The Fish and Chip van tour

Fish and Chip van tour © Simon Thackray

Fish and Chip Van Tour. Event copyright © Simon Thackray. Photo © Tony Bartholomew

The Fish and Chip van tour

by Charles Hutchinson

Yorkshire Evening Press 12 November 2003 REVIEW

NORTON chippie Steve Tate has been doing his Tuesday night fish-and-chip run through Ryedale’s winding roads for four years.

He is used to strange things happening: only last year his frying trailer was stolen, never to be traced. “I’m still looking out for it, and I’d still recognise it,” he says.

Steve is at the wheel of his van on a damp, not-too-chilly Tuesday night. Behind him is his replacement trailer, funded partly by a Countryside Agency grant. Beside him is a journalist and a trombone player, not his usual companionship on his journey. (Son Steve, mini-Steve in his identical frying gear, is in a following car, driven by The Shed pioneer of improvised arts events, Simon Thackray).

Simon had hit upon the idea of accompanying the launch of The Shed’s first photography exhibition at Brawby Village Hall with music and mushy peas.

Trombonist Alan Tomlinson is among the improvised musicians pictured in Jo Fell’s show, and the London-based Mancunian had agreed to play not only at the village hall but at all seven stops on Steve’s fry-up. His fee: fish, chips and mushy peas, plus beer and tea to keep his mouth and lips on the move in this most physical form of instrument playing.

The plan was to start at Slingsby at 4.45pm and officially end the tour at Amotherby at 9.05pm, but the van is running almost an hour behind schedule by only the fourth stop, Great Barugh, such is the turn-out to observe a more surreal twist on that Lurpak advert with the particularly perky trombone player.

The Lurpak lad liked to butter up Penelope Keith with a tune; Alan Tomlinson greets the intrusion of a tune much like swatting away a wasp. “You make your instrument shout and scream, you play chords, suck and blow notes, make different effects and noises,” he says, before whirling round and round, dizzying himself in the village hall.

His music goes where the mood takes him, one moment inspired by the sizzling sound of fish being dropped into the fryer, another time by Steve pressing his siren to announce his arrival at Brawby. Alan duly finds a klaxon horn in his bag to use in his next solo piece.

That bag of curios contains even WD40 and piles cream for lubricating the trombone. Not ketchup, however. That’s left to Steve and his Tuesday night fish fry. Very tasty.

8.35pm, and Alan is still blowing strong… three stops to go.

© Charles Hutchinson, Yorkshire Evening Press

Alan Tomlinson and the River Seven NEW