Also notable was the opportunity to fill in a string-replacing lull in proceedings with a fine version of “Love Hurts”, which I always enjoy imposing on the group as it gives me the opportunity to do my best Gram Parsons impression. Coupled with that was the availability of a couple of shelves’ worth of casks of ale which came associated with the imprecation to “help yourselves” and the wonderful opportunism of landlord Ady, who took our throwaway “This one’s in ‘D’ – I hope you all have your harmonicas ready?” to indeed scurry off upstairs only to reappear with an appropriately tuned harmonica, find a handy microphone and engage in a spirited instrumental duet with Tony Winn on “Rolling and Tumbling”. There was absolutely no call for the subsequent “…and if you’ve ever wondered what two cats fighting in a bag would sound like…” comment, there really wasn’t.
In the break I got chatting to a chap who mentioned in passing that he’d once jammed on stage with Van Morrison. I enquired further. It turns out that he was once in The 100 Club with some mates who were in a band, and who should walk in mid-soundcheck but the late, great Lonnie Donegan. The skiffle legend was hastily invited up for a jam, and things were going swimmingly before Van the Man himself actually walked in, took in the scene and decided to join his old mucker up on the stage! As you can imagine, our friend was mightily impressed by this astonishing turn of fortune and was even more delighted when Morrison made come hither gestures toward him, indicating that he, too, should join in with the communal merry-making. Having protested that he couldn’t play an instrument, he was handed a tambourine with the comment that no-one could muck that up, and it was important that everyone be able express themselves.
One lengthy improvisation later our chum was delighted to be approached by the great man, who extended a warm paw toward him. “Looks like I was wrong about that then. I’ll have that off you, if you don’t mind…” he said, witheringly.