To mark the announcement that Bob Dylan will be resuming his Never Ending Tour, by way of playing shows across the world from 2021 to 2024 in support of his Rough And Rowdy Ways album released in 2020, I have pulled a few more Bob tales out the bag from way back when.
June 2004 and two Bob shows are coming up. It seemed like it was not so very long ago that I had finished writing up Three Bob Shows which covered the three bob shows that I had been to in 2003; Sheffield, Birmingham and London in that order. Great shows, naturally, although I have to admit that I did get into a couple of scrapes along the way, which led me to believe at times I was getting a bit of beating from the gods and that I’d better learn to stay on the right side of the road. Enough of that for now, suffice to say that I just about managed to come out of it with the sun still shining brightly over my shoulder as far as my love of Bob was concerned and at the end of the day that was all that mattered.
Early June, hay fever season, a bit of a distraction for me on some occasions to say the least, as on a bad day I can suffer from it pretty badly, end up flat on my back for hours and hours. Guess you just have to keep on riding with head held high, despite the fact I get up some mornings feeling like I have been boxed around the around the ears, walking around whilst sneezing continuously, all the way to the coffee machine in the kitchen. No doubt whatsoever that I am looking forward to the 2004 shows, which will be numbers 22 & 23 respectively as far as my precious list of Bob concerts attended goes. For me looking forward to upcoming Bob shows can be like having visions of glory, but having never done anything glorious in my life, it would not be possible for me to accurately define or describe what those visions of glory might actually be. Main thing was there was no way that I would not be making it to them, only if strange lightning struck, or if some other particular act of fate came along to cut through me like a knife.
This time around show 22 is at the Cardiff International Arena in Cardiff, June 18th, an old stomping ground for me, where I happened to have seen Bob twice before, in 1997 and 2000. Show 23 is Bob headlining The Fleadh in Finsbury Park, London on June 20th. I saw Bob when he last headlined this event back in 1993, when his main support had been Van Morrison and with whom he had sung One Irish Rover, a track fromVan’s No Guru, No Method, No Teacher album. For this Fleadh the main support act is the American group Counting Crows along with other names such as The Charlatans, Christy Moore and Billy Bragg. In addition to these two shows, for which I had already got my tickets, I had also been toying with the idea of going over to Ireland in order to see Bob play in Belfast and Galway a week or so after The Fleadh, but in all honesty those possible shows never really progressed beyond the day dream stage, although I did do a search for ferry prices on the Net from either Stranraer or Liverpool across to Ireland and found they were more expensive than I had thought.
I had booked and paid for the Cardiff show by credit card back in March not long after coming back from another trip to India. Yes, another trip to the land of the Om Vibration under my belt, by now I had been over there so many times I was beginning to lose count, although that was not strictly true as I knew exactly how many times I had been out East and that if I was being insanely egotistical, beginning to think I had the wisdom to prove it. The booking was made on the same credit card that a few days ago I lost when some lowlife jackass broke into our house and amongst other things stole my black bag which had my wallet in it. In the aftermath of the robbery and sorting it all out I had to call up the box office of the CIA to tell them that on the day of the show I would be collecting the tickets with a different credit card to the one I had made the booking with. They told me it wasn’t a problem, that I should just bring some other form of ID along so that they knew it was me. I kind of knew it would be OK but needed to have my mind cleared of any potential hitches as it just would have been horrific if, for some reason, they had refused to hand my ticket over on the day of the show due to not having the right card as back up. In other words the phone call had been worth it!
The robbery, especially having my bag taken, had been a weird and disconcerting experience, straight from out of that big book of life where lessons like that will probably be never properly understood, beyond walking around with a nasty taste in your mouth for the next couple of days. It had been a Monday morning when the break in happened. My wife Dawa Dolkar had been away so I was in the house on my own and I must have got up around 6.30 in the morning in order to go to do some meditation in the shrine room. The sun was shining and as I sat there trying to follow the in and out movements of the breath through my nostrils I was feeling pretty good. For some reason I had spent most of that meditation session visualizing Badger, my sister’s dog who had recently been put down because he kept biting and attacking people. Badger had paid the ultimate price for his unruly behaviour, effectively he had been executed and I felt bad because of that, although there was nothing I could have done about it as to stand in the way of what my sister wanted would most definitely have not been a good idea. Therefore in my meditation Badger was sitting on lotuses, a sea of lotuses in a non-physical realm, being healed in spirit by the rays of a million Buddhas shining a pure white energy out from their hearts and bathing his transparent little power packed body in their healing light.
So there was an extra bounce in my step when I went down stairs after I was done, feeling I might have done Badger some kind of good in a thoroughly unproven and inexplicable way. I had gone down to make some coffee and have breakfast, but as soon as I got to the kitchen I knew something was not quite right. The rooms felt far colder than they should have been and out of the corner of my eye I noticed that my black bag in which I kept all my stuff like wallet, mobile, keys, cheque books etc was not in its usual place. It took only a couple more seconds for me to disconnect the cables of the situation and figure out what was going on. I bounded down the second flight of stairs to the ground floor and there I found the front door of our house wide open and a cold morning breeze blowing down the hallway. Shit! I frantically tried to recall the events of the previous evening when I had arrived home quite late after enjoying a stomach filling Sunday dinner with my parents at their house in Harpenden, Herts. Whether there had been some horrendous lapse of mindfulness on my part, so that I had not shut the front door properly upon returning and that it had then swung ominously open by the time I got to the top of the stairs, was very difficult to say. It was possible, just possible, I guess, but I really didn’t think so.
