Perky lessons from a rock god

16th January 2004 at 00:00
I saw Bob Dylan perform recently. He wore a pink suit and cowboy boots and shades - and a hedgehog on his head. He looked a thousand years old and danced as if his hamstrings had snapped. It didn't matter. His ravaged voice cut through the shadows like the Ancient Mariner. We could not choose but hear.

He's still got it. CHARISMA. By the yard. I want some. I've got to perk up my lessons. Consultants have told me so. One felt compelled to note that I was "reaching" about 70 per cent of the 10th year! High praise indeed, I thought. She'd caught me on a good day.

Considerably less is the norm. Even Crumlin, Furnace and Shriek were nearly on task and on chairs. Only Dave Mania went haywire - the Ritalin wore off.

In this mood he wouldn't have clocked the Cheeky Girls. But, no, I must try harder. I've got to reach 100 per cent. Or it's the soup kitchen.

I must get some of that Dylan Charisma. It's all right for him. He comes on stage in crepuscular shadows - a legend on the Never Ending Tour. Fans see him once a decade. I wander into the harsh classroom light. An old lag on the Never Ending National Curriculum Tour. Inmates see me 2,000 times a year.

He's got "Subterranean Homesick Blues". I've got Phonemes. He's got "Visions of Johanna". I've got the register. He does encores. I do detentions. I'd like to see Bob reach Dave Mania on a wet Thursday afternoon. I must work on a new act for this new year. Shall I try the drama department? Is there a Charisma Workshop?

There seem to be about four pedagogic modelsI The Raging Psychopath.

Roughly Alex Ferguson and the Hairdryer Treatment. Or my old geography teacher Sam Morgan. "Whitwham! See that red mark on the ceiling?" "Yes, sir!" "That's a former pupil, that is!" "Yes, sir". "That could be you, sunshine!" Nope. Not for me.

Then there's the Devastatingly Attractive. Modern surgery has not got this far. The Serenely Competent. Get real.

The Ravaged ProphetRock Icon? That's the one! I'm going for late Dylan crossed with late Keith Richard. Elegantly wasted with fish hooks in the locks. A pink suit and shades and no smiling 'til spring. The caretakers are already working on charisma lighting. I'll be so enigmatic. "This next one's called 'The Gerund'," I'll rasp in a Mississippi Delta voice.

They'll be mesmerised. I'll "reach" them allI and I've got a new name.

Whitwham's out. Zimmerman's in.

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