The O-Zone: Mind the gaf
Our man is sober backstage at U2 in Dublin, stumbling backstage at Primal Scream in Galway and bitching about the bankers.
The OZone isn't much of a handyman, but I'd like to kick off this week's column by welcoming IKEA to Dublin. You can easily assemble the paragraph yourselves from the following words: "The. The. The. The. The. To. To. And. And. And. And. A. A. A. A. IKEA. IKEA. IKEA. Finally. Swedish. Superstore. Irish. Comes. Opening. Today. Husbands. Wives. Children. Vast. Flatpack. Flatpack. Gobshites. Handyman. Coffee. Tables. Bookshelves. Wardrobes. Sweden. Bed. Ballymun. Ireland. 301. Stores. Welcome. Carpark. Football. Pitches. Recession. Doom. Gloom. Economy. Shoppers. Flocking. Young. Old. Homebuyers. Assembly. Missing. Etc. Etc."
[Apologies, readers, some words may be missing. I kind of lost interest in the joke after 'Flatpack'].
In the evening I get on my boots and head to Croke Park for the third and final U2 360° show. I'm on the band's guest list, natch, and there's a nice bunch of people gathered backstage, including Simon Carmody, Jim and Kirsten Sheridan, the Irish Film Board's Andrew Meehan, Lord Henry Mountcharles, Ed Guiney, Guggi and so on. Mary Hanafin is also in attendance.
Looking remarkably calm for a man who's less than 30 minutes away from singing in front of 80,000 people, Bono comes over to say hello. All that time he's spent hanging out with politicians has obviously paid off.
"Jaysus, he's some salesman," Jim Sheridan observes, watching the singer smoothly work the room, making time for everybody. Jim tells me that U2 are featured on the soundtrack of his forthcoming Iraq movie, Brothers, which stars Tobey Maguire and Jake Gyllenhaal.
The gig is terrific, but to be honest I preferred the opening night in Barcelona (it was warmer and alcohol was served throughout the performance). When the band play Walk On for imprisoned Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, Bono announces that she's to be the new Amnesty International Ambassador of Conscience. "Her crime is that if she were free to participate in elections, she'd win," he says.
You wouldn't hear that at a Boyzone concert.
Back west. The Galway Races are on, but you wouldn't know it from the skies. Usually the city is like the last days of the Vietnam war at this time of year, with dozens of noisy helicopters ferrying the great and the gauche out to Ballybrit racecourse and back. This morning I only saw one chopper in the air -- and that was probably just some Fianna Fail minister's forgotten dry-cleaning or something.
Regular readers will be aware that The OZone recently did some TV presenting work for the Galway Arts Festival's online channel GAF TV. As a true unprofessional, I was pissed as a judge throughout the whole thing, but as director Justin McCarthy put it, "Relax, nobody will notice the difference with you anyway."
I'm not so sure about that. To mark the ending of the festival, GAF TV put together a three-minute clip called Thank You & Goodnight, which features shots of about 3,000 people bowing to the camera (2,500 of them were filmed en masse from the stage at the Bon Iver gig in the big top). Myself and Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh were filmed bowing together backstage at the Primal Scream show. I'm the only person who stumbles in the entire video. It can be viewed at gaftv.claddagh.ie /clips/view/154 (at about 02:20 minutes).
The late American financier and humourist Herbert V Prochnow once observed, "A banker is a person who is willing to make a loan if you present sufficient evidence to show you don't need it." He died in 1988, but you wonder what he'd make of the ludicrous financial shenanigans that led us to NAMA.
There's been a lot of public disquiet about the massive bonuses paid to bankers, but some of these guys are obviously worth every cent. Let's face it, those clever banking officials who conned Cowen and Lenihan into agreeing to use taxpayers' money to pay for their own mistakes are obviously brilliant at their jobs.
With little jingoistic hoopla, Britain finally ended its troop presence in Iraq today, concluding six years of military misadventure that has cost the lives of 179 soldiers (oh, and tens of thousands of innocent civilians). No disrespect to the dead soldiers, but they should never have been there in the first place.
It's planned that all American troops will have left Iraq by the year 2011. To date, more than 4,000 US military personnel have died in the war, and many more are seriously wounded.
Of course, the worst wounds are the unseen, psychological ones. Citizens of the US and UK can now look forward to having tens of thousands of highly trained killing machines wandering the streets with undiagnosed post-traumatic-stress-disorder. Expect gun massacres galore in the coming years. Sly News will love it!
Incidentally, the war criminal and liar Tony Blair is currently poncing around the world lecture circuit, reportedly earning in excess of €1m a month as an after-dinner speaker. If he had any conscience at all, he'd be donating every cent to help rebuild the country he helped destroy. Hopefully the just-launched official inquiry into the UK's involvement in George W Shrub's illegal war will wipe the crooked smile off his face.
Jordan and Peter Andre, eh? I reckon they're the businesspeople of the year.
Further maddening revelations in today's press about the out of control spending habits of our so-called "leaders." John O'Donoghue, in particular, seems to have been treating the Government jet like a taxi. The OZone has already bought a pitchfork in anticipation of the riots we'll have when the Dail eventually comes back from its holidays. Unfortunately, it's from IKEA and may take me a little while to assemble . . .