Four Weddings and a Refusal

At most wedding ceremonies I’ve attended in Lagos I was a mere spectator; marveling at such things as the reprimand of poorly clad bridesmaids by the priest, the sometimes risqu√© shenanigans of the MC or the conversion of the dance area to a bureau de change for showering the newly weds with. But back in London I got my first taste of participation when I was asked by my good friend (and university classmate) to be his Best Man.
Wedding 1: Role – Best Man (Novice)

  • I substituted the groom’s shadow for the duration of the wedding ceremony
  • I was entrusted with wedding bands which I had no choice of forgetting…or else
  • I served as an eye-witness and co-signatory on the marriage certificate
  • I had to give a (memorable) toast at the reception without shooting myself in the foot

Wedding 2: Role – Best Man (Fairly experienced)

  • I was approached by a colleague at work whom I knew fairly little about
  • My selection was based on: looks, availability, and capacity to afford a new suit
  • I was armed with handkerchiefs to wipe the sweat off the groom’s face
  • I had to pick all the cash thrown at the dancing newly weds for about an hour or so
  • I had to give a best man speech…about a guy whom I knew fairly little about

Wedding 3: Role – MC and Groom’s man (Experienced)

  • I was the impromptu MC at my younger sister’s traditional wedding ceremony
  • I helped usher different veiled women who came to deceive the groom but failed
  • Some months later I was a groom’s man at the follow-up white wedding
  • I bought yet another custom suit
  • As for the entertainment, let’s just say Michael Jackson would have been proud!

Wedding 4: Role – Best Man (Veteran)

  • I had to purchase a plane ticket, charter a taxi which drove me over 6 hours to Oz
  • I bought yet another custom suit and a pair of shoes.
  • Resumed cash collection duties and exchanging small denominations for the large
  • I gave the proverbial toast…to an audience unwilling to raise their glasses *hmm…*

And now for the grand finale – who got a refusal at the fifth wedding; the bride or the groom?

The answer is BOTH. It was I who categorically refused to be their best man just so I don’t I become the butt of some MC’s joke (e.g. ‘Wait a minute, weren’t you the best man at the last wedding I performed at?’). I thought to myself, ‘The next wedding I get actively involved in will be my own so help me God.’

Four years down the line this became my reality! My Crazy Nigerian wedding – that’s a post for another day ūüôā

Image credits: Partycity.com

The Set Up of All Set ups

In recent weekends my wife and I have been getting our fix (or should I say ‘flix’) by way of series and movie binging. Thanks to Netflix we have more affordable variety compared to Cable TV; currently useful for only reporting new Covid cases and Khloe Kardashian’s latest meltdown. We’ve so far binged on Ozark, Prison Break and now we’re on Breaking Bad Season 4 (no spoilers in the comment section please). When it comes to movies though we sometimes want to give Nigerian talent a chance. On one of such occasions we decided to watch a Nigerian movie titled ‘The Set Up’. This movie sucked more than a 6-month old baby from a bulimic mother.

Before watching a movie my wife and I do this thing. Everybody has a ‘thing’ like watching movies with subtitles.  But our thing is to watch the first ten minutes and resist pressing the Exit button – once that time has lapsed then it’s more than likely that we would watch the rest of the movie. Sadly this movie did not make the cut after the eighth minute and here’s why.

To begin with the movie opened with three baseless flashbacks back to back spanning from the pre-teen, teenage to adolescent years of the two female childhood friends the story is based on. Fast forward to present day and you can perceive they live a criminal life once law enforcement agents storm their apartment. Just before they scram they get a visit from a recruiter who is need of their skills. All this while I contemplated wedging matchsticks under my eyelids to stay awake. The dialogue was the stuff of bedtime stories; yawn-worthy.

There were rushed scenes of the girls getting trained and executing scores with zero dialogue. I was disappointed at the missed opportunity for character development. I was not attached to a single character and couldn’t care less if any or all of them fell into an abyss. I wasn’t glued or caring to know where this story was going. I was contemplating my existence and wondering when last I called my parents.

Hopefully others who watched it got some entertainment. However, my wife and I have seen better Nigerian movies so this movie lived up to its title – we felt set up.

TCN rating – 2/10

Fiction: 2021 (Pt.1)

I woke up tired. Thought about turning on the TV. But I quickly changed my mind; rather have a strong dose of caffeine than another dose of Covid news. Had a shower and threw some clothes on. Kissed my wife and daughter then grabbed my car keys and face mask. Whispered a prayer and ventured into the unknown. Just a typical start to the new normal.

