Was You What It Wanted?

by Jim Gillan


John Green 4 day. You made it what it was, either by your presence or, like me, by your absence. Yes folks, both are equally significant. Think of a cheese sandwich with and without the bread. Manifestly, one is not the opposite of the other, although the hungry amongst us might argue otherwise. Shift perspective, apply it to Dylan and have a cup of nice tea whilst you ponder on whether his performances would be better if they were fewer and shorter. 

In the meantime, savage and untimely illness having laid me low, the Moat House experience imploded in one dimension, but gave birth to its virtual twin, albeit one interrupted by frequent trips to the medicine cabinet for comfort. Not cure – the aspirin/codeine/paracetamol variants don’t actually combat anything, but they give the impression that they might. Like so many things in the endless constructs of life, illusion is what we cling to. 

Masked And Anonymous made for a pleasant couple of hours. It’s a bleak film, without much subtlety. Portraying a world where bigger issues of behavioural, moral and ethical significance are utterly ignored in favour of narrow self-interest, there is a hint of hope, but ultimately no redemption. The Dylan character accepts his fate and jacks it in.  None of that nonsense about saving the nation, getting the girl and wisecracking into tomorrow. As I watch it, Iraq burns. In Rwanda, one of the many women brutally raped in the conflict between Hutu and Tutsi is in constant pain.  In the White House, George Bush is on the ‘phone to Tony Blair; they are talking about the importance of getting the electorate on message. I go to the PC, type  “Hutu and Tutsi” into Google. 

Of the 8,830 results, the first is, an eloquent testimony, more telling than anything Masked &Anonymous can manage. Iraq+Solution produces ‘about 1,760,000’, which is a lot of commentary, but which contains absolutely no answer. Bush+Blair+message gets 434,000, but I don’t read ‘em, as I won’t believe ‘em. “Bush+Blair+intelligence” gives 4. A surprisingly high figure. 

On to the Victoria’s Secret advertisement. Which, appropriately enough, is brief, but unrevealing. Victoria’s Secret is to lingerie what the Big Mac is to nutrition. It looks good on the ad, but that’s it. The commercial is a jolly enough diversion, which does absolutely nothing for me, either in respect of Dylan’s art, or the underwear.  Which if that’s the best that the designers can come up with, definitely needs to be covered up. Actually, there is a momentary frisson, an elegantly sensuous movement from the model, as she slides one leg over the other. Will the association result in Dylan selling more CDs than he otherwise would?  Is he saying that none of it matters? Will Victoria’s Secret attract a new client group? I hope that Mark feels a cartoon coming on, because that would be a result that this admittedly harmless diversion deserves. 

What saved the day was the music. I dipped at random into the shelves and, in addition to Bob from across the years, gave Blind Willie Johnson, Harry Manx, Tom Doughty, Eliza Gilkyson and others I can’t now remember a spin. I dialed up my fractured personalities and had a chat with them, parting, as always, on good terms with all who were there. In the evening, I curled up with Ros, the pair of us drinking a very pleasant organic Nero d’Avola, though it doesn’t go all that well with Lemsip. 

Now then. The Spoke being impatient for my offering, I’ll have to hold it here. If it seems brief, it’s because it is.  But as Victoria’s Secret would have us believe (though not on the strength of the Venice ad), less is more. This is rarely the case, especially if there’s neither bread, nor cheese.