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In Response to TODAY IN ROCK N ROLL HISTORY - JULY 5, 2010 by nyadrn
How Lola has survived after battle with U2
The band's former stylist says that she was 'left with nothing' after losing the court case
Irish Independent, January 25, 2009
Childlike in ways, she giggles when you probe her, skips in front of the photographer when he tells her he wants more energy and pokes fun at herself when describing all that she's been through.
But then there's the other Lola. Extremely media savvy -- her guard comes up as soon as the tape recorder is switched on.
It's just over two years since the former stylist was forced to hand back the infamous cowboy hat and other items she collected while working on tour with U2 in the Eighties.
I find her sitting in the corner of the Westbury Hotel in Dublin -- where she took up residence during the 2006 court hearing.
Her appearance is understated; a plain black top and trousers, with a hint of colour in a leopard-print scarf tied neatly around her neck. She takes a sip of a gin and tonic as she provides an anomalous view of the entire experience.
"It may sound perverse but what a f***ing amazing experience. A year later, when it's all done and dusted, what an unbelievable experience I've had. Not one that I'd want to repeat but you just think 'My God'," she gasps.
It's certainly one way of putting it. Lola Cashman went from having one of the most coveted jobs in the styling business to being, as she puts it, utterly "wiped out."
After taking out loans to the tune of ?350,000 to pay off court costs, she declared herself bankrupt, lost her home, her car, her reputation and, she says, was effectively "left with nothing." But, she adds, "There was something quite humbling about it."
She has few regrets. "I feel incredibly proud of myself; if I walked away and didn't fight, I would have looked like a liar and a thief. I was between a rock and a hard place. I would have climbed Mount Kilimanjaro [even though] I was told time and time again that I would never win this case."
She hasn't been in contact with Bono in years. Having gone from what she describes as his "confidant," "a shoulder to cry on" and "a mommy" figure to the Irish rocker, she says he avoided eye contact throughout the trial.
But she is philosophical. "I don't feel any animosity. To me, I was fighting corporate U2," she says.
Erupting in giggles, she tells me how after the case, she was shopping in Dublin when she strolled into a toy shop in the Westbury Mall. "I was just standing there looking at the toys and who comes in only Ali [Hewson]," she says. "We just looked at each other and she gave a slight nod and walked out. I was like 'Oh my God!'," she cringes.
You have to remember that this was a woman who stayed in the couple's home in Killiney, who was brought into their inner circle, who was privy to the band's most intimate moments at the height of their career -- and who then went on to sell a tell-all book. An extraordinary mistake in the tight-knit U2 family.
But she insists, "I was brought up with a sense of loyalty. I never set out to diss U2. I did not want to be deemed another rock 'n 'roll kiss 'n' tell."
On her official website -- complete with pictures of Cashman donning a Stetson hat -- she describes how the biography came about when "her trusted financial advisor absconded with her life savings while she was out of the country."
"Not being one to crumble in the face of a crisis," she explains how she "just looked for a way to pay her mortgage and came up with the idea of writing a book" dealing with her experience of working with a wide range of celebrity clients. But, she says, she "cried and cried" when she realised that the publishers had changed the name and the entire focus to U2.
"My biggest crime was that I wanted my book published," she claims. "They [the publishers] focused on the U2 thing because they needed to sell books and this would do it." In the end, however, she says, "I could live with it, because your ego wants to have it published."
Looking back, she describes her relationship with the band as being "like a mommy with four little kids. You understand their quirks and their peccadilloes."
"We were this close little family. If you pull up somebody's pants or lay their underwear out; you can't do that unless you have a rapport with somebody. Or if you're going shopping and they want their favourite aftershave," she explains.
Although she insists she bears no grudge, she has a lot to say about U2's "crafted" image, which, she believes, boils down to one thing -- dollar signs. Even two decades ago, she says the band stood out from other groups with their focus on making money.
During the Rattle and Hum tour, she describes how people within the U2 camp used to nickname sound check "money check."
"It was very apparent from the day I met them that money was very significant. They took the corporate and business side incredibly serious. So serious that they would have business meetings at sound checks, which is unheard of in that scenario.
"They would be suited and booted and sitting there discussing corporate U2, way back, 20 years ago. Talking about their business and building the empire," she says.
She tells me that when the court battle was over, "I walked away, I licked my wounds, I dusted myself off and I started again."
As she surveyed the wreckage of her battle against the biggest rock band in the world, having been "frozen out of [her] field of work," help came from the most unlikely of places -- U2's homeland.
An Irish businessman who followed the trial contacted her through the media and offered her finance to help start a new business, The White Shirt Company. The shirts are made from luxury Egyptian cotton and sell in a number of stores, including Liberties in London. The company now sells its shirts to heads of state, corporate directors and even rock stars.
Irish artist Kevin Sharkey also presented her with a melodramatic painting of her being crucified by the four members of U2. This was auctioned off for ?18,000 -- which went towards helping her to "clear out creditors."
And she says she received private messages of support from a number of high-profile celebrities and business people. "If I cried any tears," she says, it was reading the messages from supporters.
These days, the stylist says she is "still scraping by" but insists she is not motivated by money.
"I now have rented accommodation. I don't have a car. But none of that matters. I think if I have any gripe it's that it's impossible to get my teeth done," she laughs. "I think 'oh, all that f***ing money I spent on that court case when I could have fixed my teeth.' Stress wore them away. I was clenching and it did damage to the jaw and so if I have any gripe, it's that."
She may have spent years "clenching" her teeth over U2 but she says she's come to the stage, where -- apart from this interview -- she won't give them any more of her time.
"They've had seven or eight years of my life, they won't get a day more," she insists.
Down at Windmill Lane, the recording studio made famous by the band, Lola poses for a photograph beside the legendary shrine of graffiti. She points to a message on the wall from a fan pleading with the band to call them. "Oh, oh, here, I'll stand beside this," she calls to the photographer. "Give me a phone call, Bono," she shouts playfully.
That'll be the day.
(c) Independent, 2009.