Life

Lynette Fay: I'm happy to embrace the feelings of a 15-year-old music fan – some of them anyway

'Your father will be over to collect you in 20 minutes. No arguments; you are coming straight home.' But I, but, but… there was no point protesting. I was being picked up before my night had begun, and I had no idea why

U2's Larry Mullen jr and Bono – Larry might not know it but Lynette and he have been going steady for years
Lynette Fay

I HAVE never been a great fan of ‘fancy dress’. The fanciest it got for me was this very day, 25 years ago. I was 15, I was going to my first disco, it was fancy dress for Halloween and I was going as Dracula.

I don’t know who was more nervous about me going ‘out out’ for the first time – me or Mummy. The bags were packed, off I went to my friend’s house in Ardboe, for a sleepover, where a group of us got ready together.

My costume consisted of a homemade cape, my long locks slicked down my face for the night, black eyes and a family tub of Sudocrem on my face. I hope there isn’t any photographic evidence anywhere of that night. I remember a lot of laughter and giddy euphoria as we innocently made our way to Cookstown, to Clubland – the Pink Pussycat nightclub.

Every country area had a ‘Clubland’. The weekend disco that attracted all the teenagers from within a 20-mile radius. I was completely clueless. I didn’t know what time it would be over so I had told Mummy that I’d phone her when I got there and let her know at what time she should collect me.

We got to Clubland just ahead of ‘Blastoff’ – a weekly ritual which involved the bouncers clearing the dance floor and a set of lights that were like a space ship being lowered from the ceiling to the floor to the theme tune, which I think was O Fortuna – now associated with The X Factor.

Blastoff heralded the official beginning of the Clubland night. Not for me on this occasion.

As I had promised to do, I dutifully phoned to order my lift home. Mummy answered the phone to my giggles. She was very blunt and deadpan on the other end of the line.

"Your father will be over to collect you in 20 minutes. No arguments; you are coming straight home." But I, but, but… there was no point protesting. I was being picked up before my night had begun, and I had no idea why.

The next day, I understood fully why Mummy insisted that I go home early. She had heard the news of the Greysteel shootings and feared that any gathering at all was a potential target for the ‘trick or treat’ gunmen. Such were the crazy times we lived in, my mother believed that a group of teenagers on a Halloween night out might be targeted in such a way.

Journalist and political commentator Alex Kane posted a list of the tragic events of the week of October 23 – October 31 1993 on Twitter this week. When I read through them, from Shankill to Greysteel, I felt numb and sick to the stomach. I didn’t know anyone who lost a loved one during that time, but I remember the unavoidable feeling of fear.

We were teenagers, living life to the full and for the most part oblivious to the desperate backdrop of the time, but our parents were all too aware of it. I certainly wouldn’t want anyone to live through anything like that ever again.

A much happier memory from my year as a 15-year-old, was the confirmation of one of the longest relationships of my life. I went to see U2 for the first time in the RDS in Dublin that September – the Zoo Station tour – and became even more obsessed with them than I had been listening to my Achtung Baby cassette tape endlessly in my bedroom.

I have been going steady with Larry Mullen Jnr ever since. And no, I don’t think that he is aware of that.

Whatever you think of U2 as individuals, as a band, to experience them live is most definitely ‘even better than the real thing’. The staging, the sound, the storytelling, the lights, the technology – it is always state of the art. They were 15-year-olds (ish) when they met in school and look at what they have achieved.

U2 play Belfast this weekend, and 25 years on, I still love the music. I am going to see them tomorrow night with my cousin Shauna who loves them just as much as I do and I can’t wait.

This weekend, I am more than happy to embrace the feeling of that giddy 15-year-old music fan but I will be leaving the other ghosts behind.

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