Sunday, 27 July 2008

1996 April - On a Dusty Dublin Street.....

Jane and I had a holiday in Dublin in the Spring of 1996. As usual we had a brilliant time in our favourite city visiting our familiar places and finding new ones. We caught up with our friends Ken and Elizabeth and Declan. As usual we were staying the house Ken and Elizabeth rent out and it was really like a home from home.

There had been a long quiet spell with U2 through the mid-90's though we thought they were probably recording their next album now. So on the Friday we checked out their new studio which was situated in the mostly derelict docklands area of Dublin. We walked down Hanover Quay past a motor garage that had a huge German Shepherd in a kennel guarding it. We soon found the studio, a nondescript grey building with a courier business on one side and a stationery firm on the other. Behind the studio and stretching along along Hanover Quay was The Grand Canal Dock. There also were quite a few huge stone built warehouses left over from Dublin's past as a busy port, the area felt very old and had seen better days.

Opposite the studio was the noisy Kilsaran Concrete Company that constantly had lorries trundling to and fro to provide concrete to the bludgeoning building boom in the city. After sitting on the wooden seat (kindly provided by Kilsaran not U2) for a while you ended up covered in a thin film of concrete dust. If you sat long enough and it rained you'd probably end up entombed in concrete! So, it's not the most pleasant place to be but at least there was a seat.

After not too long Bono arrived in his car, he waved as he passed us and drove down the road to park in one of the warehouses further down the road. Then shortly afterwards he walked up the road towards us. We did the small talk, what a lovely day it was, how are you..... Then out of the blue Bono said, "I'd take you inside to hear some stuff if we were further on, but I'm sorry...." his voice trailed off.

Jane said that it was ok and not to worry, though both of us inside were thinking, "Take us in, take us in!" I think we came over as quite chilled about it to him.

Bono continued saying that they were a bit behind with their work and it was quite pressured and that the new songs are, "Just a load of names on a blackboard."

At this point we were joined by an Italian fan called Bruno who had been a stage technician at Modena where Bono and Edge had recently performed with Pavarotti. Bruno told Bono he's met him at Modena and then apologised for his English.

"It's better than my Italian," said Bono laughing. Then he talked a bit about Dublin and was intrigued to hear that Bruno had met a girl from Finglas.

The studio door opened and out came Guggi, "Have you been inside?" Bono said to him (well Bono, I think he had seeing he came out of the place!) Then to us he said, "It's my friend Guggi - my only visitor and I'm late. I'll have to go and talk to him." He went over the road and chatted to him for about five minutes. I think it is really good that Bono still has friends like Guggi, people who knew him way before he was famous, good for him and it also shows he can't have changed that much since becoming famous. They were quite close and we could have eavesdropped if we wanted, but we didn't we just chatted amongst ourselves.

Guggi left and Bono said goodbye to us, and added, "And good luck with the girl from Finglas!" to Bruno. As he walked away from us I tried to sneak a quick photo and at that moment, when he'd almost reached the studio door, he turned again and said, "I'm really sorry I can't let you in, you know.... if it had been later....." Once more we reassured him and he smiled and said, "See you again, take care and God bless." Below is the photo of that moment. In all the years since we never have got into the studio, though it is on my wish-list still!

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