Tuesday, 31 August 2021

Making possible out of apparent impossibility

When the minor is major

There are times when I think I am going to do something rather impulsive triggered by a stroke of luck or good fortune, I am primed and ready in mind and thought as if to act and pounce upon the opportunity when it arises. That part is somewhat set up even if the practicalities of it have not yet been fully considered, I have the confidence that is a mere formality.

Then, there is a passage of time and fortuitously as the apparently mundane in life is happening, there is a confluence of events not exactly as the hope for that type of luck desired, yet it is a build-up quite unexpected but just as significant. A landmark is reached that makes you realise you have been sitting quite unbeknownst on a blessing, your unawareness is gifted by the fact that it is not so obvious or sudden, like miraculous or lucky.

Count the blessings, always

This is where we risk the mundane leading us into moot ingratitude and the apparently normal makes us seem unthankful and by that unreflective of how so wonderfully blessed, privileged and successful we are. Rash as one can be in decision-making, then determined as one can be in purpose, all things and I mean all things do work together for the good.

I am thankful that goodness, mercy, favour, and more surround me, that I am given more than enough sometimes as of right, as of requirement, as of worth, or as of just the way things work out, all of which one should not be ashamed to live in the reality of, then never forgetting to show that what has become possible to one should not be an impossibility to others who can just dare to dream it.

Recognising those who believed in me

Those who make life

In life, there are those who expect of you, those who demand of you, and those who believe in you. Expectations set a high bar, the challenge for which you must find the capacity laden with responsibility coupled with the fear of failure. Where you do not meet that expectation, you face criticism, excoriation, ostracism, and possible condemnation.

To those who set the expectations, usually unwritten and untaught, you are just supposed to know your role, responsibility, character, attitude, purpose, virtue, initiative, and duty by default, to clean your room, to do your chores, to pass your exams, to not fall pregnant mistakenly, to know the use and management of money; essentially, be normal whilst being exceptional. You are on a treadmill with a clear trajectory and purpose of making people proud and never anywhere near disappointing.

Living for others

You are living but probably living for others, writing your story which has all the accoutrements of achievement whilst to you, it might well be boring. Life becomes a rat race of continually set goals from which there might be little satisfaction, if ever some respite. Having met all expectations, you wonder if you are content and fulfilled, or if ever pleasing others is the essence of life and living.

To those on whom fortitude, providence, and expectation has defined a clear path of how life should be, as they have confidently navigated the complexities and vicissitudes to the point of being prepared and ready to assume responsibility and despatch it with panache, if it has not been a burden and a prison of being a goldfish in a bowl where you have no say or autonomy apart from the call of duty, you have earned your epaulettes.

When it runs out

Demands, however, will always be made, those made of us and the ones we make of others and crucially the ones we make of ourselves could be found in meeting expectations as well as in failure where opportunities are lost, and things fall off the perfect route to success.

Life stories emanate from all kinds of adversity, where the unplanned centres on your way and the smooth is derailed into the rough that you cannot begin to breathe, to dream, or to hope. Many of those who set great expectations would have long deserted you, as in their notion tough love is the best response to the rut you are in.

Getting to the turn

In the depths of despair, defeat, depression, and despondency where everything seems to be lost you wonder where and when things are going to turn. In failure, in disaster, in sickness, in loss, in apparent hopelessness, I have found that those who have believed in me usually indirectly have expressed themselves and girded me through a mother’s love, an uncle’s support, many friends’ encouragement, neighbourly generosity, strangers’ goodness, a lover's love, and all-round human kindness.

They have come with a message of strength that there is no depth you cannot rise out of, that the issues the day are only for a moment and they shall pass, that you have the grit to progress rather than give up, that you will always have a better story to tell beyond the now. We find that we are blessed beyond measure where there are people who believe in us long before we found the ability to believe in ourselves.

And they believed

Their expectations are willing us on rather than disparaging our efforts, giving us hope rather than taking away our prospects, they see us in our potential and never in our failings, their hearts, arms, and hands are open to embrace us, to comfort us, to guide us through the hard times, to listen to our cries in the darkest times, they are sympathy and empathy personified, like angels of mercy and goodness.

I am where I am today because of those who believed more than those who expected and to them I daily owe a debt of gratitude. That we may never forget those who against all odds simply believed that the best is yet to come.

Monday, 30 August 2021

Say little and do much

Making religion worthwhile

You must understand this, my beloved: let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger. [Bible Gateway: James 1:19 NRSV]

This was part of the first reading in church at the morning Sung Eucharist yesterday, where it led to a sermon about practical Christianity centring on the need to shift the emphasis from teaching to doing.

In many situations we find ourselves too engaged in taking instructions and missing the aspects that are impactful. Knowing the rules might be useful but how does that help the needy? Those in need do not need to hear much more like words will not feed the hungry, however, food will. This can be extended to many other situations in life where we need to be doing rather than talking.

Process what you hear

There seems to be a kind of rhythm to the movement, Quick – Slow – Slow – Repeat! Be quick to listen, hear what is being said, what is being asked for, what the need is, what the desire is, what is being prayed for, what assistance is requested. Be slow to interrupt, to interject, to investigate, to infuriate, or to even invigilate. Depending on what we hear still, we should be slow to anger, slow to lose patient, slow to intolerance, slow to feel indifferent.

Invariably, we are asked to listen and act positively, responsively, sympathetically, in an understanding and accepting way, make allowances, and with a lot of tolerance and patience to share the milk of human kindness in as much as we have the capacity for.

Do not exceed the brief

With reference to an episode of NCIS that I was watching earlier, we can easily slip into analysis and overthinking trying to second-guess a situation presented to us, complicating the issue when all that is needed is acceding a simple request. If we take the time to listen and hear with clarity, there is probably enough in what we have heard to act and nothing more.

