2004 Top Ten

by Paula Radice



1. Hibbing

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.

2. Chronicles

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 entertaining.

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!