2003 Top Ten

by Paula K. V. Radice

* see below


2003 was a funny year. The lows were very low, and the highs were very high. Fortunately, the highs came towards the end of the year, and have done much to restore my equilibrium and faith in the universe before the start of a new year. 

For the first time in my teaching career, I didn't get a new class, but moved up with last year’s lot, because of the extent of the special needs in the class: they wear me out, but I love them to bits, and am very much enjoying the progress they're making in Year 4. Christmas last year saw Monica's husband's terminal diagnosis, so the first half of 2003 was very much occupied with that very sad situation. Derek's death in June, and its emotional aftermath which of course still continues, was a very low point. Then Dr.  Bob (God bless him) came along to cheer us up! 

1. Dylan always, the best reason to be a Dylan fan. 

2. Shepherd's Bush...for being totally weird and totally wonderful. 

3. The trip to Munich...for being the first positive thing since Derek's death, and for the cakes, and the Christmas shopping, and for letting me show off my German which I haven't used for twenty years, and oh yes, for a great Dylan show. 

4. Wembley, Hammersmith and Brixton...for all being exciting in their own way, and giving me a real boost in the middle of a very long and tiring term. 

5. Masked and Anonymous...for being a quantum leap better than I could ever have dared hope, and for being full of quotable lines and memorable scenes. Cant wait to see it on a big screen. 

6. Cross the Green Mountain...for two sets of lines which have meant a lot to me this year: "Serve God and be cheerful; look upward, beyond..." and "Pride will vanish, And glory will rot, But virtue lives. And cannot be forgot". A very timely reminder indeed of how utterly pointless war is. 

7. Journeying Oop North in August...For the chance to visit the sexiest Dylan fans in the Universe (in Newcastle, of course, how could you even need to ask?), and to revisit happy times in Durham, and to lay some of Derek's ashes surreptitiously on Hadrian's Wall. 

8. Christopher Ricks' book...for the dreadful yet brilliant puns.

9. The SACD remasters...which I havent properly listened to yet, as the boxed set was a Christmas present, but primarily for reminding lots of people how great Dylan was and still is. 

10. Bob's onstage jigging-about...for being easily the most amusing spectacle of the year. Do you know anyone else in the world who moves the way he does? And if they do, is it because of any particular medical condition? 

Dylan low-points of the year? Only one - the dreadful pre-Wembley "do", at the dirty, dingy workingmen's club on Empire Way, which made me shudder. To call it down-market would be a ludicrous understatement (I know what "down-market" means; I live in Hastings, where the term may well have been invented). I'm not normally one who likes moving swiftly, but I couldn't wait to get out of there. In those grim surroundings, we looked like the saddest bunch of ******* possible. Never again, please; we deserve better. 

Thanks, fellow Freewheelers, for all your friendship and support this year: it is always a great pleasure to meet up with, or hear from, any of you. May you and your families enjoy every happiness in 2004.

*This is a space to draw in your own picture of Bob this month: I'm at my parents' for Christmas, and my father's computer is refusing to have any dealings with photos of Our Man. Draw in a picture of your favourite on-stage silly manoeuvre.