Ireland 2023: The Bono Interview
Bono on his love life: 'I didn't think I could ever love again after Ali ran off with that bollix from Ballymena Liam Neeson'. Photographs: Getty Images/PA.
The Questions and Answers below were written by Bono as part of the Ireland 2023 supplement published in The Irish Times today. The supplement, a project to support Hireland, seeks to envisage how a newspaper might reflect a brighter future for Ireland a decade on.
Irish Times: Earth calling Bono.Come in.
Do you read us? (Ha ha).
Bono: Roger that. Over.
Hello from the first band in space . Over.
Holograms galorama? President Obama just called to wish us well.
IT: You?re a fan?
B: That?s right. I do like President Obama. I think she?s doing a great job. I loved President Clinton too? who knew there was an even bigger job than president of the US. Though if Michelle gets a second term the Democrats will be in office for 20 years, probably not good for democracy? Marco Rubio and Chris Christie are both serious Republican candidates and with Chelsea Clinton and Governor Springsteen rumoured to be running against them? fun to watch.
What?s this interview for, by the way?
IT: The Irish Times.
B: Ah yes, for the annual print edition! I?ve kept them all. I remember around 2020 when you interviewed our President Sir Bob Lord Geldof. You asked him about the improper language he used when promoting his noble causes.
?What the fuck is fuckin? improper language?? he replied.
James Joyce didn?t know what improper language was either. He and President G both changed the world with the stories they told and the shock of the way they told them. I think that?s Very IRISH.
IT: How proud are you that your friend has become such a success story?
B: Like all friends? pride followed by annoyance. That, too, is very Irish. To be honest, I?ve got concerns about the way he expanded his business interests while holding office? BoomTownRat Co taking over Tullow Oil and Providence ? I mean, really. Still, he brought tourism back to Dalkey. The renaming of Dalkey Island to ?The Island of Bob? was a small price to pay. I was just gazing down at it this morning and trying to imagine what one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world would have looked like belching smoke and bile.
IT: Do you regret not going into politics like Sir Bob, or other musicians, for example The Pussy Riot Collective?
B: They may want to hold high office but they did still show up for our launch into space, drinking our wine and stealing our thunder. Despite their rock star excesses they are deadly serious in their attempt to slow down Tsar Putin?s march in to Greater Russia? one of Pussy Riot has relatives in the Ukraine who are NOT happy. We love them. They?re noisy. Noisy is good. Speaking of which, I don?t have much time ? got to get ready for this gig. That?s gonna be noisy.
IT: I thought in space no one can hear you scream.
B: That?s rubbish. Edge has been screaming at me all morning. The scream is an important form of communication. The first thing we do when we are born. Lets the world know we?ve arrived.
My goodness. You do get high up here, breathing pure oxygen?
Is there anything more worldly, or less, than being out of this world?
First band into space?
IT: Is this just a shameless publicity stunt?
IT: Why is it still important to you to make a splash? Haven?t you achieved everything you wanted?
B: (pretending to ignore the question) Hey, how about those Rolling Stones? What a 2023 they?re having? their last few farewell tours have really been something, but this is the best one yet?
Ok, that?s why we had to come up here. To top them. There, I?ve said it?.
Did you know our little space gig is going to be broadcast all over the United States of Africa? First time ever.
IT: It?s certainly the music market to crack? bigger than China now?.1.5 billion...
B: Indeed. We saw Kilimanjaro yesterday. I know it was a controversial decision but the fake snow looked great from here. You know, I was in Tanzania for that delegation led by Taoiseach Brian O?Driscoll to thank all the African musicians - Youssou N?Dour, Angelique Kidjo, K?Naan, Kenna - who spearheaded the ?Drop the Debt? campaign for Ireland. We went from there to the inauguration of Ngozi Okonjo Iweala ? first President of the whole of Africa.
He?s canny old Brian O?. I got a lot of pressure to vote for Robbie Keane when he ran against him. But that row with European Commissioner, Thierry Henry, did Robbie no favours. Let it go man. Let it go.
IT: You?ve known President Iweala for a long time?
B: She?s fantastic? she was on ONE?s board for many years. I first met when she was the Nigerian Finance Minister, the ?Corruption Cop?. She was a voice of reason from the get go. People forget how tough things were, but look at the continent now. Polio gone, malaria gone, TB, too? sharia law run out of town? Aids about to become a memory when this vaccine happens. Bill and Melinda got a Nobel Prize for that one? and it looks like Bill could get it again for his work on solar solutions in the Sahel. Renewable energy? no wonder all the smart people want to go to Africa. Though the air is thin up here, it?s thick with possibility there?
IT: Ten years ago, in 2013, did you ever foresee what a decade this would be? Did you imagine that in only 10 years, fundamentalism?both theistic and atheistic?would be replaced by true tolerance? This telepathic thing that replaced the internet really helped, didn?t it? It must have hurt you, though, when Facebook was replaced by MindRead?
B: Not at all? Some of the same people were involved. Let?s not forget in their heyday Facebook could ask a question of its three-and-a-half billion users and get an answer in real time. Impressive stuff. MindRead just cuts out the typing. Wireless? handless?
IT: But didn?t you lose most of what you made in the apparel sector?
B: Lost my shirt?ha ha. Ali made Edun the success it is today then she cut me out. How quickly those girl-next-door types can turn mean. A sphincter-tightening business? the fashion business.
