Sunday, 24 August 2008

I am he as you are he as you are me and we are altogether....

I got the DVD of "Across The Universe" today as it was nice and cheap.... just £5. I figured I would enjoy it because I love "Moulin Rouge" and I knew that this film was like that - a surreal musical with lots of humour and a human story behind the glitz.

I wasn't disappointed. The love story running through this film is moving and poignant. It's the story of a young Liverpudlian lad who goes to America to find his father, a man who left home before he was born. Having a university address for the man, he expects him to be an educated man, a professor, but he turns out to be the janitor.

While in the school, he is befriended by a student and falls in love with his sister - who has lost her boyfriend in the Vietnam war.

Against a backdrop of war and love lost and found, this film is wonderful, with lots of Beatles songs sung very well by the cast!

I love the lead actor who plays Jude (a guy named Jim sturgess) and he has a lovely voice.

Bono's part in this is not bad at all. You think that he would be struck with the curse of the "singer turned actor" that historically never works out well. Most musicians who take this path turn out to give a wooden performance, but Bono's is funny and his comic timing excellent. Love the bit near the end of his scene where he gets all petulant about someone not being there to meet him.... his expressions are priceless. His accent is great too, but then Bono has always been a good mimic and is great with different voices and accents.

I was really excited when I knew his scene was coming up, and despite the fact that he is made up to look like some ageing, hairy hippie (nothing attractive about that moustache at all), I felt really proud of him. It sounds funny, but I think of Bono sometimes as you would a close family member! You know, when you feel that pang of pride when they do something, and you support them no matter what and feel fiercely protective!

His rendition of "I am the Walrus" is brilliant. His star quality shines out in the film and his status as a class act amongst the other performers is apparent. Well... it's Bono isn't it? :-)

I think some of the meaning went over my head initially.... when Bono's character, Dr Robert says "You're either on the bus or you're off the bus", I thought he just meant that literally. He had a psychedelic bus and had people travelling with him.

But apparently, it's beat generation lingo for "creative tripping".... so I guess this film had lots of that kind of thing that might not be initially apparent. At least to me.

Despite this though, and all the dancing and singing amid "trippy" colours... the theme running through it is one most people can identify with or at least understand. A "normal" love story with all its angst, and the difficulties facing young men drafted into the Vietnam war.

There is a fantastic sequence near the beginning when one of the characters is drafted, and goes to sign up. Just so cleverly done. I won't spoil it in case anyone decides to watch it.

And one of my favourite people, Eddie Izzard, is in this, and his scene and song is hilarious!

Oh... and the highlight for me, Bono-wise? Hearing him sing the words: "You let your knickers down" during his rendition of "I Am The Walrus"!!! Something a bit naughty about Bono saying "knickers"!!!! LOL

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Cuba Travel Part Two

It's a rainy weekend here in England, and looking through the window is depressing. Grey, cloudy skies - no chance of the walk I had hoped for. Oh well, I suppose I had better just carry on with my "retro" travelog of my trip to Cuba in June this year. Memories of sunnier days..... sigh!
Sunday June 15th 2008
The next day we were up at 7am, victims of the time difference and the fact that it felt like 12pm to us. After changing rooms to a third floor one with a lovely view of the pool, we explored the hotel: bars, restaurants, pool area, fitness suite and spa, and realised that we were in a very special place and were going to have one hell of a holiday! We did say that we might take advantage of the fitness centre, but of course we didn't!!! Who were we fooling! Ha ha.

Keith in the fitness suite and me in the spa

In the hotel there was a large buffet restaurant that opened for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and this was where we ate most of our meals. The choice and range of food was immense, and it was really good quality. Although you might think you would get fed up of it after two weeks of lunches and dinners, that was not the case because there was just so much to choose from. A whole counter of starters, salads, soups, potato salads, pasta salads etc (I fell in love with the ham that was rolled and filled with soft cheese, and with their lovely mustard dressing!), and then counters filled with main courses with every meat you can think of, various special dishes, vegetables roasted and otherwise. Then there were the dessert counters!!! Oh my goodness! Here was where the diet went totally out of the window. Every day we had cake (and what an array of cakes!) and ice cream. And then there were pancakes with bananas and orange juice and rum. Yummy!

Oh, just for the record I discovered that - strangely - all the clothes I had brought with me shrank during the first week. Must have been the humid climate.

Ahem... anyway... where was I?

Oh yes, the food. As well as the buffet restaurant, there were two a la carte restaurants within the grounds of the hotel - one at the side of the pool, and one on the beach (called The Romantic, and it was!). You could eat out at an a la carte twice a week, so four visits in all. It made things a little more interesting and a nice change from the environment of the buffet. Plus, in these restaurants, it was waiter service, not self-serve, which also made a nice change.

Today, we went down to the beach, and Keith snorkelled while I lazed about and read my book. It was so peaceful and idyllic, with the clear blue sea and white powdery sand. We lunched at the Romantic restaurant, which in the daytime doubled as a snack bar. It was so great to have a few beers with lunch and not have to pay for them! A concept that I had not experienced before, but that I could definitely get used to. All you need in Cuba is a few pesos a day for tips. A peso at the end of the meal or after an evening at the bar is very welcomed, but not expected.

After lunch it started to rain, so we went back to the room to drop off all our beach stuff. By this time a magnificent thunderstorm was underway, and the rain torrential, but this was the only time we saw rain like this the whole two weeks. It did rain again during the second week, but it was hardly noticeable.

