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Old 05-14-2005, 04:24 PM   #1
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Make that, Ali and the other *real* Plebans

Has any of them ever given interviews? If so, does anyone have it? I want to hear it from a woman on the inside--not just someone who's had a close encounter of the 3rd kind.

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Old 05-14-2005, 05:11 PM   #2
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? You asking if Bono's wife has ever been interviewed?


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Old 05-14-2005, 05:12 PM   #3
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Originally posted by neutral
? You asking if Bono's wife has ever been interviewed?
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Old 05-14-2005, 06:06 PM   #4
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Yes she has been, a few times. I don't have time to find the links now, but I'm sure Google could be of assistance in the meantime.
You could also check out the old Boom Cha site; they may still have a couple of those interviews posted, although that site has been dormant for a long time now.
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Old 05-14-2005, 07:12 PM   #5
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There was an interview with Morleigh in a thread here awhile back. I would find it for you... but I'm lazy...
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Old 05-15-2005, 05:20 AM   #6
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Originally posted by madonna's child
There was an interview with Morleigh in a thread here awhile back. I would find it for you... but I'm lazy...
That's alright. I'll keep searching. Thanks.
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Old 05-15-2005, 05:26 AM   #7
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i think this is the thread maddona's child means, it's an interview with Morleigh
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Old 05-15-2005, 05:37 AM   #8
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Cool! Thank you!
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Old 05-15-2005, 07:24 AM   #9
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Old 05-15-2005, 10:38 AM   #10
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In The Name of Love

Women who marry rock stars often get caught in the spotlight. But Ali Hewson, married to one of the most famous of all, prefers to play her own tune - privately. By Francine Cunningham
From MORE magazine, 1993

From the outside, one can only imagine how difficult it could be to hold on to any sense of your own identity, when married to one of the most famous men in the world. "I suppose it could be," says Ali Hewson, wife of U2's Bono. "But I really don't have a big problem with my own identity, because I am a very private person, so I've always let Bono take the brunt of anything that was coming along. He is happy to do that; I am quite happy to make my own way around things."

Ali Hewson, formerly Alison Stewart, grew up in the less affluent suburbs of north Dublin and met Bono at school - Mount Temple interdenominational. He tried to chat her up on her first day there, but she brushed him away. He pursued her for several years, using humour as his calling card. The relationship moved slowly, because she didn't want to become just another of Bono's girls.

After his mother died, it was the more practical Ali who helped look after the scatter-brained Bono, taking care of the essential things like food and clothes and house keys. The couple were married when Ali was 22, at the old Guinness Church of Ireland in Raheny, Dublin, in August 1982, with U2 bass player Adam Clayton as best man.

Ali Hewson comes across as open, natural, and sincerely warm. She is not inclined to make false claims of herself, or pretend to have any more knowledge than she has. Her smile is frequent, and often self-deprecating. At the age of 33, she has gained a degree in social science, politics and sociology, as a mature student, and now devotes most of her time to her daughters, Jordan and Eve, and to doing some campaigning work for Greenpeace.

"It is hard, sometimes. I hate being called 'Bono's wife,' and being identified just as that. I know that people who know me well enough don't think of me like that. But there are always going to be others who don't see me as having a separate identity, who just see us as the one person. At the end of the day, I don't really care what people think, just so long as I feel strong enough about myself."

Ali is forced to fall back on her own resources a great deal because her husband is away touring so often. "That is different, that is a bit harder. Especially when the children get to the stage that they won't listen to you anymore," she says. "I say, 'I'm going to ring your father, and tell him to give out to you'. It doesn't work, I'm afraid, with my two, particularly as they have his character! They are both strong-minded."

It was having children that made Ali Hewson start thinking about the environment in which they would grow up. She got involved with Greenpeace, campaigning against the Sellafield nuclear power plant, 200kms across the Irish Sea, on the northwest coast of Britain. And to lend strength to the campaign, she agreed to present a powerful and moving documentary on the effects of the fallout from the Russian Chernobyl nuclear disaster, Black Wind, White Land, shown recently on Irish television.

More than 600,000 people were evacuated from the former Soviet state of Belarus, following the Chernobyl accident, in 1986. Since then, leukemias and childhood cancers have doubled, genetic deformities tripled and people of all ages are traumatised. Radiation levels must be checked before children can be allowed outside to play. There is talk of young girls being sterilised when they reach puberty, to reduce the incidence of birth deformities. Already, the birth rate has dropped by 50%.

Ali and the film crew were, naturally, anxious about exposing themselves to radiation during their three-week stay in Belarus. "We were in the exclusion zones, where the radiation was highest. The main dangers now are dust particles and contaminated food, and the soil. We just brought along dried food and our own water. But people wanted to give us food and drink, and look after us. There was no way that you could say, 'It's okay for you to eat that, but I'm not going to eat it, thanks very much.' So we did eat and drink there, and just sort of hoped for the best," says Ali.

Despite her own involvement, she declines responsibility for U2's recent protest at the imminent opening of a second plant at Sellafield. "We probably both influence each other, we both share the same concerns," she says. "I am really frightened about the second plant at Sellafield opening up. And I don't want to sit back and let them do it without me protesting, which is all I can do."

As a wealthy person, she feels she has a responsibility to do what she can to raise awareness on such issues, if only because she is not tied to a nine to five job. "I am very privileged from that point of view. I would not feel right about taking money for anything I do. It's really nice to be able to get into something without having to feel I'm financially dependent on it." There is a set of women married to rich, high profile men, who involve themselves in charity work. While their work is both worthwhile and commendable, does Ali ever fear that she will be branded as another one of the so-called 'Ladies Who Lunch'?

"I can really see where that criticism comes from - that these people are rich and can go out and raise money for charity, and feel like they have done something, but never really care. But I don't think that's justified. People who criticise these women are probably giving into cynicism, and I think if you get cynical about life, you lose the real meaning of it. I couldn't allow the fear of someone saying that about me to stop me from doing what I believe in," says Ali.

