About 20 years ago Coolio had a song called ‘Gangster’s Paradise’ which was a massive hit. It featured on the soundtrack to a Michelle Pfeiffer film (Dangerous Minds – by the way whatever happened to Michelle Pfeiffer, I know what happened to Coolio – he ended up on Celebrity Big Brother in the UK after his 15 minutes of fame were up).
The film was about an unfeasibly beautiful high school teacher in the projects in the inner city, who encouraged her pupils to reach for their dreams. It contained drama, tragedy and redemption. And the Coolio song. Today on my way to suburban hell I felt like Coolio’s distant, Irish cousin. I’ve been spending most of my life, living in a commuter’s paradise.
I left the house early and as I closed the door to my building I saw my neighbour and her 2 beautiful dogs. She has a daily routine with them – before work, after work and before bedtime she takes them for a constitutional. So they can freshen up I suppose. I have gotten to know both her, and her hounds over the past couple of months. Now dogs are excitable creatures and when they saw me, they bounded over, so happy and jumped up on me. I felt rather flattered. I patted them, had a few words with my neighbour and sauntered towards my bus-stop.
Why was I getting funny glances from the people passing me? It was raining this morning. The dogs had been running on the grass. My black, business-casual clothing was soiled. With soil. Muddy paw prints all over my trousers. Oh hurrah.
I got on the bus and had to endure the most annoying journey to work to date. Beyonce was not on the bus today, meaning her mum wasn’t either. In her place was a woman on the phone behind me. A woman speaking in a language I didn’t recognise. A woman with a loud, healthy voice of the highest pitch I have heard in years. It was like nails on a blackboard. She was having a friendly conversation about something or other – but because it was in an undecipherable (to me) language I was unable to eavesdrop, as is my tendency in the morning.
Next thing you know a young man – must have been in his early twenties plonked himself down beside me. He turned on his Walkman. Okay it was his telephone, but to me people listening to music while they are in motion, are using a Walkman, regardless of the apparatus they are actually using. And he proceeded to play some hard-core techno music.
Do people not realise that headphones don’t limit sound to the set of ears with the headphones attached. Is it a revelation that noise travels? Do people not understand that telephone conversations can be discreet? OK I am moaning and these are hardly serious complaints. But being far too polite I kept my mouth shut and thought dark thoughts to myself.
The gate to my grim industrial estate has an automatic lever that raises when a vehicle approaches. Not today. It must have been sulking.
Meaning I had to disembark 2 stops early into the pouring rain, without an umbrella and walk the rest of the way.
Looking around I was mesmerised by how depressing and grey and soulless these business parks are. Not a tree to be seen anywhere. That was when Coolio came to mind. I remember him warbling about how he had walked through the valley of the shadow of death. Now I wouldn’t compare a grey suburban business to the valley of death. Unless it’s referring to the death of hope and dreams maybe. I sat at my desk and looked down. The downpour had washed the mud from my clothes.
There’s always a bright side.