The beautiful, white sand beach

After dropping our stuff off in the room we decided to go down to the bar for a beer, which was interesting, because with being an open plan hotel, the bar had no walls and the wind and some spray from the rain was sweeping through. We spotted our rep, Janier, sitting alone. He was on duty as he is most days, but looked bored as he waited for people with problems (not many of them I am sure) so we decided to go and sit with him.

We had quite an in depth conversation with Janier, who is Cuban. He told us all about the tourist industry, and how it is normal for the barman serving your drinks to actually be a qualified doctor or lawyer. He can make more money in the tourist industry. Just to give you an idea of the difference in salaries between Cuba and elsewhere, we met a Canadian woman who was a radiographer, and she told us that she met a barman a few years ago who was also a trained radiographer. She earned in one hour what he earned in a month!

Despite this apparent shortfall in earnings, and the perceived poverty of this country, you have to look at things in context. Cuba has no unemployment to speak of, and although the government owns all the businesses and there is no free enterprise , everyone who wants to be is gainfully employed. There is hardly any crime because the penalties are high (many people would argue that ours are not high enough!) and the health service is on a par with what we expect in the UK. Obviously, everything has its problems and nothing is perfect, but life is not as dark in Cuba as you might think.

It's hard to think about Cuban children excited about presents and sweets from the tourists (many people take pens and other stationery if going on any trips where children will be around), but then, don't our children have too much? It's hard to rationalise it, but this is the only life they have known.

Janier said he wanted more for his children, more than is available in Cuba, and I understand that. Not being able to set up your own business and earn levels of money that some of us take for granted must be hard. We can buy TVs and Hi Fi systems, travel where we want to. That freedom can be hard to live without, but then that's what WE have always known.

So, our first full day in Cuba was a diverse mix of lounging on the beach in lovely sunshine, sheltering in the bar with a few glasses of beer, and learning about Cuban politics and culture. I'll be talking more about that later too.

Dinner in the buffet tonight was lovely. Even though you serve yourself, you get waiters/waitresses coming and constantly re-filling your wine glass, which is wonderful. The waiter tonight, Rafael, made me a lovely rose out of a white napkin!

Just two days in, I loved the place already and could not wait for whatever was around the corner. The view from our balcony during the storm!

Saturday, 16 August 2008

Cuba Blog At Last

Okay, it's been weeks since I got back from Cuba and I am long overdue writing about it. Life has kind of got in the way, and I have been adjusting to some changes at work. Think I am just about doing that, so I am more able to work on my computer in the evenings now. Here is the first part of my Cuba write-up.... and there are going to be several more, with a few pics along the way. Hope you enjoy it.

I am also going to be writing in my Blog more regularly now about day to day things. It's hard to get a writing schedule going (as all busy Bloggers know), especially when you have other projects on the go.... but I am going to do my best.

Anyway, onto Cuba

Saturday June 14th, 2008

Cuba is not a country I had ever considered before. I've done a lot of travelling - not as much as many people, but I don't do badly. My destinations of choice have always been Greece (lots and lots of the islands over 22 years), Ireland (Dublin mainly and, once, Galway), the US (countless states and cities like Boston and my favourite, New York) and Canada (Vancouver). Cuba kind of happened by accident. Keith (my husband) and I were looking at going on holiday to Greece, but the Euro was doing too well for our liking, so on a whim, we decided to look for All Inclusive holidays in the Caribbean, as we know they can be great value for money. First we looked at the Dominican Republic, and then, we took a look at Cuba. To our delight, we found a fantastic deal on a hotel called Sol Rio De Luna Y Mares.

Thinking it was too good to be true, we tentatively checked out all the reviews we could find on the internet, and we could not find a bad review! Oh, apart from the people who complained that the sea was too wet and the sand too fine! That kind of thing! So.... we booked it. It was really exciting to be going to such a different country, and when the day came, we were raring to go!

You can't get Cuban currency outside of the country, so we took sterling to change when we were there. But, we didn't need much, as our holiday was an all inclusive deal, which meant that all our meals, drinks and snacks were paid for in advance.

The flight with First Choice airlines was relatively painless. For such a long flight, you always expect a bit of pain, but the aircraft was so comfortable, with lots of legroom, that it was not bad at all. Apart from the fact that it was FREEZING cold, and several people had to ask, time and time again, for the air conditioning to be turned down or off. Eventually, the message got through to the captain, who did the honours for us..... but this was after hours and hours of being cold. Oh well, a minor point I suppose, and at least all the complaining passed some time!

When we arrived the weather was glorious - really hot. I had been warned though, about the humidity, and the fact that I would have to put up with "bad hair" days for two weeks!! But I could put up with that to be away from the unpredictability of the British summer. Cold and rain was far from my mind!

Immigration in Cuba is much more relaxed than when you go to the US. No reams of paperwork to fill in, or questions about whether you are a terrorist or a Communist (ha ha!). The female official who dealt with our visa was wearing a VERY short skirt and black fishnet tights! I think all the men appreciated that after a long flight.

The journey to the hotel was just over an hour by bus, and it was very enjoyable, because we got our first glimpses of this beautiful country. The countryside was so lush, with many very colourful flowers, and lots of crops like bananas, avocados, corn etc. There were lots of people out walking, and taking shelter under trees. Animals like goats, cows and horses were tethered at the side of the road, thin and bony with ribs and hips (do animals have hips?!) showing. But this is a different life, a different climate. A fat animal would probably die of heatstroke!

One of the most noticeable things when driving in Cuba are the many old American cars. Up until the revolution in 1960, Cuba was the largest importer of American cars. Of course, now there is no trade allowed between the two countries, so the cars that remain from those times have been lovingly preserved and are driven with pride. They affectionately call them "old timers", and there were certainly a lot of them about.

