Friday 30 July 2021

It's walking and it's working - XII

Up on my feet

When it comes to my walking exercises, I must say I have had a rather lazy year to date. Yet, there is every reason to celebrate the achievements in relation to aspects of health and wellbeing.

It was a year ago that I decided to start walking as a form of exercise as I cannot run due to longstanding shin splints and gradual bone mass reduction because of my medication. There are times when walking itself can induce chronic pain in my legs that I just have to work through the pain barrier.

Really quite a feat

Finding out about the Brooks Ghost trainers of which I have had 3 pairs has made a whole world of difference. They are running shoes, but the cushioning effect works so well for me that I rarely need my walking cane when wearing them.

Looking at my 365 days of walking, I have put in 4,654,091 steps coming to an average of 12,751 steps a day. If I had managed 10,000 steps a day this year, I would have been another 120,000 steps ahead, but I will not beat myself up, I am not that far off the daily 10,000 step count which I first breached at the end of May.

And still keeping fit

I guess what concerns me is whilst I am apparently fitter, I have not been able to shed the pounds as much as I would have liked, though my friends and especially Brian are given to flattering me about my figure, I am not that easily fooled, the scales can do everything but lie.

If there is any consolation, walking costs nothing apart from finding the time to do it and hopefully in good enough weather. No gym, no equipment and no time-limited access to anything. Just getting out there and doing it is enough without distractions or intrusion. It is walking and even if I am not so completely satisfied with the results, it is working too.

Wednesday 28 July 2021

Coronavirus streets in London - XXXVIII

We are not there yet

The pleasure of the walk is always fun. The discovery of London by foot and the surprise of finding strange and new places you have only heard of or driven past. It is the condemnation of the Tube to a loneliness it could never have thought could befall it. We are in the age of the pandemic, the Coronavirus has left us seeking the natural away from the superficial and we are the healthier for it.

English placenames are Shibboleths of possible embarrassment for I do remember playing the Monopoly board game thinking Angel Islington had the sound of the first syllable of island when in fact it began with the sound of is, for I began in Islington. Yet, I saw Angel, the London Underground station that is, danced by Sadler’s Wells and could have been a phantom of operatic earache in Shaftsbury Theatre.

The West End is alive

In the court of Palace Theatre were crowds gathered to watch Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, queued up in a press without spacing, their expectations of entertainment probably delivering them from the plague of COVID-19 or so they think. I pulled on my mask without a second thought.

Into Old Compton Street, I strutted, a haunt from the 90s, now fully pedestrianised and barely passable because of al fresco dining, raucous and gay like a summer camp of queens or drag that would make you blush. There is no pandemic here, and you are not invited to the masked ball, as we have come to live life, to die would be unfortunate, and those who passed on will be remembered after we have enjoyed ourselves, is the message on the streets of London.

Nay, be not one of the Les Misérables that is doing time with the butler in Arthur, and I really did like Sir John Gielgud, he died at 96 and a theatre is named for him. Les Mis as we know it, once did 19 years at the Palace, it is the West End, the world of theatre and spectacle. That was after Oxford Street and Carnaby Street much changed from what I remember, memory is not just a lane but a bustling city of dreams.

History and pageantry

Eros did try to smile on me and Haymarket I ignored at Piccadilly Circus and turned onto Regent Street St James’s and do not be bewildered, the possessive James peculiarly carries a full apostrophe S and The Court of St James’s is the royal court of the sovereign monarch where the Queen receives ambassadors to the Court of St James’s never to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Now in peak Establishment territory, I was at Waterloo Place with statues of famous Field Marshalls, kings and politicians making an avenue of the revered, Florence Nightingale even lights her lamp here in the day and the night, if you have the vision for such. Down the steps by the Duke of York Monument whose fame is recalled in the risible The Grand Old Duke of York nursery rhyme.

To the river and over

I cross The Mall to Horse Guards Road with Horse Guards Parade where the monarch’s official birthday is celebrated in June at the Trooping the Colour, to my left and St James’s Park to my right, I could have ventured a walk to Buckingham Palace to see it for the first time, but that would be another time, for I was pressed and the toilets closed.

The Palace of Westminster, the British Parliament with all the surrounding famous buildings including Westminster Hall, came into view, but I could barely see Big Ben, it was bedecked in scaffolding and I crossed the River Thames on Westminster Bridge onto the South Bank with the London Eye on its last rotation for the day, my sister called from America as I was lapping a soft ice cream on a black waffle cone after which the Tube took me back to Angel from Waterloo Station.

Tuesday 27 July 2021

Funmi, in your year of the Jubilee

Extraordinary mensch

Funmi Iyanda, I first met in circumstances celebrating the loss of a friend, there was no indication at the time that we would be friends, but through meetings and conversations, an unusual and close friendship developed.

There are many things to write about Funmi Iyanda, the talk show host, broadcaster, Film and TV producer, media executive, philanthropist, journalist, and blogger, according to her Wikipedia profile, but to view her through her celebrity alone would be to miss the beauty and the essence of the person, her humanity, her generosity, her qualities in principle, in motherhood, in friendship, her stoicism in the face of adversity, betrayal, and other challenges, her indomitable spirit, her tenacity, her storytelling prowess and the all-round extraordinary mensch that she is.

