Vertigo Leg 1: 2005, US


London to Milan.

Getting from central London to Heathrow airport was a little trickier than normal, my regular tube line recently having been blown up. I left in plenty of time though and made it out there OK. Londons been great this past week. I know all the newspapers have gone on about it, but London really has just carried on as normal since the bombing. No hysteria, not even too many sensational headlines or political opportunism.

I was overjoyed to find I was sharing my flight to Milan with 100 Italian teenagers coming home from a school trip. A full half hour after we should have taken off, they were still wandering on to the plane as if they were on a sightseeing tour. Otherwise, the flight was uneventful, which is the way we like them. On arrival at Malpensa airport, A man with a van marked 'International Van of the Year' took me to San Siro stadium. The touring production doesnt arrive till tomorrow, so all that is here is the skeletal sub-stage structure of steel towers and scaffolding. There are three sets of this base steel which leapfrog, today being the green team.

A good deal of the additional lighting for the video shoot had been loaded in, but my main goal was to wait for the sunset. I want to make sure that U2 go on stage at exactly the right time on Wednesday and Thursday to take advantage of the beautiful twilight for the first few songs, but also to ensure that it is completely dark by the time the band plays 'City of Blinding Lights' and the video screen wakes up. It was 8.30pm and quite cloudy and overcast. By 8.45 the light in the sky began to die. 9pm and 9.15 came and we were very close to the perfect lighting situation - certainly within the next ten minutes I reckoned - then, just at the vital momentall the stadium floodlights came on. Gutted. Italian grown-ups ran around with much arm waving, but by the time they got them turned off again our moment was long gone. Hey ho, theres always tomorrow.

A few of us went out for a late dinner as a huge thunder storm rolled through Milan. It was really spectacular with torrential rain and lightning. We were sitting in a conservatory type area of the restaurant, so could see it all going on through the glass roof. The thunder seemed very close, and then with a huge crash part of the roof fell in and the place filled up with water. Such excitement!

The video director Hamish Hamilton arrived after a day of being held hostage by British Airways. Very frightening stories about being dumped off a flight for no given reason and when he questioned the woman doing it to him she called armed police and walked away. All this when Hamish is a gold card, double blow-me platinum B.A. frequent flyer. Then he casually mentions its the third time its happened to him in a month. Hes clearly on a very bad list in some computer somewhere.

P.S. Did you hear the one about European heaven and hell? In heaven the English greet you, the French cook for you, the Germans organise you and the Italians entertain you. In hell the French greet you, the English cook for you, the Italians organise you and the Germans do the entertaining....

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