A Cuban "Old Timer"

As we drove along the roads through the province of Holguin, we got our first glimpses of the Cuban people, and the impression we got from them during this time was the impression that stayed with us the entire two weeks. The people were friendly with very open, smiley faces, boundless curiosity (they gawped at us new tourists) and great senses of humour (we got saluted and kisses blown!).

When we reached our hotel, we knew we would love it. It was a pretty orange building, fringed with white, and like many of the hotels in Cuba, was an "open" hotel, meaning that there were no doors to enter it, it was just a big, open plan space in the lobby. There was a circular drive leading up to it, and lots of palm trees and flowering borders of many beautiful colours!

The beautiful "Sol Rio De Mares" - Holguin, Cuba

The sky was blue and on the air the sound of birds singing! Absolute bliss..

We were a little disappointed when we got to our room. It was pretty enough, but the view was non-existent, and all we had outside the balcony was a jungle of palm trees. We changed it the next day, but for now this was the first of FOUR rooms we had in total during our holiday!

Our first balcony view!

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Cuba Travel Blog Coming Soon...

On 14th June this year, Keith and I went to Cuba for our holidays... the first time we have ever been to the Caribbean. But definitely not the last! I am currently working on writing about it, and will be posting very soon. It may have to come in instalments, but it WILL come eventually.

Saturday, 26 July 2008

Missing In Action... But Now I am Back!

I've been neglecting my blog lately. I am not just sitting on my laurels though. I have been busy writing other stuff and have been doing a lot of creative stuff sort of behind the scenes, as it were! I need to get my novel finished so have been looking at that and also writing some other fiction. Also, I have been writing up an account of my recent trip to Cuba. That will be up on my blog in the next couple of days.

A lot of other stuff has been happening in my life too lately. Work is madness and sometimes stressful - mainly, it has to be said, because of the moods and despression of friends that I work with, rather than how I actually feel myself. Some people cope with certain situations better than others, and I am the kind of person who for the most part lets things roll off my back, and am not easily fazed by people. But it's hard when you see people you are close too, feeling so demoralized.

On Monday, we had my nan's funeral. She was 97 so you could say she had a fair crack of the whip, but still.... it has been a sad time and Monday was emotional. It was weird though, because in the process of burying her, I unearthed a lot of stuff that was buried in me. We went to the church I was practically raised in - attached to the school I attended until I was 11 years old and moved up to high school. It looked so much smaller than I remembered, but it was so eerily familiar even though it has been 32 years since I last set foot in it. The smells transported me right back and I became that child who took communion, lit candles for the souls I didn't know and knelt in front of a bishop who anointed my head and welcomed me into the Catholic "Club" when I was Confirmed.

Strange, mad times! You can read a poem I wrote on my Blog about the experience of this church by clicking here.

Anyway, I have lots of projects either on the go or in my mind, and hopefully I will find the time to get them all off the ground.

Meanwhile, I intend to post on my blog more, so get ready!

And I have had an idea for another blog site - U2 related. Watch this space!!!

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Staring at the Sun!

You know when sometimes you see something so beautiful you have to capture it forever? This is the sight that confronted me when I looked out of the aeroplane window on my way back from Dublin on Tuesday. The day had been gloriously hot and sunny, and the feeling that summer is here was very much with me. The sunset was breathtaking. I paid a price for this shot though... I had dark spots in my vision for literally hours later. Burnt retinas are no fun! I think they are just about back to normal though.

Dublin was fantastic. It was so good just to go there for the day, although that felt so weird as I had never done it before. It was exciting to have so much to do and so little time to do it... kind of a challenge. As the quote goes though, the "best laid plans of mice and men" were changed at the last minute, and we spent most of the afternoon down at Hanover Quay. We paid a visit to U2's place... saw all the band arrive, and lots of staff, technicians, musicians, producers, directors, come and go. But no luck with talking to any of the guys this time. Everyone is so busy at the moment and we understand that. We got a few words from Brian Eno though.... not about the record, unfortunately. He popped to the Spar shop for something and on the way back he just nodded and smiled and said how nice a day it was.

Bono peeped his horn at us as he drove into the garage, but never made an appearance. And we know there must have been a good reason for that.

So.... we ambled up the street to Milano, a lovely Italian restaurant, where we had a delicious dinner with a bottle of wine. A much welcome end to our whirlwind trip.

You can read Sue's account of our day here.

Sunday, 8 June 2008

U2 Interview Archive

Dan Eliot has a fabulous website that has dozens of U2 interviews from the early days right up to the present. They are listed in categories, and also by collection. My "Real Thing" interview is there, for anyone who does not want to download it. Dan has done all the hard work and all you have to do is listen.

Go HERE for Dan's site.....

Friday, 6 June 2008

Shooting Peacocks Up The Arse!

As promised, here are links so that you can download the interview that I did with Bono in June 1997. It is in 2 parts.

I'll just give you some background to set the scene. This was at about 9pm, and my co-editor and I were in my living room, drinking the first of two bottles of red wine, staring at the telephone. When the phone rang, we jumped about 3 feet in the air. As you can hear, we were excited and nervous to start with, especially when we heard Bono's many "Helloooos". I was convinced that it was a friend of mine winding us up - because many of our friends knew we were expecting Bono to call, so I thought someone had thought it would be a hoot to "hijack" the phone!!

Anyway, it turned out to be the real Bono, and once he calmed down we got on okay. He was phoning from Chicago, and the time there was about 3pm, but I think Bono had not long got up!!

