Posted by Alex Stronge on May 25, 2010
So the news this week then is that Bono’s got a bit of a bad back and won’t be able to muster enough energy to sing a cheery tune or two for us this summer. Even with the aid of digital pre record and lip-sync. Poor old stick, you can’t help but feel sorry for him and at his age too. I can hear them all now sobbing in their beer at the social club on the corner of my high Street. “He’s gone 50 now right enough and he’s still up and doon all night dancing the slosh a’ that. Aye it’ll fair tak it oot o yersel. I’ll bet he cannae wait fer the break win they start the raffle!” Best take it easy eh….have another Worther’s and a glass of Sanatogen, after all, it fortifies the over forties.
Still, lucky for him to have the old bones crumbled in a country (Germany) where he could just pop out for a little emergency orthopaedics between sound checks and scenery changes. Very Rock n’ Roll.
If he had thrown a disc out (and there are some like Zooropa that he should) whilst rehearsing his carpet slipper and thermal vest changes in Liberia I expect it would have been quite a different story.
Here in Liberia we can’t even guarantee on getting a good cup of tea for breakfast let alone the prospect of private surgery for a bit of lumbago!
But then I haven’t seen or heard Bonio and his Eminence Sir Bobness banging on much about the troubles in this particular African country. Or if they have, it must have been in the part of the “Liveaideightband20Gpovertynow,” gig that I popped out for a green fruit smoothie, a hand knitted bio yoghurt and a non genetically modified lentil burger.
No here in Liberia we have to tough it out through the thick and thin of daily thunderstorms, days of harsh adversity and seemingly endless bloody packets of Lipton’s Yellow Label Tea!
Why is it that no matter where I travel in the world, and I have travelled much, due to the fact that my wife can’t stand me making the house untidy, am I always greeted with cups of lukewarm filth in the mornings, masquerading as a mans drink?
Now I know that there’s always been a great international seafaring tradition associated with the delivery of tea. To speed the leafy cargo around the world the fastest was both an honour and entrepreneurial opportunity indeed. So great was the honour and the social standing thereof, that master of self promotion, Sir Thomas Lipton became the financial backer of the 1899 attempt to win the Americas cup, a great sea race that continued long after the demise of the tea clippers. But for pity’s sake man, I'm 90 kilometres inland, in the middle of a bug infested rainforest! Don’t tell me he has ‘em sail up the Dugbe River to deliver the insipid stuff! I've only got three weeks or so left here. That’s just about enough time to stew a cup that might taste something like proper tea! And he called himself a Glaswegian. Pish!
Expats need a good cuppa to start the day, along with their other little favourites that make us peculiarly British. Like an extraordinary dress sense (which includes the wearing of spotty woollen socks with sandals and shorts), a passion for HP sauce on crispy bacon sandwiches and an inherent need for a breakfast with Marmite.
We could of course go native and eat whatever the locals eat, wherever we might find ourselves on God’s green earth. We could sit down to a supper of lightly braised python, followed by the delights of a cockroach cluster and custard. (Marginally tastier than the hors d‘oeurve of bugs a la dente) But we could do, only in the way that we could move St Paul’s Cathedral slightly to the left a bit if we wanted. Truth is no one really wants to. What we want is our patio’d view of the river from our tented accommodation, we want our light lunch of soup and sandwiches (hot soup in an African heat wave!) and we want our Marmite. And perhaps not just to remind us of home. For instance I know of a man who on the surface, for all intents and purposes appears to be a perfectly bright and rational man, without any immediately obvious genetic link to Homer Simpson. However, he is absolutely convinced that eating copious amounts of Marmite will prevent him getting malaria, so he doesn’t need any other protection at all. No amount of science or suggestion that Marmite will not prevent him getting anything, other than a girlfriend, or urgent mouth to mouth resuscitation, will convince him otherwise. Funny lot us Expats.
I met another man recently who clearly had not been eating his Marmite soldiers. In fact, he’d been living out in the bush for days and drinking ditchwater, which I’m told is very similar to Lipton’s Yellow Label, though not quite as good for dunking chocolate hobnobs in. Strangely enough when his drinking habits got him to the point of needing to wear very absorbent brown corduroys, he started to eat borrowed antibiotics by the bucket load, just so he could carry on working in the jungle and drink more ditch water.
Truth is he hadn’t a gut infection at all, he had malaria… and the worst kind of it. So wisely, if perhaps a little late by this stage, he set off to find help. First on foot for half a day, then on a motorbike and eventually after diagnosis here, he arrived at a hospital…. but not before a four and a half hour journey in the back of a bumpy land rover. All of that and not a hint of a Bono download, rubber bracelet or a global telethonic whip round anywhere!
Yes Mr Bonio we do all feel sorry for you and you’re poorly, poorly back and all of your tax exile millions with which to fix it, but not half as sorry as we do for that poor bugger, all but emaciated with malaria. Or others like him in the forgotten countries of Africa. He could have done with a cup of tea after trying; unsuccessfully to keep his cords clean for the last four days, even a cup of the dreadful Yellow Label.
Incidentally, wasn’t Bono’s first band called “Lipton’s Village?” Surely it’s no coincidence…..
P.S. If you’re reading this Bono and you still haven’t found what you’re looking for…it’s probably in your sock drawer where you left your glasses. And don‘t worry…. its called senility, it’ll come to us all eventually!