Monday, 23 May 2022

#TheAIDSMemorial #WhatIsRememberedLives Chris Clark

 

Chris Clark (1973 - 2009)

The AIDS Memorial

I follow the Instagram page of TheAIDSMemorial where the theme of #WhatIsRememberedLives memorialises the many who lost their lives to HIV/AIDS, some many in the late 1980s into the 1990s and even after.

I lost many friends to the plague, and I also made many friends who live as witnesses to the wonders of medicine that now keeps many of us alive. Some were really close friends and their loss shook me to the core, then, one was a lover, for whom the unexpected and sudden realisation of his demise is quite difficult even as I was fighting for my own life on the diagnosis of AIDS and cancer.

Many of us in losing friends or partners of a sexual minority rarely had support or comfort for our losses and grief. Some were ostracised or excluded from the obsequies of people they loved in life out of secrecy, shame, animosity, stigma, or denial. In The AIDS Memorial page, we find an opportunity to remember and ensure those significant relationships are never forgotten.

Of loves lost

That lover was Chris Clark, and this is the only picture I have of Chris Clark (May 30, 1973 - c. October 14, 2009). We met online in late 2003 when he lived in London and I in Amsterdam, there was such an attractive quality about him, his story, his experiences, and his ambitions that drew me to him, I guess I was smitten by that personality.

We tried hard to build a relationship, but I was unsure of what it would entail, I guess I was once afraid and I was lazy about the prospect of a long-distance relationship, I should have been bolder, but I learnt hard lessons in the process. He came to stay with me in Amsterdam when I realised that my cooking was too spicy for him.

Other places we met up for snatches of affection and more were in Berlin and at Playa del Ingles, it didn't bother me footing the expense, I was never able to use my head when it came to Chris, I was all heart and no sense.

In pain and in forgiving

His mum threw him out of their home at the age of 15 when he declared his homosexuality and somehow, it fell to a stranger who took him off the streets of London and then to the United States of America where he finished school and tried a career in film and photography.

Later, he moved to Amsterdam with a partner who sadly committed suicide by drowning in a canal. Much as he had hardships and challenges in his life, the parents who rejected him as he was growing up could not trust any of his apparently responsible older siblings to care for them as they were dying, they called on the humanity of Chris to give them the send-off they desired, and he acquitted himself well in that regard.

He lost his mother in February 2007, she died in his arms and his father in December of the same year, he bore the full cost for the funeral arrangements whilst the siblings quibbled about the estate. His father left everything to him as for everything they did to him, he was the only one that could be trusted to do right. Chris had a large and forgiving heart. I tried to offer emotional support in the absence of family, we last met up greeting in the new year of 2008 in Playa del Ingles.

When he died

He became HIV+ probably a few years before I did, but there were times when he did not have enough to eat in support of his essential medication. I sometimes think he allowed his condition to deteriorate over time. We grew estranged though we maintained sporadic communication into 2009 when my health slowly descended into full-blown AIDS I was hospitalised in late September 2009.

He constantly asked after me sending me text messages I did not promptly respond to, I felt Chris was too deep in my life in some of the things he did that I needed to protect myself, my heart, my emotions, and my mental health even as I was besotted with him. He invited me to Facebook which I did not respond to until after his passing.

I left the hospital on the 9th of October 2009 and as I was settling down just over a week later, I sent a message to his mobile phone and got a shocking response from his flatmate, Chris had died at home of renal failure just around the 14th of October, a few days after my discharge from hospital.

A memorial deserved

I had many fond memories of Chris, and I grieved his passing for many years. One Christmas, I did get the Christmas tree we argued about because I did not want one and he did. It was one way of memorialising him. In fact, I grieved alone sometimes leaving a message on his Facebook on birthdays and the supposed date of his death.

I thought I would never find love again until it took something so extraordinarily special that first reminded me of Chris and then informed me that I could move on from Chris, it took over 9 years for that to happen. He had that cheeky smile, a dry sense of humour, a way of pulling at your heartstrings and a wonderful personality.

