I’ve got to be honest…..when the old blog was unceremoniously dragged off the internet I wasn’t sure if I had the appetite to keep whatever I got back up going to the same extent. So I’ve surprised myself that today marks the 200th musical posting on The (new) Vinyl Villain.

There’s a huge thanks needed to those of you who have contributed guest postings to hit that number and to those readers of old who were patient enough not to complain about so many of the posts on T(n)VV were repeats from the old place. If I’m being honest, there are days when I wonder if I can be really bothered with it all as I’m not sure I really have all that much more to say, but then someone will drop me an e-mail or leave a comment or in the case of Luca a few months ago, write something really special that makes the effort all worthwhile.

I was really keen to do something special to mark the 200th post….so I got in touch with a dear old friend to ask if he would be willing to help out by letting me re-post something that made a lot of people smile when they read it on the old blog back in 2010.

I know that those of you who read it first time round will not be upset that after much digging around I’ve been able to find this particular;ar contribution from the weekly series called ‘The Sunday Correspondents’ in which a number of different contributors were given free rein to say what they liked, provided it was on a Sunday.

The most talented and naturally gifted and funny of those contributors went by the name of Dick Van Dyke. He is a Leeds United supporter. He adored The Jam/Paul Weller/The Style Council. Back in 1984, he thought he could combine a match in London with a gig in Amsterdam. What follows is a true story:-

Amsterdam Canal Cruise

INITIATIVE TEST

mp3 : The Style Council – Headstart For Happiness

I went to Amsterdam to see The Style Council one Sunday in Nov 1984. We’d travelled over by coach on the Saturday night after a Charlton v Leeds match in London. After a green-gilled ferry to Ostend, we travelled up to the city of canals, bicycles and scantily-clad women in shop windows. All day Sunday was spent drinking. (The difference between Dutch Heineken and the fizzy Session beer of blighty soon kicked in). We were all shit-faced.

After the gig, (and my climb down the front of the Circle to Stalls having fallen in love with DC Lee), I came out of the theatre and – because I’d dawdled for a much-needed piss – I’d become detached from the rest of the merry coach load. Clueless as to where the coach had parked earlier that day, I was soon lost.

My jacket was on the bus and it contained my passport, ID and money. Little known to me, after a 15 minute wait, they’d set off without me in order to meet the ferry.

It was freezing and nearly midnight as I stood shivering in a ‘Tube Station’ T-shirt and jeans in downtown Amsterdam – where all the streets look the same. I was totally stranded, due back at work the next morning and my girlfriend in the UK was expecting me.

What would YOU do next?

Initially, I went to the Dutch Police Station. I know; I should’ve known better. It was just as you would envisage. 2 blokes, feet up on desk, TV on, smoke-filled room, bottle of Bells in filing cabinet. “Go and follow the coach to the Port” was the ‘shexy futball‘ Van Der Valk-meets-Ashes To Ashes response from the moustachioed porn star lookalike.

“Er righto .. I’ll do that then”.

I did go back to the Theatre thinking that the band, recognising my dire plight, would welcome me aboard the warm tour bus. I’d be tucked up in a bunk bed alongside Mick Talbot whilst Paul strummed English Rose and DC Lee fed me hot toddies, donuts and skunkweed.

“We’re going to Berlin now” grunted the big hairy fucker who always used to look after Weller.
(This was 1984, so Berlin presented it’s own problems – unlike today’s open all hours EU borders). I’d naturally assumed that they were returning to Kent and White Cliffs and warmed teapots … but no.

‘Think again’ I thought, as the bitter November wind gnarled into my mind and my body. It was now 12.30am.

And so it came to pass…

I was back outside the Theatre; the band couldn’t help me. I decided to (somehow) follow the coach to the Port – where surely my passport will have been handed in by my mate to a nice Customs fellow and all this mess would be tidied up. I know… I’ll hitch-hike.

Looking around me in central Amsterdam, I asked a couple of drunks by a tram stop where the motorway south was. (A bit like standing in Leicester Square asking for the M1). It took 3 or 4 more requests before I got an answer which made reasonable sense. I needed the E35 – wherever that was. They pointed; and then shook their heads as I turned; but not before telling me that it was illegal to hitch-hike in Holland!

So I began running to the motorway junction. Running, not jogging. I was becoming more and more desperate, but without any money, what else could I do? Besides, the running temporarily took my uncontrollable shivering away.

Luckily, it was only about 3 miles to the junction. But as I stood on the hard shoulder with my thumb up, I quickly realised how isolated I was and how it must have looked. It was very late on a Sunday night/Monday morning and there was little traffic. After the hustle of the city, it was a quiet and eerie place.

After what seemed like forever, a car finally stopped. It was a black BMW with 3 large black men inside. As I had never been as cold in my life, I didn’t care about anything but getting warm, and the thick furry seat covers and blast of warm air from the car heaters are the only things I really remember. That, and the Barry White lookalike driver saying in a voice of treacle and tarmacadam,

“What you doin‘ man? You’re gonna die out there”.

I tried to explain my plight, as a fat bassline from speakers the size of windmills almost burst my heart through my chest. ‘Fuck’. They were only going 2 junctions in my direction and, in what seemed like only 5 minutes, I was back standing on the hard shoulder. This time, I was well away from the Amsterdam suburbs, without any road lighting and only the steam from my breath for company.

I was now shaking like a shitting whippet; the cold and the fear and the stark reality hit me. After what seemed an age, a small Citroen van – the sort you would only see in some arty French film from 1968 – pulled over and stopped.

“Where you going?” asked the driver. “Er … south. Belgium. Please”. The truth was that by now I didn’t really know where I was going. I had no concept of the geography of north-west Europe.

He told me his name was Dan and he was going to Utrecht … wherever that was. In the van were lupins. Lupins and tulips and other big bloody flowers I didn’t recognize. He was a Dutch florist. A florist with a goatee beard and a spliff on the go. (He could have been a goat with a spliff and a gladioli up his arse, I didn’t care).

I explained my predicament to him as the sound of ‘See My Friends’ by The Kinks ….. came through his tinny car radio. He took me the 50 or so km to his home town. He was my Samaritan. Dan Van Samaritan if you like.

In his little apartment, he gave me coffee, toast and a spare bed. He explained he had to leave for work around 7am. When I woke around 8am, he’d left me a sweater, a rainproof jacket, a map of Holland, a hunk of cheese and 12 Guilders. (About £5).

mp3 : The Kinks – See My Friend

What would I do next? Join me next month (if you are in the slightest bit interested) as I continue the true story of my journey home to Blighty. To be continued … perhaps.*

(Dick Van Dyke, Sunday 28 March 2010)

* Readers were left in suspense until mid-May for the next instalment.  You guys can come back the day after tomorrow and find out what happened next …………