A funny thing happened to me a couple of days ago at a cafe in east Belfast. Myself and Kyle ‘The Kylemeister’ Leitch, whom some regard as ‘the godfather of punk’ in Belfast (even Terri Hoooley, who’s made a career out of that very epithet!), were quaffing Americanos at an outside table and putting the world to rights when a gentle soul in glasses at the next table said, “Did I just hear you mention Jimmy Clitheroe…?”
He did. It transpired the fellow had seen Clitheroe at an end of the pier show in Blackpool many years ago. Obviously, I had to then find a way to explain why his name had just come up in our conversation. It was like this…
The Kylemeister, in between anecdotes about old punks, had said, ‘Van’s not been back here since he was turned away…’ (The cafe in question is one of The Man’s haunts but one day a few weeks back he turned up and all the tables were full. Sometimes being The Man is no good when The Seats are unavailable.)
At this point, I may have mumbled a brief bit of Van impersonation involving pasty suppers, Mahalia Jackson, creme anglais and Jimmy Clitheroe. And so you can see what happened next…
Obviously, I had to explain to all concerned that, look, there’s this blog, and occasionally I might be known to contribute the odd very slightly exaggerated homage to Van’s mystical/nostalgic rants – Spangles, Rancheros, Keith Chegwin, Bessie Smith, Sidney Bechet etc etc etc
And so we all had a gay old time in the cafe garden, swapping anecdotes about the 70s. Man with glasses had been and remained a devotree of the cheesier end of 70s glam ( @Beany – you would have loved it!), telling how disappointed he had always been with Gary Glitter’s B-sides. The Kylemeister, who had run a record shop in the 70s, expressed that his disappointment never got past Gary’s A-sides.
Wouldn’t it have been great if Van had suddenly appeared in the middle of all this?
And the thing is, he still wouldn’t have got a seat.