Saturday 31 December 2022

In the eve of the year of the Lord 2023

What is a year?

Time is a construct of a frame of reference and for us earthlings, it represents how long it takes for the earth to revolve around the sun, our sun. Any day of 24 hours of the earth rotating once on its own axis can become that point from 365 days and a bit is measured to become a year and invariably, every day is a New Year.

It makes one wonder what ushering in the New Year is all about and whether one should put any more significance to any day than another, but in our humanity and depending on the culture and how we relate to the heavenly bodies we have broadly agreed on a concept of time measurement and milestones that makes today the last day of the calendar year of 2022 AD [anno Domini nostri Jesu Christi (in the year of our Lord Jesus Christ)].

It is grace upon me

The religious and Western significance of AD is not lost on me, for it allows me to reflect on the disappointments, misfortunes, sadness, failures, happiness, goodness, mercy, strength, comfort, successes, expectations, hopes, and good health that have defined this interesting year.

On a personal level, I know I am loved beyond what I could ever deserve, and I am grateful to my lover, Brian, my family, my friends, my neighbours, and even strangers that have held me up and buoyed me through situations I could hardly have traversed alone. Even more so, my faith has strengthened me constantly renewing and replenishing where exhaustion deigns to take hold.

Gearing to God

For those who drive, gears need to be engaged for a car to move with some determination, a car in neutral will remain stationary except if it is on an incline and the brakes were taken off, then it rolls and without control might well crash into something, causing damage.

It makes me think about how in religion faith and believing in God is also one of direct and practical engagement in prayer and supplication with desire and conviction for things to happen, God does not work in neutral, though accidents do happen.

The best comes

I am thankful for my health holding strong even after a scare that had me blue-lighted to the hospital a week ago, nothing to fear, just a strain that subsided after a couple of days without any intervention. The suddenly of anxiety soon gave way to the calm of assurance and a recovery of verve and swerve.

Daily, I have reason and cause to smile, even to laugh, to praise and to be filled with thankfulness, the privations of the present being swept away in the deluge of plentiful abundance of means, favour, opportunity, adventure, excitement, and dreams coming true. Let us reach out with the purpose to enter into the jubilee of the year of the Lord 2023.

Wishing you a very Happy New Year, the best is on its way.

Saturday 24 December 2022

Taken hostage by the NHS

The sentiment applies

Our National Health Service (NHS) is a national treasure sacred cow, many of us owe our lives and health to the amazing professionals who in their qualifications and humanity go the extra mile to attend to ills and ailments that afflict us in life.

Personally, the NHS has served me well from the moment I took my first breath with the alacrity that impressed upon them to immediately find means for me to survive and thrive when I was born just around the end of the second trimester.

Besides, where I meet the NHS for acute health services from the annual influenza vaccinations to the biannual consultations for long-term care, the NHS is an efficiently run outfit with appointments made, patients promptly seen to, and activities executed with despatch.

Another place in time

Much as that selfless service remains, at Accident and Emergency (A&E), the accident of having to visit the hospital is not met with the emergency that one would somewhat expect. The NHS becomes a Never Hurried Situation (NHS) of the immediacy of triage but the interminable wait for consultation with a doctor.

We are kept in the waiting room suffering to varying degrees on seating that should never be used for more than a few minutes for hours on end, expectant and hoping for one’s name to be called to see the doctor just as the system works the clock to ensure that the statistical waiting time is at least 6 hours after arrival, though waiting for over 9 hours was the reality.

You are caught in a Necessitated Hostage Setting (NHS) because your need for the service provided by the A&E compels you to exercise patience as a patient, you cannot leave before you are seen to and if you leave you lose your place and are left unsure of the reason why you sought the service in the first place.

Invariably, you are a hostage of circumstances beyond your control as the medical review you require is not one acquired through self-help even if you were a medical practitioner.

Help is needed

Is there any wonder that when I looked at the board of operational efficiency figures of the said hospital, only one out of the 12 or so indicators met the required standard and yet, someone with a great sense of humour had posters put up in the waiting room asking for our feedback. How likely are you to recommend our services to friends and family if they needed similar care or treatment? Surely, you are kidding me.

Poster in the A&E waiting room at Manchester Royal Infirmary 

Yet, we should be grateful for small and great mercies, we left assured that all is well. A few adjustments are required but nothing to fear, our NHS creaks, yet still delivers. It could be way better, it is the kind of experience you rarely ever want to relive, if you could help it.

Friday 23 December 2022

My own All Saints' Day

The saints in my canon

It would appear strange that quite deep into the Advent season so close to Christmas, I am celebrating my own version of All Saint’s Day which in the traditional Christian Church calendar starts at the end of October with All Hallows’ Eve, then All Saints’ Day and ends on the 2nd of November with All Souls’ Day.

As it has come up in conversations that I have had recently, I find that there are men interesting and significant who are no more with us, such who have become canonised in my own life story, and this is not a list to supplant that of the church. In these men, usually not deliberate, but significant, I have found direction, insight, and light, even if for a transient and sometimes for longer, they are lauded.

This list is hardly exhaustive, but it is probably the beginning of recognising the influence, impact, and mentoring of people that have mattered in my life.


Unculu, he was my uncle, my father’s younger brother, and as a child, he was a deflection from the personality that my dad exuded as a high-achieving and successful man with a home life that strict, stern, and terrifying in the way he disciplined his youngest sibling, my aunt, along with how he commanded an entire of relations that genuflected and regarded him with fear and adulation.

