Sunday, March 09, 2008

Van the Man Meets The Bard of Ely

The following is a picture of my good friend Steve Andrews, also commonly known as The Bard of Ely, due to the fact that he writes poetry and that for many years lived in Ely, in Cardiff. The story that follows, about the time that Steve met Van Morrison, is a word-for-word transcript of a tape I made with Steve, which was later used as the basis of a Guardian column, and later again in my book The Last of the Hippies, in which Steve plays a major part. Apologies for the lack of new content on this site. I've been busy with a number of projects. Meanwhile, enjoy the sound of Steve's distinctly comic voice....

“And we’ll walk and talk in gardens wet with rain,

And I’ll never ever grow so old again.”

Van Morrison: Astral Weeks.

First of all I spoke to Van at Robin’s. I was working for Robin Williamson. This would have been about 1993. I was working at Robin’s as his secretary. And I had to answer the phone and everything, and I answered the phone one day and it was actually, it was Van the Man, and I’m saying, "who’s speaking please," and he’s saying, "Van Morrison." And I’m in total shock, awe, whatever, I’m like, "wow, this is Van Morrison," you know. And that was the first time I spoke to him, and that was a very unsuccessful conversation. I’m sort of gibbering, "oh, um, I’ve always been, well er, a great fan of yours." And he’s saying, "yeah, yeah?" And I’m saying, "yeah, yeah, really, what shall I…?" And he’s saying, " just tell Robin that I’m in the area and if I’m around I’ll give him a call again." I said, "oh yeah, right, right, I’ll do that." And - I remember what he said - he said, "all the best." And that was it. And I thought, "oh wow, wow, Van Morrison has said ‘all the best’ to me, this is brilliant, I’ve spoken to him." And that was the first time that I had any sort of connection with Van.

But then, I’d taken my son to his pottery class. And it was closed that day. And it was in the afternoon by now. Robin Williamson was doing the midsummer solstice concert at the Celtic folk museum in St Fagan’s, which I obviously knew about. I had an invite to be there. Because the pottery thing wasn’t happening, I said to my son, "well let’s go along and see Robin." So we went to the folk museum and it was an appalling day - it was one of these midsummer absolute piss-down days, it was absolute torrential rain going on - and we got there quite late anyway, and when we got there Robin’s gig was just about finished. And because of the terrible weather, they had to move the open air thing into one of the marquee tents. And Robin finished his set, and I could see a couple of people, one of whom was Van Morrison. And Robin went over and he was talking to them, and I thought, "wow, that’s Van Morrison again." And then I heard in the conversation, it came up that the other guy who was with Van was from Ely. And I thought, "wow, wow, Van Morrison is actually with someone who’s from Ely. This is my cue to go over and say something." And I went over and I said - the first thing I said was just utterly ridiculous - I said, "so you’re Van Morrison then?" And he said, "er yeah?" And I said, "oh yeah, I spoke to you once before, from Robin’s." And he said, "yeah." I said, "And I’ve always been a great fan of yours, I love your music." And he said, "yeah." And by this point I’m thinking, I’m not making much success here, I’m not having much success in having sparkling conversation with my hero here, all he ever says is "yeah."

At which point my son came over to me, and he’d just been outside the tent, and he came in the tent, like, we were at the edge of the tent, and Robin is stood one side, and Van’s stood here, and there’s this other guy from Ely stood there, and Isaac just comes in under the edge of the tent, and he says, "Dad?" And I says, "yes Isaac." And he says, "you see this rope?" pointing to the guide rope coming off the marquee tent. And I said, "yeah?" And I’m starting to sound a bit like Van Morrison, I’m saying, "yeah?" And he said, "well, can you put your head by it?" And I said, "yeah." And he said, "well go on then." So I’m moving my face down by the rope, very naively, in my usual way, and not expecting anything, and not being on my guard at all, I’m just putting my face down by this rope. At which point he grabbed the rope and twanged it, and all the water that had collected on the tent roof flew all over my face and down my neck and all over my clothes, and I just didn’t know what to do or say or anything, I’m just completely and utterly freaked out with utter embarrassment, cos this is right in front of Van Morrison. And I just muttered something, "er, oh, er, Isaac, um, we’ve got to, er, we’ve got to go and, um, come on," and sort of grabbed his hand and went. And I didn’t look back. I just sort of went out into the rain outside and headed for the exit as fast as possible. And that was it.

Bard of Ely at MySpace


Bard of Ely said...

And I'll never forget that happening and it was just like that! lol

I_hate_liars said...

when we deny magic a part of our soul dies an with it life itself

Anonymous said...

Robin Williamson was another bloody Scientologist too wasn't he ? I met him once and he seemed ok.

Just been listening to The Incredible String Band's Liquid Acrobat LP. It is quite charming. Side 2 finishes with a track called Darling Belle which is so quaint it sounds as if it was recorded by gaslight.