 3, if you'll like to make an acquaintance.

A smartwatch I bought,
This came for free,
All escapes we sought,
Are blocked from thee,
For all that you ought,
Just count to three,
Everything we are not,
It says with glee.

Curiously another courier

Someone calling me

It could have been a case of cross-communication, I would hate to think it was one of impersonation. I was expecting a courier to pick up a parcel in the one-hour window between 11:18 and 12:18, but at 11:55, I received an SMS text message that he would arrive in 5 to 10 minutes.

30 minutes later and beyond the window, I go a call that he was outside Primark waiting for me, that seemed quite strange. Why would a courier end up about a kilometre from where he was to pick up a parcel? I could hardly keep my voice down when the person at the other end of the phone said he was not familiar with the terrain.

His apparently halting and incoherent English with incomprehensible enunciation did not help me properly identify or appreciate who I was talking to as I told the person off and proceeded to write a letter to the courier company about their unprofessional service.

Not the same person

Just over an hour beyond their proposed collection window, my doorbell rang and the courier I heard through the video intercom system then eventually chatted to outside my apartment who arrived in a van with the courier company sign on it was not the person I was talking to on the phone, earlier.

At one point, I thought the courier company had called the other greenhorn off and sent this more articulate courier in his place. I wanted to be sure, so I asked. Whoever contacted me earlier was not this courier and that left me wondering who it was. I have not received a response to my inquiry on that phone number of who was apparently arriving in 5 to 10 minutes, almost 3 hours ago.

Care and consideration

It meant I had to send an updated email to the courier cancelling my broader complaint apart from the late retrieval of my parcel that should be delivered to Wales by noon tomorrow. Rather strange and concerning, I have blocked that number, now.

I cannot account for who called me when I was expecting someone else, I could have given away my address in the process of getting this lost courier to my residence and be endangered. I definitely have to pay more attention to the kinds of messages I receive and verify with clarity who is calling, making no allowances or excuses for poor communication that might feed wrong assumptions. Phew!

I am not pleased

My letter conveying my dissatisfaction went thus (Names changed to conceal identities):

Dear Mary,

I am supposed to have had John visit my residence to collect a parcel for delivery by noon tomorrow in Swansea between 11:18 and 12:18 today.

At 11:55, I received a message that he would be with me in 5 to 10 minutes, 30 minutes later he called to say he will be with me in 5 minutes only for me to receive another call that he is waiting for me at Primark.

That bears no semblance to my address which is another location with the postcode [redacted] in Manchester. That from all appearances suggests John cannot use a satellite navigator, is completely clueless about directions, or doesn't know what he is supposed to be doing.

I paid for this service and he is supposed to be a courier, if he can't find simple addresses, he is probably in the wrong job.

I am now sat in front of my house wondering what is going to happen now, it has hardly been a professional outing for your company.

Maybe someone can contact him on this number [redacted] to determine what he is up to.

To say this is untenable as a service would be suppressing my utter displeasure.

I hope you can help.