Much as we want to be helpful, sometimes what is needed is just limited to what is asked for and except if we have acquired the gift of reading minds, we should just stick to what we have heard until a new request is made.

Nigeria: The exodus of 'I have only one life' Nigerians

Our early privilege

Around the time we left secondary school, we were children of middle-class and upwardly mobile parents who were at or approaching the pinnacle of their careers. Many of them, our parents were educated abroad where they had us, children, typically in their mid-20s.

At that time, there was no particular desire amongst us to leave Nigeria, tertiary education was of the standard that was quite competitive and engaging. That we had NYSC (National Youth Service Corps) teachers who had studied abroad did not necessarily make us yearn for an exit, Nigerian seemed to present opportunity and prospect, some of our colleagues spent the summer holidays abroad and still returned to finish their school.

The dream that died

Somehow, has the democracy of the second republic transitioned into military rule, that apparent Nigerian dream was becoming a nightmare. Obviously, the connections we had through the networks of our parents gave us access, be it nepotism or favoritism, a helping hand, and good word here or there, hurdles were smoothed away, but the incumbency of the middle-classes was beginning to shift for even more egregious corruption.

At a point, not even merit coupled with any level of preferential treatment to get you anywhere in Nigeria, the system was gummed up by bureaucracy, corruption, and rent-seekers. In the space of a decade, our accents and apparent privilege got us nowhere. Nigeria was no more working for us and there began the exodus, the exit to where at least we believed more than when our parents were abroad that we could not only thrive, but a semblance of meritocracy gave us a fighting chance.

The first mass exodus

Some of us armed with first degrees or just citizenship by birth knew that the promised land that our parents returned to was not the promised land where we could with grit, talent, and daring begin to live our best lives. Besides, the strictures of tradition, culture and control that stifled our freedom of expression in Nigeria was to be broken out of when we escaped.

From the mid-1980s into the early 1990s, we left Nigeria disillusioned young people to begin new lives abroad just as the government was running a losing battle about losing us to a world that appeared to need us, or so we believed. I would suppose many of us who were born abroad in the 1960s and the 1970s left Nigeria and probably never returned.

The new brain drain

There is a new exodus in play, just as the one we can remember that those in government today were the same faces that could not convince us of the Nigerian dream then. They might not be like those of us of the other exodus, but I would suggest they are the “I have only one life” cohort. They have decided that in the scheme of things the possibility of a different Nigeria is probably remote or impossible and they need to act to provide opportunity and dreams for themselves and their children.

Many of them are highly qualified Nigerians in a Nigeria that is not working for them as they realise there is a global talent market yearning for them and the diversity in expertise they can bring to environments that allows for competition and is rarely gamed by overreach or the abuse of power, where the rule of law, at least in the letter of it appears to be respected and the powerful or influential cannot mess you up on the whim of megalomania.

It still works for some

You still have to give it to those who still believe in the Nigerian dream and seem to thrive in Nigeria despite the lack of ease of doing business, a rotten and intemperate regulatory system that thwarts rather than encourages initiative and innovation, corruption, crumbling infrastructure and the security challenges.

Many Nigerians are thinking, I have only one life and I doubt I want to waste the best part of my productive years daydreaming about a different Nigeria when there could be any other place where my achievements and abilities can find the scope to thrive. For some, even from Nigeria, the world has been their oyster, but for others, they have jumped at the opportunity to emigrate with the feeling that when pit against obstacles abroad they have a more probable chance of coming out on top than struggling in Nigeria.

Use the opportunities that come

This is not to celebrate the exodus from Nigeria of talent and brains, but I left Nigeria over 30 years ago and I know what that had given me in life and experience. It might well be that on balance Nigeria does not deserve many of its youth because the system gives little credence to what they have to contribute.

The world however needs amazing brains and Nigerians constitute a pool of talent the world cannot do without. Maybe after making it abroad, some might return to be honoured at home.

You have one life, take it to the world and make history, that is my treatise to every young Nigerian.

Manchester Pride has become a purposeless Bacchanalia

Profit before purpose

The August Bank Holiday Weekend in Manchester has for long been set aside for the celebration of Manchester Gay Pride, though the Gay has been dropped from the name to make the festival that starts from Friday through Monday more widely celebratory or possibly more commercially palatable to the mainstream.

One can see that our city has had an influx of patrons who are here to revel and party along with anything else they can get up to. Yet, I cannot say we are as residents that the Manchester Pride apparently represents are happy with the state of affairs. Manchester Pride is now a business.

More profit without purpose

Yet, the roots of LGBTQI+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual, Queer, Intersex and other related identity groups) Pride are in agitation, protest, activism, and campaigns against persecution, prosecution, discrimination, injustice, abuse of power and authority, violence, harassment, unfairness and the denial of common rights and privileges enjoyed by mainstream society. [Wikipedia: Pride parade]

At the beginning of the month, we learnt that Manchester Pride will no more be supporting key community support charities as the LGBT Foundation’s condoms and lube initiative and George House Trust that supports people living with HIV. [BBC News: Manchester Pride ends support for safer sex scheme]

Losing the reason for existence

For years, we have enjoyed the celebration and supported the activism to ensure the humanity of LGBTQI+ people are respected and not violated by political, civil, religious, social, or economic groups whilst also ensuring influential interests do no negate the progress in human rights gained in the last half-century.

The freedoms we have in the West compared with the absence of such in many countries around the world where LGBTQI+ people face persecution and capital punishment calls for constant sober reflection, the causes fought for and won here still need the support of the free to gain traction and victories where those like us have none.

This is not to agitate against festivities; indeed, we must celebrate, but not lose purpose or focus on community support and partnership locally and beyond. Sadly, Manchester Pride has become a project without a cause and as it is now, bereft of purpose.