"A lot of these women do really good work, they are necessary, and they are people who really care. Fair play to them for putting themselves in a position where they are going to be ridiculed sometimes for what they are doing. Especially if they are filling a gap where the government has let people down. They are giving back and I think that is a good thing. They could sit on their ass and do nothing if they wanted to. They could go to lunch without raising money for charity."

Ali Hewson has chosen to live apart as much as possible from the glittery, celeb-encrusted circuit. "I wasn't raised for that. I'm from the northside! It's just the way things have fallen really. I know a lot of people in those circles, who are really good friends. But it just doesn't seem right for me. It's not where I would really feel comfortable, I suppose."

She hopes her environmental work will not keep her in that limelight too long. "I will probably do my best to avoid that. This is an exception, made for what I thought was a very good reason. I'm very protective of my kids, and of my life with Bono. It has worked very well up to now, the sort of life where I can go out and do all the normal sort of stuff, and he can take all the heat. I'd like to stay that way. I'd rather work behind the scenes."

She refutes any idea that telling Bono of her experiences at Belarus may have fed into the mood of his recent compositions. "Bono is not influenced by me in the slightest!" she laughs. "We have only had one really good conversation about it since he became famous. We have seen very little of each other in the last year and a half. Our communication has been erratic." Is it hard to keep track of a relationship in those circumstances? "I suppose we are used to it by now, we have been together for long enough, and it works for us. I usually find that after a separation, the relationship jumps a bit; when you get back together, it has moved on.

"It can be really difficult to readjust to having someone living back in the house. I can't help thinking, 'What are you doing in my bed?' or 'What are you doing in my bathroom?' or 'Why are you leaving your clothes all over my house?' Bono always says that he feels like a bit of litter around the house, that I just want to tidy him away.

"But apart from the practical adjustments like that, I usually find that we are much closer together after a separation. You don't take each other for granted, like you do if you see each other every day. There is always something new to talk about."

Dealing with the coming down process, after Bono returns from a major tour, could present difficulties. "Going away to Belarus for three weeks was quite interesting because I went through that when I came home. I had never been away on my own like that before, away from Bono and the kids, working on an independent project. So I could really understand how he feels when he comes back from a tour," says Ali.

"It is very hard for him to come back home and say, 'Yeah, I'm normal.' He wants to climb on the table at 11 o'clock every night and try to perform! He's wondering where are the 50,000 people. We sort of laugh at it now."

Does she worry that home life for Bono will seem dull and boring by comparison? "Well, he never makes me feel like that, at all," she says.

Occasionally, doesn't Ali wish she had married Joe Bloggs from north Dublin? "Sometimes, yes, but I have never met Joe Bloggs! I don't know anyone who is normal - everyone has their own little quirk. Sometimes I wish life was just a lot simpler. But I can't imagine Bono in a nine to five job. He would have lost his marbles.

"It would be nice to walk down Grafton Street, and do lots of of things that we can't do together. But I have kept my life private, so at least I can still do it." It would be easy to resent someone coming home and bringing a load of cameras with them. "Well, it comes with the territory," remarks Ali. "But we are fortunate - at least the job pays well, so we can get out of it if we want to. We can go and have a holiday somewhere away from it all. So it all works out in the end."

Bono will sometimes come home drained after his touring schedule with U2. "You have get the band aid out, and try to fix all the bits that are broken. But every relationship goes through that. It is just a matter of whether it works or not, and if it does, everything is fine. I think Bono is happy," says Ali, smiling.

"I don't feel threatened. You can live your life being scared of losing someone, and, at the end of the day, if he is going to leave you he'll leave you, and that's it," she laughs.

© MORE magazine
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Old 05-15-2005, 10:40 AM   #11
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Out of the Blue, Into the Black

Ali Hewson is the first time presenter of "Black Wind, White Land", a documentary on the devastation which has blighted Belarus since the nuclear accident in Chernobyl. Interview: Joe Jackson.
From Hot Press magazine, 1993

ONE CAN safely assume that there aren't many people who hook into a Bono interview because he happens to be the husband of Ali Hewson. However, Ali knows that the opposite is probably true. Likewise, in relation to her involvement in BIack Wind, White Land, the Dreamchaser documentary on the aftereffects of Chernobyl, which was screened on RTE this week and will soon be seen on at least 35 television stations worldwide.

Sitting in a hotel in Bray, with her daughter Eve, on an October Saturday morning, she matter-of-factly accepts that Bono's status as her husband will undoubtedly inspire a high level of public interest in her private life - maybe even moreso than her first hand experience of lives destroyed and families fractured by that accident at Chernobyl seven years ago. Yet when she sighs and says "it's all part of the territory" one suspects she's also secretly reflecting the difficulties involved in being married to one of the world's biggest rock stars. Is she?

"That's a difficult question to answer," she says, laughing. "For example, no matter how much Dreamchaser wanted me to present this documentary, not because I'm Bono's wife but because they feel I'm right for it, it's still a complication wrapped up in all of this. But I really don't mind that. I know people will respond in a voyeuristic way to the programme but I'd hope things move beyond that level after the first five minutes.

"In that sense, being 'Bono's wife' can be used to do something good. In terms of interviews, I try, as far as possible, not to go into that aspect of my life. But I realise that is virtually impossible. And while I may not like being seen simply as Bono's wife, it does enable me to get out there and do something like this documentary, in the sense that I don't have the ties in terms of time and finance that could have kept someone else from doing it."