Humanity champion

Funmi has always championed unpopular and difficult causes, bringing light and life to people, issues, and events, extricating the detail and the underlying human story to which many can relate, from the time that she fronted New Dawn with Funmi to her recent venture of Public Eye.

In doing so, she shone the klieg lights on many, giving them insight and blazing the trail for others who have followed and gone on to become leading lights to their various areas of endeavour. She was the pioneer, the frontrunner, the blockbuster draw in an environment where the conservative, the patriarchy, the powerful, and the influential felt threatened by one who was neither fawning nor obsequious, her voice was strong, loud, and effective.

Life changer

In founding Change-A-Life Foundation in 2002, she with the team around her were intervening in the lives of vibrant, talented, gifted, determined, purposeful yet disadvantaged individuals, according to their Twitter profile. Even those who would not consider themselves disadvantaged were given platforms to showcase their abilities and from there found the global audience that brought patronage and opportunity to their worlds.

Having the courage of her convictions borne of a deep sense of duty and willingness to nurture, uplift, and promote, she has boldly showcased issues too many have been afraid to touch, associated with people who the generally supercilious won’t deign to entertain, but the haughty are the poorer for it, even if in their conceit they are oblivious of their lack of humanity, doing the motions without the heart.

Quiet dignity

I am sometimes astounded at some who were lent more than a helping hand who having now made it have surreptitiously pushed the ladder away, presuming to pay forward with no recognition of how they got where they are or who gave voice, mentored, advised, counselled, negotiated, and facilitated their rise.

It is an endearing virtue to witness the dignity and bearing of this woman whose quiet disposition and silence is too frequently taken advantage of by those who knowing the quality of person she is, feel safe from being exposed for their villainy, calumny, malevolence, apathy, indifference, wickedness, ingratitude, disrespect and much else. They are a lesson and story of the fallen human that would not change the grace, the style, the comportment, the humanity, and loveliness of this lady.

Trailblazing still

Those points being made, I have come to celebrate Funmi Iyanda as a friend, a confidante, a sister, an ally, a person of exemplary conduct that I so highly respect for who she is, her achievements, the successes, and failures are woven into a tapestry of life telling even better stories, the laurels of the past fading into the distance in the presence of new ideas, amazing opportunities, and projects leading to places that could never have been prospected or imagined; genius is just what genius does and it is awesome to behold.

There is a coming of age and the coming into the centre of who you were born to be, a world-changer, lauded and recognised by the powerful, the influential, the establishment and institutions around the world. Sometimes, a prophet is but without honour in their own land, it does not make the prophet any less an impactful messenger to the global communities and humanity where the gift blossoms.

Unbeatable excellence

Sometimes, I say, you have nothing left to prove other than to continually excel effortlessly in what you have perfected over decades. Indeed, many will be envious and jealous, probably militate against you, where they can and are able to contribute and team up, they hold back fearful of being eclipsed, myopic in vision and purpose, but we choose to be proud of you, celebrate your many talents, find encouragement in your many efforts and have great expectations of mind-blowing exploits by your individuality, initiative, industriousness, and ingenuity.

Your friendship, your playfulness, your wit, and your use of expression are things your friends exude in and treasure. Along with Morenike, you are both an incomparable, uncompromising, unbeatable, and unchallengeable winning team.

Happy Birthday

Dear Funmi, on your 50th birthday, may your smiles turn into joyous laughter and exuberant ululation, may your light shine as bright as the sun in the day and in the night, may love encompass, shield and bless you, may you find favour in every place, even in the impossible and unfavourable places, ways open that would leave many in awe of the opportunities that come your way that you are spoilt for choice.

May you rise to be seen, to be heard, to be honoured, to be celebrated, and to be feted in the stratosphere way beyond those who heretofore glowered at you with satisfaction, they will be dwarfed by the little things you do. It is your day to breakout and breakthrough with the impact and forceful demonstration of a nuclear detonation. Brian and I wish you a very happy birthday, you have been our greatest cheerleader and supporter, a friend like no other.

Most of all, remember the words of the brighter future that we have progressively lived in and continue to find new experiences to cherish. A ma fi pàtàn ni. Have a most wonderful day and many more glorious days and years are coming in your year of the Golden Jubilee.

Monday 26 July 2021

Dreamscape: Of friendships, in conflicts and strong voices

The outlay

I cannot remember how long ago the dramatis personae were in the latest dramatic episode of parasomnia where the script is an ad hoc exhibition of wild and vividly imagination occluding and folding time into a present continuous of endless juxtapositions and unlimited human abilities that science fiction will not dare to touch.

My father had gone away when his best friend who passed on last November had come round to ask for the use of his car. I promptly deactivated the security my mother having consented, and the deed was done. In dreams, there are backstories that come to view as memory during the playback of events you cannot place, and this one, I do not remember giving access to the car, yet I was bought into the premise.