Hit the highway and got lost in the soundtrack of my life. As I drove through lanes of masked motorists I recalled the last social gathering I attended – a wedding reception. There I was greeted with security detail brandishing digital thermometers. My wife and I had to produce our invitations to gain entry. Once in, it was a stark contrast to my pre-covid wedding reception of close to 1,000 guests. Due to the government restrictions around congregation numbers, there were no more than 50 scantily seated family members, relatives and close friends in attendance. It was still a fun party.

Red light ahead snapped me back into consciousness. The government had taken over many billboards as creating more hygiene awareness superseded the private sector’s objective of driving consumer purchases. Local celebrities were the new face of hygiene and social distancing compliance. Street hawkers became a thing of the past. The cheapest public transportation was by bus as most motorcycles were banned. The combination of these elements made for a reduced journey time of 20 minutes – usually 45 minutes.

Arriving at my office building, I go through the usual protocol with security personnel getting my temperature scanned and hands sanitized – a ritual that somehow was reminiscent of the order enforced in the Equilibrium movie. At the lobby my finger was going nowhere near the elevator button. Instead I used the corner tip of my ID card. 50 per cent capacity was observed once inside. Familiar faces were greeted with gentle nods. Hands tucked away in pockets or arms firmly folded. Soon after silence was golden except for the female elevator voice announcing arrival at my floor. I step out and head to my second home.

Photo credit: Dreamstime

A Risky Sonnet

Like running down a steep staircase or taking a sharp corner at full speed.

Like standing inches from a cliff edge or leaving a slashed wrist to bleed.

Like smoking a pack of cigarettes after being diagnosed with a bad lung.

Like rushing back in for your belongings after a fire alarm has been rung.

Like cheating at an important examination or plagiarizing a school report.

Like walking out of a shop with shoes you tried on but you never bought.

Like investing in the stock market or throwing a set of dice to get a seven.

Like partying on a Thursday night for five hours after working for eleven.

Like setting up your best friend with a date who was previously into you.

Like leaving home at the precise time you need to get to a job interview.

Like swimming against waves at sea in order to save someone drowning.

Like taking a bullet for a stranger, or an expedition on the K-2 Mountain.

Like drinking wine and then driving, or walking in a dark alley all alone.

Like falling in love and hoping the heart that may break is not your own.

Blog Wars

It is the year 2021. Blog world has been riddled with mayhem as there is a never ending battle between the Bloggers and the Spammers. There is one blogger however called Luke Skywriter who is the best there is at blogging and he is the last hope to restore Blog world to a state of useful information circulation. His predecessor, Anakin Skywriter, was supposed to make this possible. The elders had noticed that the Words were strong in him at the tender age of 9. But following his transition to the Dark side he was presumed dead after an epic pen-fight with Obi-Wan Kenotey.

Luke Skywriter, with the guidance of Princess Writea and the Scribe training from 900 yr old Posta, was instrumental in his execution of a well-laid out plan to annihilate the rebels of the Spam armed forces. In a terrible twist of fate, Luke comes face-to-face with his arch enemy, the devious Darth Pager, who later reveals that he is in fact his biological father РAnakin Skywriter. The confrontation leads to lot of ink being shed during the posting battle but Luke rises victorious and the blogs are restored to full circulation in Blog world. He is now married to Princess Writea and has taken over from Posta to train young-lings in Blog academy. There he shows them the way of the Scribe. 

I salute Luke and all that he has done for Blogworld. He is the wordsmith that all bloggers would aspire to be. On that note I’ll sign off saying, ‘May the Words be with you’.

Staying At Home: Side effects

Staying at home side effectsIt’s been 4 weeks since I’ve been staying at home and it’s been a bittersweet experience. Let’s start with my appearance. I look like the result of a Rogaine experiment gone wrong. My abstinence from shaving has given my scalp false hope of a full crown. On the contrary my facial hair is going haywire. With my moustache hell-bent on dating my teeth and my sideburns trespassing into my ear holes.

Per adventure I decide to dust my hair clipper or avoid every mirror in my home, staying at home still has some negative side effects. Missing going out for social gatherings. I want to meet up with my coworkers, friends and family members and share a real drink with them – virtual doesn’t quite work for me. I long for church and partaking in holy communion. I yearn to¬†visit a restaurant with my wife and be served something we cannot pronounce or prepare at home. I want to¬†turn up at a nightclub and dance near 6ft loudspeakers under rotating disco lights with a long island tea in one hand.

