Thursday 29 June 2023

In the quest for that sliver of constructive criticism that mattered

The hostile oven of criticism

“Oò serious, Akin”. Is a code switch of mixing languages that you might find among people who speak more than one language, and in this case, this is a Yoruba-English construct roughly meaning, “You’re not serious, Akin.” I however found out that the Dutch who are usually polyglots find the mixing of languages confusing.

The many variants of this phrase, I have heard as the lead-in to criticism and excoriation, an unchallengeable viewpoint posited by those with responsibility, means, opportunity, and the power arrogated to deliver the cutting without the growing.

Along with this, is another in Yoruba, “Kí lón e ẹ́?” “What is the matter with you?” Delivered with sneering, disdain, and derision, maybe just disappointment, but implicitly implying you are not trying hard enough with all the advantages, privileges, and benefits you might have in relation to others, not accounting for any extenuating circumstances that anyone is willing to discover.

Humiliation as character building

In one seminal case, when I was addressed with the first statement, I dared to respond that I thought I was doing my best. It was taken as disrespectful and an affront, and at that point, another uncle stepped in to deliver a stinging slap, before commanding I grovel and apologise. Then, it was necessary to compound the humiliation by being ordered to do house chores, which we had someone employed to do.

Somehow, in many cases, there was an absence of constructive criticism in elements of my upbringing, though, that is not to say that I was not a difficult child and adolescent, I had my issues, and I could argue that they were not considered important in the scheme of things.

Bygones that cannot be foregone

Why dredge up these historical events when as the patriarch is wont to say, let bygones be bygones? It is because the bygones were defining even if the instigators would like to forget what they did and the impact of the same. There is a child in us that never forgets, despite all the work we do in self-development to ensure that the hold of the past does not become a limiting factor in our present or immediate future.

We all bear scars that we apply the makeup of presentation, expression, and personality to conceal to varying degrees of success, it is gratifying that there were still people who believed in us and supported us from under the crushing weight of unrelenting criticism and much else.

Where a child lives

It reminds me of something I read that is attributed to Dorothy Law Nolte who articulated quite succinctly the power of positive youth development. It appears on many posters that I read, and I tried to convince myself that much of what I experienced was positive and a good deal was, but it is never that easy to forget the criticism, the ridicule, the insecurity, the threats, the unfriendliness, and all that feeding a debilitating fear than was deemed respectful.

One moment of searing endearment and concern was delivered when they both ganged up on me in the administration of corporal punishment. He was taking a breather, probably in exhaustion, he said to her, “Mind his eyes.” That is love, I remember it well.

I love them, but they are not saints.

Some contextual references

Blog - Thought Picnic: A dreamy page of a family saga (2016)

Blog - Never maltreat a child (2023)

Blog - Thought Picnic: A child has memories that last a lifetime (2021)

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

Children Learn What They Live

If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn.
If children live with hostility, they learn to fight.
If children live with ridicule, they learn to be shy.
If children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty.
If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence.
If children live with tolerance, they learn to be patient.
If children live with praise, they learn to appreciate.
If children live with acceptance, they learn to love.
If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves.
If children live with honesty, they learn truthfulness.
If children live with security, they learn to have faith in themselves and others.
If children live with friendliness, they learn the world is a nice place in which to live.

© 1955 Dorothy Law Nolte – Children Learn What They Live

Thought Picnic: Discerning insidious familial device

Sometimes fraught in thought

Finding the form of words to illustrate certain situations that are difficult to talk about would usually be an area of ability I would rarely be wanting or lacking. Yet, having harboured these thoughts for days, I finally began to gain a handle on things enough to express to an extent, how I felt.

We are essentially products of the environments and influences in which we find ourselves from childhood experiences and observations that many expect with the passage of time for us to forget through to the recent times where the occupation of situation might be both distracting and at the same time uncomfortable.

Abuse in its other forms

I seek not to commend myself in the ways that facing adversity and hard times has been borne with varying levels of stoicism and fortitude as much as with the help, support, and prayers of many who are acquainted with the circumstances.

