Thursday, 22 October 2015

My Mate Jamie-Ray Hartshorne


  I've been noticing that alongside photos of Jamie-Ray being a lead in Altar Boys, creating Change My Body UKTM, working the door at Freedom - and clearly asking people passing by wherever that rockpool may be to snap a double-bicep - this sort of thing is cropping up on his social media:

  We're in The Diner, Jamestown Road, Camden.  He's between tour dates of The Bodyguard, and meetings to discuss sportswear and creatine endorsements.  The latter, he says, being all about making his product better.
  Between sips of his peanut butter milkshake (he's allowing himself dairy today in my honour - I don't quite know how to take that) he says in his soft Brum, 'I've signed up for a major Muay Thai event in Thailand next February.  I'm going up against one of the Thai fighters.  That's the only real way to gain any respect in the fighting world.  That's why you've been noticing the combat photos.  I've been going for training with Muay Thai masters up and down the country during the Bodyguard tour.'
  I say, 'But think of being kicked in the throat - your Top C, Jamie-Ray.'
  He grins.
  'Think of the face then. The modelling.'
  'I only ever get modelling jobs sporadically,' he says.  'I've not got the typical look.'

  'Thing is, Iestyn, I've liked Muay Thai - this'll sound weird - since even before I knew really what it was.'
  This is like me with ballet.  When I first saw Swan Lake in 1983 it was like reacquainting myself with something that I temporarily forgotten.  Jamie-Ray and I first met through ballet, incidentally.  A year or so before today's dinner in The Diner I posted a Facebook call out offering two free tickets for the Boom and Bang Circus at the Hippodrome.  He and I were friends on Facebook through the People You May Know feature - which, cue digression, always puts me in mind of the patrician voiced Alan Keith on Radio 2 Sunday evenings hosting These You Have Loved.  My being as much of a hermit as I possibly can these days really kicked in with that programme - staying home alone to listen to Alan with pleasure welcoming me to his choice of Nimrod, the "Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves" and Acker Bilk.
  Anyway, I put the call out on Facebook and Jamie-Ray messaged asking if he could have the tickets; I left them for him at front of house; and we bonded over this happening:

