Friday, 6 June 2008

Outside its America.........

In the howlin' wind

Comes a stingin' rain

See it drivin' nails

Into the souls on the tree of pain.

Bullet the Blue Sky - U2

The trip had started bizarrely. Having taken the BA flight from Lagos at midnight and arrived in London in the early hours of the morning only to jump on to the BA flight to DC you could excuse me for being confused and discombobulated. See what happened was that the plane started taxiing and seemed to continue taxiing for a very long time. I was keep tracking of the engine sounds as I always do and waiting for the nose to lift before I could let out my customary deep breath. But no. Not this time.The taxiing seemed to go on and on. And on. Surely we must have run out of runway by now I thought to myself expecting us to go careering into some poor sods semi in Feltham any minute. And still I waited. It was only after a good ten minutes that I twigged that we were already in the air having taken off so smoothly I had thought we were still on ground. This was a new one for me but as I say maybe it was because I was tired.

We landed with a bang in DC and proceeded into the main hall where the ever efficient, super diligent, ever so observant and welcoming Dept of Homeland Security welcomed us into God's own country. Look my philosophy of life is very simple. Any person that has a 45 Magnum strapped to their waist can talk to me anyway they like. For as long as they like. Anytime. Left index finger in, right index finger out do the hokey cokey and spin it all around. No problem.

An hour later I was sitting in a taxi on the way to the hotel. Two things struck me on the journey. Luckily one of them was not the central reservation. Let me explain. My driver spent a lot of the time sending and receiving texts, yes while driving, and so it was that one point we were headed with full force towards the motorway divider until my violent coughing and clearing of throat brought it to his attention. Experience has taught me that swearing at people in America is not to be recommended as any Tom, Dick or Dirty Harry can whip out said 45 and before you know it the Alfas have to be gathered if you get my drift. The second thing was the violent manner in which he used his horn. I had thought that American cars only had horns installed for decoration and to ensure that an unsightly hole was not left in the steering wheel but this chap certainly knew how to use it. He was a homie so maybe that explains it.

DC is one of the greenest places I have ever been to and looking down from the bridge into the Potomac brings a lump to the throat. After three days of conferencing and being stuck in a hotel I finally got the chance to take in the sights - the White House, the Pentagon, The War Memorial? Nope. Straight to the Pentagon Mall to indulge in that good old Naija custom. Shopping for necessities which you can also get at home if you are prepared to pay double. After all its not like those monuments are going anywhere but have you seen how much they sell muesli at Shoprite? And where does one get reading materials for those long nights trapped behind our burglar proof gates?. I beg priorities, priorities.

The weather was at times extreme with bright sunny days disappearing into sullen, dark thunderstorms. At one point there was talk of a tornado hitting the town (and I'm not talking about Hilary, of whom more later). I strolled along sidewalks so clean I wondered why I had bothered to book a hotel. The vibe was good. The air was clean. I walked for miles lost in my own reverie. Iyawo has been going on about quality of life for some time now and I see what she means. The simple act of being able to walk without fear of being run over, on the sidewalk, or molested by any number of miscreants, is that not one of the fundamental human rights? If not then it should be.

The rest of the time I spent cowering in my room engrossed in their Cable TV (67 channels and nothing on - Bruce Springsteen). It was dominated by the Obama\Clinton docu drama. Oh what riveting television. On the one hand you have the masculine, tough talking, dominant, aggresive, manipulative candidate. And on the other hand Obama. Oh Hillary go home. The game is over. Accept defeat graciously. Write a book. Sort out your finances. You are in big debt baby. After realising, but not accepting defeat Hillary asked her 18 million supporters to contact her via email at her website to tell her what to do. Huh? And oh by the way leave a little sumthing, sumthing donation to help feed Bill and Chelsea. Oh how I laughed. Is she implying that she needs 18 million people to tell her the obvious? Ok please allow me to get the ball rolling.

Hillary you fought a tough and dirty battle. You threw everything you had into the fight. You lost. Go home. Get a grip. Obama owes you nowt. The choice of his VP is his. Not yours. Not conceding is bad behaviour but typical and expected. If he has any sense he will steer well clear. Bill however needs you. Apparently he has been getting Monica'd by various "campaign supporters" across the nation according to Vanity Fair. He obviously needs you close by his side. Very close.

Anyway back to the outside world as I head to the airport I am struck by the silence, the serenity, the sense of order, decorum, decency. The cabbie tells me that things changed after the ousting of Mayor "I swear I did not snort that white powder. It was the devil." Berry. The place is more secure, the neighbourhoods cleaner, house prices through the roof, great restaurants, sense of community. All this is due to a change to "The Management"? Surely this is the way it should be. Could be. Will be? in Naija. Soon? Ever?

Through the alleys of a quiet city street.

Up the staircase to the first floor

We turn the key and slowly unlock the door

As a man breathes into his saxophone

And through the walls you hear the city groan.

Outside, is America

Outside, is America


Bullet the Blue Sky. U2

And so it goes...........