In a moment of vulnerability, I was caught off-guard by parental device, and we usually are, when the focus was shifted from issue to collateral. Indeed, how well we are doing does reflect on others, just as the adverse might too. What it should never become is using the preponderance of the affected to press the point of your situation. The exertion of emotional menace can be insidious.

People forget the facts

I have a lot to say about many things, that I give myself to the patience of listening should not be misconstrued as acquiescence or acceptance, it is love, liking, respect, and even consideration that lends my ears to incident, inclination, assumption, and the paranoia that afflicts others to the point that it negatively impacts the listener.

People who have for decades cannot resolve their differences and then regale us with constant and unrelenting tales of woe that you have heard from time began, their stories seep into your narrative and could become your own story if care is not taken to understand what is at play.

During that conversation, it was implied that one had deviated from the kind of instruction one had been given from childhood, but that is a total misreading of the historical fact. Despite the good intentions at the time, I remember things quite vividly and differently. The experience was and is never one to which I would want to return. The path in which I seek better understanding and direction is quite different, but for the sake of amity over conflict, I have kept my peace.

The God loves me race

The things I remember should make me angry, in the particular, they should be totally unforgivable, but for the purpose of living, one should keep a tender spirit, even a heart of forbearance with an understanding that we all have many faults and limitations for which we have been forgiven not to impute the various infractions of others on them by total disengagement.

The race I run is a process of learning, the teaching for life will be valuable and the testimony at the end will be of wonder and beauty. I count my blessings even in the depth of despair and despondency that life gives hope, health is wealth, and the best is yet to come. God loves me, I just need to appreciate that more. My journey remains mine to pursue, if others are affected, they have run into my lane, and I keep my focus on my race.

Saturday 24 June 2023

Set a watch before my mouth

In the search for a conversation

I was considering the other day how my ease in making conversation through small talk, witticisms, and self-deprecation presents an unguarded moment of saying the wrong things about myself.

In the main, I think I am generally optimistic and tend towards the affirmative than the negative. Yet, you find yourself saying things absentmindedly about what you cannot do, how you cannot see, where you cannot go, or how you suffer.

You find yourself reaffirming what you do not intend and reinforcing the unfortunate for the sake of making conversation. Then again, I cannot suggest I am good about boasting, I would likely be bashful before I break out of the shell of a reserved Englishman and display the exuberance of those across the pond.

Putting a bridle on my tongue

I guess the quest to be seasoned in speech is a discipline as much as it is a longing without losing the ability to strike up a conversation on more wholesome things than the declining of self to express oneself and make a connection. Maybe, I do need some help and where do I get that? Take control of what I say, O LORD, and guard my lips. Psalms 141:3 (NLT)

I know that I have in a determined way rid myself of inflections in speech, mannerisms, and certain usages that I decided could be better expressed, on the harder bits, I might just be less quick to speak so that when I speak, I am speaking well about myself and things.

Friday 23 June 2023

Obduracy gave us the Titanic and now the Titan

What a rollercoaster of emotions

As the emotions are still raw and people are still coming to terms with the tragedy of the apparent Titan submersible implosion with the loss of 5 souls, this is a difficult subject to broach at any time, yet it is one we must not ignore for the pertinent lessons to be learnt.

As the news cycle played like an orchestra of emotions from the notification of the passengers missing through postulations about the urgency to rescue because of the limited oxygen supply, we even had that glimmer of hope that there was some banging noise at 30-minute intervals, suggesting some human activity indicating distress. The truth amidst the speculations that almost drove us to distraction was a catastrophic incident had already happened and the people we were introduced to over the last 5 days had perished.

We need to know why it happened

Everything is now down to a post-mortem of what happened, and probably more will be revealed in a possible coroner’s inquest with the verdict of death by misadventure. Then, misadventure would be an understatement if all we have learnt about the Titan submersible and the operations of OceanGate in facilitating the tourist event to see the Titanic wreck is reckoned with.