We were so thrilled to get almost 40 minutes of his time. He seemed really to enjoy the chat, and even though we thought when he said "Hold on, someone at the door" at the end of the first file here, he was going to use that as an excuse to leave, we were delighted when he came back and carried on chatting for ages after. The pause for the door was a couple of minutes, but of course I have cut that out.

Lots of wonderful, quotable Bono-isms in this, including the title of this post. Lots of gems.

A few embarrassing things came out of my mouth, but hopefully you will all be too polite to even notice them!!! At one point I tried to say the word "technologically" but it's hard to do when you have the best part of a bottle of wine in ya!!! LOL I think I got away with it.

For anyone confused by the the two "interviewer voices"... mine is the first voice on answering the phone to Beth. I say "yes we're here." and I think my speech is faster than my co-editor's. I've always been a motormouth!!! I also tell Bono that there are some questions from subsribers to the fanzine that we will drop in from time to time.

He he, I also tell him we are drinking wine, which causes a nice reaction from him. He had no wine.... he was munching bananas!

But anyway, I digress. Just download and enjoy. And please let me know what you think.

As I said, I may get a transcript up here soon, which may pick out anything you might miss on the sound.

So anyway, here are the files

Real Thing Interview 26th June 1997 # 1

Real Thing Interview 26th June 1997 #2

Oh, and it's been a long time since I listened to this all the way through. I just did so today and had to laugh at the excited squealing we did when Bono had hung up the phone. Well, at least I hope he had hung up!!!!

Sunday, 1 June 2008

Down a big black hole...

This last week I have been uploading songs to my iPod ready for my holiday, which is coming up on June 14th. On looking through all my CDs to decide what to put on there, I came across the CD of my interview with Bono, which took place on 26th June, 1997. God, that was so long ago, but I remember quite clearly the way I felt during the time I was negotiating getting the interview.

I was doing the fanzine "The Real Thing" with co-editor, Jackie Harper, and had written to Principle Management asking them if there was any chance. I can't even remember what date we originally asked, but I do know it was a long time before we actually got the interview.

On July 26th, 1996, something quite amazing happened. I picked up the post from my doormat (remember when you used to get REAL post?) and there was a letter from Dublin. I opened it and almost died on the spot! This is what it said...

I unfolded the enclosed letter with great excitement. Below is a scan of it, and, for anyone not used to Bono's scribble, there is a transcript below it.

Just a note to say that we're down a big black hole at the moment recording the U2 album.... hoping to come out of it soon.... with some digital light and a bunch of new tunes.... meanwhile we're not making much sense and incapable of talking to anyone excluding each other....... comminicating by grunt..... feedback and drums might not make for a good chat.

See you down the road.

As you can imagine, I was so excited to get this letter, and it put my mind at rest that at least Bono actually knew about us trying to get the interview. It gave me hope.

However, it was to be almost one year until we finally got the interview. Of course, the album that had the band down a big black hole was Pop, and when we talked to Bono they had already started the Popmart tour in America.

Once I figure out how to do it, I will be posting the interview, and maybe a transcript, time permitting.

Monday, 12 May 2008

Time Flies...

I'm a bit late posting this, because I meant to post on Bono's birthday. Not just because it was his birthday (though that is a good excuse) but because exactly one year ago on that day (May 10th) I was in Dublin with my friends, enjoying the luxury of the penthouse suite at The Clarence and sipping much champagne!

You can read about my exploits here, here and here!


Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Just Because....

I just had to post this photo. I love it!! Bono doing a little shopping in Monaco.


Friday, 18 April 2008

Edinburgh Here We Come

Today was a miserable day weather-wise, and the rain drizzled down for most of the time. We got a taxi into town and I went to get some money from the bank before we headed to the bus stop. Sue had been told that the fare to Edinburgh was just £10 return, which seemed incredible, so we were ready to pay more. As we suspected, the fare was not £10..... it was actually £9.90!!! Incredible. But the journey was not the most comfortable, and it lasted 3 and a half hours. Torture!

We got there in one piece though, and got a taxi to our hotel, the Travelodge Haymarket. It was a lovely old building and our room, termed an "Ample Family Room", was indeed ample! We were gawping at it and saying it was the biggest room we had ever stayed in, until we suddenly remembered the Penthouse Suite at The Clarence. Duh! How could we have forgotten that!

We unpacked and got settled in, before it was time to head off to dinner. Sue had booked us a table at Vittoria's, a lovely Italian restaurant near to the Liquid Rooms. The food was gorgeous and we had a lovely bottle of wine too. The interior reminded us of The Clarence, with all the wood panelling and the laid back atmosphere. Well, it was laid back until a family at the next table had some quarrel with the staff! Something seemed to be wrong with their order, and the father of the family kept on glaring menacingly over at the kitchen pass. Everyone was handling him really well, but we reckoned he was just after a free dinner!

While we were in the restaurant, I got a text message from Alan (Boner from NU2) saying that the soundcheck had been a disaster because he could not reach the high notes. He had been suffering from a potentially deadly strain of man-flu (!!) all week, and now when he reached the higher registers, his voice disappeared! I tried to re-assure him that it would all be okay, but I was worried about Julie and what she would think. She had come all the way from Southampton and this was her first every NU2 show. Sue and I had been telling her how fantastic they were! Gulp!

