Growing up, my brother Raymond had a few loves. Like most lads his of his ilk (he was only 32 when he passed last year) those loves included Star Wars, football, video games, and finding new ways to slag his little brother.
On his most creative days, he even seemed to find new ways of marrying these loves, as he’d happily stay up all night making sure any high score I had on Mario Kart would be knocked completely off of the leaderboard by dawn.
It was always kind of hard to not find that level of waggishness rather funny.
He always seemed to struggle to find a place where he fit in. While other lads would be out getting their first pack of smokes and arguing over Blur or Oasis (though I eventually found out his answer would have quite rightly been Blur), he seemed more than happy to just hang out in his room watching documentaries on World War 2. Or that VHS he had of the 1996 4-3 thriller of Liverpool v Newcastle.
However, this wasn’t his real calling, as it would take Raymond until the age of about 20 to find his true love: Japan.
What started as an interest in Japan’s culture and history would soon become a full-blown love and obsession for the country. Over the next ten years, trips that started out as the odd week-long holiday whenever he could, turned into spending the summer, which then turned into studying there, which eventually evolved into his decision to move there permanently.
This once-shy and awkward chap had finally found that place he was looking for. It gifted him friends that would be there with him until the end, and it changed him into the brave, adventurous person he needed to be when the time came for his biggest fight.
This strain, inspired by the stubbornness of the person it inhabited, would forever keep changing, making medicines obsolete until eventually he was told nothing more could be done.
Sadly, the only thing that could stop this new, determined man was the incredibly rare strain of Leukaemia about to take hold of him.
He returned home to be with his family and fight the disease, going through chemotherapy, tests, and a bone marrow transplant. But this strain, inspired by the stubbornness of the person it inhabited, would forever keep changing, making medicines obsolete until eventually he was told nothing more could be done. Two weeks later, he passed on, surrounded by family and friends who travelled half way around the world to say goodbye.
A Night For Ray
So nearly exactly a year after that horrible Friday in 2014, my family and I felt that something positive needed to be done, and so “A Night For Ray” was born to raise money for the Bone Marrow for Leukaemia Trust.
As I said, just arranging a night of just music or comedy would have been far too normal to celebrate the life of a man so eclectic. So after asking my favourite bands and comedians to play the night (they all said yes – talent and being incredibly sound seems to go hand in hand), there was only one other phone call to make.
I needed my old friend Bosco, who I once interviewed for a job. After some rider negotiations (there was no way I was springing for that private helicopter) Bosco was on board, and we had a night that is as eccentric and crazy as the man it remembers.
A Night For Ray takes place tomorrow night, Wednesday June 17, in the Sugar Club, featuring Niamh and Podge of Ham Sandwich, Foil Arms and Hog, Kevin McGahern, Booka Brass Band, Slow Skies, Mongoose and... Bosco. Money raised will go to the Bone Marrow for Leukaemia Trust.