I FEEL bad. Here I was, sharpening my pencil to write harsh words about Bono only to discover the reason he wears sunglasses, or more accurately pink-tinted wraparounds, is not because he’s a narcissistic eejit, but because he has glaucoma. Oh dear.
In fact, oh dear oh dear, because the next uncomfortable truth I feel compelled to admit is that such is my dislike for the diminutive Dubliner, I then thought, “aye right, it’s rampant hubris and vanity that he suffers from, not pressure on his eyeballs…” I can only say that I am taking a long hard look at myself with no rose-tinted glasses – wraparounds or otherwise – to spare my blushes.
I can only hope too that you can find some kind of forgiveness in your hearts given that the subject of my cynicism is a man who, for two decades, has been a self-appointed spokesperson on global poverty while also avoiding a shedload of tax. The same who appeared in a glossy Louis Vuitton ad for hugely overpriced luggage that he might use to carry his clothes to Africa on his poverty awareness-raising jaunts.
I know that he’s not the only hypocrite around, they’re ten a penny unfortunately. And I know he is often aided and abetted by others who should know better. In recent days, Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations’ secretary-general has called for Bono – specifically Bono – to join the fight against Ebola. I grant you, it must be hard to keep your feet on the ground when such things occur, but it feels harder to bear from Bono because his sole achievement is a handful of decent songs recorded decades ago.
And since I’m going for warts and all honesty here, I might as well tell you I always preferred The Chimes version of I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For anyway.
It’s not that he’s a purveyor of mediocre stadium rock that irks. It’s that instead of just using the platform he’s lucky enough to have, he’s become convinced of the hype people around him are paid to create.
Take the iTunes debacle. A few weeks ago, Bono and band decided to gift their new album to about 500 million Apple customers. Aw, that’s nice, you might say if you believed it was a gift rather than a marketing ploy or if you were, well, drunk. It seems that most people who were on the receiving end of Bono’s largesse – those new iTunes customers who found Songs Of Innocence in their playlists automatically – were neither naive or inebriated. As one recipient put it in an online discussion with the band: “Can you please never release an album on iTunes that automatically downloads to people’s playlists ever again? It’s really rude.”
To be fair to Bono – not easy with a man who flew his hat to Italy in a first-class seat of its own because he’d forgotten to pack it – he did sort of apologise. His explanation referenced a “drop of megalomania, touch of generosity, dash of self-promotion and deep fear that these songs that we poured our life into over the last few years mightn’t be heard”.
Nope, I’m sorry, I don’t have it in me, I just can’t stand him.
Crime and punishment for women
THE Ched Evans story is truly grim. Evans, a Sheffield United FC player, raped a 19-year-old woman. He was convicted and required to serve two-and-a-half years in prison. He has never taken responsibility for his crime, nor has he shown any remorse.
His family and supporters have been similarly unwilling to accept the verdict, blaming the media and attacking charities that support rape survivors. The woman he raped, meanwhile, as well as learning to live with the trauma of what happened to her, has also had to withstand being pilloried online. Grim and grimmer.
And now Evans is a free man and all conversations have seemingly turned to whether he should resume his football career with its £20,000 a week salary.
It’s hard not to notice the parallels with the debate taking place in a South African courtroom where convicted killer Oscar Pistorius is to be sentenced. The debate there is focused on what Pistorius has lost, how he is a broken man. I’m not for one minute suggesting these issues are simple, nor do I mean to be glib, but if you keep in mind the women – one suffering the indignity and cruelty of rape, the other dead – then it seems straightforward enough. Losing your job or your sponsors is not the same as losing your dignity or your life. There is simply no comparison.
When will I see you again?
Have you heard of the BBC Genome Project? If not, then you are in for a treat. If you have, I take it you’re doing a bit of extra work this weekend to make up for the hours lost trawling through what was on telly when you were born/married/just turned 12?
It’s an online catalogue of BBC telly and radio shows based on Radio Times listings back to 1923 – more than four million of them. I don’t mean to toot my own horn, but being born on a Saturday in the mid-70s was a bit of a peach televisually.
We’re talking Fingerbobs, Banana Splits, Kojak, Parkinson – all on the one day. Even It’s Cliff Richard was elevated by guests The Three Degrees. They don’t make ’em like that anymore.