I have wanted to write this for a long time, thank you Chris for sharing some time and love with me. Akin Akintayo

I wrote an AIDSMemorial page for Chris Clark in two parts, Part I and Part II, this blog fleshes out parts that I did not include for space constraints.

Monday, 16 May 2022

In Telling: The spirit that sustains

Strength from within

I sometimes think about the effects of illness and how vulnerability and infirmity change your outlook, your inadequacies are exposed in ways you can never have been prepared for, and you are left with just your spirit to sustain you through it all.

In many ways, you cannot account from further than the next tick of the clock, for the pain, you can only have so much medication to dull it without putting you into a stupor because you still need to function in some way.

Then you wonder about the incredible resilience of our being, for whether we survive or not, there is no accounting for the strength that we usually never know we had. It is like you are tested to the limit and then some, if your body can just tolerate what it is put to it, providence and fortune might give you a story to tell.

In the passage of time

I am humbled by my experience and then I think about the fact that when I went for the Spring booster the NHS website failed to provide adequate information for when I was registering, I am not considered in a vulnerable cohort of the immunosuppressed, because my CD4 count is not over double the minimum threshold, though I think my medical history should make me eligible.

Whether it is good or bad news is beside the point, what I cannot afford at any time is to contract the Coronavirus and so, I still wear my face mask in enclosed places, avoid crowded spaces, and take necessary precautions. That is just how life is today.

A story to tell

I was chatting to my best friend last week and he asked that I consider writing about serious illness, how people face it, and how we try to get beneficial outcomes against the onslaught of the medical establishment which may not always be acting in our favour, especially when the experts are too arrogant and self-important to listen to our own perspective of what we are going through and what it is we need.

I am not quite sure of how this would go, but I can only write about my own experience and I hope those who read my story might find something of help or usefulness, I guess that is just what I will do.

Sunday, 15 May 2022

Thought Picnic: Knowing allies from the lies

Knowing an ally

An ally is a person or organisation that cooperates with or helps another in a particular activity.

Allying is combining or uniting resources or commodities with (another) for mutual benefit.

Earlier today on Twitter, I read of someone who was withdrawing his allyship with the LGBTQ+ community because we were not worth supporting. It read so totally like the typical self-important delusion of grandeur of someone who was never invested in a cause, they are like hit-and-run perpetrators of opportunistic lip-service that once engaged on their perfidious and superfluous premises become disillusioned castigating others as ungrateful as they lament their thankless situation.

Allies are invested

Indeed, all minorities of any persuasion need allies, and their contribution to the arc of justice and humanity that affords us relevance, respect, dignity, and protection from abuse, menace, or violence is welcome.

However, before we had allies, we were who we were, sometimes living dangerously, but living, all the same, thriving, organising, and speaking up for ourselves that we were noticed enough for others to join cause with us in the pursuit of equality and justice.

Allyship is invested and engaged, rarely incidental just as fair-weather hoppers on trendy bandwagons are not allies, they are just notorious and garrulous self-interested, self-promoting parasites drawing attention to themselves and away from the causes, they portend to support. They have no principled stance, and they stand for nothing, their pretence to liberalism is everything but, they are utterly vacuous.

Allies stick with it

True allies usually do not walk away when the going gets tough, they have life-long investments and interests in the cause that they will not allow to be impugned or usurped. The cause is not external and abstract, they are involved sometimes through situations they cannot have accounted for.

I think of my parents as allies, for they have had to review their frame of reference to include something they do not understand. They have had to travel a difficult road into the realm of being directly affected, and this applies to many we have bonds and relationships with.

They have a gay son; what does that even mean in the context of their worldview? Yet, they resolved to accept the person and the personality of their son with all the difficulties and questions that entails. They demonstrate strength in embracing me with love and affection, prayerfully supplicating for my happiness and health, blessing me at every opportunity and bringing my loves and affections into the sphere of belonging.

Allies have heart in it

They decided that society, community, tradition, or beliefs will not define or regulate our relationship. I may be different, but I am still their beloved offspring.