I am in no way against having a sense of adventure, even of the pioneering kind where you are doing what no one else has done before. However, the adventure should never exclude proper risk assessment and more pertinently safety. It has transpired that OceanGate was many times warned about their submersible design, that it had not undergone any independent testing, then certain engineers involved were dismissed when they raised questions, that parts involved in cobbling together the submersible might suffice for a hobbyist, but never for a commercial operation where a general public is put at immeasurable risk of the possible loss of life.

The invisible fatal flaw of hubris

That this submersible was lost along with the CEO of OceanGate pitches the positive attributes and virtues of courage, confidence, adventurism, and derring-do against the greatest flaw when things go wrong, hubris. He was against the essential safety inspections and certifications that might have prevented what many experts in deep-sea submersibles now consider totally preventable.

It is quite likely that those passengers took and derived some confidence from the fact that the CEO was riding with them, it might have suggested to them that if the CEO was willing to take such as risk on such a dangerous mission, they probably would be safer than being piloted by someone with no skin in the game. James Cameron compared the obduracy of the OceanGate’s CEO, Stockton Rush to that of the RMS Titanic’s captain, Edward John Smith, they both ended up at the bottom of the sea beside each other.

Trust but verify for yourself

It has become a somewhat fatal transference of trust, the fact that you can see someone else doing something that encourages you to dabble, even if you are totally unsure you will have the same outcome. In many things, we do need a trailblazer and some sort of example if we are to dare to tread where angels fear to go. We must do that with some knowledge of what we are getting into.

For instance, in a parachute jump, there are fundamental prerequisite checks to make long before the jump, to ensure that the parachute is intact, will operate, that the reserve is there just in case the main parachute does not open, and you do not jump to a conclusion without doing the essential checks, except if on a suicide mission, and that is a different thing.

I do wonder if any of the passengers would have reconsidered this adventure on seeing some of the other interviews with the CEO about the submersible and its record, along with the testimonies that we have now heard about some who ventured and did not consider a return because of their experience and those who pulled out after assessing the lax safety procedures amongst other things.

A tragedy totally preventable

There seems to be a lot of information out there that suggests this was a very dangerous activity and though a few scraps of pulling it off suggested a greater success than the myriad of issues and problems during the event. There is no saying that if the dive exploration that set off on Sunday were successful, not only would we have heard nothing of this adventurism, but it would also have steeled others to shell out about a quarter of a million dollars to see the wreck of the Titanic at 3,810 metres (12,500 feet; 2,080 fathoms) depth below sea level, rather than watch a playback on a National Geographic channel.

There is nothing to celebrate about this tragedy, but much to learn about how we perceive risk, the essential need for safety, the consideration of better-mitigating measures in case of adverse events, the readiness to abort missions when things turn precarious, and the decision to curb our sense of adventure at certain times, just to gain a bit more perspective of the fact that our humanity, whilst amazing resourceful is neither omnipotent nor omniscient.

May their souls, therefore, rest in peace, and may we that remain be humbled to listen and learn the hard lessons taught by the experiences of others.


BBC: Titanic director James Cameron accuses OceanGate of cutting corners

Wikipedia: 2023 Titan submersible incident

Wednesday 21 June 2023

The world that comes to us

Saying a little prayer

It was one of the strangest requests I had encountered that left me rather unsure of how to respond. He walked in off the street like everyone else who I had greeted that afternoon, now over 200 of them in just over 2 hours, strangers all, interest common.

Before I could greet him, excited as he was, he asked if I could pray for him, I had a sash on and an identity badge, but I had to protest, I am not a member of the clergy. I was at a confluence of belief systems that have shaped my spirituality in interesting ways. I would expect in the Church of England, you might pray with the spectacle of magisterial homiletics, whereas depending on what spectrum of the Evangelical persuasion you are, let’s not even begin to speculate.

He asked me to light him a candle as he was a bit scared of fire and still insisted I pray. So I did with the almost confusion of the laity doing what they were not trained to do and the mumbling of understanding his distress, a few strong words to remedy the situation that bothered him, for which I believe he was full of faith that coming to the church to ask to be prayed for will help. He left, just as he came in.

