...and then you’re dead!
My name is Jim Rai and at the tender (!) age of 47 I have a lot to be thankful for… my health,
a roof over my head, a successful career,
a supportive wife and four beautiful children.

I grew up in the heart of west London (Southall to be exact) – one of five boys and the younger of twins, the son of immigrants who came to the UK with nothing more than £3 in their pocket. A cliché, but the truth, for thousands of immigrants who came to the UK in the 60s. And so, in that sense my story of aspirational parents who sacrificed everything for their kids is no different to any other 2nd generation immigrant.

I, like many of my peers played as hard as I worked while growing up in the streets and snooker halls of west London, coming across many different colourful characters, to whom I am indeed indebted for giving me an invaluable insight to life - from the good, the bad and the damn right ugly. I was fortunate that the pull towards the dark side was not as strong as the magnetic force from the DNA of my heritage. With a bit of luck, love and support, ‘the boy from Southall’ got through the system unscathed.

I owe a lot to the hundreds (if not thousands) of people I’ve met on my journey… it’s been a tough road in many ways, but I do know that the man I am today is the sum of many experiences, both good and bad. Here’s a snapshot of my life and some of the memories that have helped create and shape the person I see today.

I know they may mean nothing to you at the moment, but hopefully as you read …and then you’re dead! all will become clear…






My heritage...

A great looking bunch! The original Rai family in Punjab, India back in 1956. You can see my father standing proud in the white turban in the back row. For me, this picture represents unity, solidarity and why it's so important for family to stay connected and bond together.

The first love of my life...

Not sure what to say other than she was an amazing, incredible woman whose debt I can never repay. I have tried to share her thoughts throughout the book, but whatever I say will never be enough. This lady's wisdom was reflected through her actions and not just words. She still lives in me and my children and will be my guiding light throughout my remaining years.

Mum...

My mother was an angel, taken away from us well before her time, at the age of 36. In the short time on this planet, she managed to spread her light to all those she met on her journey. Lighting up the room with her radiance, beauty and humility, my mother was an incredible human being, whose presence remains strong, guiding and protecting her children. Mummyji.

The dynamic duo...

Stylish from the start me and my twin brother getting ready to paint the town red at the tender age of seven. He was the charming sweet talker with 'swagger' and the 'gift of the gab', whilst I got all the looks! Clearly the 'man upstairs' wanted to spread the love between us.

The baby of the family...

The youngest of the five, my kid brother going out on a boating trip with two unknown Bollywood actors. They are still unknown some 33 years later! This reminds me of the good old days in Southall, when we all thought we were Bollywood gods like Rajesh Khanna or Amitabh Bachchan. The boating trip by the way was in our concrete back garden with a 6x6 paddling pool!

The talent...

They say that behind every successful man is a strong woman… and although that may sound like a cliché, this truly is the woman who turned my life around when I met her at the age of 19. I was looking good, but going nowhere fast… until one fateful day! She has helped navigate my career, as well as bring up four loving children.

Smooth operators!...

'Curiosity Killed the Cat' had nothing on the Rai Brothers especially on a Friday night! The Brothers Rai can still be found eating, drinking and playing snooker each Friday night without fail. As always, what makes it special is that it's not the place but the people that really count - stay connected!

A time for self-reflection...

Always good to try and get yourself on top of a mountain and have some 'me' time. Why? Well, for one, there's no telephone reception; secondly if there's a flood downstairs, you're pretty safe! And thirdly it will take at least 3 hours for anyone to reach you, no matter how urgent it is, so you have real 'me' time at last!

Those with the least give the most...

What can I say? These kids didn’t have much, but boy do they smile from the heart. They are content with life but strive to get an education. They run towards it and absorb your words like a sponge. In other parts of the world children have no concept of how fortunate they are to have the best education at their door, but sadly some choose to run away from it.

My spiritual masters...

All three of ‘the lads’ have been part of my life since childhood. One guided me spiritually through life and the other two made me drink it! My elder brother (the one who looks like Rasputin), has shown me the light - not by lecturing me - but through making his own mistakes in life and then having the will power and determination to admit and learn from them.

A true living legend...

My father even today at the age of 89 continues to amaze me. A man with a heart of gold, he has helped thousands throughout his life. He worked hard, brought up a family of five boys and always went that extra mile to help those in need. My father taught his boys self-belief, respect and humility with a large dose of street wisdom.

Thank You.

The last months of my Gran's life. The family loved her unconditionally - as did she them. That is why she lived to the grand age of 115. A remarkable achievement and gift from the chap upstairs. Love you and thank you Gran for the wealth of love and kindness you have shown to the world, which has made us who we are today.