These are the words of an ally, my father said, “You are my son, I will not reject you.” Then some faceless insignificant nonentity thinks I depend on them for allyship, existence, and fulfilment? I guess social media is a platform for ignorant self-aggrandisement and befuddling idiocy. I saw that today.

Thursday, 12 May 2022

It's walking and it's working - XIV

Get on up and go

There are mornings that I have woken up early as I like to do my walking exercise at dawn just as the sun is rising and the city is less busy, apart from trying to avoid meeting up with that devil dog and its atrocious owner. Then I feel, I am not that up to it, I need a bit more sleep.

Often, I do levitate myself off the bed by the force of will and get on with it, because I am left needing to get that 10,000-step threshold in the reckoning or I feel I am losing something. However, I do not beat myself up, like for instance, in April, for the last 6 days I barely got 5,000 steps done daily because I was a bit indisposed, however, since I had more than the 10,000-step average for the month by the 20th day, it was not that bad, it just pulled down the average for the year.

Just pressing on regardless

The walking exercise that I began in late July 2020 is a lonely and individual activity that requires some discipline, dedication, and determination, I want to believe that somewhere in my lazy bones, I have some of all that. I get up, come rain or shine, in the light or the dark, feeling strong or weak and get out to do the steps.

For a while, I was seeing no effects, my weight stuck up where I never wanted it to be, I could not for the life of me understand what else I had to do, I was not going to go down some dieting route or get into the gym to find muscles in places I never knew they could exist. I was focused on the walking, keeping at it and convinced that eventually, something would begin to show. Observations by my boyfriend during our video conversations did not convince me of the expected changes.

Improvements are showing up

However, in the last 6 weeks, things have shifted, I have gone from the highest weight that the scales have truthfully displayed to losing over 8 kilograms. I am not at the best weight I attained in October 2020, but I feel it might soon get there and better.

When I started walking, I barely made 3,000 steps in a half-hour, now, I easily breach 4,500 steps in 30 minutes, though I do not think I can make it 5,000 steps, even if Brian has suggested I walk like one of the cartoon characters in Scooby-Doo, at first I thought he was referring on the one of the four-legged variety, but it was one of the bipedal females he was alluding to that I first thought was Daphne, but he meant Velma. He says he can’t keep up with my walking, even though if he stood by the Eiffel Tower, his legs might just dwarf the edifice.

The statistics are an impetus

In general, I can get my 10,000 steps done in 75 minutes, I have even managed 64 minutes, which is good going. Today, I stayed in bed and then for my late lunch break stepped out for just over 11,000 steps and then after a post-work nap, I added just over 18,000 steps leaving me with around 500 steps to hit 30,000 steps, so, I went for a quick stroll down that street and back to get that number done.

The way my health app breaks down the statistics of my activity gives me an idea of how well I am doing, the times when I could do 7 kilometres in an hour seems to have eluded me, I barely get a kilometre done in 9 minutes. However, getting my heart rate up for intensity is good and I try to work within the aerobic and anaerobic range, the cadence is usually around 140 steps a minute, though my eyes almost popped out when I saw 174 steps a minute this evening and then 177 steps a minute in my earlier walk. I must have been gliding or floating on air as I rarely get 160 steps a minute for my morning walks.

As a creature of habit, the morning walk has a route that yields just over 15,000 steps in 1:50 hours or less and that is before I start work at 8:00 AM. Even without an accountability partner, someone to imitate, or the urging of a coach or mentor, I can say more confidently that it’s walking and it’s working.

Tuesday, 10 May 2022

In the posterity of posteriors

All in the wiggle

When I think of the old lady who swallowed a fly and then embarked on a Matryoshka doll version of an incessant consumption of one inedible predator after another to go after each consumed prey, one rarely thinks of what each one did inside her, considering they were all eaten alive.