In Unculu, I found that adults can be approachable, you can engage in conversation with them and there were no limits to the expression of ideas or viewpoints that it was of him that I asked if he could wait at his own age for me to catch up. He smiled, as he explained how that age-gap is constant. It was also in him that I observed that being respectful of everyone does not in any way diminish your standing.

Tajudeen Oladipo Akintayo, became Unculu to me, and it was out of respect for him that the Ola part of my name Akinola was not used when I was addressed and I believe when his son who met an untimely death was addressed the Akin part of his name Akinyemi was not used, in consideration of me. Much as there could have been ways Unculu could have influenced me beyond my childhood, I became more of an observer than a follower when he left our household. He passed on in June 2019.

Blog - Thought Picnic: In the husbandry of futility

Uncle Jimoh

Uncle Jimoh, at first, was the son of a patriarch in the north, his father, Baba Bukuru ran a bicycle shop in Bukuru, a suburb of Jos. However, I began to notice that Uncle Jimoh was quite academically brilliant, the kind of person who would go places given the opportunity and whose potential was unlimited in terms of what he could achieve.

I could see the mutual respect that grew between my parents and their younger distant cousin, if there was a beacon of excellence, they desired any of us their children to aspire to, Uncle Jimoh would be a clear example. His success was shared with such unflinching generosity as I experienced in gifts and conversations, especially when he was completing his Quantity Surveying studies in the UK as I was leaving secondary school.

How he influenced me was at the time subtle because I was quite persuaded to consider the same career and it was through certain exchanges with him that I focused more on attending a polytechnic rather than a university. Eventually, I did start with Chemical Engineering but veered towards Electrical & Electronic Engineering which formed the foundations of my career.

For advice, he was present, sometimes commanding, other times adjuring, but mostly advising. He remained through his life someone to look up to and was a significant contributor at the point when I was ready to depart for the UK. Jimoh Ogunnaike, he left indelible footsteps in the sands of time. He passed on in November 2013.

Blog - A great man, we've lost

Uncle Cash

Our initial encounters were relayed to me for I do not have any recollection of an older man observing a precocious child of 5 that arrested the attention of everyone with his speech and his actions, I got told many times of that, it was impossible not to have it encoded in memory.

Around that same time, my father had promised him £10 if he passed the school examinations he had until then failed, a debt still left unpaid, a family canard or more besides, I was not a witness of that shaking of hands.

We had more engaging encounters after he returned from his studies in the UK and through his wife, my aunt, as my first job was also at the same place of work. Many family backstories followed.

He became my guardian in January 1986 by invitation of my aunt and it was from then that he became a purposeful and consequential influence on my life. Much of what I have become is a result of the example he was.

More significantly, he built up my confidence to be assertive, to think with clarity and work at being less encumbered by the emotional or the irrational, it is difficult to quantify or qualify how impactful that was in character building whilst allowing me the courage of my convictions and beliefs.

That relationship-building and cultivating work never stopped and this piece would never capture the essence of who he was to me. Christopher Ademola Soyinka, CASH! To all who knew him passed on in June 2022.

Blog - Uncle Cash!


When I walked into the calico white building at 203 Ikorodu Road, I was in my best shoes knocking on Information Technology company doors looking for work, I had finished my trek of Ikeja and was on my way to Lagos Island and Ikoyi when I caught a glimpse of IT Systems Ltd literally opposite the famous Baptist Academy. Even with that school, I have some old history.

I walked into IT Systems and asked for work, after a few questions and answers, I was offered a job to start the following Monday. Little did I know of what was happening upstairs apart from whispers about an unassuming larger-than-life lawyer with his team of researchers working on the Nigerian Supreme Court Cases and about to beat the renowned Gani Fawehinmi at the game of annotating, cataloguing, and expositing the cases of the supreme court from 1963.

My first encounter with Deji, D-Shash to everyone was when they asked for some help with their computers, I went upstairs, fixed the issue in minutes and for that, Deji dipped his hand in his pocket and offered me NGN 50; that was a quarter of my monthly salary, but I politely declined it, what I did to resolve the problem was just too trivial to charge for, I had sown a seed of some recognition in his mind.

Meanwhile, a classmate who was staying with me out of the generosity of my Uncle Cash because he had another job with an IT firm in Lagos shared some discs with me containing the desktop publishing application, Xerox Ventura Desktop Publisher which in my spare time, I learnt to use quite proficiently and that opened many doors. Another long story.

I fixed a number of problems happily for Deji upstairs and still refused any payment or gifts until I left IT Systems to go contracting. A month into my stint, word got to me that Deji wanted a meeting with me. He had a sporadic business relationship with an African American desktop publishing consultant1 where he needed additional commitments, and so he wanted me not as an employee, but as a consultant to support their desktop publishing projects and also train the staff on the basics. (1I have since learnt Rhonda Dabiri, passed on in April 2020)

The deal he offered was borne of a level of respectful courtesy rare in people of means and power, before I had thought of it, he said, whenever you are ready to leave for England, your ticket is paid for, apart from that, I will give you a monthly stipend, and you can come and go as you wish because I know you have many engagements. How that boosted my professional confidence was beyond belief, I was in a high-profile role with considerable visibility to clients seeking desktop publishing expertise.

It opened many doors including my first return to the UK as a business representative and technical directory of a fledgling desktop publishing company veering away from traditional printing methods. Deji Sasegbon SAN, was a towering influence that helped set the course of majorly contracting career with the seed of negotiating terms that best suited my kind of personality. He passed on in December 2016.