This is not our pride

In my 8 years of living in Manchester, each year the Pride parade was passed in front of my apartment block, I bring a folding chair out of my home to sit and watch the apparent celebration of all. The parade did not happen because of the pandemic last year and this year, they have concentrated on partying on the premise that artists who have had a bad pandemic year need more support.

Even though I have never attended any of the concerts, I have contributed to Manchester Pride until 3 years ago when it became obvious that representation and community engagement was less an impetus for their existence. Having built on the success of LGBTQI+ activism, they have now abandoned that for the commerce and profit at the expense of those they portend to represent.

There is no doubt that there is a need to arrest the decline of purpose with a change of the trusteeship, executive, and management of Manchester Pride, the sooner, the better for the good of all. This is not our pride; it is just a Bacchanalia that has usurped an LGBTQI+ identity.

Sunday, 29 August 2021

Young men dying for a conspiracy of disbelief

Wise men in their conceits

Lately, I have been reading of people dying from CoVID-19 who from the reports associated with their deaths suggest they need not have died.

A search for Caleb Wallace, 30, of Texas reveals unfortunate notoriety of Coronavirus conspiracy theories and trenchant activism against pandemic safety measures the possible flouting of which might have led to his contracting the virus, his hospitalisation, and consequent unnecessary death. [Insider]

Here in the UK, we read of Marcus Birks, 40, of Leek, Staffordshire, who did not get vaccinated because he was sceptical about the Coronavirus. When he contracted the virus, he fell so ill, was hospitalised and he died, on Friday. [BBC News]

Sift acquired knowledge

In none of these cases do I read that these young men who have young families, the latter is survived by a pregnant wife; are public health experts, epidemiologists, virologists, or have qualifications in any medical field. At best, they were dilettantes who seemed to be convinced of whatever informal knowledge they had acquired and staked their lives on it.

Obviously, we must allow everyone the courage of their convictions even if out of folly. To the individual, whatever decisions they make are purely ones of personal responsibility. However, if you are a family man, whatever personal convictions you have must be taken in the context of the broader consequence of acting on that determination.

Choose the avoidable given the choice

I do not believe a man of 30 or 40, for that matter, planned to die and leave behind a family on the principle of disbelieving the science and the evidence that can keep them alive. Even where that matter of principle exists, accounting for the risk of possible death, there must be some reconsideration of the options to err on the side of caution rather than reckless bravado.

You have to wonder if taking the vaccines might have saved the lives of these young men, if wearing masks and social distancing might have given them a chance to live. If curbing the enthusiasm for notoriety out of purveying conspiracy theories, withdrawing to reassess the situation and recant ones stand before it is too late might have resulted in a different story.

It gives one no comfort to learn of these evidently avoidable deaths out of reckless self-endangerment informed by conspiracy against the facts that suggest the slightest chance of survival in the time of a pandemic. We must avoid the tendency to Schadenfreude as we sadly grief what to all intents could have been a different story. If options present the avoidable where responsibility extends beyond us, then the avoidable must be the choice against the regrettable.

Thought Picnic: Just another penny for your thoughts

You want a mind jackpot

A penny for your thoughts, I hear that so many times said to me, to others in conversation, or even on television. This probably emanates from some curious observation and the feeling that your visage presents an inscrutable smorgasbord of activity of the mind that needs enticing out by request.

Let’s just say that penny was put in a slot machine and the handle pulled like the old fruit machines with all the mechanical moving, rotating and revolving parts, does the player expect a jackpot of all critical and consequential thoughts, a small win of the lowest valued fruits lining up, or nothing at all?

Enter the mindful password

Then think of where your thoughts could be accessed by someone who has a security code or a biometric secret to your thoughts and what would they access in what order and to their understanding of the filing system of another person’s mind?

That has always intrigued me, you really cannot get the thoughts of another the way they are processing them except if they volunteer those thoughts and even under duress, you are still left with what they are willing to give up with reference to the level or threshold of enforcement they are willing to endure.

Gambling for an ordered mind

The idea that thoughts are arranged in some cataloguing system accessible by avowed librarians of the mind sometimes called mentalists, who by the power of suggestion and direction can influence and by so doing acquire a result that to the unschooled seems skilful, though is hardly so, must be interesting. Yet, let’s not assume I am a sceptic.

Then again, you might be able to read minds, you probably will not get the kind of information you expect. Maybe if you put in another penny, then another until you run out of pennies, you can try again for that is what gamblers do, they play for luck and hope they hit a jackpot before they run out of funds to keep in the game. The mind is too complex for a simple unrevealing of its secrets, you can keep trying, I won’t stand in your way.

Thought Picnic: Friendship is a test that never ends

Tested and testing

I pass many tests I do not believe I can pass, many not as a result of study but as a study of resolve. The extent to which I have allowed myself to be tested beyond the limits that are tolerable yet somewhere in my cabinet of virtue I find the tolerance. I tolerate a lot.

If you were to survey my tongue, you will find the accidents of restraint, the number of times I have bitten my tongue and resisted blurting out an expletive. With equanimity, I absorb the shocks and displeasure even when I should explode, I become a fully corked volcano stopped short from spewing out pyroclastic flows hoping the pressure subsides.

Friends escaping sanction

I think to myself, friends are a rare breed for whom such allowances are made where others would not find an inch of escape to act with the levity to abuse the familiarity of relationships that breeds contempt and disrespect that we overlook as those we like, and love take liberties and licence on our generosity and much that we share.

Willingly we become masochists of the violation by the hands and whims of those that are not strangers to us, our patience an enduring virtue that could attract the desire to overlook while it demands the irascible. I guess you find yourself entering the twilight zone of Jesus’ advice to forgive seventy times seven times.

