Being in Hibbing in August,
and seeing first-hand all the things I'd read so much about: Dylan's
boyhood home, Hibbing High School, the cafes the teenaged Robert
Zimmerman had hung out in after school, the mine where the town's money
came from, the ghost town of North Hibbing, the fabulous open spaces,
lakes and deep forests of Northern Minnesota - all magical, but matched
by the fantastically warm welcome we received from everyone we met, from
Linda and Bob Hocking at Zimmy's to Leroy Hoikkala and B. J. Rolfzen
(Dylan's High School English teacher) and his lovely wife Leona. A very,
very special few days last Summer, and it's been great to find that
Hibbing people have wanted to stay in touch since, and have even put me
in touch with other friends. Can't wait to go back.
A complete joy,
mesmerising to read and jaw-droppingly beautiful. The revelations were
all between the lines and not in them - that Dylan has a hugely more
efficient memory than we have ever given him credit for, and a grasp of
the rhythms of prose writing that comes up even to his own high
standards of verse writing. I still don't feel competent to comment on
it further than that. I think we all need to give it at least twelve
months, and twenty readings, before we dare to come to any more concrete
judgements on it.
3. Soul Music, Radio 4 (and the World Service)
Just another media
appearance for C.P. (who's always brilliant) but a first for me, and a
real hoot. I actually woke up in the middle of the night a few weeks
back, hearing myself speaking: it was a minute or two before I realised
that no, I wasn't going completely mad, I had fallen asleep with the
radio on, and the Soul Music interview was on the World Service,
complete with my one and only interesting Dylan-related anecdote. An
entertaining spin-off from it has been being contacted by Greil Marcus,
whose book about Like a Rolling Stone is due out later this year, and
being able to put him on to reading Freewheelm'-on-Line.
4. The 60 Minutes Interview
Easy to spot here the
effect on Dylan of the positive critical reviews for Chronicles.
Although it might not seem so to a non-Dylan-fan, Dylan is to our
experienced eyes both more relaxed and more sure of his own responses
than he has seemed before, and even - shock, horror -willing to speak
about his childhood and family with a degree of openness. He comes
across as wise and calm, looking both forward and back in a collected,
articulate, honest way. And that gorgeous speaking voice...(and the
leather trousers....) oh, boy.
5. Joint 5th. The Cambridge Group's Anniversary Bash and John Green Day
Real highlights of the
year, as I've said elsewhere. Great company and conversation, great
music, great laughs from Keith - and cake as well at Cambridge! My only
hope is that more books turn up for sale at Northampton this year.
Returning home with a suitcase full of DVDs just isn't the same as
taking home a nice haul of books... Any one got any rare ones they're
wanting rid of? Any Croatian Chronicles or Tibetan Tarantulas?
7. Hitting the Big Four-Oh
Had a lot of fun on my
birthday in May this year, with all my colleagues at school making sure
that the occasion was marked in style. I can't say that numerical age
has ever meant much to me, so I'm not going to grieve for any lost youth
(I'm happier now than I've ever been, so what would be the point?) but
it did add a poignancy to the Summer adventures in Minnesota. Carpe Diem
is my motto now - I'm going to make sure I get to do all the things, and
see all the places, I want to (finances somewhat permitting, of course).
8. House and Cats
Since I moved to my
present house (my first owned one), five and a half years ago, there
have been so many projects to see through - walls knocked down, new
kitchen and bathroom, carpets, painting, garden, etc. etc. etc. This
year, with the purchase of one last piece of carpet and some new sofas,
the work was completed! (The bookcase problem, I have concluded will
never be solved: there will never be enough shelves for my books, even
if I covered every wall). I love my little house, and coming home to
Silvio and Minnie every evening is great; they are endlessly
9. Revival of Career Aspirations
After several years of
happily coasting along at school, the chance to be Acting Deputy Head
has given my ambitions a bit of a kick up the backside and, since I've
enjoyed the extra responsibilities, who knows - perhaps 2005 will bring
some new challenges and job opportunities?
In Search of the Missing Number 10...
Didn't get to see Bob in concert this year at all - a very strange feeling. My New Year's Resolution is to make a greater effort this year, and remember not to take shows for granted.
Wishing all Freewheelers, and all Freewheelin's readers, everything you desire for yourselves in 2005, and the chances to grab every opportunity for happiness that comes your way!
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