In this sore and sorry world where old men may shout “nonsense” at the prime minister, and kids are to have their crack and sherbert dips confiscated at the school gates, there’s one aching deficiency that hurts more than any other: the miserable lack of comic writing conflating football with folk music.
I shudder to think where we’d be, then, without that genius Harry Pearson:
[Bob] Dylan’s musical roots too had prepared him for what he saw. Country music had a long tradition of football-related songs though these tended to focus on match officials rather than players. Johnny Cash, for example, dubbed himself “The Man in Black” in homage to his idol, the referee Arthur Ellis, and recorded I Walk The Line, arguably still the classic song about the life of an assistant ref. Cash wrote from personal experience. At one time many US pundits considered the man behind hits such as Rock Island Line and Folsom Prison Blues as a future World Cup linesman. Unfortunately Cash’s Old West attitudes to discipline inevitably led to trouble. In a Nevada State Cup match he shot a man in Reno just because he didn’t retreat 10 yards quickly enough and was stripped of his flag.
The world is probably full of people who don’t find that funny. But then, the world is also full of woe, disappointment, and people who don’t listen to old Dylan records while Final Score witters away in the background on a Saturday afternoon.
To save me just quoting the whole piece at you, just go and read it, the perfect close to unofficial Bob Dylan week.
Everyone’s favourite Bob Dylan story is surely the one where Bob got lost on the way to Dave Stewart’s north London home, knocked on what he thought was the right door and asked if Dave was there. A Dave, as it happened, did live there, but was out. So Dave’s wife invited this rather odd looking tramp into the house to wait, ensuring that Dave, a huge fan, got the surprise of his life when he returned home to find Bob Dylan drinking tea on his sofa.
It seems that the universe has arbitrarily decided to celebrate Dylan this week, so it’s good to know that there’s at least one more excellent Dylan story to be told:
Despite his total lack of acting experience, Dylan was hired for a substantial fee, brought over to the UK and put up at one of London’s poshest hotels, The Mayfair. He was in London for three weeks.
But, come the day itself, Bob simply lost his nerve. “I don’t know what I’m doing here,” he is supposed to have burst out. “These guys are actors. I can’t act!” Saville, no doubt worried by having to explain the situation to the chap in BBC accounts, brokered a deal whereby he would employ another actor to speak the lines while Dylan himself played and sang a few songs between speeches. (Dylan would later be turfed out of the Mayfair for strumming his guitar in the corridor.)
Dylan headed back to the US and towards global stardom, the TV documentary was broadcast the following year, and the whole thing became just another thing that happened to have happened. Except for one thing. The BBC wiped the tapes.
Inevitably, given that the story is being told (Arena, BBC Four, Wednesday night), it means that some bootlegs of the Dylan’s performances on the show have been unearthed. Another Bob Dylan dream come to life.
“What I wanted to do was go right to the heart of the North. When it’s -25, you don’t hear lower registers. You hear the cracking of snow, the wind and breathing, people talking. So then, there’s only the flute and voices, and the cracking comes from the percussion.”
Tantalising news seeps through of a showing tonight of the classic documentary of Inuit life, Nanook of the North with a new soundtrack of flutes, drums and throatsinging. Although I’ve concentrated on Tuvan throatsinging in the past, the techniques are found in several cultures, including parts of Southern Africa and among the Inuits. Sadly for me, the performance is in Toronto.
The Nunatsiaq News, from which this article derives, appears to serve a territory that had previously escaped my attention, Nunavut:
“In the Inuit language of Inuktitut, Nunavut means “Our Land”. It is the name given to the ancestral home of the Inuit of the central and eastern Arctic, and to the new Territory of Nunavut in Canada’s eastern Arctic.
Nunavut was created from part of the Northwest Territories of Canada on 1 April 1999.
1) Kevin Pietersen cross-bat smashing Brett Lee back down the ground on the way to his prodigious, Ashes-securing 158.
2) Pietersen, belatedly bowled by the mighty Glenn McGrath in his last Test in England, is intercepted on his walk back to the pavilion by Shane Warne, the greatest spinner of all time, also on his last tour of England. Warne congratulates Pietersen on effectively securing the Ashes. Pietersen thanks him gracefully, one in a series of sportsmanlike gestures throughout the series.
3) The averages. Adam Gilchrist, the finest wicket keeper in the game and universally acknowledged as the most destructive batsman in the world, entered the series averaging over 55 in Tests, and 62 in 2005. In this series, he took 18 catches, 1 stumping, and scored only 181 runs at an average of 22.62. His opposite number, Geraint “Dropped” Jones, took 15 catches, 1 stumping, and scored 229 runs at 25.44. Jones’ runs didn’t win England the Ashes; it’s arguable that Gilchrist’s lack of runs did.
4) Jeff Thomson: “England will lose the five-Test series 3-0 and the margin will be worse for them if it doesn’t rain. If you put the players from Australia and England up against each other it is embarrassing. There is no contest between them on an individual or team basis.”
5) Tomorrow’s papers. All of them. Especially the Australian ones.
I suppose that now the rollercoaster Ashes series has unravelled its final glorious twists to leave the England and Wales team (don’t forget those Welsh Joneses, mind), I’ll be partying as far and as relentlessly as recent domestic events will allow.
How right you are.
Shame that’s not very far, but rest assured, all of you, that I’m there in spirit, if not in spirits, and the cub will be settling to sleep tonight to the highlights on a loop.
My. Three weeks have hurdled past since we last spoke. There is, I assure you, good reason. First, I wanted to point out something that will be obvious to regular visitors: this is not a forum for discussing my life. At least, not the important things in my life. This has always been a deliberate, if not necessary conscious, omission. I have the real world for all of the big stuff. I have this journal for all of the important minutiae.
It used to be, back when we were all younger than now, that the Deep Northern household would refer to me as the Cub Semiotician. It carried, for me, a happy echo of Tintin the cub reporter, racing along quiffily in plus-fours, with Snowy the dog yapping circles around him.
When I started this thing, it seemed to me that Rogue Semiotician was a more appropriate moniker.
Now, the Rogue Semiotician has a cub. The last few weeks have been spent busily welcoming baby Matthew to the world.
The cub will continue to occupy much of my time, but rest assured, I’m still here. In a way, more here than ever before.