IT: So, the last ten years, let?s take it category by category, starting with a subject you seem to enjoy pontificating about. Religion.
B: Another Irish man once said ?We have just enough religion to hate each other but not enough to love each other?. But now that?s changed.
IT: Right. Love?
B: Well I am in love. Me and Pippa have two kids now. Mercedez and Sony fit in very well with their older brothers and sisters. I didn?t think I could ever love again after Ali ran off with that bollix from Ballymena Liam Neeson. But hey, I guess ?the heart has more reasons than reason ever knows?. At any rate, people are still falling in love in Ireland. Particularly after midnight. The argument as to whether to take anything said after 3 in the morning seriously rages on. Particularly after 3 in the morning.
B: Ah that?s a big subject these days, and getting much, much bigger. I began to really worry back in 2017, when Britain exited Europe and Tsar Putin took a left turn into the euro zone. I mean, just for example, Putin was utterly wrong when he claimed that the elderly and their drag on health budgets would sink us. As an Irishman it gives me immense pride that the Solas retraining scheme launched in 2015 across Europe, targeting the over-60s, has produced some of the most unexpected tech geniuses? ironically in the new and blooming high tech health solutions sector.
But the whole game has changed now with The New Commonwealth under Clinton . With the US, Canada, Australia and India re-joining up with the UK, and The United States of Africa ? that?s nearly half the world?s population. I just heard the old protectorate Hong Kong is in too. That city alone adds another 57 million souls. And President Aung San Suu Kyi is seriously considering it, even though Burma ? like Ireland ? wasn?t part of the original gang? you can imagine how tricky this is for me at home with the King in my ear every other weekend? it?s very real this England-Ireland love affair? they really want us in.
IT: So do you think Ireland would be wiser to leave Europe and join the New Commonwealth?
B: This is existential stuff? as this rock star well knows, size is not ? always ? everything. Europe has begun to change from a thought to a feeling. You remember when all the Portuguese and Spanish turned up at that great Irish Gathering? and when then-Taoiseach ?Endgame? Kenny launched the ?Buy Europe? campaign? As well as the economic benefits, those things educated us about each other? Some argued it kick-started the Irish recovery. In fact, the new Irish Culture Minister Gerard Depardieu is calling for a 10th anniversary of the Gathering to be held in Moscow this year - with a reforming of Pussy Riot to headline as a one-off. He?s trying to get U2 there too. Edge says he won?t support ?a bunch of girls? but Adam?s all for it.
Have you read Depardieu?s bestseller ?The Dingle Archipelago?? I think its just messianic rambling.
IT: And you?re against that? Actually we gave it 5 stars.
B: It?s true, one shouldn?t underestimate a good messianic complex? they?re great entertainment? I mean after all we are called to walk in His way.
IT: A couple of lighter topics. Cars - I know you?re interested in cars?
B: Heavily into the new electric cars, though the silence in NY is a little unnerving, and the air in LA is beautiful. I still miss a little bit of noise and dirt but I?m old fashioned.
And these self-driving buggies have changed the whole vibe socially? Pubs packed again in rural Ireland and everyone being driven home by computers. Flann O?Brien couldn?t have made it up.
B: Has changed a lot. Golf back in the Olympics and Ireland top of the medal tables. And before you ask, yes of course they should adjust for population.
To have been the winning jockey of the Grand National last year was a real highlight for me personally. 100/1 with Paddy Power? I like those odds.
B: The mother and the mirror of our dreams. This 3D thing they project into your brain is good, isn?t it? And well done to Larry Mullen for winning the Oscar. First man to win for best supporting actress. Genius! What an achievement.
Look I?ve really got to go... first band in space? they are calling me.
IT: Ok, thanks for your time? final question. What say you of the next 10 years?
B: It took from the time of Jesus to the time of Leonardo for information to double. Now it doubles every 18 months? So in 10 years, who knows where we?ll be doing a gig? I hear Mick and Keith are working on a time travel device. Developing it since the `60s.
Felicidad 2023 tout le monde! The year of Grace. Aren?t they all? Over and out.
You can see an electronic edition of the The Irish Times - Ireland 2023 supplement here.
The Irish Times & Hireland
Hireland is a not-for-profit social movement. It aims to contribute to Ireland's recovery by helping to generate one job at a time by tapping into collective entrepreneurship and by underlining people are central to the solution of Ireland?s current economic and social difficulties. To date its efforts have helped create more than 4,000 new jobs. Run on a voluntary basis and including many young job seekers it challenges employers, institutions of State and Irish people to think differently about how they can play their part in creating a better future for Ireland, most notably in creating jobs.
It also believes that envisaging better conditions for the Irish economy and society helps improve sentiment and translates into an increase in genuine job creation, sooner rather than later when there is overwhelming evidence of up-turn.
As part of their activities for 2013, they wished to feature how a newspaper might reflect a brighter future for Ireland a decade on. The Irish Times is supporting the project by publishing today a special edition of what, perhaps, might be carried in the issue of January 30th, 2023, with contributions from reporters, columnists, outside contributors and letter writers.
The contents may be fanciful, come with a humorous twist or be tinged with wishful thinking, but it is primarily designed to highlight some better options, broader thinking and the possible merits of pursuing certain courses in an imperfect world.