Blog - Adieu D-Shash! (Deji Sasegbon)


He had placed a job advertisement in the Pink Paper that I had no qualifications for, but I was seeking to break out of the public sector into the private sector without much success.

I sent my CV to John without expecting a response, but I did get a call, and the first thing he said was he liked my CV, but it was not saying enough about my knowledge and experience. He then offered to spend time with me on my CV to fix it and make it more marketable.

I visited his office and the next 4 hours that evening were spent shaping up my CV, the result of which was a job in the private sector in less than 2 months.

For an older man in the technology field, John had constantly reinvented himself, and engaged lots of young talent, giving them not just opportunities but opening them up to challenges that stood in good stead for the development of their careers. He even offered an engaging internship to one of my friends who need essential tutelage to prepare him for the UK IT market.

Then John was more than an encouraging voice of support, where I had doubts about my abilities or capabilities, John would say, “Akin, I know you can do it.” That was the impetus to believe in me.

Beyond that, John was generous with his time, a mentor with great insight, a supporter with a stern teacher’s background, yet empathetic to the core. His work on my CV is foundational to the way my CV looks today, and that skill has been transferred to me to help others realise value and recognition out of their CVs.

John Alexander Coll passed on 9 years ago today in December 2013.

Blog - John Coll: Friend, Mentor, Gentleman

Wednesday 21 December 2022

57 encounters of blessings and thankfulness

I guess you already know there’s always a complementary birthday blog.

Hope alive beyond today

57, that is like three lives of 19, a number or a milestone, but either way, it is a celebration that I am grateful to memorialise and journal, for of many that I know, I have been the most fortunate and blessed to have the stories I get to tell.

Indeed, I would have loved to celebrate today in the company and the arms of my partner Brian in the warmth of the summer of the southern hemisphere, but the best laid-out plans can so easily be disrupted, the present disappointment prepares us for greater adventurous prospects of fun and more beyond what we might ever desire, it is not a train smash, he would say.

Life-affirming faith and love

Besides, it has been an interesting year, tough at times and exciting at other times, but that is the stuff of life. When I think about my circumstances 13 years ago, I could not have imagined and I could not see as far as today as everything was just so absolutely dire, yet the intervening years have brought a storied existence of life reinvented, happiness reconsidered, joy reverberating, and love rejuvenating, I am highly favoured.

Friends and family have been an unerring source of support and providence, I have been lifted and kept aloft with kindness, goodness, generosity, and love. I sometimes pinch myself, all this for me? At 57, I am grateful to God and the providence that took that little child that needed an incubator rather than a manger that Tuesday morning into a journey of the life celebrated today.

Unspeakable gratitude with thanks

I am full of thanks for the encounters brief and longstanding that have given me meaning and reason to strive to be a better person in every way possible. I can imagine maybe things that could have been, but I am encouraged that this is the best existence, it has the best stories and the wildest adventures, along with the goodness and mercy that follows me every day.

Having decided it will be quiet and without drama, I will still make it a day to remember, every birthday is a day to reflect, celebrate, and appreciate the wondrous grace of the divine that showers blessings in abundance over me.

We live not just to survive, but to thrive, we speak not just to be heard, but to be impactful, we love not just for companionship but to be examples of assuring togetherness, we write our stories to contribute our small part to the concept of humanity, and that is my resolve daily for as long as I have breath. To my 57th birthday and the hope for many more to celebrate. Thank you.

Monday 19 December 2022

Comments revealing a heart of darkness

Passing time on stories

Sweeping through new stories on my mobile phone as both a form of distraction and maybe disinterest until some usual clickbait headline catches your eye, you delve into it just to read what is being talked about.

Much as I am not into celebrity culture, there is always something to arouse your curiosity and once you have read the story, it never really ends with the story, as you are forming opinions of what you have read, you move on to the comments and that is where you get a feel of reactions to the story.

Comments in the heart of darkness

Reading one such story around a celebrity speaking candidly about their family situation, the first few comments that followed were dismissive, vitriolic, nasty, and horrible. They got me thinking about whether those comments were a reaction to what they had read or a projection of who they were.

The unnecessary nastiness towards people you do not know or will ever encounter in life never ceases to amaze me. How people just need to think ill of others, castigate and excoriate them and have the considered intention to reveal reprehensible views in these commenting sections is a mystery.

Saying nothing at all

I am of the disposition, if you have nothing good to say, say nothing, keep your counsel and let sleeping dogs lie. Where I have felt animosity toward others, I try to reflect on why I feel that way, consider why I have been unable to gain a better understanding and perspective of the person, rationalise the differences of circumstances and hope that it is not elements of the deadly sins seeking expression in my words and thoughts.

Obviously, there are other matters that would elicit comment which in my case would tack towards a generalisation in lessons for our humanity or if I may use football parlance, I got for the ball rather than the man. You might inadvertently foul the man, but it is rarely, if ever, intentional.

Finding light in the dark

Maybe, just maybe, it is a personality trait along with the excess of indolence that drives people to reveal much more of themselves by expressing views about others. It is that finger-pointing paradox, with one pointing out and your other fingers at yourself. If you should have to point with your four fingers and thumbs, it looks like an outstretched hand, one giving directions rather than an accusatory poise.

I sometimes wonder why I read some comment sections because they are majorly depressing and do not help the best of our nature. Yet in the mess of the unwholesome comments are gems of enlightenment and wisdom, they excite and encourage, hopefully, we catch them early before a pall of discouragement descends on our view of the other person.

Friday 16 December 2022

Thought Picnic: That warmth has caught a chill

A sealed witness to see

My closest friends have identified a character flaw that reflects my disposition to reclusiveness and clamming up when things are not the way they should be.

I cannot recall the number of times I have heard in the last couple of weeks, “It is me, Akin/love, you do not have to shy with me.” I do not know if I can call myself a veteran of adversity, but I have my own share of stories that I hope I would find the words in reflection looking back to talk about life and its experiences, the way my hopes and fears play in the daily toil to get to a better place.

It is probably a conditioning that regardless of how difficult and dire the situation is, you put a good face on it, and make the best appearance of things as you prevent the stress, the turmoil, and the uncertainties from eating you up from the inside out.

I feel the changes

Yet, I could sense in my voice as I was speaking to my best friend that it had lost a timbre of confidence and self-assurance, my usually trusty guard was down and he made inroads into the recesses of my psyche that is rarely available and out of that came respite and support, I sorely needed but never deigned to ask for.

On an intimate level with my partner, I am even more an obscurity, that he deploys his sixth sense to read my visage and my usage of words to elicit information out of me. At other times, he follows his gut feeling and acts with such prescience almost like a seer. I do not give him enough credit for how much he understands me.

Another thing I felt yesterday was when I went into our local office for some documents to be endorsed and notarised, in explaining how I was effectively on a ‘zero-hours contract’ situation to the senior manager who asked, I distinctly realised there was no colour in my face, I had a blank and pall expression that I did not need a mirror to observe, my humour was deserting me.

Blog - Hypothetically, a zero-hours contract, it is

If only I could talk better

You do not become an expert in suffering, rather, you find ways to cope and work through it. For all that you have to accommodate, you cannot afford for circumstances to steal your sleep whilst you seek the words or music of comfort that tells you that though you walk through the valley of the shadow of death at this time, you are on your way to new green pasture and still waters as the Psalmist says in Psalm 23.

One thing I still am not that good at is asking for help when I do need that help.

Tuesday 13 December 2022

Asking ChatGPT to blog like me

AI not on my blogging mission

I decided to try the ChatGPT Artificial Intelligence Chatbot that apparently specialises in dialogue, as we are told. As a presumably blogging veteran of 19 years, you read so much about AI and how the developments, advances, and mechanics of it might eventually replace us and our sometimes-unappreciated creativity.

I had one question to ask the ChatGPT to answer and immediately it produced a blog that I have published below.

Somehow, I feel in this area of creative expression, much as ChatGPT was quick to run to the press, I doubt it gave heed to the most essential component of my request which is to write in my style with reference to my blog.

Maybe, just maybe, for now, I will not be replaced by an AI facility pretending to gather and express my thoughts in my somewhat unique way. God forfend, American spelling, I am quite truly offended.

I may at another time conduct a review of how and why I might or may not have written this blog this way.

The link to ChatGPT, registration with Captcha and Multifactor Authentication (MFA) will be requested.

Request to ChatGPT

Write a blog in the style of Akin Akintayo who blogs at

ChatGPT output

[Edited only for formatting]

Hello everyone!

Today, I wanted to talk about the importance of self-reflection. As we go about our daily lives, it's easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle and forget to take a step back and reflect on ourselves and our actions.

But self-reflection is crucial for personal growth and development. By regularly taking the time to introspect, we can gain a better understanding of ourselves, our motivations, and our goals. We can also identify areas where we need to improve and make changes to become the best versions of ourselves.

One way to practice self-reflection is to set aside some time each day, perhaps in the evening before bed, to reflect on the events of the day. Ask yourself questions like:

·        What did I do well today?

·        What could I have done better?

·        What did I learn today?

Another way to practice self-reflection is to keep a journal. Writing down our thoughts and experiences can help us process them and gain insights that we might not have otherwise.

In addition to personal growth, self-reflection can also improve our relationships with others. By understanding ourselves better, we can communicate more effectively and empathize with others. We can also identify and address any negative patterns of behavior that might be damaging to our relationships.

So make sure to set aside some time for self-reflection. It might not always be easy, but it's an essential part of being a happy and fulfilled person.

Until next time, take care!

Akin Akintayo

Thought Picnic: Benefitting from the widow's might

The generosity of the widow’s mite

For the many times that I have heard and read the story of the widow’s mite in the Bible, I have been fascinated at the lessons we are asked to draw out of the observation. People were giving offerings to the temple out of the plenty they already had and that would go a long way for the operations of the temple when referenced from the perspective of the temple.

However, in terms of the individual, the giving could be out of duty, obligation, service, or purpose, this is apart from the mindset of the person giving happily or grudgingly, and then the part about generosity, but I am not here to offer an exegesis or hermeneutic comparison of the story apart from the observation that the widow had little, and she gave all she had.

The efficacity of the widow’s might

Trying something in the order of homophones, I suggest another qualification in the possession of a widow, the widow’s might, the power in the person and the circumstances of the widow to change things for the better in her situation and for others.

I have a friend that is a widow in Ireland, we talk every so often about ourselves, life, and a person dear to our hearts even if that person has no concept or idea in their selfish disposition of how much they are loved and considered. This person is both intelligent and capable but has had their productivity arrested by substance abuse that they believe helps the projection of the multiple personalities they desire to portray.

