Monday, 19 May 2008

1990 April - New Friends, More Dublin, Dockers and My First Photo With Bono

I'd heard very little about u2 since I saw them on tour in Germany in late 1989. At a concert in Dublin on New Year's Eve Bono had talked about going away to "dream it all up again". Many people thought this meant that U2 were going to split up. I didn't really have that worry, I took it at face value, Rattle and Hum had not been particularly successful, and maybe the band had to sit down and really look at where they were going in their musical career. It was one of those crossroads that U2 have reached every few years, where they need to re-evaluate, and take a new path. As I write this in 2008, U2 are at another of those moments where they need to dream it all up again too.

My second trip to Dublin was in April 1990 and I had arranged to meet up with two U2 fans from the UK, Jeanette and Angela, who I got to know through my American friend Pat. Our meeting place was Docker's Pub, which I had previously walked past but had not been inside. The walk down the quays was cold and blustery to say the least!

The pub was amazing, I'm pretty sure anyone from a hundred years ago could have come back and not found a lot different about the place. It was quite dark inside, the only windows were on the front aspect and they had a dark tint. Straight ahead when you came in was a snug - even in 1990 it was rare to find a proper snug still in pubs. We turned right and into the pub which was a mixture of wood panelling and nicotine stained cream walls of embossed wallpaper. The bar was amazing, a clutter of bottles, cards, money notes from all over the world, U2 souvenirs including gold and silver discs given to the pub by the band. The ladies toilet was full of U2 grafitti which was interesting to read as you did what you had to do in there!

I liked Dockers right away, it had a sense of a past, of old Dublin and had lots of locals drinking in there - it was a real pub. The atmosphere was friendly, and Paddy, the pub manager, made us very welcome.

My new friends were already in the pub and we started to get to know each other. Jeanette and I got along brilliantly, we were so alike - in fact to this day I have never met anyone who was just so like me in taste and viewpoint. Angela had her 18 year old daughter Stephanie with her, they were both nice but I sensed a tension in Angela, she did not seem comfortable and struggled to make conversation. We sat in the snug chatted and had a laugh. This was brought to an abrupt halt by Angela saying that she wanted to go for a walk in the city centre. I didn't really want to go out into the wild weather, it was nice and snug in the snug and not really a night for walking. But to be sociable I went and we walked around the city centre for a while in the freezing wind!

The next day was spent doing the usual Dublin sightseeing as it was the first time the others had been to the city. We did the usual places in the city centre before we went to Killiney and did some beachcombing on the beach and then walked up the hill to admire the view. Angela and Stephanie then decided to go back into the city for a burger while Jeanette and I opted for a meal in Jades a Chinese restaurant beside the Druid's Chair pub. It was wonderful and we ended up staying there for three hours!

We walked down the hill to the DART station just in time to see the last train pulling out of the station! Stranded. We decided to walk and look for a phone box (no mobile phones then) it took ages to find one. Then we didn't have the right money, a young man passing by took pity on us and gave us the correct money. We'd walked so far that by now we had no idea where we were so the man told us where we were so we could tell the taxi firm when we ran! We called and sat on a convenient bench beside the phone box to wait. It was blowing a gale, cold and raining but all we could do was laugh. After a long wait the taxi came we could barely move by then as we were rigid with cold, the cab was deliciously warm and we were glad to be on our way.

Again next day it was exploring more of the area and we got the DART down to Bray in County Wicklow. It had that feel a lot of UK seaside towns have too, a sense of past glories, you could imagine throngs of people there enjoying the beach and shops, "kiss me quick" hats and candyfloss. But people had long deserted places like Bray for their package holidays and head off to sunnier climes.

We went back into the city and walked to Windmill Lane to look at the messages. Then we all wrote messages on the wall as is the tradition for fans to do.

Later that night we all headed to Docker's again, it was a windy and cold night. the pub was much busier than the previous night and we could tell the snug was full by the loud chatter coming out from it so we went into the main area of the bar. I was at the counter getting our drinks and glanced at the doorway between the bar and snug. A man was sitting on the end seat and I could just see the nose of the person next to him. I knew that nose , it was Bono's. I thought,

"No don't be stupid, it's just wishful thinking."

But in my heart I knew it was him. At first I didn't say anything to my friends, just in case I was wrong. But I wasn't wrong and it wasn't long before my friends noticed him too. We were all excited, what do we do? Bono was on a private night out and we didn't want to disturb him in the pub. I was the only one who had met him before and the others really wanted to meet him too. So we decided to go outside and catch him when he was leaving the pub. So we trooped out, passing another group of people who were clearly fans who were buzzing with excitement too.

It was bitterly cold outside, and I felt very silly standing there on such a night. A group of lads went into the pub and said,

"Bono must be inside."

They must have seen it all many times before. We were all trying to get out of being the one to actually ask for an autograph when he came out and in the end Steph offered to do the deed, the bravery of youth! We jumped everytime the squeaky door opened and waited for what seemed like an eternity. In reality it was not that long before Bono came out. Suddenly he was there, moving very quickly, Steph jumped in and asked if he would sign her album cover. Bono teetered to a halt on the kerb and looked round as if he wondered where we all came from.

"I'll be back in a minute", he said before running across the road to a car parked on the quayside. We thought he was going to get in and drive away but he didn't, he just got something out of the car and then came back over.

He signed our album covers, mine was The Joshua Tree, and chatted away, completely at ease with the situation, very down to earth and friendly. It was hard to equate this small, softly spoken man with the larger than life Bono we know from TV and gigs. But it was certainly him! I can't remember much of what he actually said, I was too excited to remember! The only thing I do remember him saying something about just having flown in from America. Eventually he said,

"It's so cold out here, I'll have to go back inside girls".

Poor man he had no jacket on, just a shirt, he must have been freezing! As he was going back inside the other group of fans was coming out they asked for autographs and he said to them he was leaving soon and he would sign stuff for them then.

We also went inside to warm up ourselves. We all reacted in our different ways to the meeting. Angela and Steph were in tears, Jeanette was struck dumb and I was as high as a kite!

True to his word Bono left not long afterwards, now wearing a leather jacket, and the other group of fans and us followed him. There was a lot of excitement and chatter outside Dockers, I stood back and watched and, after asking if it was ok with him, took photos. His social skills were amazing, he had the ability to make everyone in the group feel special, he seemed genuinely interested in us.

Eventually I found my voice and asked if I could have a photo taken with him and he looked me right in the eye and said yes. As I moved beside him for the photo someone tried to push inbetween Bono and me which I wasn't very happy about, I still managed to get my arm around his waist though. People kind of kept getting themselves into the photo and a smiling Bono said,

"What's this, a team photograph?"

I laughed as I saw that there were about six people in front of us lined up with their cameras ready to snap the moment.

A car drew up outside Docker's and it was Bono's lift, he got in and was whisked off into the night. We all went back inside and sat in the snug and proceeded to get drunk! It was our last night in Dublin, so it was a perfect ending to the trip for us all.


Anonymous said...

Have you got any more pictures of this encounter?

Sue Fell said...

Yes I have

Anonymous said...

Great if you could post more pics, thanks!

Anonymous said...

Hi Sue,

Just a gentle reminder. If you could post more pics that would be great, they're quite unique.