Banksy has recently created another graffiti; the press goes wild about a competent painting on an ugly blank wall. It is graffiti and not graffito, the singular form is not in use. Banksy’s graffiti is hailed as Art. Why? Why, in a country with at least ten universities giving degrees in art and design, with independent art schools and with flourishing art groups throughout the land; why is a single piece of graffiti something of an event? [Read more…] about Graffiti
At the back of a class of 5-year-olds, I watched a teacher telling a story. Thirty children sat silent and still with mouths agape and eyes fixed on the storyteller. The story, like most children’s stories, held a moral. It was Big Bell and Little Bell. Here was the power of storytelling.
Most of us can remember being told stories. I remember a story about a man pulling a sword from a rock. Grandfather told stories of engineering feats that went wrong. There was a railway engine whose boiler burst as it tried to climb Lickey Incline near Birmingham and how bank engines were provided afterwards to help the climb. [Read more…] about Tell Me a Story
What’s yours? A question asked in bars around the country; whisky, gin, beer. In another context, the question is not asked, because most of us are not interested, but the answer is given at length. What’s your disease?
There is no one so proud as the, now recovered, person describing how baffling and serious their disease has been. ‘None of the doctors knew what it was; I even saw the professor and he did not know.’
I eavesdropped on one such conversation at a drinks party. The man described his symptoms well and insisted that the disease was a mystery. I interrupted and asked, did he suffer from diarrhoea and vomiting about two weeks before the illness started? How did I know? He had not realised that this was the start of the illness. [Read more…] about What’s Your Poison?
Fifteen years to the day after the terrible Tsunami swept across Sri Lanka, another powerful natural phenomenon struck awe and even fear for some of the rural people. The morning sky turned dark.
We had travelled upcountry to a place called Naula, close to the line taken by the total eclipse of the sun. Our friends packed a welder’s visor in their overnight bag. I thought David, an engineer, was planning to do some welding when we reached our destination, but it was his wife who had the foresight. She follows events in the heavens and told us of the eclipse.
When the time came there was cloud cover which was fortunate for me as I managed to take photographs of the eclipse through the clouds. In between the clouds, we observed the eclipse through the visor.
The cook and some of the staff where we stayed thought it was an intervention of the gods and wanted to go to the temple. Many people did visit temples, churches, kovils and mosques but it was the schoolteachers who could tell them what was happening. We collected the staff and let them all have a look through the visor. One of our Sri Lankan friends explained what was happening, but I am not sure we convinced them all.
News for all writers on how to write? Previously I have relied on what I was taught by teachers, with the aid of raps on the knuckles with a ruler in earlier years. Now we have the advantage of the new Rees-Mogg Style Guide which recommends the use of Esq. which needs a full stop but Miss and Ms doesn’t. He declines to advise on how the write the plural of Ms. (I put the stop here as it is the end of a sentence.)
Two down, another one coming up.
‘You’re joking. Not another one!’
Local council elections, European elections and next, an election for the new leader of the Conservative Party. But do not worry, you will have no part to play in this unless you are a member of the Conservative party and who will admit to that today. [Read more…] about Elections and Politicians
I have visited Sri Lanka over 15 times now, living there for several months every year for the last 10 years. Early visits were during the civil war and there were inconveniences such as roadblocks, curfews and limitations on travel.
On one occasion my friends arranged an escort to the airport. There were no problems with me giving lectures at the University and to audiences containing Sinhala and Tamils. [Read more…] about Sri Lankan Bombings
Edward, Prince of Wales, born 1841, had a reputation as a playboy. One of his 55 mistresses was Alice Keppel whose great-granddaughter, Camilla Parker Bowles, became the mistress and then wife of the present Prince of Wales. Edward became King Edward VII on the death of his mother, Queen Victoria, in 1901. The Prince’s other great interest in life was shooting animals.
This transcript from The Times reports a visit of the Prince of Wales to Ceylon in 1875 and relates how the highest dignitaries of the British Empire enjoyed a day out in the jungle. [Read more…] about Elephant Hunt
It is pleasant to be offered a small savoury amuse bouche in a restaurant to savour before your meal arrives. Also, to be offered a post-prandial mint chocolate or small liquor.
