Monday, 26 May 2008
1991 May - Dalkey Dreaming.....
Another trip to Dublin and this time I'm meeting up with a new friend called Jane and her friend Bee. I had met Jane previously in the UK and we got along really well so I was looking forward to this first holiday with her in Dublin. We met up in the city and went to Dockers for a sandwich and drink, it was nice to see that Dockers was unchanged and that the doorstep sandwiches were as delicious as ever! Jane was chatty and good fun and had lots of U2 stories to share, Bee was very quiet and didn't say very much.
We had heard that U2 were recording (this album was to be Achtung Baby) at a house in Dalkey, a very upmarket village just south of Dublin. So, the next day we got the DART to Dalkey, we easily found the house as the village is not big and because we heard them - and there was no doubt it was U2! They were recording in a beautiful white Victorian mansion that looked out over Dalkey Island and Dublin Bay, a lovely place to inspire the creative juices!
We waited opposite the house, it was quite pleasant waiting as the weather was warm and sunny. After a short while all band came out and walked down the road, we stayed where we were as we felt that it was best to leave coming over to them, then it's on their terms and they haven't been forced into a meeting by being pounced upon. They chose not to come across, though Adam waved and said hello, Bono too acknowledged us. We guessed they were going to the Dalkey Island Hotel (now long gone unfortunately) which was just a short walk away.
Another fan arrived who at first I thought was Sinead O'Connor! She had very, very short hair and big eyes, she wandered past a few times before plucking up courage to speak to us. It turned out that she was an American who had been living in Ireland for a few months, she was a U2 fan and had heard U2 were recording here and decided to come to see what was happening as she was going home for good in a few days. She was called Cameron and was really nice and we all got along with her really well.
We had barely arrived at lunchtime the next day when Bono arrived in a car driven by Ali, he wound down the car window and said,
"Hello, how are you doing?"
We said we were ok, he added with a smile,
"What are you doing?"
"Sunbathing" Bee said.
A bit lame yes, but it was more than the rest of us managed to say!
"I'll be out later", said Bono and then he went through the gates of the house.
We were buzzing now, and only about ten minutes later the gates opened and Bono came out with a mug of very strong coffee in his hand. He looked very different to the last time I had seen him. His hair was much shorter and layered, it was a dark auburn colour that looked better with his pale complexion than the previous black hair.
We all said hello and then went quiet, lost for words
. Jane opened the conversation again with,
"You look tired."
Talk of being to the point, but it was true! Bono smiled wearily and looked at her with bleary eyes and said,
"I am, I am, feeling a bit sorry for myself I think."
Then he sat down on the pavement so we did too, I could see why he had such a strong coffee! I think he'd just got out of bed.
Jane asked how the work on the new album was coming along. Bono gave a big sigh and said,
"We've all got our heads up our arses at the moment. There are some very strange men walking around that house at present!"
That really broke the ice and we all laughed, as the years went by I grew to recognise that Bono often uses humour to help fans relax when they meet him, and it certainly works. Despite his tiredness he looked well and relaxed, the new hairstyle took years off him. I noticed once more how blue his eyes are and all the freckles he has, his eyes seem to look right into you, but not in a threatening way. He spoke very softly and as he spoke he looked from one person to the next, never leaving anyone out even if they did not say much - he has excellent social skills!
He asked where we were all from, and homed in on Cameron when she said Arizona - I suppose it is more exciting than Cumbria and Yorkshire! Bono said that he'd been back to Arizona a few times since the '87 shows, just touring around staying in cheap, small places,
"You get allergic to fancy hotel lobbies when you've been in as many as me," he said with a laugh.
He noticed the books some of us were reading,
"Jane Eyre is a long way from Arizona," he said to Cameron and to Jane that he hadn't read the Maeve Binchy book she was reading yet. Trust him to notice our reading matter!
Cameron told him she had been studying psychology at Trinity and Bono pretended to be shocked and wary, and said something about being analysed
"You have to watch how you fold your arms in front of them!" he said, I didn't dare tell him I was a Staff Nurse in psychiatry! He seemed much brighter now, think the coffee must have woken him up.
He chatted on, quite happy just to sit there with us, sipping his coffee every now and then. He seemed to have all the time in the world for us I couldn't believe our luck. Then, out of the blue, he asked,
"Have you seen anything of our bootleg?"
He was referring to the now-named Berlin tapes. These were illicit cassette tapes taken from the sessions the band had at Hansa Studios in Berlin a few months previously. Somehow they had been leaked and were hot stuff on the bootleg scene. He had addressed the question to Jane who said she's heard about it etc. We didn't tell him we all had copies of the tapes, in fact I had one in my bag at the time! We all felt very guilty because he was clearly upset about it.
"I don't mind ordinary bootlegs," he said, "once the album has come out I don't mind if people tape it. But this is as if someone has stolen your diary and read it out loud, you know what I mean?"
With this he looked at us all and inwardly we squirmed with guilt. I managed to say in reply,
"Yes we do."
To which he nodded and sighed deeply. To change the subject we then asked if he would sign as few things for us, he said he would. I gave him the well-known "Blue Bono" postcard to sign, he wrote on it Bono get a haircut. I commented,
"I see you have had a haircut"
"Yeah," he replied, "I got so sick of it the other week, I wanted to shave it all off."
I said that I was glad he didn't go that far and he laughed. I then asked him to sign my fanzine, Eirinn. He asked what it was and I told him it was a fanzine that I edited. He then asked if this copy was for him, I said that I'd like that one signed, but that I had more copies in my bag and he could have one.
He then signed Cameron's journal, he just wrote and wrote, in all he filled two pages, writing about psychology, Arizona, Zen and more with a humourous twist. It was really nice watching him as he wrote, he kept stopping to think what he could write next and would give a little smile and chuckle when he thought of something. Cameron has something very special there.
I then gave him his copy of my fanzine, he immediately looked at it and asked,
"Is it about Irish music in general?"
"Yes," I replied, "Irish music, U2 and Ireland itself."
"Great," Bono replied, "Do you put addresses of places where people can stay?"
I said I didn't and he suggested it would be a good idea then people could easily find good places to stay when they visit. It was a good idea and I was chuffed that he was interested enough to make the suggestion. He continued leafing through the 'zine and stopped at a page with photos of him from April the previous year,
"Who's this drunken reprobate?" he said laughing as he looked at photos of himself.
"They were taken outside Docker's," I said.
"Ahh, the bad old days!" he exclaimed, still smiling.
Jane and Bee got what they wanted signed too. As Bono was showing no signs of leaving we also asked if we could have our photos taken with him and readily agreed. He got up off the pavement, he had leaves on his bottom but we resisted the temptation to rub them off!
. When it was my turn I stood beside him and he wrapped his arm around me and pulled me in close to him, I almost melted!! I noticed that he wasn't that much taller than me, the best things come in small packages! The photo turned out really well and, even after all the years, when I look at it the warm memories of that special day come flooding back.
After the photos he said he'd have to go, he had been with us for at least twenty minutes, we had been so lucky to have him to ourselves for so long. Just as he was leaving a group of school children came along, and he stopped and chatted and signed things for them for a few minutes, he is so patient and friendly.
We were high as kites afterwards, we left and went into the city and got drunk in Dockers, a great way to end a brilliant day!