I always knew I would be famous.
By the time I left school, at seventeen, my life was planned down to the finest detail. I would form a rock band, make a series of epoch-shifting albums, play technologically mind-blowing concerts in the biggest stadiums on the planet until I was universally acknowledged as the greatest superstar of my era. And I would indulge in all manner of diversions along the way: make films, write books, break hearts, befriend my idols . . . oh - and promote world peace, feed the poor and save the planet while I was at it.
You might think I was just another teenage airhead with fantasies of omnipotence. Indeed, there were plenty around me at the time who did their best to persuade me that this was the case. But I wasn't about to be put off by lesser mortals jealous of my talent. Because I knew, deep, deep in the very core of my being, that this wasn't just another empty dream. This was my destiny . . .
So there I was, thirty-five years old, sitting in a shabby, unheated little excuse for an office above a bookie's in Piccadilly, watching the rain drizzle down my single, grimy window, wondering where it had all gone wrong. I'd wanted to be a rock star and wound up becoming a rock critic. To compound my torment, I was suffering from a bad case of writer's block with my newspaper deadline looming and the fucking telephone hadn't stopped ringing all morning with a succession of PRs pestering me about their shitty rock bands, all of whom I secretly resented for, I suppose, just being more famous than me. But at least talking on the phone gave me an excuse for not writing my column.
"It better be good," I snapped into the receiver.
"This is the voice of your conscience," announced my caller in a gravelly, wasted Dublin accent that reeked of smoke, late nights and fine wines.
"Bono," I said in recognition.
"You can run but you can't hide," he laughed.
"The way I feel right now, I don't think I could even run," I sighed.
It was, indeed, Bono: rock legend, international superstar, roving ambassador for world peace and (though it is unlikely to feature prominently on his CV) a schoolfriend of mine from Mount Temple Comprehensive.