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PostPosted: Mon Jun 11, 2012 4:14 pm 
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Location: Sussex, England
Ray Jones recites some of the lyrics at the start of the video for 'Hanging in the Wire':

ME AND MR JONES …

Writer, raconteur, noted rapscallion Ray Roughler Jones – the Portobello Road Face recently seen declaiming World War One poetry over the intro to PJ Harvey’s Hanging In The Wire video – can now add playwright to his full and varied c.v.

The play – performed by Ray’s old friend and fellow Swansea ex-pat, Keith Allen – debuted at Parc Prison, South Wales – an appropriate venue considering Ray’s somewhat chequered background. His autobiography Drowning On Dry Land neither apologised for nor tried to downplay Ray’s talent for petty larceny – on the contrary, it revealed that Joe Strummer put up the money for the biggest theft Ray ever involved himself in: “… even at my most boisterous in defence of the working man I was still a thief … about to take advantage of the Right To Buy scheme”. Securing the keys and deeds to a bijou one-bedroom in leafy Ladbroke Grove – you might think this would be impossible for a man with no savings, no job, and no income apart from a fortnightly giro – but if you do think this, you clearly don’t know Ray. The Portobello Road Unquenchables began to look forward to the house-warming party. But it turned out that Ray’s dream of becoming ‘the first man to buy a flat for nothing’ was not to be. A surveyor’s demand of £500 was enough to scupper the whole scheme. But then enter Strummer, cheque book in hand …

But enough of the book, the play’s the thing:

How did the play come about? Ray: “A couple of years ago I wrote a book: Drowning On Dry Land and I went with it to a couple of festivals and it was fun. I thought ‘I’ve got to get back here and the book’ll be dead next year – or virtually – so I’ll have a go at writing a play. So I got back to London and I wrote a couple of 1000 words or so … I sent it to a friend and she said “Carry on, carry on: people find the hardest thing to do is write dialogue’. Well I always thought the hardest thing to do is write the other bit which is not dialogue! So like anything – sport or cleaning your floor – someone gives you a pat on the back and it just gears you up: so I finished the damn thing and now it’s called Carry That Weight.”

Enigmatic title – please explain? Ray: “It concerns the disappearance of a very, very significant and expensive work of art from a public park and how these two chaps, both down on their luck, through some remarkable circumstances, get the wherewithal to steal this object from the park. In times of strife things disappear, and there’s going to be a lot more of it soon. This wasn’t written as a current or a topical piece at all but it could turn out that way because the two blokes are skint, people are stealing scrap metal everywhere they can – all over the country, drains and sewer covers and scaffold: everything’s going missing … “

*NOTE WELL – Ray and I had this conversation a couple of weeks before THIS happened by the way. Just saying.

Ray did not lift this.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-16266378

To continue …

Two blokes in a park and a heist: I’m thinking Ealing caper movie meets Waiting For Godot. Ray: “That’s the odd thing! I sent my friend Kevin Allen a script and he wrote to Matt [Harry Burton, actor and director, in the frame to possibly direct Carry That Weight] and said [Ray puts on a gloomy ‘thespian’ voice] ”It’s very difficult you know Matt, marrying Beckett and Pinter” and Matt said “I doubt very much that Ray’s read either of them” and that’s fucking true! It’s meant to be a bit funny, but there’s a serious note in there, obviously, because these two lads: they’ve got a halfway house to go back to, but no money. One of them is never going to have money; one of them used to have money but was brought to his knees by his love of art…”

To find out more, you needed to get inside HMP Parc on June 8th 2012, where Keith Allen and Spencer Hudson performed this marvelous work. If that was something of a tall order for you, then keep a look out for more performances over the summer.

Ray’s autobiography Drowning On Dry Land is a marvelous read and can be bought from Amazon by clicking here:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Drowning-Dry-La ... 190647740X

And here is Ray at his silver-haired, silver-tongued best, lending PJ Harvey a bit of gravitas and almost certainly helping her to win the Mercury and that, I should think:

video on the link!

http://rachelrider.com/content/me-and-mr-jones/

_________________
Wiggins is so superbly unassuming, he looks like he's about to say 'Pop the gold medal in the post, I'm nipping out for some biscuits'

Mark Steel


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