But as it turned out, all was well. Boner was struggling a little at the beginning, it is fair to say, but as the gig wore on, he warmed to it and his voice held out very well. This band never disappoint, and they all work so well together, and work hard! As I always do, I marvelled at how accurate they are to U2, and Alan's voice is so close to Bono's it's spooky! Sometimes was stunning. Wild Horses was a nice surprise. And Discotheque rocked.
I had requested Ultraviolet through the forum and was eagerly awaiting that. However, it appeared in a very surprising and unique way! The Fly started, and Alan dedicated it to "the people from England".... A great version followed, and when he got to the Achtung Baby part, Alan changed it to Achtung Debbi, which made me smile! Then.... they sneaked Ultraviolet in there, which was amazing, and really a wonderful touch as it blended very nicely back into The Fly to finish! Great stuff.... and now known as Ultraviolet Fly!! It would be great to see U2 do that!

The crowd were wonderful, and the usual Airdrie lot were there. They really are dedicated NU2 fans and dance and sing along (drunkenly, it is fair to say!) to all the songs. It's obvious that the lads like them being there too. How great to always have that support. A little taste of what U2 feel when they look out and see the familiar faces in their audience.

Sue took some great pictures of the night, which can be found here, and towards the end, I crept to the front of the stage, taking he camera and capturing these two, one of Adam (John) and one of Alan.
Adam Claypole and Boner
After the gig, which we thoroughly enjoyed, we went outside and waited for a while to see if we could arrange somewhere to go and meet the guys. John came outside and said that Finnegans was a good place to go, and it was only two doors away, so we went there for a drink and eventually, Alan came and we had a brief chat. He had lots of people who wanted to talk to him, so eventually we decided to drift back to the hotel. We needed to get a train before midnight anyway... or else it would turn back into a pumpkin!!!
We said our goodbyes and headed back. On getting to the station we realised we would have over half an hour wait for the train, so we got a taxi instead, and ended the night with a nightcap in the bar of the hotel.
A great night. Thanks to NU2... Julie's first impressions of them were very high, despite Alan's worries.

Thursday, 17 April 2008

On My Travels Again...

My working week is over at last!! I have only worked three days this week but it seems longer. I have been looking forward to this day for ages. My train to Carlisle was at 12.45 so I didn't have to get up too early either. Bliss.

The journey passed relatively smoothly and uneventfully, apart from when I fell asleep and didn't make my usual phone call to Sue from Penrith - yikes! But it could have been worse. I could have woken up in Edinburgh, which would have been ironic since I am going there tomorrow.

But the scenery outside the train was breathtaking - the Pennines really are beautiful. I managed, eventually, to phone Sue and she came to pick me up from the station. Back to her place, and a nice cup of tea. I had discovered, on reading my travel journal on the way, that the last time I had been at Sue's was just over a year ago - 31st March 2007 to be precise. It does not seem that long ago, but then we have seen each other a lot, just in different places.

There were a few subtle changes in decor in her flat, but nothing major. As usual, I settled in within about 5 minutes and it was like I had been there yesterday. After we had sat and chatted for a while, Sue went to pick Julie up from the station. The poor girl had been on a bus for over 10 hours! Eventually, we were all together and we had a chinese for tea.

Our weekend had started!

Monday, 14 April 2008

Poem Time

I Want To Write A Poem...

I want to write a poem
That’s what I want to do
Take some words and make them
Real and true

To capture, to nurture,
To make men fly
To show them that lowliness
Makes them high

Words that will wring tears
From the hardest heart
That will place life’s racers
Back at the start

Slow them, show them,
That this is it
The one chance to make life
A perfect fit

A lyrical sunrise with blue
And green
And pictures the faithless
Have never seen

A map of the world
Made from letters of truth
Charted by age-worn
To guide innocent youth

I want to write a poem
That comforts the soul
That crushes the doubters
And makes faith whole

A poem that strokes
With words that heal
So that losers get
Ahead of the deal

I want to write a poem
That will change a mind
From bitter and twisted
To loving and kind

A poem with power
To change the world
A poem that screams out
With flags unfurled

I want to write a poem
That will make the sick well
And bring them out gently
From their ravaged hell

And ode to a country
A nation in pain
A prayer for good harvest
A dance to bring rain

I want to write words
That put and end to all greed
Prejudice, anger
Bad thought and deed

I want to write a poem
But how do I start?

With clarity

And a hopeful heart…..

Copyright (C) Debbi Voisey 2008

Sunday, 6 April 2008

I've made a re-discovery!

Lately I have been listening a lot to All That You Can't Leave Behind... I think because I remember how it felt to be waiting for that album, and I am feeling the same now as I wait for the next one.

There are some wonderful songs on ATYCLB, like Walk On, Peace on Earth, and this one here - When I Look At The World. I am obsessed with it at the moment. The lyrics are stunning. I've copied them here. They make me hungry for Bono at his best, and I am excited by various reports and rumours that Bono's lyrics are really going to be fantastic on this next album.

Fingers crossed!! When he is on form there is no one to match him, and his words have the ability to knock you off your feet. Just simple words that he puts together so well and in his unique way.

When I Look At The World - Copyright U2. Lyrics by Bono.

When you look at the world

What is it that you see

People find all kinds of things

That bring them to their knees

I see an expression

So clear and so true

That changes the atmosphere

When you walk into the room

So I try to be like you

Try to feel it like you do

But without you its no use

I cant see what you see

When I look at the world

When the night is someone else's

And you're trying to get some sleep

When your thoughts are too expensive

To ever want to keep

When theres all kinds of chaos

And everyone is walking lame

You dont even blink now do you?