At least, that's the impression you get when you read the part that says, that jiggled, and wriggled, and wiggled, inside her, and there are many versions of what the spider did, including tiggled which all might allude to the exclusive choreography of arachnids. [Words for Life: There was an old lady]

Quite much of a wiggle

However, nothing prepared me for the sight I beheld of a lady as she walked in front of me, in tights that seemed to accentuate every facet of her backside probably in the quest for a mate so disposed to that kind of spectacle.

For it did jiggle, and wiggle, and wriggle before me, I almost died from the assault that to avert my gaze that is not affected by the propinquity of the feminine gluteus maximus, I sped up past her and heaved a sigh of relief.

Posterity has a giggle

Finally, as if we have not been so seriously sinned against by those determined to lead any or all into temptation in contravention of the Lord's prayer; at the main supermarket, emblazoned in cheap faux crystals too prominent to unsee, she had Juicy written on her derriere, well, the trousers.

If any were an old lady, I do wonder what would have become of them. In terms of those forgettably forgettable sights, posterity puts a posterior on it.

Sunday, 8 May 2022

Thought Picnic: Through the glass darkly

Limited perspectives to work with

Sometimes, I have to be aware of the fact that regardless of how I am involved or invited into a situation that I do not have the full oversight of, I am quite limited in the quality of information I have to make decisions, draw conclusions, act wisely, or have judgements.

Yet, I realise that should not because of the foregoing and the limitations totally exclude me from having and stating a perspective based on the information one already has. Pertinently, you work with what you have got whilst seeking to improve on and gain more perspective and insight.

Invariably, certain judgements will be made whereupon additional evidence would lead to a review and reassessment of a previous position.

The fundamentals remain so

Then again, this should not abrogate the fundamentals and there are always fundamentals as the basis of the intricate situations we find ourselves in, that of cultivating and building of relationships. These self-same things matter, the de-escalation of conflict, an understanding of how far engagements can bear upon a situation to achieve either the expected or unfortunately the unattainable outcomes.

This is another serious component, the need to get counsel before radical personal decisions ensuring one has tested a premise against logic, reason, and reasonableness whilst reducing the danger of being left adrift and ostracised.

Reviewing standpoints on new insight

I reflect on a situation where what I thought I had observed was wrong after further enquiry, beyond which what I also learnt afterwards left me dissatisfied as to the findings, in discussions with the protagonist, their case was quite poorly made, at least to me.

Is it any wonder that on being intimated with a second-hand narrative, there was a better appreciation of the circumstances, not so much to excuse, even if there was enough to tolerate?

Whilst this does not make the conflict any easier to resolve, the de facto patriarch is essentially of limited means and scope to address certain issues that it is of a necessity to defer to me. Sadly, that point may not be entirely understood and entreaties to the patriarch would well exacerbate rather than ameliorate. My role is to find ways and means to address both immediacy and remoteness, hopefully with alacrity where provision exists, or it is deferred whilst noted.

In family matters, the complexities demand wisdom and a better sense of who can do what when met with difficulties. It behoves all to attain awareness for the reduction of conflict and the cohesion of familial ties.

Fleeting thoughts on expectation

The force of expectation

Expectation is a force and when involved with a plan set in motion, it is a powerful force of motivation, optimism, and hope. It sets your sights on a goal and mentally you begin to prepare yourself and everything for that thing.

When this is aligned with the spirit of love, more happens in terms of disposition and feelings, you just have this strong belief that something good is in the air as the countdown towards day, event, rendezvous, and person closes in on you.

Time in its fluidity of being distant and then close works its wonders as it progresses to a set point where things converge in the fulfilment of that expectation. If anything, in the actionable things of life and living, it is good to plan, set expectations, and work towards something. It helps focus and perspective, burnishes hope and enlivens things that give you a sense that things would be alright, for as they come to pass, we add to life's compendium of cherished moments.

I am wholly gratified that we have the means, opportunity, and the good fortune to live a life of great expectations, and long may this rejuvenation of circumstances happen.