The world comes to our cathedral

It was the end of my first shift as a welcoming guide to the Cathedral and what an experience it was for me, that I learnt a lot more than I seemed to offer in terms of the basic information about our cathedral. If I do decide to do this regularly, there is a big consideration to have, the strain on my back as I steady myself with my walking cane, in that 3-hour stint, there were times I did have to sit down because the pain was getting uncomfortable and unbearable.

Visitors came from near and far, alone or in numbers, as family, with friends, in groups with purpose or just on a detour, with lots of time and sometimes barely enough to gather the spectacle of architecture before going on their way. When I asked, the nationalities and the small talk made a connection in my wayfaring archive of what a friend calls my library of seemingly useless information that just becomes pertinent for that engagement.

Probably more than a quarter of the guests were someone living in Manchester bringing someone visiting for the first time. I do not think I encountered anyone from Central or South America, but all other regions presented a representative from many places I had been to and could I remember something quite significant in the exchange.

Learning to learn more

For me, there were two things that stood out, visitors who said they were visiting from Kurdistan and if there was any justice in this world, the people should be a country, but I did ask which of the many Kurdistans as I thought they were at least in three countries and I was informed it was 4 countries, I soon realised from my knowledge of geography that was indeed true.

Another couple came in with beautifully trained and behaved dogs and their visit to our cathedral for which they wanted a more substantial guidebook than the simple folder pamphlet on offer that needed updating, they eventually found someone to help. It was in a later conversation that I learnt that there were 42 cathedrals in England, visiting ours was their 39th, they had two more to visit in Yorkshire and the last was undergoing extensive renovations, so they will have to wait to visit.

To be more effective, I need to develop beyond the platitude of welcoming to becoming an informed tour guide. There is so much to know about our cathedral, its history, the architecture, the windows, the majestic pipe organ, its function, the furnishings, the chapels, the memorials, the statues, the many influences from when there was a building in the same place from the 13th Century and the 600th anniversary of its establishment as a collegiate church.

There is a lot more to think about of my experience today, however, what is most important is, I enjoyed welcoming people to our cathedral.

Monday 19 June 2023

Another booster on good advice

Walk-in somewhere far away

I had been receiving a notification for over a month that I should consider getting the Spring COVID-19 booster as I am understood to have a weakened immune system.

For the previous boosters, I have just had to walk up to the offices beside the Central Library, hardly 5 minutes away to get my jab. However, on receiving the notice, I found there were no walk-in vaccine centres in the city centre, the nearest was just over one and half miles away.

Besides the option to walk-in, these centres only had specific days of the week that they offered the jab, most of them somewhat inconvenient besides the fact that you probably want to get it over with than wait until the weekend. The whole concept of walking-in which one would think allows for an unscheduled and impromptu visit was somewhat defeated because the freedom to attend was curtailed by the restricted scheduling to see patients.

Get out there and get it

I was prompted to do something when at the weekend, I received a letter, and this was quite apart from the many SMS text messages that had been ringing on my mobile phone. The last day for receiving the Spring booster was the 30th of June after which one will have to wait until the autumn season.

It could have been ignored, but every once in a while, I hear of someone contracting COVID with a varied spectrum of severity of symptoms. If the number of people who tested positive in the week including the 3rd of June is 4,331 and deaths for the week including the 22nd of May is 231, according to the government website. COVID remains a threat, even if it is not in the news and well-considered precautions remain sensible and necessary. In my region, for the recorded period, there have been an increase in deaths by 5 to 33 and hospital admissions down 29 to 277.

I take advice seriously

I use medical consultancy services and follow the advice I am given by my doctors after my concerns have been addressed and my questions answered. They know we all have access to reams of Internet information from which genuine or absurd inquiry might arise and I take into full consideration much of the information necessary to achieve the best patient outcomes for myself.