Dont even look away

So I try to be like you

Try to feel it like you do

But without you its no use

I cant see what you see

When I look at the world

I cant wait any longer

I cant wait til Im stronger

Cant wait any longer

To see what you see

When I look at the world

Im in the waiting room

I cant see for the smoke

I think of you and your holy book

When the rest of us choke

Tell me tell me

What do you see

Tell me tell me

Whats wrong with me?

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Bono is a Colm and Jim Jim Fan!

Who are Colm and Jim Jim you may well ask. Well, they are the guys who do the 2FM Breakfast Show in Dublin. Our Bono listens to them during the school run and on Tuesday morning - obviously as Bono was driving the kids to school - he heard them talking about a statement from Clannad (who are embarking on a tour) that he can no longer hit the high notes he reached on their hit "In A Lifetime" and they would be using someone else.

Incensed, our Bono phoned the show and put them right.

Okay, he wasn't incensed. He obviously just wanted a laugh!

Hear it here - it's really funny. Our B even does some of the show's jingles, proving that this show must really be a favourite of his.

Friday, 7 March 2008

(De) Bono's Thinking Hat?

After writing my Blog last night, and also after looking back at some pictures of our Bono at Hanover Quay recently, I noticed that he has been wearing a green hat a lot lately. Of course he has worn many hats over the years, but this one seems to be his favourite right now, while he is recording the album. It got me thinking about a theory of Edward do Bono's that I read about a few years ago. De Bono is famous for his lateral thinking, and has this to say about the wearing of different colour hats. Read into it what you will. I'm just quoting it here for fun.

The White Hat calls for information known or needed. "The facts, just the facts."

The Yellow Hat symbolises brightness and optimism. Under this hat you explore the positives and probe for value and benefit.

The Black Hat is judgment - the devil's advocate or why something may not work. Spot the difficulties and dangers; where things might go wrong. Probably the most powerful and useful of the Hats but a problem if over-used.

The Red Hat signifies feelings, hunches and intuition. When using this hat you can express emotions and feelings and share fears, likes, dislikes, loves, and hates.

The Green Hat focuses on creativity; the possibilities,alternatives, and new ideas. It's an opportunity to express new concepts and new perceptions.

The Blue Hat is used to manage the thinking process. It's the control mechanism that ensures the Six Thinking Hats® guidelines are observed

Since Bono seems to be wearing a green hat a lot during the creative process of the new album, maybe he thinks there is something in it. Here is more about the "Green Hat".

Green Hat Think of vegetation and rich growth

The green hat is for creative thinking.
The green hat is for new ideas.
The green hat is for additional alternatives.
The green hat is for putting forward possibilities and hypotheses.
The green hat covers provocation and movement.
The green hat requests creative effort.
We need some new ideas here.
Are there any additional alternatives?
Could we do this a different way?
Could there be another explanation?

The green hat makes it possible to ask directly for a creative effort. The green hat makes time and space available for creative thinking. Even if no creative ideas are forthcoming, the green hat asks for the creative effort.

Mmmm... interesting.

Thursday, 6 March 2008

When Mr B met Mr B!

On Tuesday my good friend Alan, aka Boner from the Scottish tribute band NU2, was in Dublin and since U2 are in the studio at Hanover Quay, he decided to go down and chance his arm. I gave him the benefit of my (not too extensive) wisdom and experience (ahem), and it paid off because he finally got to meet Bono!!! I was in touch with him via text message throughout it all and I was so excited it was like I was there myself! Afterwards, Alan phoned me and gave me a brief synopsis of the meeting but, as I know from experience, it is hard to remember a meeting with Bono in full until a little while later, when your stupid grin has faded a bit and your excitement has settled. Tonight, I got an email and this is what happened, in Boner's own words:

After walking from Grafton St for what seemed like hours (and crossing the Liffy without realising) I eventually reached HQ.

I was struck by the contrast between the swanky restaurants and chic buildings at the Quay and U2's somewhat dilapidated studios. However this did make me chuckle at U2's defiance of Dublin City Council. Who runs Dublin anyway? Bono does!

When I arrived at about 1.30pm there was a group of 5 girls - one from Brazil or Argentina - not quite sure, 2 from France, a Dutch girl now living in Dublin, oh yes and a Polish girl with her maw! Is that 5?

I sought some reassurance that something U2-like was gonna happen but they seemed not in the know and when I mentioned the thing about the garage door and the posts they looked at me like I had horns.

It then became quite boring with only the constant stream of workmen retunring from lunch with their builder bums saluting me as they passed.

After about an hour and 10mins the garage door went up and a bloke with a big mouser came out and looked up the street. (Deb's Note: I just realised that a "mouser" is a moustache and that Boner is talking here about Sammy O'Sullivan, U2's famous mouser sporter!) Two minutes later the Edge arrived in his car and drove straight in. The door went down but 5 mins later went up again. Bono drove up the street in what I think was a big Merc and drove in. Door down again.

Debbi texted me to say Bono would come out in 10-ish mins and lo and behold the Exit door opened and he strolled out smiling and rubbing his hands. Three Irish guys had arrived about ten minutes earlier with CDs, books and birthday cards to sign. All I had was a crappy O'Callaghan Hotels map. I stood back a bit and let the foreign girls talk to Bono first as they had been waiting hours before me. One girl asked Bono to phone her sister but he declined saying "I'd rather not do the phone thing".

The Polish girl introduced her mother and Bono smiled a yelled "MAW" and kissed her hand. Class!

He asked where everyone was from. He was genuinely interested in why they were all in Dublin. The Dutch girl said she was working in Dublin, Bono said "It's always good to work in Dublin" I said "I'm being paid as we speak" and he grinned at me.