  'This kid Leon lived on the same estate as me,' Jamie-Ray is continuing the discussion about Muay Thai, 'we must have been maybe eight or nine...maybe ten...and we fought all the time.  And it always tended to be in a very trained-looking way.  And it was always in a specific area - one patch of grass in particular with good views all round, or we'd actually take the trouble to set up a ring.  Our fights were all about the use of the Muy Thai eight limbs.'
  I ask what they are.
  'Knees, legs, feet, elbows.'
  'Those can only half of them.'
  'Look them up, then,'
  I google.  The art of the eight limbs of Muy Thai is defined by the combined use of the knees, shins, feet and elbows.
  'So when aged fourteen or fifteen I watched my first ever Muay Thai I could see the techniques were what I'd always done.  Then fast forward maybe six years and I'm going to Freedom after performances and thought I'd test myself being on the door there.  Way of earning some extra cash when I wasn't in something.  I see being on the door there as real life.  Performing is all about making non-reality a reality and I've always loved doing that.  But I was pulled towards being on the door.  And if that happens, if you feel strongly, you have to just go and do whatever it is.  Like I expect you just went where you were pulled in your career, you've never questioned whatever it was...'
  At his age, early twenties, no, I never questioned wanting to be a Prima Ballerina assoluta.
  'I'd heard about this certificate you needed to have from the SIA [Security Industry Authority] but asked the head doorman at Freedom if he'd take me on without it.  He said "Yeah" but in an obviously Yeeahhhh way.'
  As there wasn't a prayer of being allowed on the door at Freedom without one, then, Jamie-Ray went off and got his SIA licence.  'Everyone there on the course was a good few years older.  It's all about the laws relating to manhandling someone.  Learning how to manhandle them in a lawful way.  Soon as I started at Freedom I didn't need to radio through for backup, but was dragging people up from downstairs on my own.  Not in any kind of wanting to show off how hard I am kind of way, but thinking around the techniques you have to use properly to head off whatever situation it is.  They want to give out to me with the aggression, I'm there giving it back.  But then I can go back into peace.  I've never planned to go out to Thailand next February just for the fight.  Leaving aside the other straight off obvious thing - the fitness side - there's a peace at the depth of the Muay Thai training, a spiritual aspect.  You can't go into the ring being full of anger.  Well, some people do - but your love for the sport must override any potential hatred you might have for the other person.  Same when I'm on the door, I'm not interested in showing off how hard I am.  That's what I mean when I say I can go in there, sort the situation, and then go back to the peace.  I get that from the Muay Thai.  Though I'm a friendly guy anyway.  The Freedom regulars would say that what they know about me isn't "That Jamie-Ray's a fucking twat throwing his punches around" but that I'm a nice guy.'
  They do indeed say that.  Among other things.  When he was at Boom and Bang that Friday there also happened to be a large group of Freedom regulars at the two booths immediately behind him.  From their initial screaming reaction you'd think it was Kylie Minogue I'd just pulled out of the crowd.  Then at curtain down Jamie-Ray was graciousness itself agreeing to show off his triangular abs in a group photo.  He is careful never to go too far in this respect.  When we were initially planning the upcoming ballet photo shoot with him as Madame Galina's partner in Bayadere and Scheherazade, he considered including a few backstage shots, but changed his mind because being seen in a jockstrap might diminish his respectability on the Freedom door.
  Philippe, navy blue Merino M and S sweater tied round his waist - my Nan Silcox would have had something to say about such stretch imperilment - wafted Hugo Boss and Pornstar Martini fumes over me, as he said in tones of hushed awe, 'When we saw who it was, the bouncer at Freedom, we asked the waitress tonight to let us sit in those booths rather than the ones she was taking us to.  You wouldn't believe how he can be at Freedom.  We've seen him deal with terrible people. Sometimes straights get in there; you have to deal.  A headbutting, a few months ago.'  He clutched at me.  'We saw another bouncer on his radio, and then a few seconds later here came the cavalry.'  He was gesturing with his head at Jamie-Ray. 'He has this way of pushing the roughhousers apart and sort of chav-whispering them, and it all stops.'
  This is Jamie-Rays technique of shoving whoever's fighting apart, shouting 'You, no!' at first one then the other, before letting his forearms flop into their shoulders as he says, again to each of them, 'Calm...calm...'
  Sighing, Philippe showed me the photo he had just taken with Jamie-Ray in it.  'Look at that tiny waist and then the way the back goes up and out to the shoulders.
  'Like my cousin Mark,' I said.  'He was a former Mr Wales.'
  I then told Philippe about the hyper-daftest conversation Mark's sister, my cousin Sheri, once had with her school friend Jacqueline about Mark's back.
  'He has the shape of back,' Jacqueline said, 'that you see on a simpled-down drawing of a deer's head, like on deers roaming ahead motorway warning signs.'
  Sheri was taking her driving test at the time.  'It's not a simpled-down drawing of the head, it's a deer frisking sideways.  It's why I've told my mother she can't ever come in the car with me - it always reminds her of Bambi's mother getting shot and she goes hysterical.'
  'Whatever, I've seen a version with it being a simpled-down drawing of the deer's head.'
  'On a road sign.'
  'No, where have you seen the road sign itself?'
  'Over Tredegar way.'
  Sheri shook her head.  'It's not in my Highway Code.'
  'Maybe your edition's out of date.  You did get it out of the library.  Nan had a book out recently that was so old it had a stamp in it saying not to take it back to the library if it had been exposed to an infectious disease.'
  'The edition's the latest one, Jacqueline, now.  And you can talk about infectious diseases - it's your sister who had the thrush and your mother had to tie her hands to the mattress to stop her scratching in the night, not one of my family.  By the way, did you get her to put yoghurt on like the homeopath said?'
  'Yes, but she said it didn't have any effect.'
  'What flavours did she try?'
  'You could only ever have totally plain, Sheri, as who would want bits in yoghurt they were smearing down there unless they were kinky?'
  Sheri thought for a second.  'Your sister could have put Caramel Muller Light on it, actually, as that doesn't have any bits in it.  It's been specially designed for people who've got so fat the local council have had to intervene and wire their jaws shut.'
  No danger of the council needing to intervene in Jamie-Ray's case.  He was beside Philippe and I now, looking critically down at the photo. 'Need to be more cut to look really good.'
  In The Diner in Camden, Jamie-Ray is finishing his peanut butter milkshake and making ready to leave.  Like a child wanting its favourite bedtime story I ask him to, yet again, to do the 'You, stop! You, stop! Calm, calm' manoeuvre.
  In the You, stop! bit the face is always this:

  But in the 'Calm...calm' forearms flopping on shoulders gesture there is, definitely, peace. 





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