An Open Letter From Ray

So, I’d like to talk to you a little bit about my brother Gareth if you don’t mind.


My little brother is a grown up now, but I have always found it rather difficult to think of him as anything but my little brother.  I would expect this is rather common, but as he is my only brother I can’t really compare it to anything else.  When he was my actual little brother, in his very younger days, I was fiercely over-protective of him.  Every time he was so much as five minutes late home he would be greeted by me in a state of abject panic -always been a worrier me - and the majority of the time he was under my watch.


When I went off to university (yes, genuinely – got a degree and everything), not being around him was one of the biggest stresses I had to contend with.  This was tripled when something truly horrific happened in his life whilst I was away.


He’d not long been at senior school when on 26th Feb 1993 he had planned to go into Warrington town centre with his new best friend from school, Tim.  At the last minute, Gareth had decided not to go.  I’m really not one for looking at things from the stance of “If he only hadn’t made that decision..” etc, but this one does stick with me, not nearly as much as it sticks with Gareth.  Tim still went off into town on the day when the Provisional IRA decided to plant two bombs on Bridge Street.  The first bomb went off, sending crowds of people straight into the direction of the second.  From all accounts, Tim took the full impact of the second one.


The upshot of it all, as those of you old enough to remember will know, is Tim died from his injuries later that week. Along with Jonathon Ball, a three year old who was killed instantly.


I am aware this isn’t the cheeriest of posts, but I am aiming for inspirational later.


So, my brother, at twelve years of age, had that thrown into his life. But reaction to such events is key.  It would be forgiven for such an event to knock somebody off the rails entirely, certainly at such an age of development and impressionability.  I have considered, on darker days, what this would have done to me, and I truly can’t be certain that I would have trod the same path Gareth did.  At my worst, I’m rather prone to being reactionary, to being outspoken, nasty, revenge-led.  I may have argued in my life that is in my genes but Gareth disproves this as he has the same genes.  Well, I say he has the same genes, he’s all good looking and fit and tall.  I often stare at him and think that could be me if only my Mum had given up smoking ten years earlier.


In the twelve months following the Warrington bombings, my brother served essentially as a peace envoy, he travelled over to Ireland, was guest of honour at an international Rugby Union match where The Corrs all but had sex with him (and don’t forget he was only twelve, so that gives you an idea of the good looks I was telling you about), he was fussed over by Cannon & Ball at a charity concert, loads of – to be honest – cool things, which he would have traded in a heartbeat to have his pal back.


As these things do, everything eventually calmed.  The Warrington bombings were a major focal point in the developing Northern Ireland Peace Process and eventually, good came.  My brother went on with his life and behaved himself, didn’t slip.  He worked hard, did an evening job whilst doing his exams, got good with money, got girlfriends, dumped or was dumped by girlfriends, went off to university, got a job, got a better job, got an even better job, on it went…


I think the bad stuff that happened in Warrington was the last time my brother and I were properly close – as in, that was the last time I was around him a lot.  I came home from Uni for a bit, answered his concerns when Tim was still in Intensive Care, broke the news when the decision was made to turn off the machine. It was only two weeks, then I had to go away again. I was also at an age were things were shifting, I had moved from home, did my acting, went down to London and probably got massively successful and famous or something, I forget now.


These days, we don’t speak regularly, very occasional texts, blow each other out on meeting up, that sort of thing. However, we do look out for each other.  Invariably it is during a crisis moment, like when I’m being a depression dick or like when a year or so ago he had his first child.  I’ll spare the details but there were stresses around the birth, so I found myself late at night on the phone to Gareth, once again being a big brother.  It’s an odd one, because I only really get to be a big brother when things are shit, so despite enjoying the feeling, I can rarely enjoy the occasion.


