One

I remember first hearing this song in Toulouse in 1992. I’d borrowed the cassette from the only French guy on my Physics course who deigned to speak to the “touriste” as one French lecturer affectionately labelled me. The fucking cheese-eating surrender monkey.

I jest of course! Actually I love the French even if they hate me and my country.

Well love is a strong word.

Let’s just say I refuse to hate them.

They’ve got a beautiful country and culture. If it weren’t for all those horrid little stuck-up trolls in naff pastel-coloured girls’ jumpers, hell I’d probably go and live there!

Again, I jest! I’m so sorry. I can’t help it. It’s almost like an obligatory knee-jerk response coded in at a genetic level. Therapy is likely required.

Lamentably, said cassette got chewed up in my cassette player, along with any hopes I’d previously had of healing the somehow still-festering wounds left over from Agincourt, Trafalgar, Waterloo. … and us helping them out in World War 2. Attends, qu’est ce que le fuck?

As his effeminate hands feebly gripped my throat in the crowded lecture theatre, stifling my attempts to explain that I’d bought him a replacement copy of Achtung Baby, it occurred to me that maybe Anglo-French relations were just destined to be bad for all eternity.

When he later asked me to go play football with him and his friends in a park outside town, and I was left hanging in the rain with a crate of beer I’d bought for us all …  my worst fears were confirmed.

I mostly hung out with English guys after that. That didn’t go so well either, with one aiming a loaded gun at my face for no apparent reason, and another squaring up to me for a fight because I didn’t appreciate his shitty juggling skills. I killed them both with my left thumb. They weren’t to know about my secret life as an SAS war hero. Oh no, I’ve said too much…

I mostly hung out with myself after that. I’ve been falling out with myself ever since.

I dye cress. Clearly.

Amid the hostility and mayhem, this song made its mark on me. It’s a great sounding song anyway, but the lyrics are such exquisite poetry. I haven’t liked much of what U2 has churned out since, but I love that album and bits of what they did before that. I’m just impressed Bono could write something this good.

Did you come here for forgiveness?

Did you come to raise the dead?

Did you come here to play Jesus

to the lepers in your head?

If I wrote that, I’d come in my pants. No question. I wouldn’t write another word, cos I’d already know nothing could compare to that.

I lost my girlfriend not long after going to France. She wasn’t thrilled about me going and it didn’t take her long to find a replacement and write to me in remarkable detail about all the ways in which he surpassed me and what a huge favour I’d done her by going there. I couldn’t really blame her but it hurt like a motherfucker at the time. So I guess the song was particularly poignant while I moped around drinking sangria and feeling sorry for myself over a girl I later worked out I didn’t even love anyway! Why do we do it to ourselves?

I cut off my penis and had it replaced with a soap dispenser after that revelation. True story.

So without further to do, voici U2 avec une chanson vachement sympatique – One (see that year wasn’t wasted! Touriste indeed!):

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