Friday, 31 December 2010

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Saying farewell to youth..

I had cause recently to read up on 'night sweats'. I did this on the Internet, as you do, when you need to find out more about something that's been on your mind. Okay, I guess I have to admit at this point that I have in fact been suffering from night sweats, a condition that has meant that in recent times my night's sleep has been disrupted far too frequently. So I searched for more information on the web and narrowed my search down to "night sweats in men". All the sources I read, after having excluded various other medical conditions that may be indicated by night sweats, were pointing towards one thing: Andropause, or the Male Menopause, also sometimes described as Androgen Deficiency of the Ageing Male (ADAM). (The word Decline is sometimes substituted for Deficiency).

I would not be entirely honest if I said that I'd heard of the term andropause before now. And even from the literature that I've come across, it is clear that there is considerable controversy among the experts as to whether andropause, or the male menopause, is a valid concept at all. However, it seems undisputed that there are distinct biological changes that take place in men during mid-life, which are comparable in some ways to the female menopause, even though it is also undisputed that unlike women, men can continue to reproduce well into old age.

Menopause is a "complete cessation of reproductive ability caused by the shutting down of the female reproductive system.." Andropause on the other hand is "a decline in the male hormone testosterone. This drop in testosterone is considered to lead in some cases to loss of energy and concentration, depression and mood swings. And while andropause does not cause a man's reproductive system to stop working altogether, many suffer bouts of impotence.." (cough!)

I won't bother you too much with all the technical details, which I'm sure all of us are perfectly capable of scouring the Internet for. I do wish however to go a bit further by saying that apart from the night sweats, several of the other supposed symptoms of andropause that I discovered during my search, do in fact apply to me as well. So what are those symptoms and what is my response to each of them?

  • Hot flashes ................. Not sure
  • Excessive perspiration .... Most definitely
  • Loss of libido ............... Maybe
  • Impotence .................. No comment
  • Anxiety ..................... Sometimes
  • Depression ................. I think so
  • Impaired memory ......... Can't remember
  • Lack of concentration .... Maybe
  • Fatigue ..................... Sometimes
  • Insomnia .................... Yes definitely, but mostly because of the night sweats
So you see I do have cause to be concerned that andropause, the male menopause, is now a reality for me. I have seen suggestions for "treatment", such as hormone replacement therapy. But this holds no appeal for me, since I would rather that I allowed myself to age gracefully. Two days ago I sat in the barber's chair, watching as clumps of my cropped hair fell from my head into my lap. I was keen to take a closer look to see how many grey hairs I could find. Well, there weren't many, but there were definitely more greys than the last time I sat in that same chair.

And talking about this now is not out of place, because only this evening I was informed of my impending appointment as an Elder in the church. It doesn't seem that long ago that I was attending the Young Men's Group meetings. Well, I suppose the time comes when each of us must confront the reality of ageing. But have no doubt, I intend to wear all of my grey hair with pride..


And recently I have noticed that people have been referring to me as "Sir" when they talk to me; strangers, some even of my mother's age.. Hmm, I know about the traditional English politeness, but this is nothing to do with that.. I'm not sure if I'll get used to being called Sir, or even whether I like being so called..

Monday, 27 December 2010

Lean tidings at Christmastime..

The forecasts are for weak disposable income growth in this country for the coming year, and possibly beyond. The true effects of fiscal tightening are expected to become more apparent going forward. But for me though, its as if my disposable income has been in the grip of decline for several months already, as I find that I'm just not able to do the sorts of things that I used to do before.

About a week before Christmas, I caught myself carefully examining every single detail appearing on the receipt the checkout lady at the supermarket handed to me. I mean this is something that under normal circumstances I would scowl and swear under my breath if the person before me in the checkout queue was standing there wasting everyone's time by inspecting his receipt. After all, the items he'd just placed in his shopping bags were items that he'd picked himself from the shelves. But on this day, I saw that I'd spent at least one-third more than I thought the shopping should cost, and I thought perhaps there might be some mistake or something. But no, there was no mistake at all. It seems that all that talk on the news about rising prices of food and other household products is true after all..

