Dylan leaves Britain's Hall of Fame blowin' in the wind

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The Independent Online

* As Bob Dylan kicks off what may very well be his final tour of the UK, he has delivered a splendidly unceremonious snub to the Great British music industry.

On Wednesday, Dylan was inducted into the UK Music Hall of Fame during a glitzy ceremony at Alexandra Palace. This signal honour has already been accorded to The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Elvis Presley and U2.

However, organisers are deeply upset because he refused to attend their bash, which was broadcast on TV last night. In contrast to every other one of this year's recipients, Dylan wouldn't even make a video acceptance speech.

Instead, the actor Woody Harrelson, a vague acquaintance, accepted it on Dylan's behalf. He gave a sheepish speech saying that he'd pass it on in the unlikely event that the great man decides to come and watch his forthcoming West End play.

It's a particular snub, since the ceremony was timed to coincide with Dylan's arrival in the UK. Organisers say they offered to schedule the bash around his tour dates, but Dylan's office didn't return calls.

"We have made every effort to get him to accept it in person or with a video message, but he obviously prefers to remain as enigmatic as ever," they say.

The singer's spokesman blames prior tour commitments. "I don't know about a video message, but I know he's thrilled to be in the hall of fame," he says.

* Mike Tyson's decision to visit York on his speaking tour of the UK next week has really set the cat among the pigeons.

Locals in the historic northern city are worried that Iron Mike's "bad boy" image might damage the local tourist trade.

Two leading attractions, the Jorvik Viking Centre and Clifford's Tower, have gone so far as to ban his entourage from visiting.

"Given Mr Tyson's recent high profile in the media, we are very concerned that the number of people likely to be following him would be too high for this small site," say English Heritage, which owns Clifford's Tower.

"Given its location at the top of a mound, and the fact that there's only one way in and out, we consider the health and safety risks would be too high. So we've declined a request to be part of his itinerary."

Keith Mulhearn, the local tourist guide arranging the visit of the former world champion reckons this is "a disgraceful snub".

* The actress Tilda Swinton raised eyebrows recently when, in an interview with this column, she denied that her latest film The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe is a Christian allegory.

"CS Lewis is a well-known writer of Christian tracts, but I think it would be an insult to him to say The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe is a religious tract," she said. "This is not a religious film, but people will project onto it what they want to."

Swinton's view already contradicts CS Lewis scholars, and yesterday the Catholic Church stepped noisily into the debate.

A press release announces that it will mark the film's release by launching an internet site about Narnia's links to Christianity.

Swinton is unlikely to be moved, however. She says: "I was brought up to believe it's extremely bad manners to talk about your faith."

* On Monday, I reported that Peter Tatchell had accused the maverick MP Bob Marshall-Andrews of "homophobia" for calling his fellow Labour backbencher Jim Dowd a "faggot" during an altercation in Westminster last week.

It fact, BM-A chose his words more carefully. He actually called Mr Dowd a "faccio". This is pronounced faggio and is a Latin term meaning a gofer or lackey.

"Interestingly, it's also the origin of the public-school term, 'fag'," he tells me. "I may be many things, but I'm not a homophobe."

Indeed. And since - as a noted QC - Marshall-Andrews is in the habit of getting his facts right, it would also have made a poor choice of insult.

A few years back, "Blair babe" MP Janet Anderson was granted a divorce from her first husband, Vince Humphreys, on the grounds of her adultery with the frisky, heterosexual Mr Dowd.

* Am I alone in thinking that New Zealand's All Blacks rugby team are taking Saturday's showdown with England a bit too lightly?

Last night, their 35-man squad watched The Producers in the West End. "We've had a special request for them to go backstage afterwards," said a spokesman for the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane.

"Their management said the team are keen to meet our chorus girls, particularly the leading lady, Leigh Zimmerman."

Goodness only knows what the players' wives, who were not on this extra-curricular excursion, thought of the whole thing.

"A New Zealand TV crew did ask to film backstage," I'm told. "But the players weren't keen, so we've banned them from the venue."