They unbeknownst to them wrong you so gravely and yet they do no wrong. It is the stuff of friendships, and that count might just run out and weaken the bond to when it cannot but break. It does break when being careless, carefree and without care deals a lesson of sobriety in reality that you can take no more. How much more? You can never really tell.

Friday, 27 August 2021

Coronavirus streets in Manchester - XLII

Seeing my neighbour

Sitting in my swivel chair chatting to my lover, I look out of my window to see him who sits by the window on the second floor of the building across the quiet road from me and I wonder what he sees in this world from that perspective.

He might also see me as I look up though I have never waved to him in any sort of acknowledgement, then the main road that I will not have a view of except if I change my position might present a variety of vehicular traffic; cars, lorries, bicycles, and dreaded e-scooter of all colours, driven by genders only descriptive if he can see that well, along with the speed of travel regulated by changing traffic lights at the junction beyond our view.

What are their stories?

Lest I forget, his wife and I think that is her role if my eyesight serves me well, sometimes takes that seat too. I would think the vantage view is sitting by the window on the left from my viewpoint as there can’t be much to see seating on right and looking out to their left.

Maybe, just maybe they need company as they sit in limbo without friends or family, but the lifelong companionship of each other reminiscing of a life that only exists in memories fading away, a youth spent that could be stories to listen to, if we just knew each other. These notes I scribbled down on my notepad as my lover watched wondering what I was up to and this is it. Another situation in Manchester in these pandemic times.

Thursday, 26 August 2021

Bowling coffee

Standups at dawn

In the mornings we send each other video messages on WhatsApp but recently because of a pandemic control situation we do now get to have a video chat, first thing in the morning and then after work just before the networks on his side of the world start to misbehave for some unknown reason in the evenings.

Then, the videos were recorded in his office, the backdrop with medical charts and his visage a thing of undying pleasure to behold. However, depending on when I call, it is somewhere from just rising to possibly driving.

To sip and not slurp

The opportunity for a coffee to deal with the tremors of the early wake up to attend to the day could if not fully drunk leave the video conference in a shaking frenzy of possible concern. The coffee mug is hardly such that it has a handle for it is a bowl, a whole bowl for a two-handed manoeuvre from rest to lips and down again with the function of not needing another serving.

Whilst I should probably confess to thinking too much as he would at times surmise, the bowl could do ten pins in one or hit a six to the boundary. I guess that is where we got the title of bowling coffee. Having just about enough and more than the usual to give the day a start of not repeating the same ritual until the next morning. 

Wednesday, 25 August 2021

Skipping on lava

Only what I saw

Visited with the inscrutable in language so easily misunderstood, the project takes a chimeral form too nondescript to give shape to coherent thought that you are lost in a labyrinth of dark tunnels with eerie sounds masking the booming roar of a menacing minotaur.

My sobriety defeats me as I approach the caldera of a volcano ready to enter the mouth of the dragon that prances on the fires of the belly of the earth, I am scalded by its breath and starved of oxygen almost ready to swoon into the ethereal nothingness of the end.

In the abandon that ensues, not reckless in the least, we are become Pompeii and in looking back at the conflagration that has begun to surround us, we become the only friend of Lot’s salty wife.

Knowing pain is personal

Pain consumes you

Pain is a feeling that goes deep into your core that could be such a distraction from everything else keeping you in the discomfort that seeks to become the normal of your current existence.

Pain is the moment, it has no past or future, it is now, calling out to every nerve that has any element of response, you cannot be unaware of it being there, a dominating sadistic force of otherworldly provenance.

I once knew what pain was, the pain of cancer and yet in knowing that I am always reticent to associate my experience with that of anyone else, because we all feel pain so differently, it is individual and unique, it is personal for which the prescription, if it can be eased, is particular to that situation.

Pain refusing to go

I was on morphine but after two nights I could no longer tolerate it, I was overcome with emesis they had to try something else. Then, it was oxycontin which worked for a few hours and late at night, I would call the nurse for another pill because the pain was interfering with my sleep.

Before I left hospital, I was given a Fentanyl patch, which was supposed to last a week affixed to my skin, but the pain still seemed to announce itself in my consciousness and this was apart from the three other types of pain medication I was on addressing neuralgia, headaches, inflammation, and fevers.

When I told my oncologist, I was still feeling some pain, he doubled the dose of the Fentanyl patch having first thought the original dosage should have dealt with the pain. I did have a high pain threshold, but if you had fungating tumours in the sole of your foot it was just on another level. Then as the tumour dissipated and necrotised skin came off with fresh skin replacing the once blackened flesh, the pain from cancer remained for months afterwards.

What becomes of the pain afflicted?

At the full healing of my sole, the pain subsided but I had to wean myself off the patch by halving it and leaving it on for longer, a process that took another 3 months. It was a revelation of how opioid pain relief can become addictive.

Just over a week ago, on my Twitter timeline, a physician undergoing chemotherapy for aggressive cancer wrote of the pain she was feeling. I could relate, yet I could not find the form of words to offer comfort, I just knew that somewhere you needed some alleviation and hopefully without the incapacitation that you cannot function at all.

Pain can be arresting, what becomes those for whom nothing can ease their pain? It is of them that I hope beyond hope that relief comes that they might find comfort, peace, and rest. In my case, the consultant also had some confidence that we could see the end of it if I responded well to the treatment and that is how I find myself writing about it 12 years after.

Pain in my blogs

Blog - In hospital to kill the pain

Blog - Getting off the pain train

Blog - Generally responsive and dealing with pain

Blog - Stronger medicine and another course of chemo

Blog - Boldly tell your doctor everything

Blog - Off and back on the pain patch

Blog - Opinion: Where addiction and tragedy can confuse issues

Monday, 23 August 2021

Coronavirus streets in Manchester - XLI

Hermitude becomes I

Despite being fully vaccinated, I hear tales of people who have contracted the Coronavirus. It is possible they would not be hospitalised but finding out that you are CoVID-19 positive is not the kind of news you want to receive at any time.