Coronavirus streets in Manchester - LXVII

Unlearning to learn anew

The streets present the spectacle of the interesting and the surprising, even the astonishing is offered as one wonders if the past two years have given us any lessons to either learn or ‘unstudy’. I say ‘unstudy’ because there is much, we have learnt from the past that needs a current unlearning to make allowances for new and different aspects of knowledge, but there must be a willingness to adapt, or nothing changes.

I wondered too when yesterday I was out and about, at one indoor place where I had brunch, it occurred to me that I was not as concerned to put on my mask, the thought was scary, especially after realising that people I know had so recently contracted COVID-19. At one beer garden, you could be forgiven for thinking Octoberfest had an early opening day in Manchester.

Nature against lashes

On another note, passing by three ladies and that is as qualified as you would get it, They were sat on benches chatting away, one of them daintily holding a lit spliff and puffing at it, that was not what piqued my interest, but that the eyelashes on two of them were was sweeping and prominent as to have the means of setting off a hurricane if nature were to acquiesce to the batting of them and syncopate with their demonstration of flair.

Then I was wondering again about fashion that does not seem to have reason, meaning, or sense, then, what do I know? Before I begin to study the physics, biology, chemistry, and adequacy of such ocular embellishments that are grandiose in the extreme as to be comical for clownery. But hey! Each to their own.

Thursday, 5 May 2022

Thought Picnic: Take slight or plight

Without an enforceable right

I found myself thinking of the need to be aware of where you are and who brokers power in that setting. If you find yourself somewhere either at the behest of another or where the right of access is reserved as a matter of courtesy, in the most friendly of situations you will be welcome, but if things turn sour, you might find yourself unceremoniously ejected.

It reminds me of a social event I attended way back when I was in school, there was a series of Scrabble games that I played in competition until there was an underhand activity that I disputed. The situation became rancorous as I remonstrated, one of the organisers, instead of reviewing the situation objectively thought I was disruptive and politely asked that I leave.

I was enjoying the competition and could have won a prize, but the situation was totally out of my control and there was no recourse whether the decision was right or wrong to seek any redress. One friend opined that regardless of the circumstances, I had allowed the situation to deteriorate to the extent that I earned myself an exclusion from an open forum in which if I had allowed myself to be cool-tempered, I might have had a better night.

Beware of hidden might

I observed the use and/or abuse of power earlier where, in an open chatroom, one of the visitors might have taken umbrage at the activities of another member in the chatroom. There was no need for the situation to escalate and the use of language could have been moderated, I could have intervened, but I did not. The visitor, new to the chatroom was challenging someone who was also a chatroom administrator with the means to both remove and ban from the chatroom.

Much as I conferred that administrative right to the person, they have complete autonomy to act in the best interests of the chatroom, sometimes, that interest is conflated with self-interest and a power trip, but I need other members to help in administering the chatroom, which he does quite well most of the time.

That visitor eventually earned themselves an ejection from the chatroom probably unaware that he should have looked around a bit more to ensure whoever he was tussling with does not abuse their power. Some of us are probably more restrained, on balance, there was no need to call out anyone, the visitor was unnecessarily disruptive in the chatroom.

Take slight or plight

This is not to suggest that I am all for power tripping and the abuse of power, there are times it is simply best to extricate yourself from a situation before it escalates into an untenable situation. Probably, it is necessary to prevent a situation where you are politely asked to leave or you have to be bundled out unceremoniously, there is no accounting for the circumstances.

However, if you find that you like to be where you are and you are there with no particular rights apart from out of courtesy or tolerance, do not court notoriety and avoid avoidable altercations, because there is nowhere you can go to enforce a right or regaining access once you have been kicked out. Cool your temper, hold your tongue, maintain your dignity, or just leave without being noticed; it is not the end of the world.

Monday, 2 May 2022

Essential Snobbery 101: Drunk in traipse

Walk all ways

There are arresting circumstances under observation that sometimes elevates a person’s reluctant capacity to sententiousness, and it behoves one to entertain the thought process, even if nothing is eventually committed to journaling.