The widows that make a difference

Where professional help and counsel has attempted an intervention, this person believes that they know better as they work themselves to what we fear is ruinous destruction that presages tragedy. Yet, as we conversed, I advised we never give voice to our fears, but rather religiously commit to prayer and supplication for the deliverance of this person. I believe a widow’s heart is seen by God and blessings with favour along with answered prayers would be her testimony.

There is also the widow’s might in selfless giving another like a mother with whom I have regular conversations who bestows love and care with concern for my welfare that I appreciate more and more. There again, in the widow’s might are those who have made extremely generous provisions to my needs, in a time of adversity and infirmity.

God bless the widow’s mite and might

My gratitude is deep and cannot be fully expressed, as they have been my support and strength, my rock and caring shoulder, and most of all, my love. For they have provided sustenance for the days that the storehouse was barren and hold my hand from day to day with encouragement and hope. 

There are times when the widow’s mite is the widow’s might to keep your chin up and know that the circumstances of the present will pass for the prosperity that looms quite presently.

May the grace and blessings of God abide with the many widows who with mite and might have given to my bosom.

Hypothetically, a zero-hours contract, it is

Benched and unsubstituted

He reads with a wry smile the many congratulations that greet the announcement of being engaged in a new role beneath which is a story generally untold of process and procedure that confers invisibility and humiliation on the subject affected.

In a similar engagement just 5 years before, an associate role gave contract terms of 100% billing for client assignments and where there were no assignments you were benched at 50% of your daily contract rate. It placed the onus on the organisation to ensure that he spent as less time as possible on the bench, for they had to find him billable work to do.

That bench rate disappeared from associate roles after a year, and then responsibilities shifted in radically consequential ways. Now, he could be on contract but without a client assignment and hence, nothing to bill; effectively there is no income.

It was not working for him

Without rewriting the general terms of engagement, the apparent flexibility and fluidity the new construct brings would be ideal if he did not have to revisit the employment market, it is however exceedingly precarious, there was a period that engagements fell from 90% utilisation to 55% utilisation year-on-year that it was prudent to exit that arrangement.

They decided to reignite the associate relationship recently where the matter of full engagement was discussed at length and assurances were given that projects abound for him to rotate other full-time employees out of roles for longer stretches of time. These were convincing enough to lay trust in the prospect, there was work on offer.

After a presentation and discussion that constituted an interview, a contract engagement was offered as he was assigned to a manager who was yet to begin in his role. The scheduled start date of two weeks time was moved back a week because onboarding processes were ahead of the organisational line of management.

More snags and frustration

Then the proposed assignments with clients could not be taken up because they were of a security-sensitive nature for which enhanced vetting was required and the agency that should have immediately transferred the security status would only offer to share it and that would take months to conclude, even as the term of its validity was running out. This was besides the fact that there was no contracted activity with a sister executive agency he was assigned to for over 4 months already.

Now, having confirmed that the assignee had the necessary clearances even if not in possession of the new sponsor, this should have sufficed, but it took a barrage of pleading emails to engage that thought process and by then, the opportunities being considered for had slipped away.

Zero hours with style

Whilst a valid contract without client assignment seems to break you out of a stretch of unemployment, the critical element of earning an income is lost in the circumstances such that even the agency that facilitated the contract has abandoned the contractor in frustration and resignation.

The many times I have read about ‘zero-hours contracts’ I thought it was redolent of gig-economy stints, piecework, or on-call job roles where you were engaged but not guaranteed any work, along with other strictures that engender such contracts. You never consider this can apply to technical and specialist roles that pay well on an assignment, but nothing at all when not assigned to a client.

Some may suggest, you are at liberty to find other work and return to this associate role when available, it seems an ideal quite different from experience. The only apparent change to the situation is he does not have to undergo the interview and onboarding process anymore, he has everything to be assigned an immediate role, but until then, he is on the most sophisticated castle-in-the-sky highly remunerated zero-hours contract.

Each hour he is still scanning the job boards to send his CV and a cover letter still applying for a role in mid-December. It is going to be a cold lonely Christmas with little to cheer about if nothing changes soon. Bills due, rent due, what a sordid tale, it is. 

Friday 9 December 2022

Thought Picnic: In my cave of safety?

I wasted many things

“Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips…” [BibleHub Isaiah 6:5 (KJV)] These were the words of Isaiah the prophet as his inadequacies became evident in the realisation that he had seen God.

For one as I with many gifts unused and considerable potential unrealised, blessed with the grace and favour of fortune and opportunity that I have many times not appreciated, I find myself so literally undone by situation and circumstance, yet I should maintain a broader perspective.

A sorry story told

As a mere mortal with issues and vulnerabilities, feelings and imperfections that can stand out well beyond where you want expression, the vicissitudes of life can be quite impactful as you continually berate yourself of inadequacy and encourage yourself of possibility.

For a story tries to speak itself with volume that there was a time you could do this or another when you never had to think of that, facility and provision were present to do all that you desire and much more from that which you have acquired, but for the moment in which you reflect, you have nothing to deflect.

A longing for the hills

In the days of the seasonal chills,
As nothing is ringing from the tills,
You ingest with routine your nightly pills,
And wonder how to address the growing bills,
Whilst hoping you can dream away the ills.

Like the prophet, there is a humiliation of humility that strips you of the confidence that once betrayed your innate abilities, your voice is lost in the cacophony of the silence that envelopes you, the shell in which you find refuge is almost like you are caught in the helplessness of resignation, you want to lie down believe it is just a bad dream.

Come, come, come away

You cannot despair of the cycle of life, the turns that bring experience and lesson, for which knowledge of the past is not necessarily preparation for the present. How sometimes we could have seen the future better, but where would life’s excitement come from if you knew before it became known?

