Struck in a moment I can’t get out of

Less Zooropa than Zoolander, was my thought just before being struck by a flying missile. That’s precision karma for you. With an unnerving 15 ft between us, it confirmed Bono’s supernatural powers as limitless. They include orchestrating the perfect collision between hands holding an iPhone aloft, and my fella’s bouncing head to send the device crashing down on top of mine.

Welcome to The Bono School for Cynics that Can’t Enjoy Good and Want To Take Other Unnecessary Swipes Too. Or the last Dublin show of U2’s tour.

For my fella, it’s his third, and final, pilgrimage. A culmination of a month spent curating set-lists and judiciously selecting social media commentary to concur with his quiet fanaticism and hunt for the next live high. All of which are speculated on intensely through rear-view discussions with his mate on the drive down. They casually shed layers on arrival to reveal their respective vintage t-shirts while barely concealing their pride. They compliment one another’s clobber, but it’s really an exercise in cross-checking tracklists from tours emblazoned across their backs. It’s a draw. But I wish one of them would beat his chest.

They are here in their capacity as die-hards, holding out for the ditch and switch of songs; seeking negligible improvements in the tightening musicianship discernible only to a zealot’s ear. Edge’s signature guitar sound seems intact to me, but I’m confident I could take on this one-trick pony in a parallel park-off without much effort. Adam Clayton remains all tall and aloof, but Miriam O’Callaghan would make for a credible enough stand-in. And Larry Mullen Jr. Well, he’s no Animal, but he’ll do.

 

U2 live

Miriam and Bono

(pic: Rolling Stone)

I’m here in my capacity as erstwhile fan/designated driver, shamelessly open to manipulation and nostalgia; fully expecting a few obstructions to both in the shape of Bono’s mawkish sentimentality and political sloganeering.

All are delivered with brash neck and an almighty two-fingered salute to the likes of me and my ilk. You have to hand it to them for having the regard to harness their team’s creative energies into assembling a catwalk that has Bono strutting through the annals of his own LED screened youth. Elaborate visuals that successfully erase such follies as Slade and Yes albums. For that’s what we mainly find peering through our innocent teenage eyes as experienced adults – the shells of extremes. From record sleeved claims to cultural endurance (The Clash, Kraftwerk), to remnants of all over bruising from emotional blows (love, bereavement).

The show is an unapologetic attempt to chronicle the inspirational sources of U2’s oeuvre into neat files marked innocence and experience. From the personal to the political. It works best when addressing the former. Bono’s early musical responses to grief are revived with a pulsating I Will Follow.  Footage of his bridal mother, whose death threatened to derail him at 14, provides the backdrop to his plaintive cries in the more recent Iris with surprisingly touching results.

Less convincing are clunky attempts to tie up political loose ends and draw neat parallels between armed conflict then and now. I’ve lamented the passing of the authentic protest song movement here before, and Sunday Bloody Sunday unleashes its own peculiar red mist compounded by the cheap and exploitative theatrical stunt accompanying it tonight. As with much of U2’s musical stabs at political  protest, it’s an unashamed triumph of style over substance. Crude revisionist simplifications dumb it down further to the depth of its ringtone. Troubled Northern Ireland segues into present day Syria with a swift change of tempo. Chalk it up to wilful innocence, just for tonight. This is what this show is all about.

But, best avoid a speaker landing on my head, so enough churlishness. As the old adage goes, if you can’t beat him up, join him. So I surrender to the heady mix of begrudged good will and hitch a lift on the crowd’s energy with my fading innocence grabbing me by my rickety hips to give my eyes a run for their roll. The rest is predictable anthemic history. They came. We saw. They conquered.

Top marks to my fella for giving Bono top marks for leaving Andrea Corr at home to stick pins into her Imelda May voodoo doll while the latter joined himself and Panti for a karaoke trot through Desire. A conspiracy no less.

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Top 5…Dire imports from America

As anti-Black Friday fever sweeps across the nation, threatening to destabilise the parish of Cardinal Joe Duffy, and provoke Matt Cooper into knocking himself out with his own mock incredulity, let’s take a moment to consider some other dodgy American imports to our land. Begorrah.

  1. Ambitious women

I can’t remember when it happened exactly. It possibly coincided with the arrival of cappuccinos and those 20 ft inflatable Santas people erect on their gable walls at Christmas. With a straight face. Until then, Irish women were either teachers or volunteers with Saint Vincent de Paul, depending on their age. Now they’re nobody unless they’re doing both and holding down a job, sorry, a career, that involves trips to a board-room in heels to lean in to (unless they’re expressing) while writing about how empowering it is at precisely the same time. Won’t somebody please think of the dinner? Oh wait, they’ve done that, too.

2. Westboro Baptist Church

I must choose my words carefully here, otherwise WordPress will spinelessly cough up hefty hush money once it’s slapped with a solicitor’s letter threatening legal action over my apparent defaming of president of its Irish wing, Breda O’Brien. Ah fuck it, what do I care. This is the internet after all. Here goes..

ALL PUBLIC OPINION IS SUBJECT TO A GOOD KICKING, BREDA!

P.S. Pray for me.

3. Bono

Coming over here and taking our leafy suburbs working class streets for his inspiration.

