‘Once upon a couple of weeks ago... ‘ This is the injudicious phrase that Bono used as he debuted as an op-ed contributor in this Sunday’s New York Times.
Good Lord. Never. Never ever. Not even if I was down with the worst respiratory tract infection since the plague of 1343, not even if I was strung out on laudinum, blackmailed by Mossad for faked pictures of me in compromising situations with Twink, not if I were being waterboarded in Guantanamo Bay, not if I were under hypnosis itself would I begin even a lowly Dispatch post with a phrase as RTE-poetry-competition as ‘Once upon a couple of weeks ago…’ because, if I did, you’d immediately peg me for an overly self-esteemed secondary school pupil (remember, the Gauloise smoker? Who all the teachers said shouldn’t really do Honours English because, while they themselves recognised his special talent, it wasn’t necessarily the kind of talent that would shine through in a written-exam type situation?) Nevertheless, in the anthology of how-not-to-start-your-Junior-Cert-essay opening lines, it is the phrase ‘Once upon a couple of weeks ago’ - burdened as it is with at least eleven different types of linguistic misdemeanour – which Bono decided was the one most appropriate to his purposes.
And as the ink so regrettably dried on the hallowed pages of the Opinion section, something good about Ireland perished. Because, as you’ll see when you click on the link below, it was all down hill from there. The reversible-roof-house-dweller’s second sentence runs as follows…
'I’m in a crush in a Dublin pub around New Year’s. Glasses clinking clicking, clashing crashing in Gaelic revelry: swinging doors, sweethearts falling in and out of the season’s blessings, family feuds subsumed or resumed. Malt joy and ginger despair are all in the queue to be served on this, the quarter-of-a-millennium mark since Arthur Guinness first put velvety blackness in a pint glass.'
Malt joy? Ginger despair?
Anyway... as Bono stands in the crush of some imaginary Dublin pub (there hasn’t been a crush in a Dublin pub since 1982) and with all his imaginary fellow crushers all thinking the same exact thought – lose those shades – Bono’s own thoughts turn for some inexplicable reason to… Frank Sinatra:
'We had spent some time in his [Sinatra’s] house in Palm Springs… looking out onto the desert and hills, no gingham for miles. Plenty of miles, though, Miles Davis.'
Yes. That’s what he actually wrote. And while I feel bad that poor Miles Davis is no longer in a position to exercise his right of reply, I take solace from the fact that Bono’s unfortunate turn of phrase is the best argument I've ever heard as to why Americans should switch to kilometres.
Meanwhile, this is what I want to know: did Bono actually wait in this Dublin pub to see in the New Year? Or did he nip out at a quarter to midnight and slip through the bowels of Dublin Airport en-tax-efficient-route to Amsterdam?
Here's the rest of it: