Between a Rockstar and a Garden Place
About to embark on another global tour with the biggest band in the world, Bono cuts a sullen figure as he mopes around his garden. It is a small section of the grounds of his estate. But it is his garden. This particular section is maintained exclusively by Bono himself, a horticultural sanctuary all of his own.
Resting by his bay laurels, with peonies for his thoughts and gazing wistfully at his wisterias, Bono wants to be excited for the impending tour even though he worries for his garden in his absence. It is not as though Bono could not hire a gardener. That is simply not the issue. While the thought of the garden going untended upsets Bono, he could not entertain the idea of anyone else intervening in his private sculpted landscape.
As he bids a fond farewell, pruning here and weeding there, Bono is not alone in his garden. His companion, The Edge, sits quietly on a nearby bench (hand-crafted by Bono in his workshop – but that is a story for another time). Bono does not mind the presence of his dear friend as he simply wishes to vent his frustration at their band’s lengthy tour schedule. “What about my garden?” Bono cries aloud. “This is where I cultivate, where I converse and commune with nature. I tend for these plants with my own hands. The connection I share with this one space is stronger than any other. Do you know what I mean?”
Bono addresses The Edge directly. However, his companion maintains a solemn silence. Bono continues: “I’m just trying to convey the emotional connection that I have with this garden. That’s what it is, you know? It’s an emotional connection. We’ll be so far away from here. From this space that I alone nourish and nurture. What do you think will happen while we’re away? Honestly… what do you think will happen to my garden? My plants? My little piece of nature? What will it do?”
“Wither without you,” spoke The Edge, his voice raising. “WITHER WITHOUT YOU, WO-OH!”
Bono drops his secateurs in disgust.
Although only a select few know about this, both Bono and The Edge were recently kidnapped from a German hotel while on a European tour.
It was a true snatch and grab of the unsuspecting pair as they were strolling around in the vicinity of their hotel. Bono was learning some German phrases to use at the next gig while The Edge, who insisted on mimicking the local accent wherever the band travelled, remained quiet to allow his dear friend to concentrate. After rounding a street corner, the pair were suddenly blindfolded, then bundled into a getaway van which sped out of the city, beyond the suburbs and further into the countryside.
Back at the hotel, confusion reigned as their bandmates and management wondered why it was the pair had not returned. Phone calls continued to be made into the night but the mobile phones of Bono and The Edge were both out of signal range. Yet, no one was as concerned as the gang of kidnappers who really had not counted on getting away so easily. In fact, panic soon set in and the gang began to argue among themselves, ultimately agreeing to abandon their plan altogether. So it was that Bono and The Edge were released on a rural German road as dawn began to break.
After removing their blindfolds, Bono realised that his sunglasses were broken, the sunglasses that protect his sensitive eyes from glaucoma. “I can’t risk walking on with open eyes,” Bono pleaded with his bandmate, “will you please lead the way?” Taking his dear friend by the arm, The Edge guided an effectively blind Bono as they began to make their way towards the nearest town, some distance down the road. Along the way, The Edge felt a rumbling in his pocket. His mobile phone! The pair were back in signal range. The Edge took his hand from Bono to answer.
Startled and sightless, Bono stumbled on the uneven surface of the roadside and ended up sliding down the verge and into the drain. Looking around for a sign with a place name, but not forgetting to affect a German accent, The Edge answered his phone:
“Hallo! Hallo! I’m at a plass kalt-” The Edge paused, noticing that Bono was missing. “Verr’t he go?”
A long, low groan emerged from the roadside drain.
As has been noted on more than one occasion, if careers in music hadn’t worked out, Bono and The Edge could have fallen back on their expertise in crop farming.The pair are renowned for their insights on such matters as tillage, rotations, and planning for blue skies, rain clouds, or even drought. Indeed, on occasion, Bono and the Edge have been known to judge for top prizes at agricultural fairs. Most recently, the men adjudicated for the novelty root vegetable category of a prestigious competition.
Bono, equipped with a keen eye for artistry within agriculture, favoured a giant beet, crafted into a perfect cube and entitled ‘The Square Root’. Yet, Bono found himself overruled by the choice of his companion and bandmate.
The Edge found a particular turnip variation, resting on a crafted piece of miniature IKEA furniture. It had a natural blue colouring with a yellow cross. On closer inspection, some delicate bruising on the vegetable formed an almost-exact portrait of professional footballer Zlatan Ibrahimović.
Placing the competition’s blue riband on the veg, The Edge turned to the crowd and announced this root vegetable to be “Oh oh oh, the Swede-st thing!”
Well, on one occasion, Bono and The Edge applied for joint-custody of an infant.
You see, beyond a standard connection of human empathy, both men were awed by an unorthodox feature of the toddler, who appeared unremarkable in every way except for their mouth. The precious little thing’s mouth, when fully open, bore an uncanny resemblance to the distance between the front of a dartboard and the toeline. But then…
Look, any more than that, I cannot tell. Someday, perhaps, you might approach Bono and The Edge yourself and ask politely to hear the full story of their Oche-Tongue Baby.
A Sweet Business Goes Sour
“He’s ruined!” Bono exclaims on his return to the studio following lunch. The Edge only raises his head slightly to indicate that he is listening, continuing to work at the desk. Desmond, a dear old friend of Bono’s, spent their lunch together explaining that his famous confectionary had been rejected by all of his retailers. For reasons unknown, rumours abound that consuming Desmond’s chocolate treats cause illness.
“No matter that it’s untrue, his reputation has been destroyed,” Bono continues, “and now he has a warehouse filled with products that no retailer will sell. It’s very simple, either Desmond cuts his losses on that stock or he’ll go bankrupt.”
The Edge nods solemnly, though clearly disinterested. Not satisfied with this, Bono further presses his friend to offer counsel. “What could solve this, do you think? None of Desmond’s standard retailers will store his confectionary… where else can he sell his products?”
The Edge appears to be contemplating the matter, as he reaches for his headphones. “Where Des’ treats have no name,” The Edge responds.
“Where Des’ treats have no name,” Bono repeats to himself quietly, while The Edge puts on his headphones and returns to work.
Seeking to be entertained rather than providing the entertainment for one evening, Bono and The Edge attend a concert led by none other than renowned violinist André Rieu. Leading the Johann Strauss Orchestra on a whimsical waltz from downstage, the maestro nods and winks to his very special guests in the front row.
Bono appreciates classical music and observes Rieu’s relentless musical energy with serious concentration. With his long-held pretensions to part-timing as a tenor – after all, he’s performed with Pavarotti – Bono can see himself on the stage with Rieu. Next to Bono, The Edge is less keen on the experience, politely sitting through the performance, somewhat disinterested.
Both Rieu and the orchestra are in full flow when a young girl, captivated by the way Rieu plays as he moves around, makes her way on to the stage. Confusion among the audience gives way to gentle amusement as it becomes clear that this is not an intended part of the concert. At first, she appears to dance along behind Rieu, before she begins to copy his every move and gesture. The crowd beam at this delightful innocence. Yet, Rieu is completely oblivious that the girl is behind him and continues to play.
Bono is furious. To him, the little girl is causing an unnecessary distraction, upstaging André Rieu at his own concert. Even though the crowd and the orchestra don’t seem to mind, Bono thinks the little girl is actually showing tremendous disrespect to Rieu. Bono stands up in his seat, wanting to intervene. However, hands appear on his shoulders to hold him back.
The Edge lowers Bono back into his seat. “It’s alright, it’s alright, it’s alright,” The Edge says, reassuring Bono that there is flattery in the little girl’s imitation, “she moves in Mister Rieu’s ways.”
In the interests of health and exercise, Bono and The Edge often compete in a variety of sports. None so regularly as Tennis, wherein the men share a fiery rivalry.
It is well-known that Bono tries to get inside the head of his competitor, regardless of the sport, talking away to cause a distraction. During a game where Bono has a comfortable lead, he explains his proposed changes to the sport as he rallies with The Edge. “My main issue is the scoring system,” Bono says, returning a backhand to The Edge. “Going up 15 to 30 to 40? It makes no sense.”
Bono takes the point for the set and both men take a seat for a rest. Bono continues: “I just think the scoring system should be simplified.” The Edge nods along, clearly dissatisfied with his own play to this point, yet not wanting to give Bono the pleasure of seeing this. “What do you reckon?” Bono asks, “Let’s try a simpler scoring system this set. Even you could understand it!”
Grinding his teeth, The Edge holds his temper and listens to Bono explain that single points should be counted instead. Wasting no time to start the next set, The Edge takes his place on the baseline to serve. He smashes an ace past an obviously stunned Bono. The Edge smiles at Bono, happily announcing the score: “One – Love!”
Seek and Hide
In an Indiana Jones inspired quest for adventure, Bono and The Edge embark on an exploratory expedition for cultural sites in a remote part of Iraq. The pair travel against all advice. As has been made clear to them, it is an area that is surrounded by militants from the so-called Islamic State.
Indeed, early on in their survey of the historic site, Bono and The Edge are forced to hide themselves when an unknown vehicle approaches. Observing from their makeshift bunker, Bono and The Edge see a group of militants investigating the site of their dig. The Edge is concerned as such groups have a reputation for destroying precious artefacts and cultural heritage sites. Feeling powerless and having no choice but to observe, Bono excuses himself to rest. However, The Edge keeps watch throughout the night for fear of what may happen at the dig site.
As the morning breaks, Bono awakens to find that The Edge has remained on guard. The militants, finding nothing of significance to them, appear to be giving up their search and are preparing to leave. Bono joins his companion and asks “Well… what’s happening?”
Returning to their vehicle, the militant group drives away. Relaxing for the first time in hours, The Edge finally turns to Bono with a wry smile. “ISIL haven’t found what I’m looking for.”
Caught in a Web of One’s Own Making
Bono is writing another Spiderman musical. He can’t be stopped. He won’t listen to reason. He’s writing another Spiderman musical and he’s already putting the storyboard together, an artistic process that normally sees Bono remove himself from all social contact.
However, even at this stage, Bono continues to rely upon the creative advice of his long-time collaborator The Edge. A particular character is giving Bono cause for concern, so he turns to The Edge for guidance.
“It’s Madam Web,” Bono explains. “I thought I wanted to give her more spider-like features. Not extra legs, that would be too problematic. But I think additional eyes can work. I started a sketch with 8 eyes, although I’ve moved away from that – you’ll see that Madam Web has six eyes in this storyboard.”
Bono pauses, showing The Edge his recent sketch and exhaling a deep sigh. “But I’m still not sure about it. What would you recommend that I do?”
The Edge considers the sketch for some time, articulating his suggestion thus:
Before Bono can ask him to elaborate, The Edge produces a harmonica from his pocket, playing a solo as he leaves Bono to write in solitude.
[Author’s Note: This collection is an unsubtle homage to Myles na gCopaleen / Flann O’Brien and his wonderful creations from The Various Lives of Keats and Chapman. If you enjoy what you read here, I urge you to seek out the inspiration.]