Neglecting to think about finger prints or anything like that, I went and closed the front door to keep out the cold, then I began to have a serious look around to see exactly what was missing. To kick things off I couldn’t see my nice blue jacket which was usually hanging by the door and which I wore pretty much all the time. Bummer! I went back upstairs, searched high and low for my black bag, holding on to the highly unlikely possibility that I had put it down somewhere I never usually put it and then had forgotten all about it. A couple of minutes fruitless searching yielded absolutely nothing however, then I knew for certain the truth was that some fucking cunt had come in the house into the middle of the night and stolen it, along with my blue jacket! Funny thing was that whoever had done it had not really taken that much, just those things and a bowl of loose change which we kept by the phone, a bit of a smash and grab job, probably a Woodford junky.
It took a few more minutes for me to free myself from my state of paralysis in order to call the cops to report the crime. I was put through to a call centre where I gave them a brief rundown of what happened and by the time I was finished it was clear that I was not going to be very high up on the list of priorities as far as the Metropolitan Police were concerned. A sad sounding 40 something with a shaky voice, who had just experienced what in fact was little more than a bit of petty theft, was hardly likely to register much on their radar of misery, hardly register at all in fact. I was told that at some point during the day officers would call round to check out the scene and that was about it. Big fucking deal in other words.“Get out and buy yourself another blue jacket you miserable moaning little prick!!!” was what they as good as said to me.
Far more time consuming were the calls I had to make to my bank and credit card companies informing them of the bad news and that they should cancel all my shit in case someone tried to use and abuse it. This meant going through tedious phone menus and then numerous lengthy explanations as to exactly who I was because all my security numbers, passwords and stuff like that had been in my black bag which of course was no longer accessible. When all that was done I then had to call an emergency locksmith to get the locks changed on the front door or else I might soon get a return visit from Mr Wobble Head as my keys to the house had been in that black bag as well. Finally I put in a call to Wise Words, the small distribution company specialising in books on Buddhism that I helped run as well as being a co-director of and told them the news, that I was running late. It was only after all that had been done that I managed to finally have a cup of coffee, giving breakfast a miss as by that stage I had no appetite for it.
Believe it or not, I actually think there was a positive effect from me doing the meditation that morning as I was able to go through the motions of doing what needed to be done in order to get the whole show back on the road without feeling too much pain. The reality was that these things happen and often it is just a question of tidying things up afterwards, efficiently going through the things which have to be done in order to keep losses to a minimum. All in all in this instance the loss to me was about 400 quid when all the lock changing was factored into the equation as well, which really wasn’t that much to take a hit on. From the great unknowable bank of invisible statistics it had simply been my turn for a bit of bad luck to come calling on that particular day. Simple lesson to learn from it was that I would have to remember to double lock the front fucking door which was something that I hadn’t done on the night of the break in, earning a mild rebuke from a weighty pair of cops who eventually turned up two days later.
As opposed to Cardiff my ticket for The Fleadh was not brought by a cancelled credit card but direct from one of the box offices of the event promoter The Mean Fiddler in early April. Doing it this way meant a saving over 10 quid on the price it would have been if I had bought it over the Net when booking fees, mailing charges and all the others bits and pieces were taken into consideration. There was also the fact that I was buying two tickets and not just the one as Leon Day, a self proclaimed Tantric wizard from Hemel Hempstead and long standing customer of Wise Words, had indicated to me that he also very much wanted to go. This meant that simply by turning up in person at one of the designated box offices the saving on the tickets for me and the Wizard would be well over 20 quid. Therefore I went along to the Astoria, a Mean Fiddler establishment on the Charing Cross Road and bought the tickets from there, feeling I had least got something over those vultures on the Net who circulate around the selling of tickets for popular shows and then take their slice.
The last time I had been inside the Astoria was way back in the 1980s when I had seen the Jamaican dub great and original roots rocker Augustus Pablo play through a haze of reeking marijuana smoke to a packed house of hardcore reggae fans and London stone heads. Augustus Pablo was now long dead, no doubt walking through the blessed lands of Jah Rastafarai and smoking the biggest joints you could ever imagine, pretty much like what he did on Earth in other words. After getting my tickets for The Fleadh I then made my way through the streets of Soho to a shop called Mr CD where for ten quid I picked up a copy of the Best of the Counting Crows which I thought was worth buying since they were going to be the main support act for Bob at The Fleadh and it might be useful to at least get acquainted with some of their stuff before seeing them. It was a sunny London afternoon in early Spring and after Mr CD I carried on walking through Soho and the West End, very happy in the knowledge that I now had two Bob shows to look forward to and believe me there was nothing better than that, not unless there were three that is!!!