Ali accepts that many people will also probably argue that she got the job of presenting Black Wind... because Bono is her husband. That argument is fairly annihilated by her obvious gifts as a presenter, which include a sense of quiet compassion that draws forth the best from the people she talks with -- particularly children, and her ability to melt into landscape, if one can appropriately use such a phrase in this context. She blushes at the suggestion, countering the praise with a quote from one reviewer who claimed that the documentary is hugely effective - until Ali speaks. "There were seven of us on the Dreamchaser team and it was pretty tense at times and we fought a lot in terms of how each of us felt the documentary should go," she recalls. "It was shot on film, rather than video, so we didn't see what we were getting until we came back to Ireland. But the point of being there was to make the programme, so I really do believe if I hadn't seemed right for the job or presenting, I wouldn't have been doing it. And the other side to all this, is that because I was presenting the programme there probably is more interest being shown in it than might otherwise be the case."

On the other hand, Ali knows very well that there also are certain newspapers which would rather give over acres of space to gossip about her and her husband, than even touch the issues explored in Black Wind ....

"I understand that this, too, is all part of the territory but It's really a shame if people just read that kind of stuff and don't read, say, interviews like this, because than they couldn't possibly have a balanced view."

"Both kinds of stories are part of what we are," she adds, "though some obviously are made up by certain people, whatever their motives. As a reader, you've got to try to figure out where a journalist may be coming from, and why, to get between the lines and find the real truth behind a story. lt's strange for me, doing interviews at the moment. For years Bono has gone through all this and I'd say, in terms of reviews or whatever, 'don't read all that stuff.' He'd tell me, 'l've got to, to have a balanced idea of what people think'. Now I'm In the same position. But our marriage Is strong enough to withstand the gossip.

"What I think is more cruel is when these writers pick on couples that have broken up, who are really vulnerable. And I just wonder if journalists like that sleep well at night. I really don't know how they can get out of their beds and go into work and feel they're doing a worthwhile job."

And yet it's not just gossip columnists who can violate privacy and be cruel - inadvertently or otherwise. While preparing my own Bono interview for HOT PRESS earlier this year I did have to pause and wonder how Ali Hewson would react to hearing her husband say that he sometimes gets so hooked into the 'hit' from a 50.000 strong audience, while touring, that part of him doesn't want to come home. Or to admitting that anyone who needs 50.000 people a night to tell them they're okay is obviously lacking something in terms of ego.

"This is going to sound terrible, but I never got around to reading that interview!' says Ali, smiling impishly. "But I do totally agree with what Bono is saying there. People think he must have a huge ego but someone else said, probably more accurately, 'I don't know how his ego survives, operating on those levels'. But, yes, the other side of it is that he does often expect us to suddenly take the place of 50.000 adoring fans! I often have to say 'I am not 50.000 people, right?' Particularly when he jumps up on the table at nine in the evening after coming back from a tour and says 'where's the audience'!"

Ali may be laughing but isn't there also a darker side to this, where Bono does find it immensely difficult to deal with the comedown after a tour, when he has to change from MacPhisto back into AIi's husband, and the father of Jordan and Eve?

"Of course there is,' she says. "Because he definitely is at such a pitch when he's on tour - like an athlete in training - that his mind and body Is totally geared to going on stage, at a particular time every night. He also has 160 people on tour around him, who are all working towards the same goal, so it's very hard for him to go straight from that to being back at home. But, children do bring you back to reality because they have to be fed every day, and watered, or are just there saying 'daddy, I want to do this', or whatever. So he has to deal with that pretty quickly.

"In a very minor way, having been in Chernobyl for three weeks working with seven people towards our own specific goal, when I came home I really understood what happens to Bono after a tour. It is an out-of-body experience you have in those setting and it takes quite a while to readapt. I've always known how it was for Bono, because he told me, but maybe I wasn't always as sympathetic as I can be now. And the point is that I was only away for three weeks, he could be away for two years, touring."

Ali has revealed that often, after Bono does come home from touring she has to get out those metaphorical band aids for the man. But what about herself? Doesn't she have similar needs and find It equally difficult to readapt to these changes?

"Absolutely. When he's away I build up my own life and then when he comes back I wake up and ask, 'what are you doing in my house?' she says, laughing. In fact, he often tells me he feels like a piece of litter that I'm trying to clean up, to get things back to how they were when he was away! But, seriously, yes, it is difficult for all of us to readapt to these changes. He had a break from the tour, when they started doing Zooropa, but that was like six months in the studio, which sometimes is even harder for us to deal with.

"When Bono is away and working we know we're not going to see him and we get the phone calls and it's understood what's happening. But when he's home, and in the studio fourteen hours a day, in a way he's still not there with us. Like, I'm getting up to bring the kids to school and he's just getting in. That's even harder, because you know he's there and yet you can't really reach him.' So does all this mean that Ali Hewson often is forced to become father and mother to Jordan and Eve, a family unit complete unto herself?

"Yes and, actually, that is as hard as it is for any single parent. But then the difference is that if something goes completely wrong I can just phone Bono and find, again, that he's probably one of the best psychologists I know! He knows me really well and in terms of analyzing whatever I say - no matter how garbled it may be - he really gets it right and always comes through for me. So in that sense he, too, is applying the band aid. That's how it works for us.

"When he's garbled and broken I help put him back together and he does the same for me. That's why the relationship works as well as it does."

This belief in the concept of a family, allied to her love for her own children, if not all children, is a key factor in terms of Ali Hewson's involvement in the documentary Black Wind White Land. She has admitted that becoming a mother made her more aware than ever before of the potentially devastating dangers of nuclear radiation, a realisation that led her to protest against Sellafield, and which similarly influenced U2. Now, her abiding memory of the aftereffects of Chernobyl is how the disaster destroyed the lives of children.

"They're all ill, weak, with bad diets and immune systems that are breaking down because of what is known as Chernobyl AIDS. They also see their parents devastated by the fact that the children are ill. They see their fathers, who were once farmers, now trying to become builders in high rise apartments, their grandparents forced to move away, and their families broken up, often because of death. So there's no sense of innocence there and that was the most startling thing I encountered. And it's an image that still haunts me."

Ail suggests that, for her, these firsthand experiences were necessary in order to turn the horrors of Chernobyl from a vague abstraction into tangible fact. Yet does she fear that, as with the response of many people to comparable horrors in Warrington, Belfast or wherever, in time the lessons of this memory may fade?