In this case, one could already see from afar that the man one first thought was young, naïve, quite unsteady on his feet; for whilst his direction was forward, there was no line to how his gait had lost the acuity of coherence that would suggest any sobriety. This is to be totally distinguished from where a person might by reason of infirmity be less disposed to display essential or required coordination.

Jolt clear ahead

By the time, one was level with him, and one had to swiftly move along lest his footfalls give way to an ill-considered collision; he was trying to light a cigarette, which he successfully accomplished, and one could infer that this man was middle-aged or older.

At two pedestrian crossings, concern engendered one’s disposition that this endangered species of auto-inebriation was courting the boundaries of casualty, but he did come through unscathed until a sudden clatter, he had walked into a temporary road sign and fallen somewhat on his backside providing the necessary jolt to the senses that might have helped bring some alertness to his stupor, for soon after, either out of caution or embarrassment, he steadied himself better towards his destination.

Better than who?

The question that percolated in one’s mind all through this sordid spectacle was how anyone could not know when they have had enough to drink such that they have sated their thirst for alcohol without being either a public nuisance or a safety risk in a public place? It is a question that always baffles, for, at the second of tipsy, one is homeward bound.

One should be sober, coherent, coordinated, and able to put one foot in front of the other. All mishaps to happen in the confines of the home, every time, all the time, and one has only once ever been given to alcohol-induced emesis at home, the only silly thing about it was it should have been done in the toilet bowl rather than in the sink.

Yet, people would do what they would do, and people like us would walk by pondering, much holier than thou in that and probably not in another. We should take the pharisaic trophies that are handed to us without much exertion. On to the next moral challenge.

Sunday, 1 May 2022

Let hope lift you up

Time looking back

Ten years looking forward can be like impossible to plan for as everything one might have purposed or predicted could have been derailed by the vicissitudes of life and circumstance, we seem to take each day as it comes working towards something and hoping to achieve much.

Looking back ten years, however, presents a different perspective and though one can elicit moments and situations as milestones that have passed, it almost seems like yesterday, whether coming through misfortune or otherwise.

If anything defines this same day ten years ago, it was the spirit of hope in the face of catastrophic loss, for the 1st of May 2012 was a bookend to my life experience where after cancer, the loss of status and means, I had lost my home of ten and a half years and was handing the keys over to a young couple who had bought my home for a song.

Blog: Thought Picnic: It's Goodbye to Oostelijke Handelskade 1121

Breaking away to rise

There was much I could dwell upon, but I decided instead to walk away, I needed to create new memories and write a better story from a situation that appeared to overwhelm my ability to begin to rebuild from the multitude of adversities that started in mid-2009 and continued a slow burn of ultimate realisation towards radical change almost 3 years later.

By the time I had sold my home for a loss, there was nothing left to keep me in The Netherlands and the impetus to depart and return to The UK against all other entreaties had begun. I did eventually leave in mid-August of 2012 and from then things took a turn for the better in health, in life, in work, and now in love.

Hope beyond the maelstrom

I have a strong witness, it is the witness of the power of hope in the midst of knowing that you are living to live well, that optimism has a drive that tells you with the determination that whatever you are going through shall pass, pass into the past, pass into history, pass into the making of a new story. I can witness that I have been blessed with goodness, mercy, favour, grace, fortune, opportunity, and new chances with the thrill of adventure and excitement.

You might have heard from many that you should never give up, and you should not, but sometimes, there is nothing to undergird that in your circumstances, it is like being caught in a hopeless, helpless situation. I can say, we are more caught by the limit of our ability to imagine beyond where we are at, it is the valley of the shadow of death, a shadow, it is, not death itself and like the Psalmist says, we walk through it and lay down in green pastures beside the still waters.

As long as there is life, let your soul be restored with possibilities beyond where you are at, and return after the passage of time to reflect on the fact that you had more capacity and strength than you ever knew you had to first face your storms and not be swept away by its ferocity, however long it lasted, to enter into the glowing sunshine and beauty of telling a better story. Shalom!