The South American girl was seriously overwhelmed and was almost moaning and trying to get him to read this long note she had with her.

The Dutch girl said can you get Adam to come out. Bono said "I have never had any control over what Adam does."

The Irish guys produced more stuff, a flyer for Bonovox amongst other things and Bono laughed out loud.

More photos followed and I thought I better make my move as he was making noises to go.

I muscled in and said Bono - a photo please. "Sure" He put his arm round me (crikey). I gave my phone to the Polish girl and started chatting to him. He was standing on a step and I was at ground level, he crouched down a wee bit

"I am in a U2 tribute band from Scotland y'know"

"Really, that's great" said Bono

"You know who I am?...YOU!!" I said

Bono turned his head and looked me up and down, smiled then looked me in the eye but did not speak. His look basically said "Seriously??"

I then looked at the Polish girl who had my phone round the wrong way and was about to take a photo of herself. I said no no, turn it round.

Bono said "I'm gonna give ya a peace sign" and she took the pic.

He then said "I gotta run now" shook my outstretched hand and turned round and went back in.


And here is the money shot! Boner and Bono... united at last!!!

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

We Had A Ticket To Ride!

And we used it on the train to get to Liverpool today! Keith and I had planned to go during our week off work, but were unsure which day to go. I am sad to say that we picked the worst day weather-wise, because up until today, every day has been beautifully sunny and, though cold, very pleasant. But of course the moment we started out today, the sun decided not to come out, and it was freezing!!!

Still, it was a nice day, despite that. Even though Albert Dock must have been the windiest place in the whole world today!!!

After a stilted start (our train from Crew to Liverpool was cancelled due to some signalling problems at Winsford!) we finally got to Liverpool via Chester and spent some time walking about Albert Dock. We paid a visit to Tate Liverpool to look at some art. Well, they call it art but most of it is just madness. Don't get me wrong, some of it was great and I can actually see the point of some of it. Jackson Pollock definitely had something and daft as it sounds, there is a technique to splashing paint onto a canvas. I can see that. But some of the art there today I could have done myself! A canvas simply painted all one colour and then put in a frame is just taking the piss in my opinion.

But it passed an hour or so and at least we were out of the cold!

After that we went to see "The Beatles Story", which was a fab (no pun intended) look at the lives and careers of Liverpool's famous sons. We got a headset and digital radio thing, and just had to press numbers into it as we walked around all the exhibits. It was a fascinating display, which included mock-ups of a few of the places The Beatles had played, including, of course, The Cavern, and also a replica of Abbey Road Studios.

After the tour was over, it was getting late, so we went to a nearby pub on the docks, and had something to eat, along with a glass of wine. It was nice to sit and reflect on the day. Then it was time to head back for the train after this whirlwind trip. We had planned to take a cruise on the Mersey Ferry, but it was simply too cold and windy for us to even contemplate that.

Still, it was a lovely day though. As we walked back to the station, we walked past the site of the original Cavern on Mathew Street

If the weather had been better, we would have been able to do more and, I am sure, we would have enjoyed it a lot more. But it was a nice day out!

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Oh Bono, Where Art Thou?

I stumbled across this hilarious (and very useful I imagine!) Google Map search thing called The Bono Probability Positioning System where you can look at a map of Dublin and it tells you the probability of finding Bono in any number of locations (just click on the Bono cartoon faces). Apparently (ahem), it uses Dublin's CCTV network, and facial recognition technology to determine whether the be-shaded one is in the vicinity. So all you need is a laptop and a fast car and you are all set!

Monday, 25 February 2008

Me and Sue outside Hard Rock Cafe

Just to make our trip even more of a Bono-fest, we discovered this beautiful poster in the window of The Hard Rock Cafe at The Printworks in Manchester!!!

Wipe Your Tears Away!

I just got back from a weekend in Manchester where I succumbed to the magic of U23D no less than 4 times! I only planned to go once (with the knowledge deep down that I would probably go twice), but it was a surprise even to me that I would see it 4 times! Talk about overdosing, but what a way to get high!!!

My friend Sue and I saw it on Friday with a friend (Dawn) who had travelled down from Dumfries. To say we were stunned is an understatement. I won't detail too much of it here for the benefit of those who haven't seen it yet, but suffice it to say we were in tears from the very first moments of Vertigo - it just crashes in on you right from the start.

The concert itself, all technology aside, is amazing, and Bono is on fantastic form. It was very powerful and moving.

The next day, the friend from Dumfries had to go home, so me and Sue went to the afternoon showing, just to keep the drug in our veins!!! You spot things the second time that you didn't notice the first time.

That night we went to the Comedy Store to see a show and to have dinner. With a few glasses of wine in us, we wondered what it would be like to have Bono popping out at you when you were inebriated.... so, not wanting to die not knowing that, we went to the late night showing!!! U23D when you are drunk is everything you thought it would be and more.

And finally, not wanting to leave the weekend on an uneven 3.... I phoned my husband and suggested he come down to Manchester to see it with me before I headed home. He did, so I went through it all a 4th time. The things you have to do....!!!! Anyone who hasn't seen it yet, you are in for the best treat of your life!!!

Thursday, 21 February 2008

I'm Back!

At last I have got my internet sorted out and am back online! I have missed it so much and felt so out of touch. Hopefully now I will be able to keep on with my Blog. This weekend is my trip to Manchester to see U23D, and no doubt I will have lots to say about it when I come back. I have booked Monday off work to recover (because Sue always forces me to drink too much!) so I will update then.