"No," she asserts, emphatically. "Not for me. I think that when you internalise certain images they stay with you for life. And the good thing about the documentary is that it is a filmed record of us being out there. It can't go away. So either way, I'm not likely to forget what I saw, and experienced."

Some of the most disturbing images in Black Wind ... are those that feature children born with genetic deformities. Equally chilling are statistics which suggest that, since the disaster at Chernobyl, it is now three times more likely that children will be born in this condition. Thyroid complaints among infants also has increased by 800% and leukemia and cases of newborn cancer have doubled.

"I was there during the filming of all those children at that Care Centre and it is a place I want to do more work for," Ali says. "There are 70 children there, but there are no facts and figures that relate directly to that, so all the doctor could say was 'I can't tell you that these children are a result of Chernobyl, because there are deformed children in every society. All I will say is that the figures have increased by three times the amount since Chernobyl.'

"But we didn't want to focus too much on those physical deformities because, psychologically and economically, similar problems have come about there, as a result of Chernobyl. Besides, the real extent of physical deformities will not be known until the children who were children at the time of the disaster start to give birth, because it's their ovaries, and testicles, that have really been affected."

The economic problems that are facing the people are savagely highlighted at one point during the documentary when a woman reveals that, having been relocated following the disaster, she is expected to live on roughly a $5 State allowance per month. How did Ali respond to that?

"I could relate to it, of course," she says. "I didn't come from a poor background but then neither do I come from a wealthy background. My father struggled really hard and although I always had what I wanted, I really don't find it very difficult to identify with the pain of people who are impoverished. I've been to Ethiopia where, from a material point of view, people have nothing at all yet linking those people to the people I met in Belarus, was the faith they had to hold on to, a spirit of defiance. I also could relate to that."

Ali admits that when she compared the plight of that woman living on $5 a month allowance to her own privileged base she was beset by moral doubts.

"That point struck me with the same force in Ethiopia and Bono and I struggle with this all the time," she says. "I know that people are bound to say, sarcastically, 'Oh, that we all had the same problems.' But it is a moral dilemma that both Bono and I try to work out in our own way."

Not surprisingly, Ali Hewson's experience at Chernobyl has brought to the fore her awareness of the dangers of Sellafield and Thorp.

"One of the reasons I went out to Chernobyl was because I'd listened to all the alarmist theories and had been told what could happen if there was an accident at Sellafield, and told what is happening as a result of the legal amount of waste currently being discharged,' she elaborates.

"But I wanted to see what actually did happen at Chernobyl. No real reports had come back to us over here. The disaster happened seven years ago so people seem to have forgotten about it. It wasn't an issue any more. But one thing I did learn from going out there is it will be forty years before, magically, we begin to really see what happened to people as a result of Chernobyl.

"I wanted to see if things are as bad as I'd heard. They are," she adds. "And when Thorp opens it's going to be even worse here than it already is. And I really don't understand how the world's worst nuclear accident could happen seven years ago and yet the place isn't crawling with scientists trying to figure out what the negative effects of long-term low-level dosages of radiation are.

"Anyone who lives 600 kilometres around a nuclear installation should be concerned. If it happened at Chernobyl, it can happen anywhere. And the point is that the fallout from the Chernobyl explosion was carried on the wind, with 70% landing on Belarus. That's exactly what could happen in relation to Ireland if there was an explosion in Sellafield. Apart from that there are emissions every day. So if we're being asked to live with low-level dosages of radiation, why aren't we being told its effects, why must we take the risks?

Surely the simple answer to that question is the profit motive.

"Of course it is," says Ali. "But the people of Ireland aren't going to benefit from Sellafield. The only 'benefit' we get is higher levels of radiation than we would ever get were the plant not there. There are people being born with Down's Syndrome and higher numbers of cases of leukaemia on the east coast of Ireland but the research is not being done into this. No one is saying, 'yes, we accept that this woman's leukaemia is the result of low-level radiation dosages from Sellafield.' There is one Irish doctor, a wonderful woman, Dr. Patricia Sheehan, and she's the one trying to correlate all the information on Down's Syndrome, but they're just not interested."

One of the most infuriating aspects of Black Wind... is the way in which it highlights the blind faith the people showed in their politicians, who basically lied to them about the explosion and needlessly condemned many to death. Aren't there figures which show that of the 60,000 people involved in the clean-up operation, for example, 13,000 are now dead and a further 7,000 have been disabled? So why does Ali pull back from pointing the finger at politicians, and suggesting that they should be lobbied on the subject of Sellafield, etc.

"Although I agree that people should lobby their politicians and make their position known to the government, the one thing I love about Greenpeace is that they cut out that middle area and get right to the heart of the problem,' she says. "And I think that once you start to deal with politicians you get in to the area of compromise, of trading-off, of people saying 'you look after Northern Ireland and we won't mention Sellafield', for example. Politicians are important in this fight but only if they do their job right in this context, which many don't. So I've told people that I'm not going to get involved in politics at that level because I don't want to get into that area of compromise.

Mightn't better results be achieved if, for example, a band like U2 threatened to withhold part of their taxes until the Government acts more decisively on the matter?

"And they might end up in prison!' she says, smiling. "But I certainly agree in theory with what you're saying. And if there is someone out there with a good idea in terms of how we all can act to make the Government move on the matter, then I'm sure people will listen. Maybe we should chain ourselves to the Dail.

"Certainly something drastic must be done and whatever it is, I'll be there with them. Because I really believe that putting children at the kind of risk they're putting them at, on a daily basis, by opening Thorp, and continuing Sellafield as it is, is complete madness. More than that it's murder. And I can't think of one politician who is being as publicly supportive as they should be. That's why I lack faith in them and don't involve myself at that level."

So, is Black Wind... a one-off or was Ali revealing something of her future plans when she earlier said she'd like to do something else for the children with Chernobyl AIDS?