We all have our caves that little place that is hardly comfortable but generally safe, you can lick your wounds in secret, cry yourself to exhaustion in solitude, stir your spirit with some resolve and then rise to start the journey to where home and love abides. It takes time, time is the sting of realities ticking away like a clock, never really beginning to ever deeming to continue without an end.

Thursday 8 December 2022

Cupping a booster at Pfizer 4 : 1 Moderna

Seeking jabs here and there

A few weeks ago, I received a message on my mobile phone that I was eligible for a further COVID-19 vaccination for the autumn, or a booster as one might call them. At first, I looked for the option of a walk-in clinic, but the walk-ins were quite more than a walk away, and none were in the centre of town.

When I took my first vaccination in February 2021 the vaccination centre was just under 2 kilometres away, it was where I returned to in May 2021 for the second shot, both the Pfizer/BioNTech Comirnaty vaccine. Later in the year, in November 2021, I got a booster which was the same, way beside the Manchester City Football Club in an array of temporary Portakabin structures and that was an Uber cab ride to and fro in the brisk winter cold.

Booted from a booster venue

I was alerted to a second booster from April this year and even though I was able to book an appointment, there wasn’t enough information provided, so I eventually found I was ineligible after a rather uncomfortable exchange with a doctor and medical supervisor at the vaccination venue nearby beside the public library at St Peter’s Square.

Whilst I was away in South Africa in July, I received a text message indicating my eligibility for a spring/summer COVID-19 vaccine which I scheduled for early August back at the venue where I was rejected a few months before. I received the Moderna Spikevax booster, then two weeks later I had the Monkeypox vaccine and in September, I took the annual flu jab.

Another booster in the arm

A few days ago, I decided to book an appointment rather than use the walk-in option and the nearby vaccination centre was on the list that I scheduled for this afternoon. I was met at the entrance by security and ushered into the vaccination centre where a doctor had a number of questions about how I was feeling about my allergies and the options for a vaccine.

Having answered her questions satisfactorily, I registered for the vaccine and even had to indicate what arm I wanted to be injected in. I then sat in a musical chairs queue with 2 people in front of me, none wearing facemasks even though we were advised to wear a face covering and I was wearing one.

Soon, it was my turn, for the cold we were all bulked up, I have to take my shirt off to reveal my upper arm as rolling up my long sleeve would not suffice. I was given the new modified Pfizer/BioNTech ‘bivalent’ Covid vaccine that targets both the Original strain of SARS-CoV-2 and the Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 sub-variants.

Yes, the protests remain

The usual after-jab protocols of sitting in the waiting room for 15 minutes of supervision had been dispensed with and there was no need to hold off travel for 2 weeks to allow the effects of the new jab to take hold. If anything, no new side effects are expected apart from redness on black skin and maybe some feverishness or joint pain.

Stepping out and back around to the front of the central library beyond the tram rails was an array of posters and placards, everything about COVID-19 vaccines harming and killing children. I think there has been enough study and research on the effects of vaccines on children that the dosages have been adjusted to reduce or eliminate sensationalist propaganda and conspiracy theories. We however live in a free society with a right to protest whatever causes we espouse.

In my case, I just need to drink lots of water and take rest, the information about my vaccination should appear on the NHS app in 48 hours. I am grateful for the public health activities that have helped me avoid contracting the Coronavirus and as someone generally in the vulnerable cohort, I follow all the medical advice I am given about protection and prevention.

It is now Pfizer 4, Moderna 1, we might be on these boosters for a while for health and maybe more for corporate profits, that’s just the way things are.

Congratulations on 19 years of blogging

When writing brings freedom and joy

It is amazing how when we look back and realise how fast time moves, you can notice this in the growth of other people’s children but in this case, it is about Akin Akintayo celebrating 19 years of blogging.

My introduction to these blogs only started a few years ago and ever since I have been captivated, inspired, and encouraged by his blogs. Akin has an amazing way of storytelling regarding various topics.

Meeting Akin for the first time in South Africa was a scary experience for me – I introduced myself to him and all I said was ‘Hello’ and from that moment we started a conversation and during this occasion, I could tell that this man has a certain greatness about him, and just listening to his story I was fascinated wanting to know so much more about him.

As time would have it, Akin and I developed a friendship, and we made plans for more to happen and true to his word, we have met up on several occasions and with each rendezvous always something so much more to learn about him and discover interesting facts and opinions about the man.

Then came the introduction to his blog profile. Wow! there was so much information and topics of great interest, at that moment I remember being inspired to try my hand at publishing blogs, I still try to write but nothing as articulate and clear as how Akin does it.

Akin can write about anything, inspired even by one single word he has an amazing gift to build up a blog of interest, at times funny, at other times very deep and serious but all in all, Akin has a gift.

All who follow Akin’s blogs will agree with me that we now await the publication of his book. When reading many of the blogs one does realise that all the material is there for what I think would make for a bestseller.

On this day 19 years ago, Akin set out to share with us all his experiences and his thoughts regarding so many issues in the form of blogging.

Today, I want to thank him for being constant in his blogging and thank him for the man that he is – Smart and Intelligent, Motivating and showing so much courage through all that he has experienced and all that he does and for many more years to come, continue to bring us more insight that enlightens and encourages us to be better.

Congratulations and may you never tire in sharing your great work with us all.


