When I was about 16, Charlotte Jones, now a playwright, beat me in the final of a public speaking competition. Because we were released from the green room to compete one-at-a-time, I didn’t meet her in person until a couple years later when we wound up undergraduates at the same college. We then spent far too much time hanging out together. We were like one of those met-in-Freshers’-Week couples, except we weren’t a couple; we were good Catholic virgins, and, like all the other female undergraduates I knew, Charlotte didn’t fancy me. She had a terrible run-in with one of her tutors, but still got a Geoff Hurst. I dropped out, came back, and somehow scraped an Attila. Her posse of girls passed on their shared rented house in Summertown to our posse of boys. We both hated much of our time at university.
These days she is famous and successful and I am neither, but she is not in the least bit snotty, though I only meet up with her occasionally. She now lives in Brighton and the last time I saw her was when I was gigging there with Richard Brincklow. We took a break from rehearsals to walk Richard’s dog Rainbow and bumped into Charlotte in the park, jogging. She invited me round for dinner later, where I met her son for the first time and heard about the pleasures of working with Andrew Lloyd Webber.
On Friday I wander into the Genome Campus library and, as I very rarely do, open The Independent‘s “Review” supplement. “Blimey!”. People look up from their papers. The randomly chosen pair of pages I open give over one third of their area to a photograph of Charlotte’s face, illustrating a piece about the same collaboration.