Anyhow, he done his baby and despite a scare or two, he is all good now.  Apparently he is my nephew but as I can’t be arsed with children I don’t really pick him up or anything, but I do have a reluctant pride as to how Gareth has thrown himself into fatherhood.  I mean, I personally think he is a soft touch and under the thumb, but I’d much rather this than the path he could have chosen, that I alluded to earlier, when life did a shit of a thing to him at twelve years of age.


Further proof of him being a soft touch came about when he was watching a documentary about Great Ormond Street and decided, perhaps rashly, perhaps because he is the golden child of the family, to raise money for them in a frankly ludicrous way.


Now we are getting to the point of this, the first thing he is doing is the London Marathon on Sunday.  I’ve known about this for a while, since he told me he was doing it late last year, and I said I would give it a push on twitter etc.  I tried to time it right, and the other evening I spent a bit of time tweeting about it to mine and P&G’s fans. Which leads me to another diversion….


On the podcast, assuming you’ve heard it, you may have – from time to time – picked up frustrations from us about our fanbase. I’ll tell you why that is.  We did the podcast for free, matter of fact it actually cost us money to do it.  We did it because we felt it would be a good thing for generating material, for getting some industry presence, and – most importantly – to build a fanbase.  If we built a fanbase, we could rely on them for our live work.  Unfortunately, when you build a fanbase who are fundamentally used to getting your stuff for free, this can lead to a chunk of them (not all – that is important – we know who you are) not forking out for tickets for your shows, which in turn leads to us resenting them and calling them pricks on the podcast.  Faults on both sides, let’s not get into another row about it.


So, when I started tweeting about Gareth’s charity thing I warned him that it may not make a huge amount of difference, warned him that people might be skint or might not be arsed to go make a paypal transaction just because I asked them to.


In the 24 hours following my tweets, fans of myself and Peacock & Gamble gave just short of a grand.


So now I look a prick, because I’m the one that was underestimating you.  I’m the one that was telling my brother you probably wouldn’t do it (and in my head I knew you wouldn’t do it), yet here we are.  I am truly blown away by your generosity, honestly moved by it, as is Gareth.  He sent me a text this morning saying “someone has donated £100…”, I honestly thought he had hit a typo, then I went and checked.  Yep.  £100.


So, if you have donated to it, I sincerely and unreservedly thank you.  If you can’t, genuinely don’t sweat it.  If you can, but can’t be arsed…well…that sounds like the sort of thing I would do, but I would urge you to at least consider it again.  Here is why:


Not to prey on anyone’s guilt or whatever, but as I said, myself and Ed (and in the early days, thingy as well) worked our arses off to bring you an enormous amount of free content.  It was self-serving, we aren’t being martyrs, but it was free.  Many of you have been and supported us live, many of you haven’t.  If you haven’t, then if you don’t want to feel guilty every time we say that, please go donate to Gareth’s fund here.  I’ve not even said what he is doing in this post, but it’s all on the link. It’s pretty fucking incredible. I will trade off the unpaid hours I put in on the podcast for your donation to this, no matter how small.


I also know that because of all the horrid shit in Boston, that the gloss has been taken off the London Marathon for Gareth (and, I guess, for many, many people involved), but with the events of his earlier life, the fact that it is to do with bombs, the fact that is to do with hideous people doing hideous things to people who aren’t involved, well…don’t need to finish that thought really.  I know it is on his mind.


So I am basically trying to take it off his mind, I am basically trying to be a big brother, like I was before.  I am in a great position of being able to reach a fair-sized crowd of people, many of whom like me and the stuff I do, who might want to give  something back.  Shitloads of you have already done that, again thank you, but if you missed the tweets or glazed past them, do me a massive favour and go give anything you can on the below link.


Tell him I sent you, then not only will you give to a good cause, not only will you support an incredible human being who is doing incredible things, but you will also enable his brother to show him that he is proud of not only this, but all he has achieved, by providing him with an army of support from equally kind strangers.


Even if Great Ormond Street didn’t save Fraser.

Thanks in advance


Ray xxx