"When I said that I meant I'd like to do something more private," she explains. "Those children are kept in that hospital until they are four but then, because the State only gives a certain level of financial support, they're put in Romanian asylums, along with adults, where they remain. I want to help that hospital to try to extend its services until those children are, say, 18 - though many won't live that long. But this documentary probably was a one-off thing. I don't think I'll be getting involved in making another documentary unless it's Living With Bono: Black Feet, White Flag! (laughs)

"Certainly not presenting, though I might do research or work in some way behind the camera. Mostly because, though I believe the set-up worked well in this situation, I can imagine someone else, on seeing 'Bono's wife to do another documentary in another place of disaster', saying, 'Oh, not her again'. It could lead to the kind of criticism we spoke about earlier, in terms of wealthy women who are seen as 'do-gooders.' And, because of that it could damage projects.

"I have very strong, personal feelings about the issues I get involved in, and if I felt that people could overcome that potential prejudice, see me as more than that, I'd like to get involved in something else. But what's most important is that I must feel that I could carry the project, above and beyond being 'Bono's wife'.

And what if, at some point later in her life she suddenly feels a need to define herself in a new context, as women often do after their children leave home?

"Definitely," she says, laughing. "If I felt I was in the right position, at the right point in time, I'd go for something like this. And the point is that presenting a documentary like BIack Wind, White Land was not something I planned. It just happened. And it has turned out really well. But right now I'm certainly not driven by any desire to define myself outside the life I'm living. I'm very clear about who I am, very strong in relation to who I am.

"And though I may not really like it, I don't have any huge problem thinking, 'I hope people don't see me as just Bono's wife and nothing else!' I have really good friends, a great family and people close to me who know who I am and accept me, as me! So does Bono. We're definitely two individuals, but we are together at the same time. We are -- One! (laughs)"

So Ali Hewson isn't one of those stereotypical, complacent, rock n' roll wives happy to remain in the background while her husband does whatever he damn well chooses?

"You've interviewed Bono," she says smiling. "You've had an insight into him and you must know he wouldn't be with someone he doesn't respect, as is often the case with those rock 'n' roll marriages you're referring to. And I am the same. The one thing we have for each other is total respect. As a result of that we are still together.

"We've known each other since we were kids and we've been through a lot of stuff at this stage.

"Part of it is that we know how to give each other space. In all these ways, it is a good relationship and that's why it has survived. It's certainly not a stereotypical rock'n' roll marriage."

© Hot Press magazine
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Old 05-15-2005, 10:41 AM   #12
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The Unforgettable Fire

Ali Hewson talks to The Big Issues' Rosemarie Meleady about her work, fears and the possibility of adopting children in the future.
From The Big Issue, 1998

Paul Hewson, now known worldwide as `Bono,' the lead singer with mega-big rock band U2, fell head over heels in love with the attractive brown-eyed girl the first day she arrived at Mount Temple Secondary School, Dublin.

At first, Ali played hard to get as she was not going to be "just one of Paul's girls," but by his 17th birthday they were going out together. Now married for 16 years, Ali and Bono have two children, Jordan and Eve.

Ali Hewson is not the typical superstar's wife who lends her name to any charity that asks. Bono's childhood sweetheart has successfully kept her world private amidst the status which world fame brings. 38-year-old Ali, who exudes natural beauty, intelligence and warm friendliness, is the active working patron of the Chernobyl Children's Project (CCP). Alongisde CCP founder and presidential candidate, Adi Roche, Ali has driven the gruelling 2,500-mile journey from Ireland to Belarus in desperate missions to bring aid to some of the four million chidren who are chronically ill as a result of the Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster in 1986.

"I've been out there seven or eight times. The first time I went (in 1993) I didn't realise what i was going to be faced with. I don't think anybody did. Seven years on, poeple thought Chernobyl had gone away and the problem was over."

The eleventh aid convoy to Western Russia will be leaving Ireland in April, delivering everything from life-saving machines and ambulances to shoes and toys. Ali will not be accompanying this convoy.

"I've got two kids and their daddy has been away, so one of us has to be here."

Ali plans that when husband, Bono returns from his PopMart world tour she can head out to Belarus in Ocotber to do some hands-on work.

For the first time the convoy is linking with two other foreign charities, one of them being the Scottish charity Mission East, Ali explains: "They are going to the Ukraine and we're providing a truck for them. They were on the (RTE television chat show) The Pat Kenny Show and they showed some horrific footage of children being led in for operations without anaesthetics and being tied down to chairs. It was horrific. I couldn't watch it. Adi is going with that truck though. to find the place."

Although Ali plays a very active part in CCP, she would love to be able to do more.

"I don't have a skill. My biggest regret in life is that I never became a nurse because I'd be able togo out to all these countries and really help hands-on and really get stuck in."

Although Ali lives in Killiney, Co Dublin and the CCP office is in Cork, she has figured out a way of still doing continuous hands-on work.

"I sort of take on unusual cases, like little Yulya who has a very rare disease called PKU. She's not able to absorb protein into her body, so she has to have food that has absolutely no protein in it. If she takes in any protein she could go into a coma."

Ali sourced two companies - one in Spain and the other in Ireland - who now send a continuous supply of the specially manufactured food which Yulya needs to survive.

"I also just link inot hospitals and doctors who can help with different children like for little Alexei, we found Michael Hurley at Temple Street Hospital (in Dublin)."

Alexei had an operation to remove a tumour from his eye socket the size of a baseball. It was a really complicated operation which actually involved completely taking his skull apart and putting it back together again. He will need further treatment.

"He's a great little fella and really smart," says Ali proudly

CCP is on the brink of an international adoption agreement between Belarus and Ireland which they have been negotiating for the past two years. This would enable the five children being fostered in Ireland from Belarus to be adopted by their Irish families.

"I've had little to do with the adoption agreement really but all the children we have brought in have severe physical disabilities but are very mentally capable."

