Anneke Derksen is a self employed professional writer, editor and proof reader working on a freelance basis for Reed Elsevier. She also is a Gestalt Therapist, but closed her practice when she moved from Holland to Belgium. Anneke currently lives in Antwerp, Belgium. She met her husband, Hans Derksen, while waiting in line for a Bob Dylan concert, and they married on the fifth day of May in 1999. They both are devoted collectors and maintain the website Another Site of Bob Dylan.
In April, Anneke shared the experience of her 1992 chance meeting of Dylan in Dunkirk, France, for the Bob Dylan Examiner’s 70th birthday countdown. Last week, she briefly met Dylan again. Here’s her story:
Better than alchemy. I did it again.
Coincidentally meeting Bob Dylan three times in twenty years in Europe is just unbelievable. Maybe “coincidence” is not the right term. This time, it had more to do with strategy.
On the evening of October 18, in the lobby of an Antwerp hotel, I met Bob Dylan for a third time. Claude Boni, the French artist who makes Bob Dylan collages, drawings and paintings, stayed with us so we could all attend the Antwerp show together. Claude arrived earlier in the day, and in the evening we decided to go into town, just the two of us.
On the “Groenplaats,” a square in the heart of the city with a big statue of Rubens in the center, some student event in progress. I think they were being “hazed.” While we were observing the activities, we noticed two men standing next to us. One was a big guy and the other one was smaller, and dressed up like a hobo. I immediately saw that the big guy was Baron, his body guard, and deduced that “the hobo” had to be Bob Dylan!
I took a quick look and yes, it was unmistakably Bob’s profile. Because nothing special was happening except these students making noise, both men stopped watching and left. I told Claude that we had just stood next to Bob Dylan, but she didn’t believe me. As we looked at them walking away, I noticed that they were heading for the side entrance of the hotel. To see them again, my strategy was to enter through the front, walk through the restaurant and into the lobby, so that we had to cross paths.
And so it went.
Claude still didn’t believe me. She was hesitant and didn’t follow close enough to be with me when I “coincidentally” bumped into Bob and Baron. I put on my highly “surprised” face, and walked right up to Bob, saying, “Hey, Mister Dylan … Great to see you again, and now in my hometown. It’s been a long time since I saw you.” He looked surprised, put out his hand to shake mine and mumbled something like “Hey, hello there.” I told him of our “coffee” in Dunkirk and he said, “Yes, I think I remember.” Of course he probably didn’t, but it was very polite of him to act as if he did. He leaned his head in so that his face was close to mine, and there was something like a kiss in the air or a rub on my cheek. Then I said, “It was nice meeting you again. I will leave you now. Have a good night.”
The entire exchange lasted only 10 seconds or something. All the while that Baron character was looking at me as if he wanted to kill. Maybe he was angry at himself because he failed to protect Bob from a harmless fan. There was nobody there who took any notice of the hobo with his guard, and I’m sure that nobody knew who he was. Even Claude didn’t believe that it was Bob until I was speaking with him and she could see his face.
After this “coincidental” encounter, they walked toward the hotel rooms. I was very happy that I again managed to talk with Bob, but was now in need of a cigarette, so we decided to go for a smoke. On our way out, we saw the band members having supper in the restaurant. Once outside, we saw Dylan manager Jeff Kramer already smoking a cigarette. That was a great opportunity to start a conversation about the “non-smoking mafia” in the U.S. and Europe. We had a lot of fun, and after we were done with our cigarettes, we all went back in and had a good time with Stu, Charlie, and Tony from Dylan’s band, along with Kramer and a very nice woman (identity unknown).
As all my friends know, I’m no longer that eager to go to see Bob in concert, but I have to admit that the Antwerp show was 100% better than the last one I saw in Amsterdam two years ago. I thought the band was fresh, strong and enthusiastic. My thoughts on Dylan’s voice and his stupid organ, however, are not quite as positive. I know a lot of fans disagree, but in my opinion his voice is worn out, broken. It sounds like he’s doing some kind of alternative rap.
And to come back to Baron. During the final song of the Antwerp show, a big guy jumped on stage and Baron captured him and dragged him away, like he was a feather. This Baron guy must be very strong, like a Kung Fu fighter.
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