It is strange that the last time I was out of my apartment block was 8 days ago. Not that I was in quarantine, but I was in one of my usual bouts of being a hermit. I did step out of my apartment to check my mailbox, met up with my neighbours for a drinks night and then my friend who sometimes comes into town was here a few times and on one occasion tidied up my living room and kitchen. I am always grateful for his ordering touch.

For fridge on dead freezer

Having emptied my freezer of all the defrosted food much of which I could not use that it unfortunately ended up in the bin, I logged a maintenance call with the letting agents to have someone give the freezer a look before it is decided whether it should be repaired or replaced.

Stepping out after work to the local supermarket to get some fruit and drinks, I had my mask on from home, you cannot be too careful. Most of the customers were donning face masks apart from one who was yapping away on his phone until he had to pay with the same phone, hence, terminating the call.

The theatre of fear

Opposite the supermarket is the legendary Palace Theatre, which first opened in 1891 and on my way to the shop there was a uniformed crowd outside that had disappeared after I finished shopping. Then I noticed there was a show on, The Woman Is Back, opening tonight for 4 nights. This is a sign of things coming back into a kind of normalcy, for the last show advertised, The Phantom of the Opera, to start on the 26th of March 2020 to the 30th of May 2020, never opened because of the pandemic lockdown and the theatre has been closed to audiences since then.

I also noticed that the theatre box office is not open to the public which I think means all tickets will be processed online alone with them presented as printouts or mobile phone scannable codes. Though I worry as friends have indicated on visiting theatres in London recently, CoVID-19 precautions are not that adhered to. That simply means I would be avoiding those enclosed entertainment places for a little while yet. However, we must celebrate the little changes we see around us.

RSS Mischief II - The fundamentals of fluid mechanics

Angelic babies, we were not

When we were sent to boarding school, it was presumed we were innocent, unaware, unspoilt, and undefiled. Yet, nothing to be further from the truth about the kind of knowledge we all had as adolescence and puberty had hormones raging in our bodies that the more precocious and adventurous amongst us found outlets for.

Rumours abounded of boys meeting girls, seniors finding impressionable girls to exploit in the dark classrooms late at night, there was even one instance though unconfirmed of penis captivus where the parties could not be separated after intercourse for a while, the male participant allegedly the son of the principal.

Denial and hypocrisy around us

Sometimes, the girls disappeared for a while, recorded as ill with apparent tuberculosis whilst most definitely, a pregnancy was terminated. The female teachers in school were matrons of ovulatory expertise, they could tell if a girl was pregnant from the whites of her eyes, her continual spitting, and some other natural sign of divination before inquiring wether the pregnancy was caught by contagion if no name of the sexual partner was forthcoming.

I do not think any male got called out for sexual intercourse except in our last year when two girls were gang-raped by a group of boys with whom at least one had provided times of intimacy years before.

All ready to do something

For those of us who were not daring enough to approach the opposite sex, we were not entirely sexless. My first exploration was when a classmate during a moment of being alone together asked if we could copulate. I did not know what copulate meant even though from an earlier age I seemed to have some excitement looking up words that began with sex. I had eaten of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil from 7 and after that, pederasty did occur at home with people employed to care for us.

He soon left the boarding school as he just did not cope with the environment. In terms, it was harsh for many of us leaving home for the first time, but we found ways to adapt. Being one of the youngest of my class, I was quite developed for my age, taller with pubic hair that others thought I had acquired by the application of methylated spirit. I do not know where the idea of hair growth by methylated spirit came from.

The fundamentals of fluid mechanics

Soon, there were partners my age mates were in a lower class but full of sexual needs and seeking some partnership in which I found a few to fumble or frot. Later, there was one, a classmate, with whom fumbling led to fellatio with the experience of ejaculation, he called fluid. That even went on until two or three years after we left school.

I never met with the ones who had homosexual inclinations, at least, not until I began seeing them in pubs, clubs, and parties in the UK. I cannot speak for their experiences as they all seem to want to avoid engagement even as it was quite obvious, they did not miss their way into those places of encounter.

All the others are married, the ones I still remember and are even grandparents. We can agree that those days of our youth were just experimenting in practical fluid mechanics; the physics, the chemistry, and the biology of it, the subject of memories of old mischief.

Blog - RSS Mischief I - Yikes! A snake

Sunday, 22 August 2021

For more than just the dreams

Towards the good perfect

What would you think is your idea of perfect in the midst of everything you encounter and the life you live? I think of many things, the way things are and the way I want things to be along with how to bridge the gap between those situations.

Yes, we dream and we desire, even we hope and try not to despair, our yearnings against our earnings in a tussle of the possibility and bringing impossibility into the realm of reality. Life imitates many things including fantasy and somewhere within the gifts we are given we deign to think nothing is really out of reach.

From my mind to living

I guess what is paramount in my mind is companionship and then everything else that makes all that work out. This pandemic has upset so many things, but it won’t be long as the visions form in the vivid tapestry of my active mind and imagination; Brian, Cape Town, working from home from anywhere in the world, the thriving of my partner and the freedom to be and be well.

Indeed, what is your idea of the current imperfect becoming as close to as perfect can be, where the luck, the good, the grace, the favour, and fortune all smile on you.

Thought Picnic: Casting pearls of friendship before swine of misery

Reaching out in the plague

During this pandemic considering how alone and lonely some people could be, I reached out to some friends to maintain the bond of friendship and to offer support, not because I was in a perfect situation, but I realised how mutually beneficial it could be to me and them.

Most of my friends engaged and even introduced activities that helped weather the lockdown even if all we did never made up for the absence of companionship for some and the distance between partners in an existing relationship. We ploughed on in the hope that eventually, the plague will lift, and we can begin to see each other again.