Restaurants theme themselves to appear more interesting. The Cricketers out here in Colombo is decorated with bats, balls and stumps. The Slug and Lettuce chain may be themed but I have no intention of finding our as neither are to my taste. [Read more…] about What’s not on the Menu
Freedom to –
“The more people chant about their freedom and how free they are, the more loudly I hear their chains rattling.” ~George Orwell (1903-1950)
We’re a free country, aren’t we? Well, kind of. We are encouraged to think so. Our government tells us we are. The more they tell us the more we wonder. [Read more…] about Freedom
It is the season of parties, not to be left out, we are arranging one. Is it any different in Sri Lanka?
Sri Lankans do not seem to plan their diaries too far ahead nor do they always respond to invites but they turn up on the dot. There is no angst about who to invite and there is no angst about who should come. If you have friends staying, you take them along. [Read more…] about Party
At 11 in the morning of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 the guns fell silent on the fronts of the world at war. Turn your minds to that event and write a strict 500 words to catch the moment. [Read more…] about Armistice
What did Jesus look like? You know, don’t you? He has long, straight hair, a full beard, wears sandals and Arabic robes, he never smiles.
In Europe, he is depicted with fair skin and hair. What did he really look like? There are no clues from the Bible. [Read more…] about What did Jesus Look Like?
“Why not write something about growing old,” she suggested, shortly after my birthday.
“But I don’t know anything about that.” Then I thought I must know something about it as most people, even if not me, consider me old. Oldies are not that special these days, about 25% of us are 65 or older and 3% are 85 or older.
The first clue I got about age was in a café in California. Coffee in hand, I approached the till. “It’s free for oldies before 10 on Thursdays,” said a young girl at the counter. To her, anyone over 40 would look ancient. [Read more…] about Lean and Slippered Pantaloon
Winchester Cathedral held its festival of flowers this weekend. The sensations of colour, architecture and music were overwhelmingly beautiful. You might like to see some pictures of the exhibits. The more natural the environment for the bloom, the more pleasing it is to my eye.
Farewell, my love. I hope we meet again. An adolescent emptiness swells in the breast as the love affair ends. I will see her again, but it will not be the same. We will not have that informality of friendship where one can take up again where one left off the last time. No more will we lie long and easy under the apple bough. When we meet next I will have the same yearning, but I will be in a new position, a stranger, étranger, and you will be in a different situation too, having to regard me as a foreigner. Formality and reservation will be the order of the day. Likely we will need to make an appointment, obtain a visa, before we meet. Certainly, we will be supervised by authorities who believe they know better than both of us. [Read more…] about On Returning from France
Going to the loo used to be easy, you just looked for the signs that said, Ladies or Gentlemen. Somehow these two straightforward words have become politically incorrect, they hinted at elitism. Now we use Men and Women.
Sitting just on the Welsh side of the border with England, Hay 0n Wye is a small town of just 1500 population. Come the https://www.hayfestival.com/programme-quick-view.aspx?SectionFilterID=495&pview=0 Hay on Wye Literary Festival every summer since 1988, up to 250,000 people visit over a 10-day period. This year we were two of that horde.
Come Thursday we are all invited to vote in the Borough Council elections; all of us on the electoral register that is. If you are not on the register, get on it. Too late for this election but ready for the next which could occur at any time as we are in a state of political instability. Who to vote for? Party or person? The political parties have sent round leaflets, so you probably know the names of the candidates. Parties want you to vote for their candidate but, are their candidates any good? [Read more…] about Democracy
The cricket toughies, the ones who engage in heavy sledging, the brave men who face fast bowlers slinging down bouncers at 90 mph, the ones who will field at silly mid on (a position close to the batsman) collapse in tears when caught cheating. Mind you, the rest of the world really seems to have it in for them; something of an over-reaction. Many of us and many cricketers are enjoying a temporary feeling of schadenfreude; others will be feeling fearful lest telephoto videos of them are re-examined closely. [Read more…] about Playing the Ball