Ah yes, Christmas.. that time of year again. Alarming as this may seem to some people, I have spent nearly every Christmas over the last two decades alone. Well, its not because I want to be alone, its usually been because everyone I know always has somewhere else they want to be, (or have to be) at Christmas. Sometimes, one or other of my siblings is feeling rich enough to make the long trip to London to spend Christmas, and that has been lovely when it has happened. For some odd reason though, I on my part, am reluctant to impose myself on others at Christmastime, when you know that what people really want to do is to be with their husband or wife and their children. Of course I've been invited several times to different people's homes, but having consistently been politely declined in the past, those invites have become less and less frequent.

So for me, Christmas has evolved into ME time, a time when I can selfishly and mindlessly indulge myself prodigiously in vices of all hues, ranging from chocolate to pornography; a time when I can treat myself to an expensive item (or two); a time for toying with the idea of whether I should splash out on the TAG Heuer or the Longines, and maybe fantasise about that Patek Philippe I've been ogling for months. And then of course the wardrobe is due for its yearly update and characteristically, I would tease myself by flirting with the idea of purchasing a couple of bespoke suits from some insanely expensive gentleman's outfitters, knowing full well that this is way beyond my means. Eventually I would settle for some middle of the road off-the-rack suit or two, from a reasonably respectable men's clothing store.

This was just to give you an idea of what Christmas and the prelude to it have been like in the past, at least until the Christmas of 2009. Christmas 2010 however, has been decidedly different. Which brings us back at where this post started, the hike in the cost of living. I mean this year has shot past and I've found myself so busy with seeing to the day-to-day, that by the middle of December, I was wishing it was possible to have the Christmas postponed for another couple of weeks yet, since I simply was not in the position that I'm accustomed to being when this time of year comes around.

Christmas has now come and gone. Like most people I have celebrated it in the best way that I was able to. No, I did not acquire any luxury items for myself (for obvious reasons). But I did receive a few gifts from others, notably, a gaudy ornamental mug and a fruit bowl. In keeping with the low key, I too handed out numerous greeting cards, a couple of cosmetics gift packs and some handkerchiefs. Somewhat embarrassing, really, but nothing compared to what is portended for the lean times ahead. Today I took the car out for a good shine and polish, since for the time being and indeed for the foreseeable future, a car upgrade is completely ruled out..

Saturday, 25 December 2010

Ave Maria 2

I couldn't think of a better way to wish everyone a Happy Christmas than by posting Hayley Westenra's rendition of the Ave Maria (Bach/Gounod). Sometime ago this video of her performing the Ave Maria (Schubert) appeared on this blog..

Wishing you all a happy and prosperous 2011..

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Bursting at the seams.. Lagos

Perhaps the era of climate change refugees is already upon us.. You may also see the video here on the Community Channel website..

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

The painted people..

The Surma and Mursi people of Southern Ethiopia's Omo Valley..

I am fearful that words of any description might somehow adulterate the unspoilt, pure, natural beauty that these images exude..

I have however previously done a write-up of sorts here about some of these images by Hans Silvester..

Monday, 13 December 2010

Living Africa, Steve Bloom

In January of this year I posted this. The photograph that was posted then is speculated to be "the world's widest panoramic photograph" and it was taken by Steve Bloom. I did say then that I'd become a fan of the man. And in keeping with this, here is another magical work of his, Living Africa, a book of 336 pages and 236 photographs published a few years ago.

Above is a short film, detailing some of what is featured in the book, which has been described inter alia as a magnificent work, in which Bloom "combines vivid personal experience with a passionate articulation of the environmental and other challenges faced by Africa in the twenty-first century. Everywhere is apparent his deep affection and affinity for the continent where he grew up, and to which he has felt compelled to return throughout his life."

Mr Bloom was born in South Africa in 1953 and started out by using his camera to document life in that country during the apartheid years. He moved to England in 1977. You might find interesting Bloom's BBC interview about Living Africa.