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The debt that many Ulstermen owe Van Morrison

Alone among the trio of Belfast's heroes, Van Morrison's fame seemed to come to him against his will.

Unlike George Best and Alex Higgins, Van has spent his whole career dodging cameras, reporters, interviewers and even fans.

Famously private, he has gone to amazing lengths to remain just an ordinary guy who happens to be both a multi-million selling recording artist and one of the handful of leading influences in popular music anywhere since the war.

It's been a hard and costly fight - lawyers aren't cheap. Where some stars opt to ignore what's printed in the Press no matter what it is, nothing is too small to escape Van's attention.

It's an odd stance too, I suppose - most stars woo their fans with glimpses into their palatial homes and accounts of their private lives. Enough information to keep them keen and ensure sales of the next album. But not Van.

As a result, words like 'surly', 'reclusive', 'bad-tempered' and 'awkward' are routinely used to describe him, and in a weird way, have come to represent one version of what the 'typical Belfastman' is like.

The fact is, like Best and Higgy, Van's personality has become one way the rest of the world use to describe all of us. It's only partly true but it is true and there isn't anybody in Northern Ireland who can't understand a wee bit of where Van is coming from. Get your nose out of my letterbox!

But there's also plenty of Ulstermen who feel a deep private debt to Mr Morrison.

Like him, their charms may not be obvious at first glance.

But late one night they managed to persuade a lady way out of their league that they too had sensitivity, hidden depths and romance ... just after they pressed the Play button on Have I Told You Lately That I Love You.