It has now become a tradition for Brian to write the anniversary blogs for which I am very grateful. In fact, this time, he promised to deliver his copy 48 hours ahead of schedule and since time is a concept of amazing intrigue in Zimbabwe, he did excel himself and somehow, I found his blog in my inbox this morning.

19 years of blogging, sometimes prolific and at other times lazy may not be a measure of anything apart from it being a kind of consistency at a leisurely pursuit. The promise of my book is in the works as I am collecting thoughts in writings and speech-to-text dictations, I am not sure of how it would come together.

Brian sporadically blogs at Brian’s Point of View and can be followed on Twitter at Brian07j.

Wednesday 7 December 2022

Something like death by interview

For I could not talk

Looking back at a career of over 34 years, I find that I have faced the full spectrum of interview experiences from being totally tongue-tied in a brain fog of stuttering stupidity that I have to apologise for wasting the interviewer’s time through impressing the quality and depth of my expertise, sometimes even being promoted to a more senior role during the interview, to being engaged just by reputation.

Today, I was caught at the wrong end of the situation, and it was not for the want of the interviewer trying his best to help me along. Then again, the interview technique is probably more an art than a science, there is no assured way of determining whether talent and fit can be deduced from a list of set questions. Each personality and way of expression is different.

Between how you do things and talking about what you have done before, you may be able to assess knowledge and experience, but if the interviewee loses confidence, there is no comeback for the interviewee to redress the situation, you are left crying over a dam of spilt milk.

Crippled by immobility

Early this afternoon, I attended one such interview that on the surface I should have aced as much of what was asked for should have been answered by remembering things that have acquired muscle memory in use, yet, I was a bumbling babbling mess, it could not wait for the whole ordeal to end.

Going over the questions in my mind, later on, the elements began to take form in the things I have done, the other things I know, the community support mechanisms available from where I have learnt much more to stand out, came to the fore, but that battle had been lost because it goes without saying that more articulate and probably better-prepared interviewees would go forward for consideration.

Losing the touch

For most of my last few jobs, I doubt I have had the requisite interview practice, many have been discussions on how I could bring my wealth of experience to the table, and others have been referrals from people who I have worked with in the past inviting me to new projects, another, just reading my profile on LinkedIn was enough to convince them they had the right man. Even I was shocked at the speed at which we went from introduction to can you start tomorrow?

Basically, I am not of the disposition of an elevator pinch proponent that in 5 minutes would win a deal, and neither would I affect to traipse the confines of a Dragon’s Den or Shark Tank programme to persuade investors to invest in a venture. I am not that sort of person.

In a number of instances, I have been asked to give a broad presentation on one of a number of topics, like one to be shown to someone in the C-suite, and then questions follow afterwards. I seem to be much better at that, but it is rarely an adopted interview technique.

Remember who you are

Essentially, I am quite introverted though could be forceful in giving direction for technical solutions, I could concede that I am hardly the best interview candidate, I might feature in the worst decile. I find some solace in this saying often credited to Albert Einstein, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

I am a fish, I belong in the water where my gills help me acquire life-sustaining oxygen, I was a fish out of water earlier and it was death by interview, no other words could say it better.

Monday 5 December 2022

Thought Picnic: Gathering my thoughts from despair

The darkest night and clouds

To think of the many things, I want to sigh about in consideration of events and issues that have not been as favourable as one would have wanted. The times my mind wanders into tunnels that scream despair and desolation to the hearing that I refuse to heed.

There are words that seek to speak from my lips that restraint would tell should not be spoken, looming hopelessness trying hard to envelop hope and expectation as you walk through the darkest times into the light ahead.

The toll is heavy on health and well-being, you become a recluse of all kinds of expression even as the walls that seem to close upon you are held away from collapsing on your helpless frame by forces within and beyond that grow with the intensity of a volcanic eruption blowing apart the concealment of ineffectuality, I will thrive beyond my wildest dreams even if now all you are clawing at is the will to survive.

Strengthened beyond description

Life is a force that defies explanation and the will to live and live well is more than a burning desire that gives strength to see beyond the present struggles. When all is said and done, you are a warrior that goes down fighting for what we have resolved to do change the soldier’s narrative as victory is won more by making the enemy die for their country much as the heroics of dying for one’s country might eventually be celebrated.

When I feel that I am alone in the battle that I face, what I do not see with my naked eyes is the multitude of angels arrayed in battle on my side, I am growing in confidence that in this experience of what life is, I am on the winning side. Goodness and mercy follow me, all the days of my life. [BibleGateway - 2 Kings 6:17-20 (NIV) Psalm 23:6a (NKJV).

Thursday 1 December 2022

World AIDS Day 2022

Beyond a fateful diagnosis

This is my 20th World AIDS Day since my HIV positive diagnosis and I cannot tell for how long I might have contracted the virus before it was confirmed after a very developed and stringent testing regime, what matters is with a medical verification of my status, certain things needed to change.

I guess what changed the most in my life was my outlook between the idea that I might not have much time left to doing everything possible to enjoy whatever time I am fortunate to have to tell a better story beyond diagnosis.

Yet, living with HIV brought both adventure and the mundane, the mundane as in as the virus ravaged my body, I ignored what the consequences might be as year after year others noticed my apparently failing health.

The onset of AIDS

It was in the 7th year of my diagnosis that things took a turn for the worse, early in year, much as I was in my professional peak, a dark brownish stain appeared under my left sole, something I dismissed as athlete’s foot and on inspection by a doctor in Spain, never came to much of a comment. Yet, I was conscious enough to want to hide expanding dark mark when I was reclining in a deck chair by the pool, because someone did come to ask about it.

