by Jim Gillan



As you read this, I'm in Australia for the wedding of a real bewdie sheila (my daughter) to a blow-in (the future son in law's family hail from bloody Poland, or somewhere equally bloody unlikely), so for this dollop only, I've adopted the local patois. Australia, not Eastern Europe. 

Actually, I'm using what passes for my imagination and am writing this whilst still at home in Dewsbury, jewel of West Yorkshire, rather than in Cairns, cradle of Queensland. Why cradle? Well, Cairns is predominately a backpackers town. As such, it's a place where copious amounts of alcohol are downed, a practice which soon reduces most to cradling their head in their hands as they chunder copiously. An unpleasant process to witness, but one that its many supporters argue does at least clear the system for more beer, wine, spirits and, for the truly hardy, turpentine in milk. 

Dylan played Cairns a few years ago, appearing in the vast barn of its conference centre (stunningly ill-named, as constructive debate in Australia is an obvious oxymoron), but the relatives, including my ever-loving first ex (pace Damon Runyon) who is also Kirsten's mum and who now lives in Aus) didn't go. Not because she doesn't like Bob, but because she does. Back to Bob in a moment. But first, picture the scene... 

...Under the shade of a vast rain tree (even in June, which is the middle of tropical Queensland's winter, it's bloody hot), the rellies and guests are milling round the eats. The confused-looking groom is dressed in his wedding outfit of cut-down daks and T-shirt. With him are some of his dinky-di cobbers, busy stoking the barbie whilst downing plenty of stubbies, tinnies and cans of grog. Yabbies, chooks and snags are piled high on the coals, as well as plenty of dead horse. The damper is done to a turn, there are big mobs of bush tucker laid out, and some one has trundled out a telly for the footie. 

Can't have a bloody open-air wedding without risks. So it's no surprise that a few pikers are hangin' about, all of 'em bloody daggies who hope to get their teeth in to a free floater or chiko roll. Bloody galahs, hoons and two-pot screamers, the lot of them. Couple of scoops and they think they're Mel flamin' Gibson, in his 'What Women Want' guise. 

Pretty soon these dags start running an eye over the talent, who have all spent weeks getting ready for the do. Judging by the cut of their swimming cozzies, most have had their hair done for the occasion. Looks good to me. Not surprisingly, it's not long before some of the raw prawns start askin' round for a root. Strewth! BLOODY wrong thing to raise, mate - and I don't just mean the question! EVERY Sheila starts in on the yahoos, giving 'em a good barrack. Bloody drongos only bloody think that this is foreplay, which finally causes a couple of the Top End warfies to do their blocks, lob in, and sort the flamin' yobbos. A couple of 'em hid in the bloody toilet, but were ambushed by 500,000 hungry dunny budgies, so they won't ever be seen again. 

Nobody wants to talk to the bride's father, so I spend me time gazin' out at some poor bugger on a boogie board. Looks like shark biscuit to me, so it's no surprise that he carks it. Me an' my current off-sider are talking about taking a few days off to shoot through to the woop-woop. A ridgy-didge Koori has promised to show us the never-never. We need to sort the swag and check the ute, otherwise the bush-bash will be on Shank's pony. 

As it turns out, the reception lasts until the sparrow farts, so we all go off for some brekky. Some of the blokes look like croc fodder, but the rest are past any sort of help. An' if you think this is all a furphy, good on you. And if all the above doesn't make 'Highlands' more accessible, then nothing will. Next spasm... 

As we're going to be away for five weeks, music is an essential. Didgeridoo versions of 'Series of Dreams' are unlikely to sustain us, so we are bringing ten mini-discs with us. In addition to some Eliza Gilkyson, Po' Girl, Emmylou Harris, Redbird, David Goodrich, Chris Smither and Steve Earle, there is Pat Garrett And Billy The Kid, Love And Theft, Time Out Of Mind and various odd tracks. I strongly suspect that lots more will get added, as five discs don't weigh much, or take up a lot of space. Whilst the sounds inside my mind are what always go with me, an ear-full (sadly, just the one that works) is also necessary. We arrive back in the UK about half way through Bob's tour, but I ain't going. OK, I might. Actually, I probably will. It's always possible that an arena can be as intimate as Bungies once was, that Bob can do a Hammersmith 2003 and that he does perform 'Angelina', 'Never Let Me Go', or Peter Case's 'Entella Hotel'. I've already heard them loads of times, but so what? 

Is it me, or is the Dylan world slowing on its axis? I gladly confess that I try to avoid reading much to do with Bob (which, if you think about is an excellent, even necessary, quality in an Isis book reviewer), scanning the web, deconstructing the lyrics or explaining the addiction, but it does seem as though things are running out of steam. If so, what's going to be the future for Freewheelin 7 

This isn't an entirely idle question, as everything passes into something else, though whether by revolution, evolution, or (in my case at least) convolution, is uncertain. Thinking about it more deeply, (my, how those nano-seconds fly by), this may be because I detect a slowing in Bob. Granted, he still has the schedule of a restless little bugger, but the tools are getting worn to a point where they need a radical overhaul. Which means a break from it all. Maybe his public embrace of lingerie will indeed cause him to linger over other things, or even lead him into other temptations. Whether all that stimulates a further explosion of creative energy, be it directed at something entirely new, or at reinterpreting the existing oeuvre (a nice word that, albeit with the risk of being associated with pretension) is yet to be revealed. The only thing that is certain is that SOMETHING will happen. Even death is not the end - indeed as Presley, Hendrix and others have discovered, it's a nice little earner. Heigh ho. Time to lie in the bath. Sadly, there has yet to be a return visit from her(?)self, still less from St John the whatever, though it's also possible that I blinked and missed it. I'm thinking of submitting the event as an idea for a TV programme - a soap opera seems appropriate. 

Well, whatever about that, or Dylan doing the anticipated unexpected - which is what happens when anything is around for long enough - it's almost time for me to call a halt. But first, I read the other day that the Government has spent over one billion pounds on management consultants. That buys a lot of answers, but not necessarily any solutions. Indeed, it's not in the interest of any consultant to ever achieve full closure, as it means that there is no further need for their intervention. What they are good at is making the same old stuff look sparkling new. Meanwhile, fifty-two senior former diplomats get front-page coverage on the broad sheets when they point out that Tony's Middle East policies are doomed to catastrophic failure, a conclusion reached by anyone interested in anything beyond Posh and Becks. Maybe Blare (a much better spelling) needs to spend more on consultants, though suddenly coming over all concerned about perceptions of immigration to the UK was a cheaper way of deflecting debate. It's like Bob. When there's nowt else for it, rehash things - ie release a compilation, re-master the tapes, bring out some DVDs of material we already have. I think Tony should give Brown the elbow and pass the coronet to Bob. Which would, I believe, improve things no end in every field, except perhaps diplomacy and ballroom dancing, 

C'est tout, mes amis. A bientot! 

H'mmm! Is it me, or have I been sent the wrong Linguaphone discs?

Cheerio, cobbers.