Wednesday, 15 April 2009

2003 May - UK Coolness, Italian Fire At HQ And A Big Surprise

May 2003 saw Julie and I taking a weeks holiday in Dublin. You may think from reading this blog that all we do when in Dublin is hang around at HQ, that's certainly far from the truth. On this visit we went for dinner at our friends house in Dun Laoghaire and met up with another friend. We visited Powerscourt House and Gardens in County Wicklow, a gorgeous place close to Enniskerry (which itself is a lovely place). The house was built around an original 13th century castle (owned by someone called la Poer which was eventually anglicised to Power) between 1731-1741. A devastating fire in 1974 reduced the house to a shell before it was renovated in 1996. The gardens were added in the 1800s.

We had a wonderful time wandering around the gardens, which lie in the shadow of Sugarloaf mountain, that apparently had been influenced by those of Versailles. There was a touching pet cemetery where much loved pets of all kinds, including two dachshunds and a cow, were laid to rest.

We also went to see the play Sive, by John B Keane at the Gaiety theatre. When in Dublin we always try to go to see an Irish play and I can say that this one is still at the time of writing this, the best I've seen. In the brochure about the film it says: "Written 40 years ago it is a rich character and social portrait of mid-century rural Ireland, a classic morality tale about the consequences of greed and bitterness." If you ever get the chance to see it, go, you won't regret it.

But this is a blog about my U2 history, so enough of the other Irish stuff! On the Tuesday afternoon we went down to HQ, there was a Dutch couple already there. We saw all the band arrive but no one came out. We left at 4pm and went out to a favourite restaurant where we had a table booked that evening, food won out over U2!

Next afternoon, after a bit of shopping we went down to HQ again, usually there were no other fans there. Not long after we arrived edge drove into the garage, not long later Bono arrived and after a couple of minutes he came out of the front door and crossed the road and came to see us. He looked well, I noticed his stubble was quite grey now. We were lucky that we got time with him on our own. He asked how we were and said he was late again and "Always running from one thing to another." I thought what a hectic life he has and how people, including myself, were always wanting something from him.

He continued to say that he was very busy and asked us to tell our friends or anyone we saw at HQ that if he didn't come out he wasn't ignoring them it was just because he was so busy.

"I have two jobs now you know." He laughed and said that the band seemed to be doing ok without him. I jokingly said.

"They don't need you now then."

"Oh no no no I'm here quite a lot!" he replied defensively, but with a smile. Bono had recognised me and said.

"You come here every year don't you?" I admitted to it! We then asked when the album would be ready.

"Maybe in the Autumn, maybe before New Year, maybe after New Year" he said shaking his head and shrugging as if he had no idea really. He said it was a "Real firecracker" and I said I was ready for some new U2 music and he smiled.

Bono then asked us what we had planned for our stay and I told him we were going to friends in Dun Laoghaire for a meal that night.

"That's nice." Bono said.

I then asked him if he would sign something for us and he said of course. I had the Irish first day cover of the Rock Legends stamp issue with U2 on it.

"Ahh, you've got the stamp, that's great!" he exclaimed. He was just going to sign it when out of nowhere appeared a very excited Italian couple. They kind of barged in and took over.

"We are from Italy!" the young man announced loudly.

"Oh are you?" Bono said with a laugh. They were so excited, the girl was hyperventilating and thumping her chest and the man was just saying. "Bon-o, Bon-o, Bon-o" over and over. It was really funny and Bono took it all in his stride. It struck me that this meeting showed the difference between the Brits and the Italians. We were excited but did not express it, they were also excited but the Italians let it all flood out!

The girl then just went up to Bono and kissed him, he seemed to enjoy that, she was very pretty. They told him that they had just got married, he asked when and where, and if they were on their honeymoon now which they were. Bono then turned to me and said.

Bono turned to me and said. "You'll have to take a photo of them." Meaning of them and him, which I said I would. He then remembered the envelope he still in his hand and said.

"I'll do this first though." And proceeded to write "Bono stamps on Pop" on it, which I thought was very witty considering he'd had little time to think.

I took a photo of the couple with him and it turned out really nice. then the couple talked to me at breakneck speed in Italian, eventually through sign language, I realised they wanted another photo taken with Bono which I did. The man himself was just laughing through all this.

He then took Julies Best Of CD cover, looked at it and said that the buffalos "Look like sunglasses." What?? Strange how his mind works sometimes. He then proceeded to draw sunglasses around them. The Italians borrowed my pen and also got an autograph. Strangely after that they seemed to lose interest in Bono and kind of talked between themselves! Bono came over to Julie and me and held a hand out to each of us and said that he was sorry but he had to go, he then kissed us both on the cheek, squeezed our hands, said bye to the Italians and went back in the studio. We left very happy women!

It was a lovely meeting very personal, and funny too. Bono has the ability to make you feel very special, that's a rare trait in a person. How many people as famous as him could you meet like that so informally and without security? I wish Bono's detractors could see things like that.

Two days later. In the morning we drove out of the city to Avoca Weavers and then Powerscourt. It was our last day in Dublin and that evening we went to the Killiney Court Hotel for a meal in the Library Grill, a favourite haunt of ours for years (no long gone unfortunately). Afterwards we went upstairs to the Coast Lounge. We ordered at the bar and looked for somewhere to sit, it was very quiet and I went to sit near the open fire, not really looking at the few people who were in the lounge. Then behind me I heard Julie frantically calling. "Sue, Sue, Sue" in a low, but rather desperate whisper. I turned and went back to her and all she could say was.

"He's here!"

"Huh?" Said me.

"He's here!" Said Julie again.

"He can't be." I said dumbstruck. But then I could hear Bono's voice not too far way, I couldn't believe he was there, it was 9pm and I thought he'd be still in the studio . I must admit I felt a bit panicked, I have no problems with meeting him at HQ or on tour, but I was worried that if he'd seen us here he might think we followed him there or something. This was his private time and I don't think fans should intrude into that and I felt distinctly uncomfortable.

We went to a table as far away from him as we could, so that if he had seen us he'd know we were not trying to eavesdrop, in all honesty I don't think he did see us. There weren't that many people in the lounge and even though we were far away we could still hear him sometimes. He was with three women who I didn't recognise. He talked and laughed a lot, part of me wished I was part of that group as they seemed to be having fun.

Initially I felt self conscious, and was texting Debbi frantically for something to do as Julie had kind of gone mute with shock! Debbi texted back saying "Buy him a drink!" LOL. But we both soon relaxed more as time passed and I told myself to stop being silly - this was a public place, we had not followed him, it was pure coincidence and we had every right to be there!

After about 30 minutes Bono left, we saw him clearly as he went out, he looked at the floor, not making any eye contact with anyone, (best way not to get stopped by anyone) most people's eyes were on him. A couple sitting near the women went over and asked them if it had been Bono who was with them and they said yes. Though people had noticed him no one had disturbed him.

It was certainly an exciting way to spend our last evening in Dublin, talk of surprises. Can't get away from the man LOL!


DebbiV said...

LOL.... I remember your texts well, Sue. I've never seen such foul language in my Inbox!!!

Northern Star said...

LOL, I know, I did apologise later, I was in such a silly panic for a while....