By Spring, my energy levels were down, I spent Easter in Geneva with my best friend after which I was back on the job market. Then by mid-Summer I had a bout of shingles that came and went in 2 weeks with the blessing of no post-hepatic neuralgia, though my foot was now becoming a problem.

What was manifesting in August was a painful sore that I could not walk without my foot being heavily bandaged and no amount of painkillers could assuage the pain, I tested the limits of my ability to endure pain. I had developed full-blown AIDS presenting as Kaposi’s sarcoma, a virulent skin cancer and it was screaming on my left foot.

The legacy of the early sufferers

My gratitude and good fortune for the sadness and the celebration of World AIDS Day comes from the fact that many young men perished because of AIDS and the lack of help to treat the diseases that came as a result of contracting the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), many also had the painful lesions of Kaposi’s sarcoma leading to fully emaciated and painful deaths.

When I went into hospital delirious in pain after my doctor in the Netherlands instituted emergency measures to get me seen by specialists because on the first sight of my foot, she said, “This looks serious, I need to refer you.” The professor who came down to see me immediately said, “We have a bed for you upstairs.”

I was at the point where advancements in HIV medicine gave the consultant the confidence that medicine did not have a decade before, because he said, “We can treat this, but it depends on how you can take the treatment.” The prognosis was I would be fine if I could tolerate the treatment, or I will be gone in 5 weeks if I could not.

Indeed, my survival comes down to the many whose treatments that variously failed but redounded to the body of knowledge and expertise that grew over decades, I am one of the fortunate ones who came back from the looking death in the face to live and thrive. It always gives me pleasure to interact with medical students when they attend my biannual consultations, because I hope that in some small way, I inspire them about the power and miracle of progressive medicine that can treat diseases that were once untreatable.

On celebrating World AIDS Day

This is what World AIDS Day means to me, the need to know your status and embrace the result with promptly accessing medical options available. In 2002, you were not immediately put on antiretrovirals, even in 2005, they were thinking of treating a Vitamin B deficiency rather than the virus.

World AIDS Day is about everyone affected and infected, privately or publicly, silently or in advocacy, proudly or stigmatised, we need to come out and bring an end to the scourge of HIV whilst making the very efficacious treatments freely available to everyone touched by HIV. I am also grateful to the health services in The Netherlands and the UK, the consultants, doctors, nurses and personnel who have devoted time and resources to seeing the end of HIV.

And where would I be without the support of friends, family, neighbours, lovers, and the wider community that blessed me with their humanity and generosity, to them all, I owe a debt of unstinting gratitude. I am blessed.

Here’s to World AIDS Day 2022 because there is still much to be done and I hope that when the work is complete, it would be celebrated in memory of the many who sacrificed life and being to bring an end to HIV and AIDS.

Wednesday 30 November 2022

A catchup on the check-up

As things seem to be

Five weeks later than schedule, I was back in hospital for my biannual check-up which follows the usual routine of reviewing the results from tests conducted on my last visit, how I am both medically and mentally, along with other issues that might come up.

In these straitened times that even I in all my denial of reality sometimes suggests does not affect me, there is a sense of dissatisfaction in the state of affairs, a sad feeling of betrayal of confidences and trust that gave the impression of prospect where there was none, then with quite limited resources to hand, one is constrained in agency and autonomy.

It goes without saying that all these has its effects to either a greater or lesser degree on one’s health. Yet we soldier on believing that the travails of the present are temporary and would pass into the annals of recount and raconteuring with a wistful acknowledgement of how trying times have blessed us with an appreciation of the better things that have followed.

Something quite unexpected

In the review of the last battery of tests, I was unaware of an indicative test that had been conducted as neither my general practitioner (GP) nor I were informed of the result. My understanding was the test was rarely done and only annually, if necessary. However, on the consultant’s screen, I could see a third is the depreciation of an indicator that signalled my ability to fight infection with no clear reason as to why that might have happened.

It is a matter of concern, but one will have to wait for the results of tests conducted on fluids taken earlier today to determine if that was a mistake, an aberration, or a trend. With the new computer records system, you are notified of the result as soon as it is known.

Those hardworking kidneys

Beyond that, I wanted some close attention paid to my kidney function tests as the antiretroviral formulary I am on has been administered for over 12 and a half years. One of the components in the combination therapy can cause kidney impairment and I wanted that aspect monitored. However, looking at the trends in my kidney function tests over the last 4 years suggested I did not have anything to worry about.

The discussion nevertheless allows the consultant to pay a bit more heed to the indicators apart from being acquainted with the fact that I quite knowledgeable about my condition, the therapies, and developments in HIV medicine with the view to obtaining the best outcomes for my health and wellbeing.

Drink lots of aqua

Having had 3 instances where drawing blood was an ordeal, my cousin had given me some advice some months ago, so, from the moment I woke up, I was drinking lots of water, something Brian noted as unusual for me. By the time I was at the hospital this morning, I had drunk over a litre of water.

When I went to see the phlebotomist, my veins were in the Christmas spirit as for how my blood filled the vials, we could intone, “Let it flow, let it flow, let it flow.”, and soon, 7 vials were filled without the need for another prick in my arm.

Everything is electronic now, things are called up on computer and there were no forms for new appointments or prescriptions, you just had to give your name and date of birth along with some other personal information to get things done. The days was slow and tiring, in general, I felt good. I will just wait for the results for comparison and the next meet-up is in 6 months, I guess.