The unpredictability of friendships

Generally, I do not make friends that easily, most of the friends, I have known for decades and that does not mean I do not have the time for new friendships, the opportunities abound but it is almost like a frog kissing exercise and if you ever believed the story of the prince that was turned into a frog then kissed to turn into a handsome eligible bachelor prince, you will probably kiss every frog you see.

You really cannot determine what will make friends of people from their first encounter, even if there are mutual interests, there is much more to establishing interests than basic commonalities. I have friends I cannot for the life of me understand how we could ever have been friends and yet we thrive together in respect, affection, concern, and love. It is a mysterious thing and I do not care from the postulations written about friendships, there are qualities of interdependence that would make them work.

A friendship may never grow

There are cases where I have decided not to continue friendships that they could be links to memories in the past that I would rather forget. There are friendships I have just terminated because the emotional abuse usually borne of issues in that person’s life has been projected on me, that I have run out of the patience to endure it any longer.

I am sure there are people who were once friends who now think nothing of me, that is their prerogative, I guess eventually I get the hint if I have not been directly informed that the friendship is being discontinued. Though, in one instance I do remember one friendship that had prospect but never took hold, much as I liked the person there was a lot I learnt of them that suggested they had rarely been acquainted with kindness in friendship, they had a form of misery they needed to share that I was not predisposed to.

Treasure your pearls of friendship

Strenuously, I tried to help bring this person to appreciate a side of humanity I felt could free one to enjoy life, I was met with an unpersuadable spirit first and then my own openhearted entreaties were being drained into the blackhole of their not know which side their bread was buttered on, I was casting my pearls of friendship to be trampled on by swine of misery. I hoped and I persevered, but I was getting nowhere.

They were not interested and I guess eventually as I read somewhere, “reality is the most tenacious influencer I know.”* The reality I lived and experienced meant even I had to understand we were not friends however much I hoped we could be and whilst I doubt we would become enemies, it was time for me to invest in what was working and whatever else might have a prospect. The end.

* Andrew Sullivan in Substack. [Rejecting the jab: why has the US vaccine roll-out ‘hit a wall’?]

Saturday, 21 August 2021

Coronavirus streets in Manchester - XL

A river scolded

River Medlock, a 10-mile long river that rises is Oldham, through the centre of Manchester before it runs into the River Irwell was after a moment of natural exuberance tamed by the Victorians, culverted and restrained through the cities of Salford and Manchester. It idly flows almost bereft of its menacing history when it took the dead out of their graves in Philips Park Cemetery in the mid-19th Century.

Blog - Walks through the cycle of life

On my walks, I write in my notepad with script that is neither shorthand nor legible, I just have to remember my scrawl as a collection of thoughts to transcribe into my eventual blog. A sight indeed not learnt from the rigour of handwriting lessons I took in primary school.

A sample of handwriting from my notepad whilst I am walking.

It’s going down

Two high-performance Porsche cars and a Range Rover parked in a secluded and abandoned garage on Old Ashton Road, three men by the building engaged in a discussion and through the air, I heard the words ‘pay’ and ‘money’.

I surmise, something is going down and I doubt it is legal, else they would have met in a restaurant, I would think. A thought crosses my mind to take a picture of the cars and their licence plate numbers, but I resisted the urge to court trouble. Who knows what else they might be up to and you really do not want to be the collateral damage?

I walk on by trying for forget what I saw and setting my eyes on the goal to just get my steps in whilst I discover another part of Manchester that was always there, but I never dared to visit.

Samuel Windsor is closing down

Successfully delivered somewhere

I was tossing and turning in bed trying to have a nap whilst possibly listening to a radio podcast and having the unfortunate distraction of mobile telephony with its permanent connection to the world when I saw an email arrive in my inbox informing me that, “Hermes (a courier/delivery/logistics company) has successfully delivered your Samuel Windsor parcel.”

I am at home, but the courier did not bother to ring my bell, the parcel was left in our mailroom where an intersexual pilferer of little social grace who has had to be forcefully ejected from our village plied her maleficent trade.

They even sent me a picture of where the parcel was left to the elements of thievery that we hope have been humanely extirpated from our midst. Whilst I would have thought a successful delivery were one where the recipient had verifiably received the goods, especially if they are present to collect the parcel.

Men’s shoes and clothing catalogue

Samuel Windsor, I discovered when their catalogue came with my The Week magazine some 6 years ago, I started with the shoes of exquisite workmanship at an outstandingly affordable prices and thought I have 6 unworn pairs, I have so far ordered 19 pairs, out of which some have been for Brian.

After the shoes, I ordered suits that fitted, jackets, trousers, shorts, socks, and accessories. They became my stockists of menswear, all done online apart from the appalling use of a less than satisfactory courier services of DX Delivery Services and Tracking that just could not seem to complete the task in one go, every time apart from when they delivered to my office.

Samuel Windsor is closing shop after 18 years, the owners are apparently retiring and there is a closing-down sale which inspired my last order that I put through some 5 weeks ago but because of the volume of orders, only arrived today.

Pretty damn good shoes

I am saddened by the exit of Samuel Windsor from the marketplace because I do not know who will be replacing them with regards to our sartorial needs. For the past two years, I have been ordering for Brian and I, we share the same trouser size and even shirt size, not the jacket size though as he is two sizes smaller with the same length of arms that are rarely in stock. We also can get the same shoes; he goes for size 9½, and I am size 12.

I would never have thought catalogue shopping could be classy, sophisticated, and quite affordable along with the breadth of choices we have. Testament to the quality of the shoes was when I had a shoe shiner at the domestic terminal of O R Tambo International Airport, Johannesburg comment on the quality and workmanship of my shoes. He would know and I was proud to say they were handmade in the UK.

