Saturday 20 January 2018

Potatoes and those clouds of confusion


WEDNESDAY: THE winds of change that deliver us October also carry the chemicals to engineer a shift in the attitudes of ordinary folk. Gone, are the last hints of summer apathy towards current affairs, and the tendency to moan and speculate begins all over again.

The ease with which we venture through the finer months evaporates, and the darker mornings generally tell tales of heavier hearts. The morning and afternoon cuppas are welcomed back and the usual questions resurface: will we have snow in November; will the Government crucify us in the December budget and are they really going to charge us water rates.

Speaking of water rates, it has been suggested by a number of sources about the town that our tap water has become cloudier of late. Today, I went into the kitchen to investigate. I poured a glass of water, and left it on the table. It was crystal clear. I left it there for a minute, went out of the room and when I returned, I could hardly believe what stood before me. The water had turned cloudy: the speculators were right.

I called the good woman to show her, and she told me not to be daft. As soon as I had left the room the younger lad had spat a mouthful of potato into it, hence the haze. There is an answer to everything in this life.

Thursday: Approximately two hundred metres in front of me is Bob Dylan. In front of a packed O2 arena he is giving it socks, like only he knows how. The hero of the American folk movement turned 70 in May of this year, and yet here he is performing with the enthusiasm of a baby circus seal.

Sure, he has no singing voice left that is worthy of the label, but what he does have is presence, talent and respect for the audience. And a back catalogue of songs that very few singer/songwriters will ever emulate, partly due to lack of talent, and partly due to a shift in the demands placed on them by their record companies. Bob Dylan came of age at a time when the listener was more patient. There was a greater appreciation for the craft of songwriting, in comparison to the gimmickry that we are used to today. That is how once upon a time in the music industry, Dylan was king.

Tonight he performs a mixed bag of the greats, and the new. Don't Think Twice, It's Alright, Tangled Up In Blue, Highway 61 Revisited and Like A Rolling Stone are rocked out, and the majority of the crowd loves it. On the drive home, I tuned into Late Date on Radio One, and reviews were mixed. Some hated it, others loved it. Some were indifferent.

Yes, he rasps more than sings, but the man is 70 and even in his prime it wasn't the quality of the voice that made him, but the quality of the product. Don't go to see Bob Dylan if you want to hear the chirp of a choirboy. Go see him because he is brilliant. He won't be around forever.

Saturday: The younger lad turned one at the weekend. We decided against throwing a party for him, as he had been struck down by a bug for the previous week. Instead his two cousins, aged nine and seven, arrived to help him mark the occasion. We're glad that they did.

The first thing that struck us when the niece came through the door was that she was wearing new glasses. Nothing unusual there, except for the fact that she had never worn glasses before. Not wanting to make a big deal of it, I complimented her on the purchase of her spectacles, 'designer' it must be pointed out, and she thanked me for noticing.

Later the good woman ushered me outside to tip me off; they were actually purchased in the joke shop and she was, in fact, having us on. We then sat her down and questioned her on her deteriorating eyesight, and without batting an eyelid, she answered convincingly: she even told us that she was longsighted. Eventually she folded and explained that it was all a trick.

Kids love pulling fast ones on doting auld lads. However, adults have longer memories, and take greater satisfaction in returning the favour, Hallowe'en being the perfect opportunity to do so. Ho ho.

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