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it's an astral week for the man.

Byline: CIARAN MCKEOWN

So, we can't say Van The Man any more since he is now Van The Knight. I'm delighted he has been honoured - and that he himself, with a reputation for being unpredictable, is thrilled.

The news prompted the usual chat about whether he really is a "grumpy wee man", liable to give interviewers and promoters a hard time.

I've only been in his company once, away back in the Sixties when he was still with Them, and student friends with whom I shared a house were hoping to engage him either for a Festival or Rag Week gig.

I have two overwhelming impressions. The first was of an intensely shy person. I wondered if he was feeling ill-at-ease among smart-ass with-it students, even though my friends had been raving about him.

One of them, a shrewd Ballymena man, solved the problem. He brought his guitar down and pretended awkwardly to try to tune it.

After a few minutes, he gave up and said, "Van, Could you tune this thing for me, please?".

And that produced my second strong impression: within seconds, The Man was plucking and strumming his way into the zone, almost a different person.

I was not surprised to learn, years later, that he suffered terribly from stage fright. I have some experience of having to "perform" in front of thousands of people in spite of having an almost continuous panic attack.

So when I hear people criticising him for ducking out of gigs or interviews, I have nothing but the deepest sympathy.

He has given us original music and helped enormously to lift the morale of East Belfast people let down by a minority of racist bigots.

On "days like this", it is time simply to applaud with gratitude and affection. Well done, Sir Ivan still The Man.

CAPTION(S):

ONE OF THEM Sir George Ivan Morrison

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Title Annotation:Editorial; Opinion Columns
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Jun 15, 2015
Words:313
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