There is a likelihood I might put in a final order, getting Brian to choose anything is hard enough, I just usually hope my choices pass the muster.

Thursday, 19 August 2021

RSS Mischief I - Yikes! A snake

Idle hands and fiery minds

I had a box of matches, and I was ready for mischief in one of those sinister acts of naughtiness invisibly perpetrated out of boredom and a sense of adventure in secondary school. I went to Remo Secondary School (RSS), Sagamu, Ogun State, the Class of 1981.

Much as I do not retain enduring friendships or associations with alumni from my secondary school, it does not suggest that my time there was not memorable. We were up to a lot of stuff, some probably unprintable because that could span the spectrum of the dastardly to just downright criminal. The tall prepubescent innocent-looking boy with a funny accent cannot be responsible for many things and there were things we did not do.

The long bamboo grasses

The annual inter-house sports day had us combing the dense jungle around the school for thick bamboo grass shoots like trunks and palm fronds to build the schoolhouse gazebos at the back of the sports field, that was part of the competition along with the field and track games for which in total points my schoolhouse, Adedoyin came last for 3 years.

Not far from my dormitory was a large bamboo grass bush that rarely yielded much but had grown from the cutting and extraction of bamboo stalks over the years. That we were rarely fearful of the possibility of dangerous elapine species lurking in bushes was probably one of innocence rather than bravery or daring.

Light it up and walk by

The grass beckoning to an arsonist’s urge in me was like tinder begging for the role of cinder and irresistibly, a lit match flew out of my hand to the inflammable grass, starting with a smouldering without rising into a conflagration, as I walked by my deed, it appeared it was going to be a slow burn. This was sometime around 5:00 PM.

After lights out, there was some commotion, someone had stepped out from the dormitory hall probably to take a leak and saw a snake, he raised alarm and a tumult resulted, sticks and clubs to hand they chased after the homeless reptile and send it to snake heaven. The principal, Mrs Adebambo, unaware of what caused the fracas came out of her home and nabbed some of the boys with the view to suspending them the next day.

Preserved from punishment

I was not part of the melee, how could any of that have been as a result of what I had done earlier even as it did occur to me that it might have been my deft handiwork?

The morning came and as the principal was about to unleash her fury, she was presented with yellowish-green cobra laid out in front of the staffroom. That was the end of her intentions; the snake was picked up by our motorbike riding Irish biology teacher and preserved in a large bottle of formaldehyde as an object of study, interest, and fascination.

Now, I dread the thought of what could have been if that snake had bitten anyone and at the same time one had indirectly acquired a biological objet d’art for the school.

A red hat in Paris

My heart in Paris

Paris, a city I know like the back of my hand and have not had the opportunity to visit since November 2018. Now, I do transit through Charles de Gaulle Airport, but that is another story. The truth is I miss Paris, the café culture, and my seat on the first floor of Café Beaubourg watching onto the front of the Georges Pompidou Centre, that I have never visited, as the world goes by.

That view I have cherished for 21 years, a place of memories and much else, for some friends have departed or fallen apart, and this apart from those from whom one receives no alerts of conversation or communication anymore.

A walk of life

Stepping out of Café Beaubourg after brunch, I bear left onto Rue Saint-Merri, cross Rue Saint-Martin which as certain times host venues of excitable pleasures with strangers and then I am at a milliner’s where every colour of hat exists to challenge your daring. That is where I eventually decided, the day after on a red pork-pie hat.

I put the hat I was wearing in the bag and stepped out with this callout of brilliance that elicited commentary every few steps I took, I was looking good and feeling just as good too. Then on to Boulevard de Sebastopol past Place du Chatelet, down the ramp to the north side of the Seine and a walk westwards towards Pont Neuf where I found a seat to observe the river traffic, take in the winter sun and some photographs too.

You can’t have not

One of such photographs became the source of a compliment, my outfit with the red hat according to him, he loved, and I looked really cool. I acknowledged and asked if he was doing well too. He was preparing for the day and out of interest asked where the picture was taken which gave life to my knowledge of Paris.

To my concealed shock, he had never visited Paris nor been around Europe though he planned to do a bit of travel before he was 50. Now, I can understand people planning for adventures and exploration at a later point in life, taking it as a given. For instance, he had another 12 years to fulfil those desires, if we are sure of things, times, and terms.

The time for travel is now

I have learnt, the only time we have is the moment called now, the past is gone, the future uncertain, so we are left asking the question, what are we doing with the now? It is where I suddenly get philosophical because it is necessary to have things in perspective.

Any time you get to do travel, do it, do not wait for a time you might think is convenient. I am 55 and thankfully 12 years after cancer which at prognosis only gave me 5 weeks to live if my physiology could not tolerate the treatment. Before that illness, I thought myself inviolable and invincible.

Banish the spectre of regret

Whilst not trying to sound morbid, the time we have for anything is now and what we must not waste the now on is to set ourselves up for a future of regrets at what we could have done. It is the same thinking I had at the end of 2018 when at one point I was undecided about going on holiday to South Africa until I caught myself thinking, if I did not travel, I might well regret it.

I did travel and I met Brian with whom I hope someday to visit Paris and see the sights that have enthralled me. Too many people have options and opportunities before them, but they, out of the embarrassment of choices and an inkling of self-worth set themselves on for the prospects and possibilities ignoring what is at hand. I hope they can reset their course before no option is available, those opportunities are lost and the possibilities they dared to dream of shatter into shards of regret.

No prophet would come into your indecision, but you will hear some voices and some advice as good as prophecy, now for the discernment to make that move and make it count.

Paris by the Seine - February 2017

A blog that needs me?

