Sunday, 22 June 2008

1992 December - Friends, A Hothouse Flower, Meeting a Rockstar in the Street

After Zoo TV life soon got back to normal. I got together with a lot of my new U2 friends and with some I found I had a lot more in common than just U2 and people such as Jane, Debbi and Dianne became close friends. Others drifted away, including Jeanette who found God and left U2 and me behind. Achtung Baby was a time when a lot of Joshua Tree era fans lost their interest in U2, it was such a radical move away from their old sound that it wasn't for everyone. My very first U2 friend, Pat in the US was one of these but we have remained in contact to this day.

Jane, Bee and Kelly and I had another holiday in Dublin in December. This time we decided to rent a house and we found a lovely three bedroom terrace house in Dun Laoghaire, it had plenty of room for us and was very homely It was owned by Ken and Elizabeth who lived next door. Lovely people, who were very welcoming and over the years they too have become good friends, and though they sold the rental house years ago, I still go to see them whenever we go over to Dublin.

We did all the usual things in Dublin, lots of nice meals including one in Dillons a lovely restaurant owned by Bono's brother Norman. We'd seen a session at the Harcourt Hotel advertised which included Liam O'Maonlai from the Hothouse Flowers in the line up. We were all fans of traditional Irish music and Kelly was a big fan of Liam's so we decided to go along. We got seats right at the front, and soon the place was full and the session started.

The line up was Liam O'Maonlai, Donal Lunny, Paddy Glackin and Nollaig Casey. And so began a wonderful evening of great music and fun. They all were exceptional musicians and you could tell they loved every moment of their performance. Liam sang a few songs in Irish, they were beautiful and haunting and you didn't really need to understand Irish to feel what they were about. All in all it was a brilliant evening.

Another evening we decided to check out U2's newly opened Garage Bar. How can I describe the place? Well, there was sawdust on the floor, the seating was old and often ripped bus seats, the tables were bits of metal, the bar was made of corrugated red plastic, and there were bits of plaster hanging from the ceiling. It probably cost a fortune to get some hot person to design the place! But it definitely wasn't our type of bar and we didn't stay long. And as it turned out the Garage Bar didn't last long either, I'm not surprised!

We then decided to go into the nearby Clarence Hotel that Bono, Edge and others had just bought. We went in the front entrance and it felt as if we'd stepped back into the 1950's! It was very quaint and old fashioned and there was a tea dance going on in what was later to become the Tea Room Restaurant. It felt like a time capsule. So we didn't stay there long either!

Later in the week we went to Principle Management to see if we could meet any of the band, we had absolutely no idea if they were in town. It was very cold and despite many layers of clothing I was shivering. But after only about 15 minutes Bono and Edge arrived, they went straight into the office - Bono giving us a little wave before he did so.

Shortly afterwards Bono and Edge left again with two men we did not recognise. One of these men opened the window and said to us, "We'll be back." Beside him was Bono who gave us the thumbs up. Naturally we decided to hang on.

While we were waiting a huge lorry stopped in the middle of the road and the driver shouted out to us that Bono and Edge were being interviewed just around the corner. We thanked him but just stayed put as it was clear they would be coming back.

And it wasn't long before they came back and both Bono and Edge came over to us right away. Bono didn't have his Fly shades on and it was lovely to see his blue eyes once more. He looked quite tired and I noticed a lot of grey in his stubble. He said that they didn't have much time and if we wanted anything signed they'd be happy to do that. Bono recognised Jane and said,

"You were here last November weren't you?"

For once Jane was lost for words, we were both amazed that he'd remembered that! He kept saying, "You were, you were" to Jane who still didn't answer, I eventually said, "Yes we were," and Bono nodded with a 'I was right' look on his face.

Edge asked what we were doing here at this time of year and Jane, in full flow once more, said that we were on holiday and we couldn't come earlier as we had been following a certain band who had been on tour earlier in the year. Both Edge and Bono smiled at that.

I then asked if Bono would sign a photo of the band at Sellafield that I'd got from my local paper, he immediately laughed and showed it to Edge and said, "We should have had this with us at the interview as an example of how four people can dress up like complete dickheads!" He then signed it and passed it on to Edge who also signed it. at other meetings I managed to get all four of the bands' autographs on the photo and I've uploaded it at the end of this article - they do look like dickheads! Edge was very sweet, he had such gentle eyes and I loved the little bit of shyness he has.

Paul McGuinness arrived at this point and Bono went over to him, he said something about going to a Guggi exhibition to him before coming back over to us. Some passing lads now stopped and got autographs and then both Bono and Edge left heading for the city. We did hang on a little longer to see if Adam was around for Jane, but there was no sign of him so we left and headed into the city.

As it was December though it was only about 5pm it was dark and very cold and the icy wind roared down the quays. We put our hoods up, put our gloves on and wrapped our scarves round and round our necks to try and keep the biting wind out. I looked like a gnome with my pointy hood and Jane looked like she had on a neck brace as her scarf was wrapped round so many times! But we didn't care what we looked like as long as we were warm.

As we walked along I looked up ahead and saw a man approaching wearing what looked like a sheepskin coat very like Bono's. I thought that it couldn't possibly be him. Where we were on the quays wasn't very brightly lit so I looked and looked at this approaching person before realising it certainly was Bono!

"It's Bono!" I said to Jane


"It's Bono coming down the road!"

She too was amazed and we agreed we would only stop if he did. We were also aware of how ridiculous we looked all wrapped up against the elements but we couldn't do anything about that now! In contrast Bono's sheepskin coat was open, flapping in the wind and his shirt open well down his chest, does he not feel the cold??

As he got closer he recognised us and smiled (maybe my gnome look caused that!) and he stopped just in front of us and said, "Hi."

"Hello again," Jane said, "We'll have to stop meeting like this!"

Bono laughed and asked where we were going. We said we were off to have a nice hot drink.

"It's just closed," he said, probably meaning the nearby City Arts Centre, " but there are lots of nice coffee shops in Temple Bar where I've just been."

As we talked people were passing us and recognised Bono but though they stared no one stopped. We said we were off to Bewley's and with an "Enjoy yourselves," and a little touch on my shoulder off he went walking down the road towards Principle Management. We could hardly believe we'd bumped into Bono in the street and that he'd stopped to talk! It could only happen in Dublin. As we headed towards Bewley's for some reason we didn't feel the cold anymore!

(Cumberland News)

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