Dylan cartoon Like Furniture

by Chris Cooper


Hi folks,

First a hearty welcome to our new members, hope your stay is long, productive and enjoyable. Fw is something of an institution these days. I confess that at times writing can be arduous but at other times I find it a way of exorcising the various demons and concerns that sometimes seem to creep up on me. It's that kind of time now I am afraid.

As I get ready for yet another Dylan UK Tour, I start to get the usual pangs of guilt about leaving the long suffering Dizzy behind. Now before I go further let me just point out that I always give her the chance to tag along, but she doesnít have the desire to do that often these days. That is not to say that she isnít interested in music, far from it. But her interests lie in other directions. So, whilst in this slightly vulnerable mood itís pretty easy for her to get me to go to gigs that she wants to do. Only fair after all.  The thing is though, that right now the ďnostalgiaĒ wagon is really running and there are quite a few shows for her to go to. In this month alone there are some classical things locally. Plus Edgar Winter, Alvin Lee, The Yardbirds and Spencer  Davis. With John Mayall and Chicken Shack heading over the horizon itís a buy and expensive time. Also this month we went to see Ian Hunter, Hawkwind (OK, lets own up thatís more mine than  hers) and Gillian Welch soon also, not to mention our own Cambridge Bob Dylan day and the Folk Festival, the money can stretch pretty thin.

No I am not about to ask for donations. But you get the picture.

Now this is an equally testing time for other reasons. Believe it or not, Iíll be 55 soon, which in Health Service terms means I can retire from full time employment. I have mixed feelings about that, some days canít wait. Sometimes unsure if itís a good idea. You see I am luckier than some in that I have always loved my work. But lately the health service is a bit less loving of me than I of it. The Hospital that I am the Manager of is currently a considered victim of PCT cuts, and may be closed to balance the books. This is particularly galling as we have just undergone an audit that placed us sixth in the UK scoring! I can see my team starting to disintegrate because of the uncertainty, and there seems to be little I can do. At the same time they know that I am eligible to retire soon, and yes that makes me feel a little guilty. Though to be honest the idea of starting a new post elsewhere completely from scratch is pretty unattractive also. But the health service is a slow and ponderous beast, so whilst I know I can retire, and get a reasonably respectable pension, I donít know exactly what that is yet.

Put that lot in a pot and stir it up and you get some idea of where I am. Confused? Imagine how I feel then! 

So I currently find these old guys up there strutting their stuff a little harder than usual to take. Most recently it is the Yardbirds. We are seeing them a number of times, they are/were one of Dizzyís favourite bands, added to which she knows two of the band, Jim McCarty and Chris Dreja quite well and we often get invites so tickets are cheap, or even free. 

Yardbird gigs are off affairs nowadays. The average age of the audience is 50-65 I would guess. (so is the band!) I sat  in the Cresset at Peterboro the other night watching them, and I started paying more attention to the crowd than to them. I suddenly realized, as they plowed thru another version of ďOver Under Sideways DownĒ that the crowd were all sitting perfectly still. There was no hand clapping, no foottapping, no head shaking, nothing. People seemed completely content to just sit there and watch. It was an off parody. I had to think about the frenzies that I go thru at Dylan shows, where Bob, and his audience are certainly of similar age. This lot were just stationary! To quote the man they were standing around (well ok sitting actually) like furniture! What made it look all the more peculiar was that after the show the Yardbirds go to the Foyer where they sign record sleeves etc. NOW here the crowd come to life, they gush all over them and snap up the few discs that are on sale also. It was like watching two different groups of people. I had to see if I was imagining this so when I saw Spencer Davis I looked for the same malaise and indeed it was there !!! The reaction was virtually the same as for the Yardbirds. 

So what am I say ??? ďHope I do before I get oldĒ hell no. I just donít want us to end up like that. It just seemed a complete parody of the entire event. Maybe I am reacting that way because of my own indecisive future. Maybe I am just reacting about retirement, after all itís a milestone event and one that draws a curtain over a major part of ones life. (not I might add that I would not be working at all, it has always been my intention to do a couple of days a week to boost the funds, donít you know) But to get that empty, that hollow that you go along to see a piece of your past, then sit there like some detached spectator whilst your past plays before you. God I hope I never get THAT old!

In two weeks time I start off in Cardiff and run thru till the Barrowlands show in Glasgow. And I can honestly say that I am looking forward to it, and I can also say that I will not sit there and just observe. I will try, in my own limited way to be a part of it all, and to revel again in the knowledge that I am sharing the same air as Mr Dylan. An whether or not I can do the whole tour in the future, well we will see. But if it ever got that detached I would not go again, ever. 

Now thatís off my chest I can say again to our new guys, I hope it gets you like that. An if Fw is ever a chore then itís time to leave, because life is too short for that amount of detachment. An Fw is too organic for that kind of participation. 

Good luck to you all. An if we meet along the road in the next few months, say hello. 

Till Next Time