Not since Lawrence Oates exited his tent into an Antarctic blizzard declaring he may be gone some time have words of departure been so heavily scrutinised.
For all we know Bono was only being literal when he ended U2’s gig in Berlin by telling the crowd “We’re going away now”.
They were, after all, leaving the arena. Going away. At that moment. Now.
Google Translate could only dream of being so clear.
But Bono tends to be lyrical rather than literal so, juxtaposed with his reflections on how the band had been banding for 40 long years, the pronouncement had panic buttons being pressed all over fandom.
And also in the Hewson homestead where wife, Ali, famously once revealed that she often had to remind her husband “I am not 50,000 people”, as he preached, performed and pranced around the kitchen, forgetting that sometimes it’s ok to just chat. Or even say nothing.
What if he was in the kitchen full-time? What would a retired Bono look like?
Could any floor covering withstand such pacing? Could he perhaps be hired out to Dublin Airport to scare birds off the runway?
Some speculation is justified.
In the last few years Bono has needed surgery after crashing his bike and suffered a health scare during which, he said later, he “nearly ceased to be”.
This year he fell down steps on stage (marking the tenth anniversary of falling right off the stage at another concert) and had to abandon an earlier Berlin gif when his voice vanished a few songs into the set.
The rest of the band have avoided falling from heights - structurally or career-wise - but they are getting on a bit.
But only a bit. Bono is 58 - just a little more than the age gap between Mick Jagger and his latest squeeze.
Bruce Springsteen, more than a year into a five-night-a-week gig on Broadway, is 69.
Paul McCartney, with a new album just released, is 76.
And for a true legend of longevity, Tony Bennett is still wowing the crowds at 92.
So "going away now" could easily mean "coming back later". And later. For another 36 years.
Just maybe with crash helmets from now on.