Elevation Leg 1: 2001, North America


Day Off - Somewhere nearish to Cologne

I did an interview with Simon Mayo today as part of a BBC radio documentary about U2. He's a D.J. & radio presenter who has been at BBC Radio 1 for a long time and has recently moved on to do more talk radio. He is also a great friend of mine having known each other since we were teenagers, so it was nice to have a pal come visit.

We're staying in a very pretty, if remote, old castle hotel ("some old Schloss or other") about an hour outside of Cologne. Its surrounded by trees, a lake, etc, but there's not an enormous amount to do here on a day off - particularly when its pouring with rain, which it was all day. The women in the management party were due to have a football (i.e. "Soccer" for our American readers) training session with their coach, L.Mullen Jnr., but rain stopped play. Consequently, by no particular design, people began to congregate in the lobby of the hotel. This lobby, I must add, isn't your regular Holiday Inn vibe, but more like the entrance to Count Dracula's summer residence. It featured a gigantic fireplace (with fire burning), huge sweeping stone staircase, enormous studded wooden doors, etc., and big leather couches, over which about a dozen or so of us ended up strewn. After about an hour of lounging and idling, I realized that I was bored. Completely, gloriously bored. Bored in the way that children get bored - life is full to the brim with endless potential for stimulation and excitement but right here right now you just can't be arsed doing anything. Amid the lunacy of my chosen path in life there's never normally time to be bored - I don't think I've been bored since about 1974 - so it felt illicit and luxurious to be stuck inside and listless like a crowd of teenagers on a wet weekend. We started to find ways to amuse ourselves. Silly jokes. I-spy. Charades. Then the naughtiness began. Someone dared me to slide down the banister, which of course I did. Then seeing if we could pinch the tea and cakes that were set up in the next room for a Women's Institute meeting later on. Imagine our delight then, when an entire wedding party arrived through the grand front entrance way. Whole new vistas of possibility for bad behaviour opened up before us!

To cut a long story short, we had a great night without (I think) managing to offend anyone irreparably. We befriended the bride who invited us (sort of) to join in with the late night dancing (a German Wedding Disco, could anything be finer?) and dance we did. As we strutted our stuff to a compilation of 'Hits of the 80's', I was struck by the international similarity of Wedding Dancing ∑. the mother of the bride doing the Birdie Song, the give-away gyrations of the "confirmed bachelor" cousin, the rotund great uncle spinning around with somebody's two year old niece, the bridesmaid who had one too many falling off her high heels, and always followed by a good argument in the car park at about 5am.

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