In fact, in 2019, Bob is playing in the parks – Hyde London and Nowlan Kilkenny – with Neil Young, and traditionally we would have been upfront, relishing what we always fear will be the last time we see him. But I’m not there.
Two of the greatest tennis players of all time are at Wimbledon, where they produced one of the greatest tennis matches of all time. But I’m not there.
And at Lords, England and New Zealand are playing out if not the best ever one day game, certainly the game with the most dramatic and nail-biting conclusion ever. But I’m not there.
Instead, I am glued to the TV which is showing the cricket live on free-to-air for the first time since 2005. And I am there for every ball.
I am not alone in regretting the decision to sell out to Sky, which brought money into the game, but diminished its profile and appeal for a generation. But I do applaud the decision of Sky to make their coverage available to the country as a whole. (BT Sport also gave up their exclusive rights to the Liverpool v Tottenham Champions Final: Respect.)
Despite these acts of charity, these exceptions that prove the rule, it is surely wrong that the audience for these great sporting occasions should be restricted to those who can afford the subscriptions to Sky and/or BT.
It is the exact opposite in the US, where baseball, for example, is notable not for its absence from American screens but for its ubiquity. Personally, I cannot get too much, but I am sorry for those who, unaccountably, have no interest in the game.
It is, however, this very ubiquity, the fact of being everywhere all the time, which makes it not merely a popular game but part of the national consciousness; as American as motherhood and apple pie.
It has the same place in the American psyche as cricket used to be here when I was a boy.
I understand that the BBC has rights to the forthcoming and bizarre form of the game, The Hundred. I am not sure to what extent I will embrace this format. But it’s a start.
Meanwhile, my thanks to Sky for their generosity. Thanks to them, I saw something unprecedented, something thrilling, something rewarding.
Thanks to them, I was there.
Today from the everysmith vaults: Thrilled by the footage of Bob and Neil playing Will The Circle Be Unbroken in Kilkenny (where I saw a great Bob show back in 2001, with Ronnie Wood), I have delved back into the vaults for the first time Bob and Neil did this song (hymn?) together, at the SNACK Benefit in Kerzan Stadium San Francisco in 1975. A great show – and the Dead were there too!