Until then I’m learning to appreciate the upside of staying at home. I have more control over my day. There’s time to exercise, meditate and plan my activities. I get to spend quality time with my family. My baby daughter and I are having longer and more serious conversations. I’m getting more office work done though I had to convert my wife’s closet room into my office and conference call room. I get better rest as I don’t have to be up early in the morning to beat rush hour. I’ve saved a total of 2-3 hours being off the road. not to mention the fuel and car maintenance costs.

But I can’t help but think, ‘Am I ready to embrace the new normal?’ I am not exactly planning to throw caution to the wind when the lockdown order is eventually lifted. I’m going to be armed with my face mask and sanitizer. And I’m ready to engage in evasive manoeuvres when confronted with people who spit when they talk ūüėÄ

Dodging bullets in The Matrix

The Soundtrack of Our Lives

MJ Earth Song - Pinterest

I decided to compile a list of songs that I believe tell a story of the mood in Nigeria in the early days of the pandemic to date. The soundtrack goes like this:

Earth song by Michael Jackson – This was the turning point when we realized there was a global problem that was spiraling out of control.

New born by Muse – We were seeing other continents waking up to a new world; a new reality which would soon become our own.

Drugs don’t work by Verve – There were rumours fast spreading in Nigeria about Chloroquine and other Malaria drugs being able to cure the corona virus COVID-19. But this led to more (and avoidable) deaths. I need a doctor by Dr. Dre ft Eminem, Skylar – Right now I’m trying to avoid going to hospital unless it is absolutely necessary. There are stories online about people with COVID-19 symptoms visiting regular hospitals instead of calling the NCDC helpline.

Gone too soon by Michael Jackson – The number of reported COVID-19 cases and deaths globally are alarming. My heart goes out to all those who have been hospitalized, the departed and those who have to cope with the loss. Land of Confusion by Genesis – Social media advises one thing and the news stations advise another. Can the Covid-19 virus survive on surfaces for up to 48hrs? Which masks are effective? Can sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol kill the virus? Is drinking alcohol more effective? It was becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish myth from fact.

Locked up by Akon – Lagos state announced a 14-day lock-down on March 29th  which later got extended by another 14 days. I’m currently at home with my family doing my part for society and getting to grips with working from home.

Lazy song by Bruno Mars – It was hard at first but I gradually got into a routine and created a work space with zero interruptions. I can only imagine how many people have bothered to shave, take a shower or change clothes in the last couple of days (don’t ask me).

Something new by Wiz Khalifa ft TY Dollar $ign – During this lock-down I noticed that people online have had more time to perfect their dance moves and partaking in the #somethingnewchallenge (Elbow left, elbow right, shake like a jellyfish then clap, I think). I’ve done mine at home but it will not be aired online.

Don’t rush by Young T and Bugsey ft Headie One – This was yet another song that birthed more creativity among the courageous before-and-after makeover pros across many social media platforms. #dontrushchallenge videos are quite addictive to watch.

Bored in the house by Curtis Roach – With the exception of those breaking the law, everybody who is meant to be observing the lock-down in specific states in Nigeria and states around the world can relate to this song.

They don’t care about us by Michael Jackson – There were reported cases in Lagos where residents complained that the palliative measures were not getting to their households. But the situation seems to have improved as the government is visibly going round to provide essential supplies on a door-to-door basis. Reaching out to over 20 million will be no small feat so a lot of patience from citizens is expected.

In the End by Linkin Park – Some of us are putting our trust in the government and scientists. And some of us are putting our trust in God. In the end we want to come out of this alive – that’s what matters. Staying Alive by BeeGees – With people losing jobs or having their customer base significantly impacted by the lock down order, it’s a struggle to make ends meet. Money makes the world go round. And a hungry man is an angry man. Another Day in Paradise by Phil Collins – This has been a time when I have been moved by regular citizens coming out to donate food and drink supplies to communities without requesting government support. Everyone needs to demonstrate love to his or her neighbours and give to those who lack.

Heal the world by Michael Jackson – Spread the love; that’s my appeal to everyone while scientists around the world work towards developing the vaccine to tackle this pandemic. Save me by Remy Zero – We need a saviour now more than ever. Times like this I wish Superman was not a fictional hero. The recent cases reported in Kano state are alarming.