The setup

When he returned, he had no knowledge that the car was used until it came up in conversation with his friend. As he is wont to do, he was completely sceptical that the car had been moved at all because there was no record in the odometer or tracking system that the security had been tampered with. That was where fingers were pointed at me by his friend that not only had I bypassed security, but I had also overridden all protective systems, it became a thing of jest that so seriously annoyed my father.

Rather than have a discussion with me about the issue, he took his frustration out on me resorting an instrument of corporal punishment that he handily wielded from our childhood to exert authority and respect. As it was in a public place, I was apparently conversant with customs not to resist or attack, I let him have his way, humiliating me as others watched without intervening even as what I did was at their insistence.

The fightback

Later, he came at me again in private and we got into a struggle, I was having none of it and then I went to bed. Quite overcome with the injustice of it all, I got up and was in a crowded courtyard where my mother was serving food to quite a few people. I attracted her attention asking to talk but gave way to a few desperately hungry and possibly homeless people hoping once their urgent requirement was served, I would be allowed a hearing, but I was altogether ignored.

I adjusted my voice and bellowed, “Can I have an audience?”, at which point, I could no more be ignored and the whole crowd fell silent to listen to what I had to say. I am not much of a public speaker, but I gave it my best shot occasionally losing my voice but recovering soon enough to make coherent sentences.

My statement

Uncle Jimi, though I have never called him that before, I said, was a father-figure such that if my father were absent, he would not have to be asked to take on that role. There was no way I would have refused him access to use my father’s car and with my mother’s consent, he did have the car when he required it. I was rather disappointed that they allowed my father to abuse me without even attempting to restrain him.

Whilst I was busy speaking, my implacable father came wielding a big stick again, but this time we had a full-on confrontation as I tackled him the apparently big stick shrunk into a length of flimsy string, his hand hanging down with the incredulity of how his instrument of power and enforcement became nothing of any threat. Yet, it was in the words I spoke than in any physical tussling that this happened.

Leaving the courtyard to return to my bedroom with my brother, along the way, he wanted to go to see my father as I worried that he might not have access to the house if we did not go together. Then across the stream just before a bridge that could be easily crossed, I saw a wolf with a colourful iridescent coat approaching as if towards prey. I growled at it, it cowered in fear and slunk away. My phone rang and that is how I was awoken from my apparent nightmare; it was Brain on the other end.

I prevail

All day, I have been reviewing the events in my mind as I narrated the dream to friends, the seemingly incessant conflicts between my father and I, caught in a time warp of when we were literally of equal strength and I always gaining the upper hand. The situation where the presumed reasonableness he possesses is quickly dispensed for the physical, but more pertinently, the bond of friendship with his best friend that we all celebrated.

Then, one thing I have realised and learnt through life is I have to speak for myself, for fairness, for justice and to arrest that abuse of power and authority by those who think they are unassailable and inviolable. The voice against oppression must be heard and it is there to disarm completely. Another dreamscape.

Sunday 25 July 2021

Thought Picnic: In terms of the friend I have become

Unwittingly winning battles

Sometimes, we are unaware of the lessons in adversity that through what we have lived and experienced become the pointers for others in their times of trouble. When in my own situation out of ignoring the essential and the circumstances of disease progression, I came within 5 weeks of expiry according to the prognosis, I had no other choice but to face what was ahead of me.

There were battles I had to fight, mostly in the mind and usually unseen in the pain, the fears, the uncertain, the unintended, and the anxieties that could bring on debilitating worry, in those, I could not afford to be defeated, my circumstances were part of life, and people do live it, for it belongs in the spectrum of the human experience.

Acceptance leads tomorrow

The other issue was cancer, that I could neither battle nor fight, not with my already ineffective immune system nor with some pretense of mind over matter. I had to rely on the efficacy of the drugs and the treatment hoping that my body could carry me through the ordeal to a form of survival and recovery.

The greatest battle was in my mind, the transition of responding to pain alone whilst being in total denial of my condition to the point when I accepted that this was serious, I had cancer and so, what next? Once providence and I were in agreement that things were going to look and get better, we were on a long hard journey to recovery.

You are first in your situation

Inadvertently, the gruelling encounters with medical personnel and medical science have informed me of how to seek and obtain the best medical outcomes for whatever situation is under review. Whilst not getting doctors and consultants to second-guess themselves, it is important that they are convinced and convincing of what course of action to take.

If at any time I have had to encourage anyone, it is to be appreciated, respected, and treated with dignity. The superiority of a doctor’s knowledge, experience, and expertise should never be ahead of you as their subject and patient, it should be subject to your understanding with detailed explanation of what they want to do, the purpose for it and the outcomes expected.

Afterall, it is your body first, before it is their Guinea pig. That truth alone is sometimes enough to give a new sense of purpose and acuity to your situation. To my friends, I am a living miracle, a message of hope, a teller of better stories, and as one so endearingly said and I have heard in different modes of expression, I am their role model of resilience. I am just thankful for the life I have been given and the example it lends to others.

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.


[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. [ 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.