CCP wouldn't be encouraging people to contact them in relation to adoption as they are dealing with children who have very special needs.

"There are many families who would love to take a child but there are only certain families who could take the children with such intense physical disabilities."

Ali continues: "In Belarus, these children, if they had survived there, would have gone to institution after institution and would have been totally institutionalised as mentally capable children just lumped in with children who are mentally incapable of doing anything. All the children need help but these ones were in immediate need".

"If we can, we do intend to bring over more severe cases. Hopefully, the agreement we have been working on for two and a half years will come through. We will be the first country to have an adoption agreement with Belarus and then we will be able to take more children over."

When asked what will the five children's fate be if the agreement does not come through, she answers definitely: "That's not going to happen."

I feel that if blood had to be spilt over this, Ali would be the first in the firing line.

"We won't let that happen. No. We just won't let that happen. Alexei would have died if he had stayed where he was. And little Alanna, who is now down in Cork, was in very serious danger. She had to get iron rods put into her body because she has a degenerative bone problem and even handling her could break her bones. She's a very smart and well adjusted kid now."

When Ali was working on the award-winning documentary `Black Wind, White Land - Living With Chernobyl,' she struck up a particularly strong bond with Anna, one of the Belarusian children. She's now her godmother.

"I met Anna during the documentary. She wasjust nine months old and my own little girl was about 18 months old at the time. We met her in the children's Number One House, which is where children who are abandoned because of their disabilities are kept if they don't have to be in hospital.

"Anna is in the documentary. Both her legs are short. Both her ears are closed. But she is very alert and she's a lovely kid and I don't know, I just picked her up and it's just one of those things where we bonded...And it's incredible now to see her living down in Bandon with her new family...She's an amazing character and she's taken over Bandon, I think!"

Being the caring person she is, Ali does find it difficult to leave the children behind when leaving the orphanages. So did Ali and Bono ever consider adopting a child?

"We have thought about it. Yes. We have thought about it strongly with some children from Belarus. It's very hard going over there and you'll not be able to bring them all home but you have to be as objective as you can about it. In the end, I decided that...well, we decided that to take a child with disabilities would mean constant attention to that one child and it would mean not being able to work for the project and for all the children.

"And there are so many families who are prepared to take the children, who can support them and give them the one-to-one attention. Plus it's difficult for any child to come into our family because of who their daddy would then be," Ali says with a grin.

"That would be an extra spotlight on them and it's going to be hard enough on them to adjust and to deal with what they have to deal wihtout that end of it."

Ali continues: "So for those two reasons, at this stage, I've decided to keep working with the project in the hope of helping more children in general."

© The Big Issue
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Old 05-15-2005, 10:44 AM   #13
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The Sweetest Thing

Married to fame and fortune, with a new baby to care for, and committed to relieving - hands on - the suffering caused by the Chernobyl disaster, Ali Hewson's life couldn't be less ordinary. Yet what she really wanted to be was a nurse, she tells Kathy Sheridan. Photographs: Frank Miller
From The Irish Times Magazine cover story, November 4th, 2000

A huge thank you to Kim for sending the article and pictures!
Transcribed by Mary Eve S.

Here's a teaser for the resident malcontent. Guess what kind of car Ali Hewson drives? Well obviously something so wickedly hip, so stratospherically beyond the reach of dull plods like ourselves that it's just embarrassing. So what is it? OK. It's a Volkswagon Golf. 1991. Diesel. And, eh... it's white.

"I've always driven Golfs; this one runs really well," Hewson explains brightly. Well, sure, but... "I know there are people who see their car as an extention of themselves; they need a car that says a lot about them. But I don't need a car to confirm my personality. I think this one says a lot about me.

Still, some people just don't get Ali Hewson. Her arrival at a recent premiere is aid of the Chernobyl Children's Project was described by one paper as "true Hollywood style", because "she sneaked in after the lights had gone down and the film had started".

Wrong, twice. One, she was settled into her cinema seat well before everyone else because she had been photographed there. And two, Hewson is no more "Hollywood style" than your most self-effacing neighbour.

She arrives into the Clarence enveloped in a great black comfort blanket of a coat, minimally made-up, under-eye shadows induced by an all-night stint with the baby, so quietly spoken that the resulting tape is virtually inaudible. The one give-away sign of her status as the very famous wife of a very famous rock star is that she can abandon the Golf outside and hand the keys to reception.

She goes back to order tea while explaining why (well, money's no object) she hasn't hired a night nanny for the youngest Hewson, now 14 months old. "We have a nanny coming in five days a week. But the night shifts are mine. I've always believed that they need a parent there if they wake in the night. With the two girls it worked beautifully, but this little blighter has other notions."

The little blighter may be suffering from residual colic, she thinks, but she can't mention his name without a misty grin. She talks of the girls (now nine and 11) with a similar expression, about their foibles and wisecracks, their different temperaments, how their father's occupation affects their lives.

She could be any mother discussing the problems of keeping three children sane and healthy - until one considers the double-decker tour bus that slowly trundles past their gates at 3 p.m. every day, its occupants craning to see in; the fans on eternal vigil outside; the crowds that mob the family in parts of Europe and the US.

But Hewson has somehow managed to hold on to her roots, to the need to make a lasting contribution, to being plain nice. Hardly an obvious candidate for typical rock star spouse? She thiks about this: "Maybe the fact that I'm not a typical rock star wife is more a reflection on Bono than on me."

They started dating when they were 15 and 16 at Mount Temple school in north Dublin. Later she worked in motor insurance ("glamorous, eh?") and with her father in his electrical business, before hitting the road with Bono and marrying him at 21.

What she really wanted to be was a nurse. "That's still my biggest regret. I wanted that personal contact with people, the one-to-one, the medical expertise. I still do." Even at 26, Hewson was still thinking about it. "But Bono's life had taken off in one direction and I realised that if I went into nursing, I was going to have to live-in for four very intensive years. It would have been too much on the relationship."

