Blunder on the Mountain, but Dylan saves the day

THIS is the unlikely but entirely true story of how an authentic American idol saved me from my first-ever speeding ticket. It s a story which started in surreal fashion as a long, hard climb up a Spanish mountainside ended with the pleasing discovery tha

THIS is the unlikely but entirely true story of how an authentic American idol saved me from my first-ever speeding ticket.

It's a story which started in surreal fashion as a long, hard climb to the top of a Spanish mountain ended with the pleasing discovery that Bob Dylan and his Band had got there first.

To the utter amazement of local mountain dwellers, the thousands of fans who had completed the same epic pilgrimage to the verdant plateau were already being entertained by the pounding rhythms of Everybody Must Get Stoned.

Few concerts anywhere can have taken place in so dramatic a setting but it quickly dawned on me that the trouble with staging concerts in the middle of nowhere is that even with the best of intentions, the only obvious way to get there is by car.

And if getting there was difficult, how much harder would it be to leave, since there was really only one way in, and one way out.

It soon became clear that staying until the end would mean a hopeless mission of trying to emerge from distant fields transformed into car parks for a day, into what was bound to become a snail-like procession of headlights snaking towards the lowlands for hours on end. With a tight travelling schedule ahead of us, we didn't have hours to spare, even at midnight on a Saturday.

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Unforgivably, we left before the encore to make good our escape from the mayhem that was bound to follow.

It worked a treat, if only because Dylan's last song, Like A Rolling Stone, was long enough to enable a quick return to the deserted car park, thanks in no small way to the kindly intervention of a friendly native and his mini bus.

Soon we were on our way down the pitch black mountain roads, long before anyone else, or so we thought. Emerging from what must have been a pre-planned short cut across the mountain top, Mr Dylan's tour bus edged out of a side road ahead of us .

Initially this proved very useful, as the bright lights of the bus illuminated the difficult terrain. Its driver was obviously accustomed to hauling buses around treacherous mountain roads with considerable confidence and skill, though with such an illustrious cargo on board, it wasn't until we reached the first stretch of straight road that the impressive vehicle, more of a hotel on wheels really, was asked to giddy-up.

Only then did I realise that for the first time on the journey, we were quite possibly exceeding a speed limit that had been sensibly set by the Spanish authorities to discourage unsuspecting drivers like me from plunging to kingdom come at the next bend in the road.

This sudden revelation came just a second too late, for the gentlemen of the Guardia Civil were already making circles in the dark with their torches, inviting both the offending tour bus and the car in which we were travelling to slow to a halt. It was safe to assume that this was not for the purpose of discussing the possibilities of Spain beating Germany in the forthcoming European Football Championship, obsessed though the entire Spanish nation seemed to be with that prospect.

The unsuspecting flotilla of cars that would come careering down the mountain roads following the concert would surely provide rich pickings for the traffic cops, and we were first on the menu.

Dismay turned to delight, however, when after the briefest of conversations, the big black tour bus was waved past the checkpoint, and we in our modest little hire car along with it. A lucky escape indeed and one which I can only conclude was due to the fact that we were following in the tread marks, if not in the footsteps, of a living legend.

At his next concert, which we felt obliged to attend, Mr Dylan was in scintillating form and began his encore with a song called Thunder on the Mountain.

I was left to reflect that our Blunder on the Mountain almost cost us dearly - but how many people can boast that they've been saved from something as humble as a speeding ticket by a genuine music legend?

Geoff Martin