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|Drowning on Dry Land|
Most of you know Ray Roughler-Jones, the chronicler of our own Private Idaho during The Last Days of Bohemia. He presents RoughlerTV, but our association goes back to the late 80s and the Roughler Gallery, a beacon of culture in bad old NoGO (North of Golborne Road).
Many of you know that Ray has had a tangential relationship with the book trade for many years. You may not know Tangent Books has just published his memoir, Drowning On Dry Land. He wanted to call it MUG, Memoirs of a Useless Git, but they wouldn’t let him. It’s a cracking read and a lot of you are in it. But it doesn’t have an index so you’ll have to buy it and read it to find out.
It opens with Ray wafting into the Café de Paris with Ines de la Fressange on his arm, the guest of honour as some Lagerfeld opening on Bond Street floats on to the after party. The rest of the book tells you how he got there from ‘living on speed in a poxy high-rise flat in Swansea, making ends meet by thieving, fiddling and a bit of low-end drug dealing’.
I am biased but it is a veritable tour de force, delivering sweet anecdotes and sour insights in the sugar coated bile that is the Welshman’s trademark. You could be back at City Lounge 2. All your favourite stories are there, like Strummer lending him £500 to buy a flat, how Vic Reeves won Mr Saucy’s talent competition and all the dirt you could wish for on the Allen Brothers. There is stuff you may not remember, such as the tug of war on Portobello Road, or how Richard Ingrams came to be locked in the gallery with a hammer wielding maniac.
Ray Jones is The Roughler. It was the house journal of the Warwick, The Old Roughians (Rough Trade’s cricket team), the Panto, and the determined group of creative hedonists who lived around Portobello during the 80s. They went on to make hit records, hit films, hit TV shows, best-selling novels and the rest. Back then, they were just the Slackers on the Lane.
My favourite moment of all probably came in 1988. The Council had decided to cobble the Portobello. In fact they had started the work. So we marched down to the Town Hall (the new one they built after knocking down the old one at dead of night before a Preservation Order came into force!). We stormed into the Council chamber, at the head of an unholy alliance of market traders, Class War anarchists, literary ladies from the Crescents and assorted nutters. The councillors fled. I sat in the Mayor’s chair, Ray in the Deputy’s and Ian Bone roamed restlessly firing up the troops. As every good Situationist knows, cobbles always lead to trouble.
You can read about the Roughler on wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roughler) which must be true because I wrote it. I was particularly pleased to get the expression ‘Anna Chancellor and her dastardly gang of toffs’ past the humourless censors. You can watch the past on RoughlerTV (http://www.youtube.com/RoughlerTV) where I will be posting some new past presently. You could have bought the pictures but you passed that opportunity up, you skinflints.
But I would advise you buy a copy of the first print run sharpish before Jamie Byng picks it up for Canongate and it wins the Booker Prize. Ray and friends will be performing at the Tab on June 3 (6-8pm) where he will sign a copy. It’s at Rough Trade. Buy it from the publisher (http://www.tangentbooks.co.uk/products/Drowning-on-Dry-Land-by-Ray-Roughler%252dJones.html). As Ray would say, ‘this book’s a steal’,
"Absurdly brilliant" Jake Arnott
"I knew Ray was a 'Swansea Jack', but I didn't realise he was Swansea's Jack Kerouac' Rhys Ifans
" London at this time was a city of the mind as much as anywhere - protean radical and deeply culturally significant and Ray Jones, in so many ways, is its precise cartographer."
See related listing here.