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Why it should be Sir Van the Man for our star of County Down

By Lindy McDowell

Published 03/06/2015

Laughing matter: Rory McIlroy with Van Morrison
Laughing matter: Rory McIlroy with Van Morrison

One of the best photographs taken at the golf didn't even involve the golf. It was a picture taken in an hotel room of two of our greatest stars (and don't we now have a real rack of them in this place right now?) Rory McIlroy stands on one side, arms folded, that familiar cheery grin on his face.

Beside him, in much the same pose - but without the grin - is Mr Van Morrison. The arms here are more tightly clenched to the chest. At first glance the look on Van's face would suggest the grim demeanour of a man about to do battle with a traffic warden who's just ticketed him for being two minutes over.

And then you look at his eyes and you see ... mirth. Morrison is poking fun. Perhaps even at his own crotchety image.

He recently gave an interview (he doesn't do a lot of those) in which he remarked that commentators who call him grumpy and dour are well off the mark. It's they who need to get a sense of humour, he said.

He may have a point. For all the many, many millions of words that have been written about our greatest living legend (and he is) how much do people really know about the real Van the Man?

It's easy to pigeon-hole someone whose face (and a lot of us share this problem) is glum by default setting.

In that golf picture, though, Morrison belies his image of dour. Beside him young McIlroy is certainly enjoying the moment. There's a shared joke.

Rory may not have left Royal County Down with yet another sporting trophy. But the show he helped put on and the massive, open-hearted response of all those other local stars of sport, stage, screen and pantomime who rallied to make it the outstanding success it was, is an absolute credit to him. To all of them.

This small country has produced stars, real genuine-carat mega-stars of such amazing grace who remember the place they come. And never fail to do their bit to promote it.

And chief among them is the daddy of them all, Van Morrison.

Parsimonious he may be with his interviews, but Morrison is outstandingly generous with his contribution to local charity, with his time, with his music and with his heart.

In giving back to the place that nurtured and shaped him, he is truly an inspiration to that new generation following in his footsteps.

So why you have to wonder, has his contribution not been officially recognised? Possible answer - perhaps he has already been offered a gong and turned it down. But he has graciously accepted a major award for contribution to the arts.

Morrison is not an easy celeb. He doesn't play the game. Not the fame game anyway. He's happy to talk about his music but wants to keep the shutters down on his private life. Given the insatiable public interest on figures in the spotlight that was never going to be easy. How especially hellish it must have been for such a private man when his personal life has been peeled bare.

His career has been a dazzling one. Few of his generation have had a greater impact on the music of our time. In his lifetime, the boy with no advantages except his genius, has travelled a long, long way from Hyndford Street. But in coming home again he appears to have found a sense of peace.

In that picture with young McIlroy there's a reflection of that. And of the kindliness and support he has shown to other youthful stars from here. Morrison has never forgotten his roots.

So how come he has never received the official recognition lavished on others? How come it's still not Sir Van?

He is our greatest living star in every sense and a truly great man. Time we properly paid tribute to the brilliant Van the Man of the people.

No anarchy with this young man

Walking along the street the other day I was almost annihilated by a teenage lad running for the bus.

Say what you like about this surly youth but this one was a gentleman. Red in the face, he couldn’t stop apologising. “I’m so, so sorry,” he kept repeating. He was so polite. So mortified.

So I had a little smile as he walked off down the street and I got a good look at the slogan on his hoodie. Sons of Anarchy it read.

In this case an especially courteous Son of Anarchy.

Sam Cam’s a right picture for beach

Sam Cameron is (hurrah!) beach body ready. Even though this very concept led to recent protests against an offending ad on the London Tube, it still excites the beauty editors.

Updating us on Samantha’s beach body readiness, one report outlines how good she looked in her bikini when she was snapped in a resort in Ibiza “looking at ice cream”. How does she do it, the same article asked? Who knows?

But maybe part of the trick is that Mrs C confines herself to just “looking at ice-cream”.

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