Saturday, 5 November 2016

Van-Inspired Writings

There's a whole world of Van-Inspired writings out there.  There are sentimental poems, fake anecdotes where the author imagines meeting Van, short stories with Van as a character and even manga with a character named Van Morrison.  Guy Bartlett Williamson wrote the following piece as at least, some kind of tribute.  (If you could call a story where the millionaire artist Van Morrison steals food from a farmer a tribute.) 

Adventures With Van Morrison

From 1975-1987, my great friend Van Morrison and myself would take the month of September and hit the open road – in the guise of two old-fashioned travelling gentlemen (‘tramps’, in the English vernacular; hobos if you are American). Van wore a floppy hat sporting a partridge feather, while I preferred a battered old derby.  Our money would be left at home: all we has was a greasy coat, a rope belt and the freedom of the open road.  So, with just a couple of scones in a handkerchief, we would set off on an adventure, walking the back-roads of the English countryside, sleeping in barns, hedgerows or, if nothing else offered itself, a humble ditch.

On our very first outing in 1975, hunger hit in very quickly.  We had walked just ten country miles, when our conversation was interrupted by two rumbling bellies.  Something had to be done.  Van spotted a farmhouse up ahead.  And we were in luck: as we approached, the window rattled up and a pair of hands lay a fine, fat bramble pie on the windowsill to cool.  A fine, fat pie for the taking, I thought.  The enigma that is Morrison wiped his nose on his sleeve and whispered Fantabulous!  I looked at Van.  Was he thinking what I was thinking?  I’m sure he was, because we soon found ourselves sneaking up to the cottage window. 

Seconds later found us pelting down a country lane heading for an open field, sweat on the brow, pie in the coat, a dog on our tail.  As we climbed the fence, Van got his trousers caught in barbed wire, but he managed to hold on to the pie.  Mid-way across the field, Van froze.  “Holy Roman potatoes!” he cried out.  And I understood why.  There, heading our way, was the largest bull I ever had the misfortune to set my eyes on.  But, again, luck was on our side: the bull had his eye not on the two tramps tearing towards it, but the angry dog in hot pursuit.

Extremely relieved, we settled in a secluded shady grove in the woods and made camp.  It is well known in the rock ‘n’ roll world that Van Morrison makes an incredible cup of tea.  I have often watched him, and let me tell you, it’s like watching an artist at work, mixing the pigments, preparing the oil, the turps, etc.  But Morrison’s alchemical ingredients are the leaves, the hot water, the cups, the milk, and most crucially, the teapot.  Tea and bramble pie never taste as good as when made in a small clearing in the woods on a late-summer’s afternoon, with wood cracking in the fire and smoke scenting your clothes.

After our simple but sumptuous feast, Van took out his long-stemmed brier pipe and the stories would begin: tales of troubadours of old, of mythical journeys, of poets. And there, sadly, I will have to leave the scene: the sun shining down on two men with nothing but the clothes they were wearing and the dreams in their hearts.  But maybe some day I’ll tell you more of those crazy, carefree days.

‘Til then, stay on the bright side of the road.

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