Ray Fleming passes away

Ray Fleming.

20-04-2020S. AMENGUAL

Ray Fleming started work at the Bulletin at about the same time as I did, in 1987. He had retired to the island after a long career with the British government information service and then the United Nations, serving in Helsinki and Tokyo.

The Bulletin in 1987 was celebrating its 25th birthday and Ray had been commissioned to produce a supplement on all the big news events during those 25 years. I must admit I was slightly in awe of Ray Fleming. He was a distinguished man who was exceptionally knowledgeable on most topics from politics to classical music.

After the 25th birthday celebrations Ray continued to write for the Bulletin producing a Looking Back feature on the news over the years. He would come to our offices, which in those days were in Calle San Felio in Palma, and collect the red-bounded back copies of the paper and take them home for his research.

Infact, I think he was the only person who was trusted to remove these heavy volumes from the office such was his position of trust. Ray soon added a second column to his Bulletin collection, Music On Air, which gave an insight into the classical music programmes on radio. He commanded plenty of respect at the Bulletin and even the Spanish typists who were charged with setting his work in print were extra careful when it came to Señor Fleming.

In those days I didn´t have much contact with Ray, we were working on different sides of the Bulletin, he was on features and I was on news. When I was appointed editor in 1997 it meant that I would have direct contact with Señor Fleming. Infact he was named as one of the newspaper´s editorial advisors.

I was still pretty in awe of him and he would travel down once a week to our offices from his home in Alaro to discuss his column and the newspaper in general. To be honest in the early days I was always rather fearful of these meetings. Tuesday at 11a.m. Ray Fleming would arrive and I always felt a nervous pang in my stomach as he would sit down with the newspapers from the past seven days.

But, as the weeks turned into months and then years my relationship with Ray grew and infact we established quite a close friendship. I came to enjoy the Tuesday meetings; we would discuss anything from the Balearic Symphony Orchestra to the Middle East. These meetings would now last most of the morning and by this stage Ray was writing on most subjects from classical music to books and from world events to concerts in London. During this period the newspaper enjoyed a big transformation. Ray, penned the first Viewpoint comment piece which continues to appear on Page 2, now written by myself or Deputy editor Humphrey Carter.

The newspaper was also evolving with more emphasis on local news and Ray was always prepared to go to the cinema to write a review on one of the latest releases in English. He was always good company and I learnt alot from him. He was very English in a very nice way....he would tell me he would start his Bulletin day after a boiled egg and finished it with a walk around the garden with a glass of whisky.

His dedication to the Bulletin was incredible and I think he worked seven days a week for most of the 25 years that he was involved with the newspaper. For many years we wrote a column together called Yes and No in which we would argue for and against on numerous topics. It was great fun and also a great challenge.

This newspaper owes Ray Fleming alot and to be honest, so do I. He was a good friend to me in the same way as he was a good friend of this newspaper. He will be sadly missed. But his Bulletin legacy will live-on through the many columns he first penned and which still continue today but produced by different writers. Farewell Señor Ray Fleming and thank you.


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