This might be the hardest post I have had to write.
A few years ago, a very strange advert appeared in the Law Society Gazette. It is the free magazine sent to all solicitors every week, whether they want it or not, and pretty staid to say the least. Adverts in there tend to be of the ‘we are specialists in claims against donkeys, please send us all of your claims against donkeys’ or ‘Wanted! Lawyer to specialise in pseudopod claims’ type. Finding one that is even in colour is rare.
But there is was, a bright yellow ad, asking for nothing more than collaboration on a script. Of course I had to answer it.
An exchange of emails followed. The advertiser sent me his ideas for a script. I sent him some ideas of my own and some suggested changes. He responded. I responded. He suggested we meet.
We met. He told me that I was his preferred writing partner. Apparently, out of all of the replies he received – including some from overseas – I was the only one who suggested changes to his ideas. That baffled me. Who wouldn’t want to input some of their own ideas?
And so we began work. I provided the legal input and some of the jokes. He, as a former producer of Eastenders should, provided the rest. I got to grips with screenwriting software, he got to understand about the legal profession.
We never really had a difference of opinion. He wanted the lead character to be a Billie Holiday aficionado, I wanted them to play Los Campesinos! songs. He bought a Los Campesinos! CD, I bought him a book on Billie Holiday. We agreed that both would work.
Along the way, we encountered the odd problem. Rejections from agents were commonplace. Some thought we had left too little room for improvisation. Others thought there were too few jokes. So we changed things. Suddenly, a minor character became a major one, some things became non-essential, we felt we were getting somewhere. So we took a few months off to think things through and enable him to do certain things in his personal life. When we last spoke, everything was coming together for him and we were going to start work again. But…
Mike died a fortnight ago. He went into hospital for an operation, there was a problem and he never came around again.
Rest in peace, my friend. Thank you for all that you taught me. All the plans we had, all the ideas we never had a chance to work on, insofar as it is in my power to do so, I’ll see them through. I’ll be seeing you.