The next best thing was a social science degree, centered on politics and sociology. "I wanted to do something that would give me an understanding of social policy and help me effect change in that area, something that was akin to nursing." Her first baby's arrival two weeks before her finals didn't break her stride. She got her degree and set her sights on a masters in moral and political ethics.

Pause for a laugh: "And then I had another baby." For all that, she still talks of nursing as her lost vocation. In many way, that probably sums up Ali Hewson.

A few years ago, while unpacking gallons of bottled water and Marks & Spencer pasta sauce in a grimy apartment in Belarus, Hewson reflected on the irony that the two people she is most identified with - her husband and her great friend Adi Roche, the former presidential candidate - both thrive on public contact, on the roar of the crowd. "One on either side of me." she laughs. "Do you think there's a pattern there?"

It isn't a rueful laugh; the supporting role is one that fits her comfortably. "That's definitely how I would see myself. I wouldn't stand up and make passionate speeches but I have an ability to be supporitve and it seems to work. I've no desire to be a star. I see how hard it is, how cruel it is; how to be in that place you have to expose yourself, and how relentlessly cruel that can be to a person. What Adi had to deal with as a person when the presidential campaign here was all over was huge, and terribly hard."

So why take on causes like the CCP that she knows will expose her? "Well, if it means the project has gained some degree of awareness, then I think, why not?"

Why not? Well, watching Hewson huddle behind a curtain at Dublin's Point Depot, during the supermodel-studded charity fashion shows she and her priceless contacts book helped organise, smiling beside Adi at fundraisers, eating contaminated food in the high-rise Minsk apartment of a destitute family, cradling a cruelly deformed child for hours in a foul-smelling orphanage, the same question recurs: Couldn't she simply write the occasional fat cheque and hang on to her privacy and considerable comfort?

The notion horrifies her.

"Oh I couldn't do that, I really couldn't. I couldn't be that removed. I was always going to end up doing something. I suppose I'd prefer to be wandering up and down some hospital ward handing out medicine, feeling that I was contributing, but I don't have the experience, I don't have the training. I always wanted to be hands-on; it's about showing solidarity, about physically being with the people in some way, spending time with them - almost the same as you'd do as a nurse. And whatever comfort that brings them, then that's what it's about for me. It's the way I operate."

But doing it Hewson's way has meant raising her head above the parapet, emerging from the private cocoon she prizes so highly.

Was she fearful when approached by Roche to present Black Wind, White Land, the 1993 Chernobyl documentary? "Oh yes. Very fearful. As our lives have becme more and more public, I have become more and more private. It honestly wasn't until I got out to Belarus and saw the children that I realised I wouldn't be able to go home and just forget it. And I have to say that as a person I've benefited probably far more that anybody else from that experience. I often think that you get a lot more from giving than you do from receiving; many people don't realise that.

"I certainly learnt a lot, value-wise, from seeing those children. And when I went to Ethiopia with Bono in 1985 at the height of the famine, I certainly didn't expect to come home enriched by that experience. But I really was. The children out there had nothing, nothing, yet they seemed to be really alive spiritually.

For me, the culture shock was in coming home, back to supermarkets full of food and children who seemed spoiled, who had everything, and yet were so starved of spirituality and any understanding of what life was about. Those people... maybe it's because they had come so close to death, but their eyes seemed so alive"

That "culture shock" has shaped the rearing of Hewson's own children. "I had great fears for them. But through the project, they've met a lot of the Chernobyl children. They can clearly see that many of them don't have two arms of two eyes but they appreciate that they're still full human beings, and it's taught then to appreciate what they themselves have physically. So they do have that awareness.

"It's not perfect, of course. Our children are like any other; they see something, they want it. But they also travel and see things that maybe other kids wouldn't, which I think gives them more of a sense of the world as a bigger place."

The challenge of keeping the Chernobyl cause alive is a daunting one, ranged alongside so many others, cooler, newer, more heart-rendingly at their peak. "Fundraising can be very, very difficult when you're working around a 14-year-old disaster that everyone thinks is well and truly over - or certainly not as it's peak. But the truth is that we have not seen Chernobyl's peak yet. Those who were children in 1986 are having their own children now; it it believed that only in the next 10 years will we see the worst effects."

But there are plans at least to close down the entire Chernobyl complex? "Yes, they're supposed to be closing it down. The problem is what they're going to do with it. They poured so much concrete on top of it that it's sinking into the ground and once it hits the water table, it will poison all the rivers. They just don't know what to do. Adi's famous saying is that the next Chernobyl will be Chernobyl."

The other reason Hewson became involved in anti-nuclear campaigning was to ensure that such a disaster could never recur. Clearly, she believes that we have become rather blase.

"Belarus, like Ireland, had no nuclear power plants within it's borders. People have to grasp this: that if there's a foul-up in Sellafield and the wind blows in the "wrong" direction, that's the end of Drogheda, Dundalk, Dublin. They're gone. Nothing. Plutonium-239 has a half life of 24,400 years." After seven years of campaigning, one might expect something practiced in Hewson's tone. There isn't. Her trips to Belarus keep her sharp and focused. It is partly why she is no pushover when it comes to other charity work and is emphatically not driven by "guilt" or the need for applause.

"When I became involved, I felt that I was in a situation where I could be doing what so many other people wanted to be able to do but couldn't because of time or financial restictions. At the time, I was lucky enough to have neither. But people do make assumptions; there's a sense of 'how could you say no?'. But you know how much you can give. If you spread yourself too thinly, you just end up frustrated and those who end up most frustrated are the very people who need the help"

Hewson has taken on a new cause: a Children's Museum for Ireland. "It's the other end of the scale. From the children in Chernobyl who have nothing, not even clean air, to here, where our children have all that but need the next step, which is to realise their own potential.