I have stuck with the mRNA vaccines which are the Pfizer and Moderna products and so far, I have had 2 main Pfizer jabs, then a Pfizer booster, a Moderna booster, and the last 2 were the Pfizer booster with modifications for COVID variants, it is now 6 injections since February 2021. Some might advice you do not need the booster, but they are not experts in the field, just people informed by sentiment or misinformation.

It was about a 40-munite walk to the chemist this morning, I stated my intent, and I was seen to after 10 minutes, the jab was from such a tiny hypodermic needle, you hardly felt it. As long as I was feeling fine, I did not have to wait the regulatory 15 minutes for observation.

Keep with the experts

What I find bizarre is the number of conspiracy theorists who are against vaccination regimes not out of producing data that meets the test of scientific and informed rigour, much as their arguments seem persuasive, I would rather listen to scientists, vaccinologists, or epidemiologists speak than people with political or social media platforms without the essential tutelage of expertise and knowledge.

It is just absurd to pitch an influencer against an expert in a field for purpose of debate on an area of specialisation that is certified beyond enthusiastic dilettantism. Yet, this is what we see nowadays, and I present the tweet I posted earlier today for your reflection.

Saturday 17 June 2023

Trooping the Colour of emotional attachment

Some emotional points of self

There are certain things that carry an emotion and sentiment for which there is not suitable articulation of words to describe, these are deeply seated in the person we are and how we express ourselves.

Watching the Trooping the Colour on playback at this moment, I reflect on those things for which I have not found adequate expression yet can be found dotted amongst my writings that give me a sense of pride, being, and identity. My spirituality, my Englishness, and the institution of the British monarchy.

Where one stands

On the first, I share occasionally, in which I determine to find the reality of divine intervention in every sphere of my existence and much of which leaves me conscious of the fact that there is much more to learn and understand of the mystery it entails.

The second is controversial to some as much as it is significant to me, and though the debate might rage about Britishness or Englishness, I am quite originally an Englishman of Nigerian heritage, and no apology is made of understanding that this sense of identity is reinforced by so many influences, experiences, and places. Sometimes, it is just the inability to appreciate the individuality and uniqueness of someone else that fuels the disrespect for how we choose to be identified.

I say the institution of the monarchy rather than just the monarchy for it does not matter who peoples the offices that pertain to the monarchy, yet the weight of history and tradition bears heavily on the shoulders of the monarch who through life is conditioned to certain discretions to maintain the mystique of the said of institution.

Love of a great idea

Though most of our lifetime this institution had the face of Queen Elizabeth II, there is a generation of personalities that have passed on with a wistful sense of loss as the new Carolean era of Charles III takes hold. The ease with which the machine of state transitioned occasioning amazing pomp and pageantry that no other people than the English can muster is one that imbues one with a sense of loving and patriotic adoration.

The love of fatherland without it being mistaken for political or royal adulation, England is my land, it is my country and from this land I have explored many places including that from which my parents came to study here and witness a country in radical transition and bruising change.

When it comes to ceremony and music, something in me wells up in full agreement that this land, and it being Perfidious Albion to some still exudes history, beauty, wonder, excitement, amazement, and pluck. In every nook and cranny, you find England is a place in many people’s hearts. God save the King!!!

Friday 16 June 2023

Essential Snobbery 101: An Eton mess of people without virtue

 A failed assessment

Privilege, entitlement, and omniscience are the qualities or virtues that former Eton master, John Claughton regretted he had failed to manage or curtail in his wards who have now become leaders in many spheres of life, especially politics. [The Independent: Boris Johnson and ‘entitled’ Tory Etonians have damaged Britain, admits former Eton master: ‘I failed’]

In my view, I think the master is still reading the script wrong, as privilege might come by circumstance beyond our control and what really matters is to recognize one’s privilege and then use it to the benefit of others.

Entitlement is an interesting issue that could be borne of an environment of privilege, to have entitlement is not entirely wrong, but where it is exercised should be in the support of fairness, justice, and what is right. Though, entitlement is usually a vent of the supercilious that it could is normally seen in the negative than positive light.