4. Racism

I’m not saying we’ve anything against white middle-class singers coming over here and taking our inspiration but…

5. Obesity

Taking our humble spud, chopping it up and sticking it in the fryer, smothering it with taco sauce and placing them next to a double cheese burger and a gallon of coke.  It’s enough to.. *crushed in stampede*

black friday.png

Would you like some self-control with that?

6. Dating

Sobriety. Cutlery. Talking.

Bring back that most reliable of mating klaxons: The National Anthem.

Yeah, I know this is more than 5. I was never any good at math. Which reminds me..

7. Awesome

Grand. Ach alright.

Where exactly on this spectrum should we suppose this fits?

Awesome me star spangled arse.

Silence

Human beings suffer, they torture one another…

Of the umpteen ways I torture my fella, I’m guessing urging him to have an opinion is way up there among the top five. Somewhere between insisting he demonstrate what my snoring sounds like, and launching a late-night screed on the meaning of life, just as he’s about to fall asleep.

“What do you think?” That most feared refrain guaranteed to have him turn away to (I suspect) chew his fist before  re-arranging his features from Munch’s Scream into a mild-mannered shrug.

As folk with a neurotic disposition towards shrugs can verify, this is enough to send the most stable of us hurtling towards righteous despair in the time it takes the shrugger to add a fake pout to dupe the other into thinking they’re formulating an opinion. Only they’re not. There is nothing at the end of the pout except “what do you want me to say?” And the only thing to follow that with is “have an opinion!” (exclamation mark optional) It’s our very own special torture routine.

Sometimes, when I’m bored, or hungry, I call him up to find out what he’s had for lunch. Just for the predictably forensic detail, right down to the order of item consumption. All delivered without the hint of deviation from a straight face. For some quality dirty talk, I’ll ask him to detail the  contents of his desk-tidy, or to read a paragraph from something he’s working on, pausing to highlight the semi-colons, like he’s reading a telegram. He uses a lot of semi-colons in his work, so I tend to pardon his reluctance for over-thinking things back on Earth. Where over-thinking is a world away from not thinking about things at all, which would require some heavy sedation and a well-insulated cave without electricity.

It’s just he doesn’t feel the need to externalise his thoughts all the time. Torturous though it can be, it’s still one of the top five reasons I fell for him. It frees up more air-time for me, and, in a double whammy way, ensures his scarcity of words command more attention. The fucker. It’s also as valid – and sometimes necessary – a response as any other.

So we sat side-by-side last week watching events unfold in Paris. Four lips clamped shut by shock and an uneasiness from the almost voyeuristic immediacy of real-time events. Modern warfare as we have come to know it.

Eventually one of us stood up. “I’m going to bed”, he sighed without another word.

 

Running to stand still

“Was the realtor here then?” I enquired on detecting the ‘For Sale’ sign in front of the house. I never get to say realtor with a straight face, or in a context appropriate situation, so I wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity. Or pretend to be a grown-up like my fella and utter the words ‘estate agent’ with disturbing maturity. Until now, I’ve managed to navigate life without slipping into the void between immaturity and death otherwise known as mortgage. But having failed to read the small print on the marriage vows, it transpires that what’s his is mine; and what’s ours is now being dealt with by a pre-pubescent with enough positivity to make your average children’s TV presenter sound like Christopher Lee.

Ever since I was persuaded to ink half the deal on a new house, I’ve been experiencing strange new ailments that demand a second opinion from Google. It turns out that worry over “how far back does a credit check go?” and “random but intense curtain envy” are symptoms consistent with stage III conformity. It’s probably terminal and will likely culminate in a B & Q loyalty card. Sadly, many of my friends and family have succumbed to its vicious clutches. I’ve seen the devastating effects of decking.

for sale

One second-hand soul. Only one owner.

In exchange for a reasonable sized mortgage ONO

Having spent the last six years delivering a regular screed on the hazards of living where we do (mental rigor mortis, hardened vowels, phantom bell’s palsy), and jointly hatching escape routes from same, it has become something of a hysterical laugh that we’re condemned to settle a mile out the road. Forever. As cosmic jokes go, it’s one of the best. The more florid the alternatives became (Toronto! Leitrim! Mongolia! ) the more inevitable the end result. On the plus side, we can never go on holiday again so all complaining is not lost.

Determination – reality + wishful thinking x one party’s chronic immaturity. You do the math s.

If you’re going to wear a poppy, wear a white one

Wee Ginger Dug

Every year the poppy parading gets earlier and earlier like Christmas adverts. The poppy police have been out in force since mid October, complaining that there are people on the telly not bearing the obligatory badge of British militarism. If you don’t wear a poppy you don’t support the troops, and if you don’t support the troops then you’re practically a member of ISIS.

It’s not enough to remember the dead in your own way. It’s not allowed to light a quiet candle in your heart. It’s not permitted to make a donation in private to a charity of your choice. You have to make a show of it. You have to make a public display in an establishment approved manner, a way that doesn’t challenge or question, a way that won’t rock any boats or change anything that the powerful do. Poppies are the regimentation of remembrance. We remember…

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Poll: Re-name my blog. I know. Thrilling.