No one gets out alive. - Jim Morrison & The Doors
The flight to London was relatively smooth and we were not even welcomed by the usual unsmiling Immigration officers and their fake-passport sniffing dogs. (Oh please you amateurs. If you really want to make me feel unwelcome you have a lot to learn. Just pop over the pond and you will see what it takes to really make one feel unwelcome and unwanted).
The hotel in the Bans is cheap but is close to our previous home and offers the girls the chance to see their old school friends. Having gathered them up without much ceremony and shipped them off to Naija my paternal guilt always makes me sacrifice comfort for their pleasure. As I sit typing I am using one hand to type whilst the other is busy alternating between swatting those small vicious bugs that accompany greenery and scratching the bumps on my body where they have already succeeded in leaving their mark. You see the hotel is bereft of AC so we have had to resort to open windows and table fans. Did I mention parental sacrifice?
Slaving away on the laptop really late on Thurday night (hint to employers) with Sky News on in the background I see their Breaking News banner come up and look over to see the headline that Micheal Jackson is dead. For some reason which has not fully hit me yet I am neither surprised nor disturbed. Just numb. My only emotion I would hazard to say was disappointment that he had allowed this to happen to him. Like a lot of people of a certain age I was brought up on MJ. We grew up together though he was older than me. Who in my group growing up experience did not want to be him at some stage in our lives? The jerry curls, the white suit, the dance moves (which unfortunately for Iyawo are still the only ones in my repertoire till today), the glove etc etc. Micheal, Micheal how could you let this happen to you? How could you do this to yourself?Cardiac arrest eh? Is that not what killed Elvis? Oh and yes a bucketful of drugs. Do we never learn? Madonna can't stop crying apparently. Yeah right. This is what it boils down to? Almost 45 years of greatness and Madonna can't stop crying?
The hotel informs us that there is a festival in town this weekend and as such they are fully booked and as such we must hit the road. After much internetting and phoning there is no local alternative to be found so we decide to make the most of it and hit Central London. This is how we find ourselves at the Hilton Park Lane. My memories of this hotel based on previous stays is of Nigerians in the lobby and elevators making the sort of noise only Nigerians can.
We duly arrive at the hotel to be met by Nigerians in the lobby making the sort of noises only Nigerians can. That is the good thing about Nigerians. They never disappoint. Except when they do.
Check in is a smooth process and we are soon whisked up to our floor by the most complicated elevator system known to mankind. You have to enter your floor number even before you get in and the computer then assigns you an elevator. Once you are in you cannot change or select a different floor!! Scary really. The view over London is scarier. (As is the news from my daughter that you have to dial 419 to reach reception. 419?? really?? These people really know how to make us feel welcome!!)
A clear blue sky beckons from the other side of the window and we can see it all, Big Ben, Centre Point, the Gherkin, the Eye etc etc. Height always brings a beauty to a city you cannot get at ground level. Check out Lagos from the top floor of the Eko Hotel and you will be gobsmacked. But we are not here to see the sights only. Teenage girls can do sight seeing for only so long before another urge beckons. Shopping.
I suggest we hit Oxford street on which I will allow them very limited access to my billions. They both give me a look. I'm used to it now. They then inform me that Oxford St on a Saturday is not a good idea. I say haba can it be any worse than Shoprite after the churches let out on Sunday? Trust me it is. Peeking inside Primark (a Mecca for teenage girls) we notice that there are more battles going on in there than Afghanistan. Being that shopping in an empty store is torture enough for me, not to talk about a store filled with half the tourists to London we beat a hasty retreat to Selfridges for lunch to calm our nerves and devise a strategy. It is agreed that the best approach for them (minus dad but with his hard earned moolah) is to be outside the store first thing in the morning when it opens.
So it is that at 11.30 this morning we all arrived (my plan to relax back at the hotel having been defeated again by parental guilt) at the doors to find a crowd strecthing down the road. What is wrong with these people? Is today not a day of worship in the Western world. I have an excuse in that I am a Muslim so am allowed to be out galavanting of a Sunday morning buying £5 button fly jeans and 98p sunglasses. What is your excuse? This time there is no turning back as our Central London sojourns ends today. So we brace ourselves and join the fray.
And this is how life is. A musical icon passes away and well..... Life goes on. RIP MJ! I will miss you.
Five in one and one in five
No one gets out alive.