Omniscience however is definitely to be tamed and trammelled by every means possible, the thought that you are unassailable and infallible, incapable of error, all-knowing, and the master of the universe with a God-like complex is dangerous, whatever the degree. It should never been fostered or helped to develop to the extent that such people should have power or influence over others.

Of a man of no character

In that crop of the poshly-educated at Eton College, comes many former Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom and the one that excites the greatest notoriety today is Boris Johnson who exited the House of Commons last Friday pre-empting the sanction of the Privileges Committee that would have recommended a 90-day suspension for misleading Parliament.

Boris Johnson would suggest he is a man hard done by, but like many would say, despite his popularity, Boris does things only for the sake of Boris and nothing more. Boris Johnson’s storied career shows that he has no acquaintance with the truth or any semblance of it. He is both a compulsive and a pathological liar that he believes so assuredly that he is a man of trust and candour.

Granted chance after chance

Delusionary is what would be attempt because for all the jobs that he has risen to through various applications of meritocracy and charm, he has several times been relieved of his positions because of a lack of character, candour, values, and virtue.

That sense of omniscience seems to have equipped him with daring impunity for which his privilege appears to confer immunity from sanction or accountability. It is one exclusionary act of nature that rather than be schooled by the infractions and punishments of the lower cadres, it is at the pinnacle of powers, prestige, and popularity that a man has been held to full account for his dishonesty and missteps.

Duty and service tames us

Before we get to the lesson to be learnt of men who throw caution to winds daring the whirlwind to a whistling contest, anyone can attend Eton with privilege, entitlement, and omniscience, what Eton College has patently failed to do for more than a generation is imbue their wards with a sense responsibility, duty, and service to their fellowman. A willingness to face up to their failings and be held accountable where necessary without questioning the fairness and justice of due process.

The lesson, it is always necessary so such flawed men to be met with a catastrophe of their own making, each downfall Boris Johnson has had has been by the hapless engineering of his own hand, his pomposity denies him an introspection necessary for self-awareness and self-correction. What leaves one more baffled is the fact that to some, he can do no wrong, no matter how wrong he is.

Wednesday 14 June 2023

Thought Picnic: On the art of asking questions

Asking without relenting

Sometimes, inquisitiveness is the trait people least admire about us, then it might not be the fact that one is inquisitive but that the way we put our questions puts the backs of others up.

Through life we begin to understand that not all questions have answers or have the convincing answers necessary for us to move on to something else. In resignation, one might just leave a question looming in the quest for a better form of words to phrase intent to obtain the desired outcome.

Asking with some talent

The ability to ask questions that produce results is more an art than a science, there is something to do with phrasing and framing, contextualizing and limiting the scope to digress, though in obtaining answers one might be regaled with much more than was asked for, to make the point clearer and better, even if unexpected.

We find that in computing, the ability to get good search results depends on the search phrase, even so with the Artificial Intelligence craze that has occupied us in the last 6 months, that art of questioning is called prompting, we begin to descend into jargon territory just trying to get the best answers to our strangest questions.

Asking without regret

Obviously, there are questions we would rather not hear or have to address, too many of which can be negatively impactful on the participants involved in that inquiry. These are a range of thoughts that crept into my mind, of which the exploration should be one of considered introspection than of public expression.

The question then becomes whether the right question has been asked or the question has been phrased to confirm a bias rather elicit an objective response. On those questions we ponder on the existential and the ephemeral, the eternal and the ethereal, along with every other thing that brings some satisfaction to the quest for knowledge or assurance. The art would never go out of fashion.

Thursday 8 June 2023

Pat Robertson and the dreamers who rejuvenated Christian living

Bringing back memories

The announced passing of Pat Robertson at the age of 93 today brings to mind an aspect of my history I have barely touched in my many blogs until now.

In late 1982, I resumed admission at the Yaba College of Technology to study Electrical Engineering having made the switch from the Lagos State College of Science and Technology where I was reading Chemical Engineering not so much out of choice but by the influence of an old student who came to give a talk at my secondary school along with the poor career guidance help that was prevalent in those days.

