Go with the flow

In 2001, a close friend of mine from university days invited me to go with him to Brixton for another friend’s wedding. A convert of West African descent, he was always much more rigorous in his approach to faith than I ever was, converting five years before me, in his mid-teens. Despite trying his best to steer me in one direction, he knew I was a lost cause, too laidback for my own good. But still he was going to try.

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To return and return

I don’t know why I returned from oblivion. Well, I do. It’s because I restarted treatment after neglecting it for years, meaning my levels shot up from their longterm low — a shock to the system — giving me a boost of, well, insanity. Or maybe just confidence, or momentary self-belief, or happiness. No, well, yes, just insanity. So then, there is the mechanism of my return. A partial why, or how, or why now.

But what I mean is, I don’t really honestly know why I decided reappear before people who had long forgotten I existed. Though, of course, this didn’t occur in isolation: all last year there was equal weirdness, and then that open letter to everyone I wronged, read by no one at all. Thus we come back to those favourite lines of verse: “If I need no forgiveness, I’m all but forgotten, Lost in the changing of the times.” There, I should have remained. No matter, soon enough it will be the same again.


I don’t actually have a problem with hypocrisy. We’re all hypocrites to some degree. How others choose to live their lives is no business of mine. All I object to is hypocrisy enforced with violence, or the threat of violence, or consequences undefined. That I can’t abide.

The way of peace

As a result of his life experiences up to that point, nerd-face is fiercely egalitarian. He’s anti-racist, pro-justice, passionate about human rights. Due to a lifetime of bullying due to some imperceptible difference he can’t even see in himself, he’s developed a strong emphatic attunement with the underdog. In his personal relationships, he gravitates towards those apparently on the fringes of society, who themselves have faced a lifetime of discrimination, bullying and harassment.

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Raised voices

“Dad,” our lad barks at me, “I never taught you to shout!”

Here I smile. “Well, actually you did,” I tell him.

“That’s true,” agrees my beloved, “he never used to raise his voice at anyone until we had two teenagers in the house!”

To correct course

If research literature on the psychosocial impact of this condition can be relied upon to provide some generic descriptors of the lived experience, I might conclude that I was wholly to blame for the majority of negative experiences in my life. By blame, I don’t mean that actions were intentional or malicious. I just mean that I was not equipped with the tools to function effectively in social settings.

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A good arrangement

I wish I had been — or had been able to be — more assertive years ago when others were busy dissecting my life, explaining my decisions based on mere assumptions and prejudice. It’s my fault in some sense for merely taking everything for granted. If something seems bloody obvious to me, I’m not going to bother articulating counter arguments to all that has been said.

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Our generation

I am reminded that I am now nearly the age my parents were when I was our daughter’s age. Reflecting on my own shortcomings in relation to our children, it occurs to me that I should be more forgiving of moments back then, thirty years ago. My two older brothers were away at university, at the two extremes of the country; one on the far south west coast of England, the other on the far north east coast of Scotland.

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That ship has sailed

For a few days, I toyed with the idea of sharing with my family all that I have been pondering on my blog lately. To speak of my diagnosis for the first time and explore its impact on me back when our relationship was so poor, in my late adolescence and early twenties. But in the end I concluded: “What’s the point?” What’s the point of speaking of it eighteen years later, when it can change nothing at all?

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Moments long gone

I suppose those who have had the misfortune to encounter me again after all these years may be asking one another: “What does he want from us?” But apart from their forgiveness, I don’t want anything at all. I don’t need their approval, we don’t need to meet, we don’t need to have a conversation or become lifelong friends. Nope, just forgiveness for what occurred in their presence, and all that then occurred afterwards.

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Be brave

Culture and politics are very strong for a lot of people, making it hard for them to move forward. Although my family has a very strong Christian culture, I had the advantage of having experienced a decade of rejection in social interactions, breaking inhibitions which might have prevented me from taking radical action. It takes a lot to break from communal expectations. It’s only for the brave.

After years

I assume everyone has grown up. I assume we have all matured, moving far from where we once were. I assume experience has changed us, granting us nuanced perceptions of the world. I assume parenthood has made us more tolerant and kind. I assume our hearts have melted. I assume that if we were to meet today, we would greet one another fondly, treating each other with mutual respect. I assume we would now be friends.

Hip hip hurray

Driving up the hill this evening, surveying the magnificent vista of Union flags and bunting, I couldn’t help thinking of that quote from George Orwell about a primative patriotism. Here we are living in truly awful times for so many — a cost of living crisis and rising child poverty — all obscured by a jingoistic feast. Hurray!

Books and the bin

I have written a number of books through the years, always momentarily published and then withdrawn. One of them was entitled, To Honour God. That one was only ever intended for my family, to help them come to terms with my journey of faith. Only, by the time I had completed it, I had already grown out of it and felt like flinging it into the bin. At my beloved’s behest, I still published it briefly in paperback form in 2008, but it only lasted a few months in the wild before I removed it from circulation once more.

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A good union

Today, may the honourable be honourable. May blessings descend, good bestowed. May the gentleman be gentlemanly, his beloved valued, his companion cherished. May peace descend, serenity spread out, kindness rule. May the One guide the couple, granting contentment, gratitude and a good return. Let it be a blessed union, destined to carry them to paradise, hand in hand.

Embracing what we are

The present is the first time since my early childhood that I have been content with my face. Ramadan losses excepted, it has filled out, my cheek bones no longer so pronounced, my face fatter and more proportioned, my skin aged. Most people spend their lives seeking the elixir of eternal youth; I spent mine attempting to counteract it. I have photos of myself at the end of a Masters degree programme, aged 23, still looking about seventeen.

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Dare to dream

As a teenager, I took it for granted that the march towards racial equality was a goal shared by all. In 1991, we saw the end of Apartheid in South Africa, and I just assumed this was celebrated by everyone. My mother’s youngest sister had married an Indian man and the whole of his family had been embraced by our clan. My eldest brother’s longterm girlfriend (later his wife) was born in the Caribbean. A Nigerian family attended our local church, where banners celebrating equality were found hanging from the walls. I thought the majority of people believed in this brotherhood of man.

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May God bless the developers of satnav. I shudder thinking back to the daft rows we had in the early days of marriage when stressed by a map reading mishap, completely lost on the way to some event in London in our little red donkey. Such ungentlemanly behaviour, tempers flaring. Thank God we have mellowed with age. Thank Satnam we now have satnav!

Be real

Don’t follow to be followed. Don’t be an adult pretending to be a kid. Don’t be a man pretending to be a girl. Don’t write what you think will get you noticed. Don’t set out with ulterior motives. Don’t hang out in the hope that others will engage you. Only a fool would fall for the freshly minted account seeking an audience — waving and prodding — before you’ve said anything at all. If you’re for real, your authentic voice will speak volumes. So be real. Be true to yourself. Don’t be fake; fakeness only reveals you.

Undying timidity

There is so much I have always attributed to a strict, Christian upbringing which should probably be more correctly associated with my undying timidity. When I begin exploring past events a bit more, it occurs to me that a normal youngster would have just asserted themselves to demand whatever their heart desired. Few would have been as passive as me, forever in fear of the consequences for transgressing the norms set out by the significant adults around me.

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Face it

Fifty percent of your population lives below the poverty line. Nine million people are at risk of starvation. Millions of children are malnourished. Your priority? Telling women what they should or should not wear, and obsessing about the lengths of men’s beards. This is called seriously misunderstanding what your religion is for. It’s not a fancy dress contest. It’s a path towards achieving a state of safety and sound health, by shunning injustice, inequality and corruption. Make things easy for the people and do not make them run away.