"I had been to a few museums in America with the children and saw that they could be such educational, interactive, fun places for children and parents to spend the day together and explore all aspects of science, information and technology. A small museum in Dallas, for example, had a huge set of teeth in the middle of the room which you could lift out of it's gums; in others you could play with soundwaves or step into a bubble and even tackle issues like recycling or racism.

"But it's also about the whole family having a good day together. You can bring a child to a playground but you can't get on the climbing frame with him. Anyway, we don't even have proper playgrounds here. When you look at how children are welcomed and included in France or Europe generally..." she trails off in exasperation. "I suppose it will happen here eventually but it's all so slow. We tap into the French health system a bit because we spend time there and it's just amazing - no queue for the A&E room and never more than 200 francs in a bill for an X-ray or something.

"Come to think of it, where does all the money go from the Lotto? I'm all up for the arts or hurling or whatever, but a decent standard of health and education should be any goverment's priority. Why can't we look after old people properly, give them really good, well-paid nursing care in comfortable, well-renovated homes? Why can't we build a children's hospital wing that is generously staffed and equipped?"

Hewson comes from what she calls a "very ordinary background". Her questioning nature was probably inherited from her father, a man she describes as "self-educated, strong, liberated, forward-looking, world-conscious, argumentative, constantly questioning". He and her mother ("still beautiful, always baking, never stops") have retired to the south-east and are big into DIY work around the house; his birthday gift to her mother this year was a cement mixer.

She and Bono, she acknowledges, have "a very nice life, but it's also a very fast life. It's very demanding on both us and on the children. Every day is full, between the children's routine and his plans changing every couple of minutes. I'm forced into the children's routine, which is great for our normality as a family. He's now on a promotional tour involving 10 or 11 transatlantic flights in eight weeks."

They survive as a couple, she says, because they never take each other for granted. "You can't, you're not allowed to take each other for granted. Sure, it can lead to a lot of frustration, but it really does make you stronger. We're very committed to each other, to the children, to the relationship. And anyways, he's been home for a good while now - about two years - working on the new album, and that's great."

At home, Hewson says, they try to find time to read; stuff of a serious bent by all accounts, with Bono "speed-reading" his way through volumes on philosophy and economics (reports suggest he recently reduced the chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee to tears with his advocacy of the reduction of Third World debt); her own most recent reading has included How the Irish Saved Civilisation and The Gifts of the Jews, both by Thomas Cahill.

Despite the publicity suggesting that their home (with the waves lapping beyond the hedge, the wonderful pool, the exquisitely simple, stone-built guest lodge) is airport central for a slew of supermodels and the likes of Salman Rushdie, Hewson says that most of their friends are not famous. "But the famous ones you tend to have something in common with to begine with. It's not like you go out looking for famous friends. There's no training for being famous - unless you're royalty - and that creates a bond, I think, because you're all trying to cope with the same bizarre situations that you've been catapulted into.

"The people we're drawn to are of similar mind, trying to hold on to all the things they valued in the past, differentiating between their famous personas and their real personalities. That can be very hard if you come from a difficult family background."

Why? "Most famous people are insecure," Hewson says. "After all, what gives then their drive and ambition and even heightens their talent is the desire to be recognised as a real person. But then the irony is that what the fans see is not the real person; what they see is a kind of icon, and if the stars themselves end up confusing the two, that can't be healthy. And you have to have something else. I see it in people. You get to a place where you have everything and realise how empty it is. The unhappy ones tend to be those who have no causes."

But all that dosh surely makes a difference? "Money has huge advantages, but it does bring responsibilities with it. It is not the answer. It can give great freedom - if you need to get away, you can just go. You can afford things others struggle for. If you have a friend of family member in trouble, you're able to help. But it can cause more problems. People who win the Lotto come to understand that. When it's new, people around you can feel very threatened; it can separate you from your friends and your family.

"And minding it is a huge responsibility. You always have people trying to take advantage. The attitude is 'think of a number and multiply it by tow, sure they'll never notice'. You get that a lot. That side is nasty because you feel you can never trust anybody."

Of course, Hewson knows this will elicit damn-all sympathy. "The thing people hate more that anything is anyone who has money going on about how tough it is. You certainly won't get away with that in Ireland and they're right not to let you get away with it. But I think money and fame are very complicated.

"For us, becoming famous, we realised you have to have the money because you couldn't protect yourselves from fans. It's a strange thing. For example, you have to travel business class because Bono wouldn't get a minute's peace otherwise. You do have to protect your privacy - and that takes cash."

Then again, there is that new apartment in Manhattan: "Now there's an upside," Hewson agrees happily. "I've grown to love New York." And there is that villa in the south of France (co-owned with The Edge). "We spend about six weeks there in the summer because we can," she says with a chortle. "It's very easy down there because the French just don't care."

So Ali Hewson's not denying the good times. But her desire to do good - when she could easily defend doing nothing - is utterly convincing. "The whole point of your life, I think, is to give some chance to even one person. I don't want to end my life feeling I've only looked after myself, that everything I did was to protect myself. I want when I die to believe that I've achieved what I was supposed to achieve - that is, to help other people in whatever way I could."

© The Irish Times Magazine
I probably saved these from Ali's Element site.
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Old 05-15-2005, 11:51 AM   #14
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Ali -
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Old 05-15-2005, 12:01 PM   #15
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OMG I'm in interview heaven now! Thank you!!!
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Old 05-15-2005, 12:17 PM   #16
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Originally posted by Jamila
Ali -
she's quite a woman!
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Old 05-15-2005, 02:57 PM   #17
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The thing I like about her-she's so level-headed and reasonable about everything. She understands everything in regards to her husband's job, and she just takes it all in stride (heh, course, after dealing with this for 20 some odd years, I'd imagine you'd have gotten quite used to it by now). And she never fails to amaze me with her knowledge of things in regards to the work she does for charities and all that. Like Bono, she certainly does her homework, and I really admire that. I don't know how people can keep up with all that stuff.

Yeah. She's really cool .


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