I have many times argued with my mum who at that time was a principal of a secondary school that such showboating visits are not helpful in career guidance, rather they lead impressionable young people off on excursions of fantasy without any understanding of drive, passion, or reality of what they innately can do. However, that is another discussion.

I was missing in action

I was 16 years old, and I was suffocating under my parent’s roof having been in boarding school since the age of 10, my first year at YabaTech as it was called, passed uneventfully, I barely passed the year, I was mostly truant and my head was hardly in order as there were classes I attended that I could not say I was in that class or what we were doing. Maybe a professional assessment would have suggested I was clinically depressed.

My second year began uneventfully and this time I was squatting when I fell into a group of avant-garde art majors who intrigued all by their creativity and ability. A building at the end of a concealed and somewhat secluded road housed the Christian Union building and nothing about them was inviting as guilt and condemnation simply reinforced the idea of the God I had known from the time my mother to me to secret religious meetings from the age of 3 in England.

This is God?

God was a tough punishing deity that required more than sacrifice, tears, and blood to be barely appeased and was never pleased. One night, 3 art students invited me to follow them to this Christian Union building and my discovery? They began speaking in tongues and I was caught in wonderment.

Soon, I found there is a growing band of Christians mostly led by these art students who were giving the bible a new sense of meaning and relevance to our lives and even though my mind was messed up by many things, I was quite an effective student union representative and now, a budding born-again Christian. With that, a new frontline of war was opened on the home front that I did not have the wisdom to manage at that point.

A band of Christian musketeers

Along with this was how Bible study really looked like serious study and not of the Sunday School variety, and the first point of debate was grammar, semantics, and interpretation, whether women need to cover their heads, or their hair was already a covering. The contentions between traditional evangelicals of the brooding and appearing sad-to-be-humble type and the livelier, let’s take the world by the horns stuff, or even maybe more.

I could make a long story of this, Dake’s, Strong’s, Vine’s, Amplified, the lingo was Greek and sometimes Hebrew, the speech was soaring homiletics dispensing stranger-than-fiction hermeneutics and chief of them was the most talented artist of his generation. We had the Americans to give us speech, accent, and direction, we believed we were making God interesting and the slightly curious would find out more.

An American invasion was complete

Enter The 700 Club, which in the 1980s was the staple of Christian television that did not fill you was eschatological dread but a longing for a better experience of a loving and amazing God. The Christian Broadcasting Network founded by Pat Robertson amongst other influences seemed to fill us with daring, adventure, and boldness. Soon, we broke away from the Christian Union to form The Fellowship and there were extraordinary demonstrations of the power of God in our midst from albeit very flawed men, the grace of God remains a mystery even in its powerful expression when we yield to what God has purposed to do in and with us.

Whilst does not entirely read like a tribute to Pat Robertson, it is a tribute to a generation of influential and impactful Christian men and women of ministry who dared to dream seemingly impossible dreams and through their living, their testimonies, their sermons, and their books especially tried to teach others that they can bring these dreams out of the invisible and unseen realm into living present reality.

If we could only dream

These dreams, built broadcasting networks and outreaches, universities, campuses of almost enchanted living, even stupendous wealth, impactful businesses, and churches planted into regions that would have been impossible to reach changing lives so radically and fundamentally, you may not believe much of all this started from a simple dream.

Pat Robertson was one of such men and women who dreamed the impossible and for that, I commend him even if in the latter times of his years he became controversial to the point that whatever he said was dismissed.

God rest his soul.

Other Pat Robertson blogs

Blog - A fatwa in everything but name (2005)

Blog - Fatwa evangelist blurts out again (2006)

Blog - Thought Picnic: How Do They Launder Demons? (2013)

Blog - How God laughs at the thought of being a voter (2020)

Monday 5 June 2023

Opinion: Getting good medical outcomes is a fight to be heard - II

Up against the system

When I wrote last week that my NHS rating is a 6 on a scale of 0 – 10, a series of conversations with users of the service and most especially, my personal experience highlighted issues I have overlooked rather than pursued.

