Brief Encounter #3

Mel SmithMel Smith

MY encounter with the portly and incredibly funny Mel Smith was brief and eternally memorable.

For those who don’t know me, one of my lifelong passions – indeed an obsession – is the music of a certain Robert Allen Zimmerman, known to the world as Bob Dylan.

I have followed Mr Dylan to gigs across the UK and Europe, and as age catches up with me and my hearing fades I truly believe the voice of the legend just gets better and better.

Anyway I digress.

It is February 1990 and I have tickets for three successive nights of a six night Bob Dylan residency at the Hammersmith Apollo in London.

On the first night at the Apollo I manage to brush shoulders with former England fast bowler Bob Willis and the late and great Dylanologist John Bauldie in the theatre bar. I also manage to get my car locked in a multi-storey car park and have to pay the attendant £10 to free it for me.

So when the second night arrives – and to save any repetition of the car park fiasco of the previous evening – I decide to beat the rush and leave during Bob’s second encore. On this evening that song is a delightful solo of Dark is a Dungeon.

I catch just the first two verses on the alleyway to the stairs before leaving quietly and quickly.

I arrive at the swing doors of the Apollo in an empty foyer and am set to leave into the cold winter night. I fumble in my leather jacket pocket for my car keys when suddenly I am almost knocked over by a bustling and puffing man also making a fast exit from the gig.

I look up to see the smiling and slightly red face of Mr Smith.

“Oops, sorry mate,” he says as he pushes through the doors.

He turns briefly and adds: “Sorry I am in a rush”, before disappearing into the night.

I guess there were two concert goers that night who missed the full beauty of Bob’s Dark is a Dungeon… Mel and me!

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Author: seagullnic

Writer, editor, lecturer and part-time musician. Passions in life: my family, Bob Dylan, music of many genres, Brighton and Hove Albion FC, cooking plus good food and wine.

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