A lonely blog

Daily, I think of thee, O Blog,
Maybe, another basket of words to flog,
I strain and prevaricate in this hard slog,
Each thought touched yet not ready to tog,
I let things lie like a sleeping dog,
Then another day passes like I’ve lost the bug,
Not for long would I be caught in a fog,
The blog still remains my best catalogue.

Friday, 13 August 2021

Opinion: The modern-day cult of Moloch

We are not entirely immune

Don’t give any of your children to be burned in sacrifice to the god Molech—an act of sheer blasphemy of your God. I am God.” [BibleGateway: Leviticus 18:21 (The Message)] Molech is also spelt Moloch or Molek.

I have watched with horror the war, conflicts, and atrocity wielded with political rage on the issue of wearing masks, mask mandates, and other kinds of protection and prevention from contracting the Coronavirus especially in schools, in America and elsewhere.

I do not intend to postulate, but I would start from a basic premise. If you do not have natural or acquired immunity against the Coronavirus, you do not want to risk contracting it. Whilst the odds of succumbing to the COVID-19 disease with symptoms requiring hospital admission and the threat to life are somewhat minimal if you have no underlying conditions, the risk is not removed. Healthy people have died, very healthy children have died.

Protections help prevention

Now, until we had vaccines, the only way we managed the spread of the Coronavirus was through government-imposed lockdowns and restrictions along with mask mandates, social distancing, crowd control, and healthy preventions as avoiding enclosed places and limiting our interaction with people outside our immediate households.

For those who are vaccinated, the risk of contracting the disease is reduced, but the possibility of being a vector of transmission without presenting symptoms is there. Where a pandemic is in play, the responsibility is both personal and communal to hold the effects of the pandemic at bay and until the pandemic is eradicated and that does not seem to be in the near term, we still need to consider some preventative and protection measures for our sakes and those of others, some of who might well be vulnerable.

Children are vulnerable

As immunisation is still under review for administering to children in many domains because of side effects that could be life-threatening, children remain part of the vulnerable cohort if exposed to the Coronavirus and when exposed to it in the school environment might be vectors of transmission to their social and home communities. That should be in consideration and reasonably so.

To posit the argument for some protections when returning to the school environment as it is obvious that there are many strains and variants of the Coronavirus with highly transmissible rates in the community should never be up for debate, it should be one of the most agreeable actions to adopt except where clear medical exemptions require otherwise.

I am just perplexed

The politicisation of the mask mandates with parents vehemently protesting their children wearing masks in school settings where their children are meeting with others and whilst the same children no natural or acquired immunity to the Coronavirus is at first baffling if not irresponsible. It is madness of the order of utter befuddlement.

You begin to wonder if the people against the vaccination and other protections against viruses including the Coronavirus have not become like the worshippers of Moloch, the Canaanite deity amongst whom were involved in child sacrifice and allowing their children to pass through the fire, in religious antiquity.

For how is it not cultist child sacrifice if you're ready to expose your child to a virus that kills when there are some means even if imperfect to protect them just on ideological grounds?

How many of the children of any situation, community, city, state, or country have to die before politicians let go of the atrociously irresponsible for basic science and public health to matter?

I'm just dumbfounded, how many more child sacrifices before the god of obstinacy and ignorant ideology would be told, no more?

('Moloch' has been figuratively used in reference to a person or a thing which demands or requires a very costly sacrifice.) [Wikipedia: Moloch] It is my view that protesting the wearing of masks by children in school where it could protect them and prevent them contracting the Coronavirus is demanding a very costly sacrifice, the sacrifice of the children. That must be unacceptable in any healthy society.

Thursday, 12 August 2021

Thought Picnic: Episodes of mental health review

Our fragility in strange cases

It would appear it is open season for mental health, everyone is talking about it, and even if in my writings I have not particularly framed it in terms of extricating myself in the heat of circumstance, certain allusions have been made towards how things have been handled in adversity, in difficulty, in loneliness, or in general.

Within the body of stoicism is a lot of vulnerability and fragility, people mistakenly assume some people are made of sterner stuff to all appearances and forget that no one is essentially superhuman and inviolable, coping mechanisms are just that, the extent to which under pressure there is just that little more that comes to bear is what prevents cracking.

Too much on the grill

The last week has been heavy with absorption and management, a pilgrimage in planning and the drama of technology creating upset that one just excused oneself from interactive to consideration that life was just normal, though not being recorded. That is the stuff of watching FlightRadar24 through the night and what you are following appearing to do what is not really happening.

A bereavement at the passing of a grand old dame far away set in motion a whole series of concerns along with understanding that navigating the theoretical Kubler-Ross 5 Stages of Grief is a world away from handling the reality of loss, grief, sorrow, arrangements, through the tussle of finality in physical with the continuity in the mental and metaphysical. The best you can do is offer support and comfort; each person has to work their situation through.

In life and in hope

A friend and another find themselves at the end of a diagnosis somewhat inconclusive but hopefully with a path towards management and recovery. My experience does not inform me any better about how to face tough decisions, I am probably just some evidence that you can get to tell a better story, and whatever you are told, you can centre yourself within the situation to ensure you get the best outcomes. It is always your body first before it is their Guinea pig, no matter how good or sure they are.

Sometimes, I get invited to convey a premise with the deft use of language in order to acquire an intended resolution. I am usually up to that challenge, but I rarely subscribe to an exercise in futility. When it is coming up against the dead hand of bureaucracies run by badly automated algorithms that have not consideration of humanity and pressure of sanction is piled on regardless. I prefer to settle at the earliest opportunity and move on. It is a greater relief for all concerned than the prolongation of uncertainty and anxiety.

The week might just end in a flourish, the discrepancy noticed at beginning of the month has been resolved. I probably would not get an apology, but there is a ticking up in the register and that would do me fine. What I need is a place of quiet, quietness, and quietude for the spirit, soul, and body to put things in perspective and a sense of calm.