A new dawn¬†by Michael Buble – Hoping for a new dawn very soon for everyone. Do share your thoughts on the soundtrack; what would you change? what would your soundtrack for this crisis period feature? I would love to know ūüôā

Image credit: s629photobucket.com

Frowns, Clowns and Lockdowns

covid stay home

Last night while I was in bed I finally felt it (not my wife’s bum, thank you) – that excitement at the thought of writing a blog post just because. The first time I experienced this same feeling was in 2009 but since then it’s been on and off for the last decade in diminishing proportions. Why, I hear you ask? Distractions would be the easy excuse. Let’s say I had a few things to frown about.

I had a string of hopeless relationships, a dead-end job with no promotion prospects, and a highly anticipated sequel to my debut novel which wasn’t writing itself. I lost my mojo.  Just when I thought life couldn’t get less satisfying, I encountered a few clowns who entertained and kept me going.

Shoutouts to the following lifesavers who tickled my funny bone:

Fortunately, things started to pick up in the last 3 years – I met and married my soul mate, got an amazing job, ushered in a beautiful daughter and I’ve added a few lines to my second book in progress (well 3 out of 4 isn’t bad). Fast forward to present day, and it’s been a state of emergency in Lagos where residents have been advised to stay at home for the last three weeks (and counting).

Some things I have learnt/did during this period are: Working from home (didn’t have a choice really); Social distancing (My friends who visit talk to me from outside my gate); Baking a lemon sponge cake (all my top scores went solely to effort); Netflix weekend binge (Money Heist included); Yoga on YouTube (I never heard so many creaks and snaps in my joints before – 40 is no joke) and one of my favourite things I’m doing right now – blogging. It’s good to be back (insert smiley here)!

Image credits: Pinterest

Top 3 text messages EVERYBODY likes to receive

If you are reading this post it’s probably safe to assume that you are doing so via your mobile phone which is the first likely item you wouldn’t leave home without. Aside making and receiving calls we often send and receive SMS or text messages on our mobile phones. I personally don’t send that many text messages, thanks to WhatsApp. But when it comes to receiving text messages, the following are the top 3 (and I stand to be corrected):

  • Successful recharge: Who doesn’t like receiving airtime for making calls or buying internet data? Getting happy birthday messages are ok but put for God’s sake put some airtime on it. Especially when these messages clog up your inbox.
  • Credit alert: Who doesn’t like getting notifications about money coming into their bank accounts? Even if it’s N300 or less than $1 it’s still an inflow.
  • Send me your account number: Now this one is quite an exciting message if it’s from that debtor who’s been owing you money for the last 2 years, or if it’s from a donor whose sending a birthday/wedding/new born gift. But surprisingly the last time I sent this text to somebody it wasn’t for any of the mentioned reasons. Let’s just say that the next time somebody is ignoring your calls try sending this message from another phone number – I’m 100% sure he will call back immediately. Worked for me when one artisan was trying to dodge me ūüėÄ

Dreaming of a Cleaner Lagos

I have a dream that one day Lagosians will be able to walk on the streets without holding their noses. People won’t have to play hopscotch over piles of putrid refuse as they walk. Commuters will not have garbage dumps as their companions while queuing at bus stops. I believe Lagos can and will be clean again…green again. If that was Ambode’s vision then it definitely escaped him. The only ‘green’ he had in mind was those rubbish (as in ‘useless’) trucks running up and down Lagos.

When LAWMA was doing the cleaning job I don’t recall Lagos beaming with trash the way it is now. You could see the workers in the early hours of the day and late into the afternoon cleaning roadsides, bridges and their orange trucks were actively stopping to pick up refuse. On the contrary every time I see a Visionscape truck I just see it moving…probably just as an advertising gimmick. Who knows?

It’s therefore no surprise that when it boiled down to the concluded Lagos Primaries the people of Lagos did not come to his aid. Unlike his predecessor Fashola who made a positive impact during his 4-year term and got re-elected, Ambode lost to a rival within his political party APC before even getting a shot at competing with the PDP. It goes without saying that Ambode should have cleaned up his act long before now.

He still has till next year before he hands over to Sanwo-Olu (APC) or Jimi Agbaje (PDP). Let’s see what good he can do for us to remember him by. IBB = Third Mainland Bridge; Obasanjo = Mobile telephony; Fashola = BRT and roadworks; Ambode = ???