A good friend of mine goes by the name of Ray Wittering. We met through work and he initiated our first conversation by asking what the bowl containing lumps of brown, sugar-y looking things next to the pots of tea and coffee was. I replied that, as Mick Jagger would say, it was brown sugar, he asked how come it tasted so good, and BOOM! we never looked back.
It always struck me as odd, not to say impressive, that despite my French degree, time spent working in France, and look-at-me-I-can-speak-French-you-know pretensions, his knowledge of French music and film verged on the encyclopedic whereas mine was more monosyllabic.
For just over two years we spent a fair amount of time commuting to work together in tight enclosed spaces, either by train or car, or on foot (after getting out of the tight enclosed spaces first). A lot of this time (and, it must be said, a lot of our actual ‘working’ time) was spent laughing at things we saw, and the things we (mostly he) said. We (mostly he) devised a number of comical characters (including, hilariously, a fat man who loved gravy) and wrote a number of scripts (mostly he. Look, he has a degree in English Literature & Film, ok) for TV shows, called things like Mummy, Make It Stop.
Relatively quickly I became more of an ‘additional material’ kind of contributor, but I was happy with that, as it was still always a pleasure to read his scripts, including Mondo Raymondo, a documentary-style programme based on the fictionalised life and times of Ray Winstone (featuring Ray in the lead role).
Despite making contact with, for example, Ray Winstone’s office, none of our (mostly his) TV ideas seemed to hit the right note for the TV execs. However, two words helps explain this: James fucking Corden (I know, I said two words, but you can have the fucking for free).
We also dreamt up a number of fictional Morrissey albums (Havana Good Times; The World In A Pie Crust), and went to a few football matches together. Our teams had the good grace to exchange a couple of 4-2 wins at Saltergate in consecutive seasons, and he also suffered a freezing February afternoon on the away terrace at Belle Vue, watching a truly awful game only enlivened by a late, solitary goal by the Spireites.
Ray has a wonderful blog, and it was during one of our conversations by email that he prompted, urged, or even dared me to do my own. You have a lot to answer for, Ray.