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it's an astral week for the man.


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.


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
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