Hope everyone has a great weekend.

Thursday, 31 January 2008


Aaargh! I am so frustrated. I am in the process of swapping over my Internet Provider and getting myself set up on wireless. My laptop is my lifeline but for a few weeks now I have not been able to use it because of some problems.

But.... it's looking likely that we will swap to Sky in the next week or two. Sometimes they make you wait for a code, but at least we will put the wheels in motion and I will have an end in sight. I am really missing writing my Blog, and I do apologise for not keeping it up. Please keep checking back, especially in two or three weeks time, and I promise there will be something here.

Friday, 11 January 2008

U23D and more!

Exciting times!

Sue and I have just booked a trip to Manchester in February to see the U23D concert film. We are both so thrilled and it's a great shot in the arm after what seems a lifetime since we last saw U2 live. This will be the next best thing... we will literally be right in the action. Ha ha... it will be so funny to be in a room with so many other U2 fans and all of us wearing those super-trendy 3D glasses!!! Can't wait now... roll on Feb! We are making a weekend of it - seeing the film on Friday, and then on Saturday we are going to the Comedy Store in Deansgate and having dinner while watching some great stand-up.

And other REALLY exciting news is that we have booked another night in the penthouse suite at The Clarence for this coming November! You might call it madness - and you may well be right - but we just couldn't resist. This will be our last chance to experience it because at the beginning of 2009, the hotel will be closing while the re-structuring goes on, and when it re-opens, the penthouse as we know it will be long gone. That's very sad; eras are ending all over the place, and a lot of the Dublin we know is changing at a heart-breaking rate.

But... while the penthouse is there, we will take advantage of it one more time. Last time was amazing and the four of us had such a special time. For many reasons we will not be able to top that (for a start we won't have millionaire rock stars buying the champagne for us!), but we will make it special in other ways. There will be just the two of us this time and we plan to make the most of it - so many things planned for that scant 24 hours!

I will of course be blogging it afterwards!

Saturday, 5 January 2008


As you know, I have been reading Oscar Wilde this week. It's been quite an experience and I have felt like a light has shone on me. It has inspired me - reading his poetry - and thus illuminated by his genius, I have clicked on the file that contains my book (Borders) and started to work on it again!

It's been sitting neglected and gathering cyberdust inside my laptop for quite a while, but it's about time I finished it, so that is one of my new year resolutions. A bit late, I know, but better late then never!

Watch this space. I might have to hash out a few problems as I go along. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, 2 January 2008

Oscar fever!

No, I don't mean the movie awards. I know it's coming up to awards season, and all the girls in Tinseltown are planning the botox injections in the soles of their feet so they can wear the Manolos all night....

But my fever is more to do with an Irishman who, if he were alive today, would be over 150 years old (I like the older man!!). I am talking, of course, about Oscar Wilde, one of my favourite writers and definitely one of my favourite people in the world. He was an extremely erudite and witty person, a brilliant writer and raconteur, full of mischief but also very sensitive. He lived his own life, and was true to himself and his opinions despite the bigotry surrounding him. I would love to have met him and spent an evening chatting in the pub over a few pints! No doubt he would have drunk absynthe and smoked endless cigarettes! His wit was (and still is) world famous, and it would have been a privilege to experience it close up.

This year it is my plan to learn much more about him and to read more of his work. This week I have been learning his epic poem "The Ballad of Reading Gaol". I have 16 verses memorised so far and have only 93 more to go!!

The poem was written after his release from Reading prison in May 1897, and it was published under the pseudonym "C.3.3." which signified Building C, Floor 3, Cell 3.... which was his "home" at Reading during the serving of his sentence of two years hard labour for the crime of being a homosexual.

The main theme of the poem is the execution of a fellow prisoner who had been convicted of murdering his wife. This triggered Oscar to describe the nature of people in general, and that we are all capable of hurting those we love; that what we need is forgiveness.

Here is a little snippet from the part I have learned so far:

Yet each man kills the thing he loves
By each let this be heard
Some do it with a bitter look
Some with a flattering word,
The coward does it with a kiss
The brave man with a sword!

Some kill their love when they are young
And some when they are old
Some strangle with the hands of Lust
Some with the hands of Gold
The kindest use a knife, because
The dead so soon grow cold.

Some love too little, some too long
Some sell, and others buy
Some do the deed with many tears
And some without a sigh
For each man kills the thing he loves
Yet each man does not die.

I will write more about Oscar as I progress in my research about him. Hope you enjoyed this little foray into his mind.

Tuesday, 1 January 2008

Happy New Year

Well, 2008 is here. I hardly noticed it; it kind of crept up on me while I was watching the telly last night and drinking wine. Very underdressed it was, so I didn't recognise it. In fact, it was dressed very much like 2007. What a swizz!

I never go out on New Year's Eve any more because I would rather have my toenails pulled out with pliers than stand in a noisy, crowded, sweaty pub with a bunch of people, most of whom will turn into shrieking baboons at midnight! And don't get me wrong, I don't mind staying in. It's okay. You get to slob out in front of the TV in your jim jams and slippers, and when you fall over drunk after a bottle of wine then either your spouse or your sofa will catch you! Perfect. But I sometimes wish I was somewhere more exciting.

Two years ago at New Year 2005/2006, I was in Dublin, standing outside Christchurch Cathedral listening to the New Year bells with my friends Sue and Julie. Sue and I have been talking lately and we really want to do that again, so maybe next year!

So welcome to 2008 one and all. I hope you got to spend it with someone you at least quite like, and I hope you get what you wish for in the coming year.