Blog - Opinion: Getting good medical outcomes is a fight to be heard - I

There are organisational inefficiencies that consequently impact the patient at the point of contact and the bureaucracy demands those who people the establishment that they need more time to address issues and where they do, they should be more attentive.

In some cases, those who choose to address ineffective processes that result in poor outcomes are deemed, termed, and labelled difficult and troublesome. The person's suffering is forgotten as the Hippocratic oath of service becomes a perfunctory recitation without heart or mind involved. The patient is a customer on a fast-moving conveyor belt to the exit than to wellness.

Organisational failings that fail us

In my other blog, I talked of when I had to relay my medical record to a doctor because my file was not available to check my notes for the consultation. It would appear, every patient that visited on that day, if they were not as clued in and read up on their condition would have received attention below par.

I have high praise for the department that has taken on my case for almost 8 years, but they are not perfect and not all the consultants I have met give due heed to the wider issues of who the person they are seeing is and I can understand their limitations. However, one has to question how with that knowledge of who was attending for the day the essential documentation was not provided to the consultants for review and understanding as they met their patients.

It might have been a one-off situation, but I have the feeling there is a rot that pervades the system that is seething and creeping almost unaware to those with the responsibility to ensure things work better for the desired outcomes of their patients.

Seeing but not perceiving

Then, it was the lassitude that greeted my need for treatment of a co-morbidity condition that they knew of for more than two years, but never sought to address until I challenged the thinking in the department. You could almost feel they were more ready to express sympathy after your demise in the knowledge you were one less problem to deal with than face the complexity of the person-problem conundrum.

When they advocated for the change of my drug regime for a new medication, the consultant inelegantly let slip that the decision was being made on a cost basis as my medication was still under patent protection. This was reinforced with a contrived neurological test as I did mention absences in thought that could be side effects on my memory, much of which I had compensated for as I noticed changes in how I remember things, especially in the short-term memory space.

The struggle of outlay over outcome

The new medication was a hellish 7-week experience that they were keen to fix me to after the second week which I thought was too short a period to understand its effects. I dare say, one of the side effects that was on a label you could tear off from the packaging included sudden death. Each day, I recorded every funny symptom from tingling in my extremities, to insomnia and nausea – those were the prominent ones.

I walked into the department with 42 pages of side effects recorded for each of the 42 days and demanded I be put back on my old medication that I had tolerated well for over 8 years. The year after this sordid experiment, there were generics of my medication available, and I have been on those since then.

Obviously, there is a cost to medical provision, and I cannot ignore the towering cost of the 12-week medication for treating the co-morbidity 7 years ago with new drugs for which I am grateful, but it is never comfortable to be in the hearing of cost rather comfort and outlay rather than outcomes.

Being there but not with me

It was my last consultation that inspired these blogs as my doctor’s notes created on the day of my visit or thereabouts get sent to both my GP and me. Now, after that consultation, I was given a survey to fill in about attending the consultation that day. After receiving the note, I would like to review my earlier commending comments.

This is for the simple reason that I discussed a number of issues with the consultant that should have superseded the talk we had 6 months ago. On review, there is little of what we discussed in the new note, I can also put it down to either the consultant being distracted or inattentive. That conclusion is easy to arrive at as when he said he had refilled my prescription, it was one of two medications that he prescribed, and I had to return the next day for the other medication.

The notes can be consequential

Doctor’s notes might hold no particular significance as a simple administrative process, but when one is engaging with the system and some decisions are predicated on what the doctor’s perspective is of you and your situation, there can be no room for error or variance between how you describe yourself and your doctor's observations. I can only wonder what it would take to rectify this without creating a crisis of confidence and trust within that team of medical personnel.

Indeed, I do make demands on the NHS for better outcomes which have much room for improvement, but there are only so many things you can overlook before you realise something radical is needed to ensure you do not become a mere conveyor belt statistic.

It is a fight to be heard and listened to, beyond which you hope that they would respond and act on the situation, with your interests to heart and in your favour.