The number of dogs to be walked today is growing. Cousin’s Son D and his wife have gone to Liverpool with her brother for the day, leaving their two dogs at home. I shan’t walk them all together, so I shall probably get three walks myself, meaning my step counter should be recording a good number by nightfall. The main road has become so much busier it rules out any walks that take in even a small stretch of it, so the only down side is the repetitive nature of these walks. However, at this time of year there are always new plants coming into flower, calves in the fields, neighbours on the road.

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In a moment we are off to Bellaghy to collect our tickets for Friday (Van Morrison) and Sunday (Alan Johnson). Two very different ‘acts’ at the same venue, the Seamus Heaney Homeplace. In preparation for listening to Alan Johnson, I caught up on his memoirs. He has written four volumes, and until a month or so ago I had only read the first one. The fourth has recently come out in paperback, so I am guessing this round of talks and interviews he is doing is to promote sales. It’s a musical memoir. I was nearly at the end when I realised The was no mention of Van the Man. A quick glance at the index confirmed the Belfast Cowboy’s omission. On the spur of the moment I sent Alan Johnson an email. Somewhat to my surprise I received a reply within forty-eight hours. He explained he loved Astral Weeks, but there were other musicians whose music he preferred to Morrison’s. It was a pleasant friendly email, as one would expect from this Johnson. Continue reading

Belfast Cowboy

It’s no secret that I am a fan of Van Morrison. I’ve been to see him perform a number of times, and I’ve been lucky enough to see him in bonhomous mood as well as skulking at the back of the stage as though he was pretending not to be there. He’s a mercurial performer, who I, and millions of others, forgive because of his undoubted genius.

So, imagine my feelings earlier this evening when I was talking to Cousin on the ‘phone. She was in a little coffee shop in East Belfast with one her daughters. There were no other customers, Then a man came in with a baseball cap pulled low over his head. I say a man, but I mean Van the Man. He ordered a coffee and a scone, and when the man behnd the counter asked how he was, said he was tired, having just flown in from Denver.

I don’t know the name of the cafe, or the address, but next time I’m in NI visiting Cousin, you can be sure I’ll have studied Van’s touring schedule and even if he’s half a world away, I’ll be asking to visit the cafe and stand in his hallowed steps.