I’m slowly simmering in the heat while trying to gather my thoughts into a cohesive whole after two weeks spent in a whirl of events.
The main one, the reason for my being here in Sri Lanka, was the ninetieth birthday party for my dear friend Wimmilawatte, the matriarch of a forty-nine strong family comprising children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. It took place at the five-star Galadari Hotel in Colombo; a beautiful setting with food to match. There must have been over a hundred different dishes that included sushi-type bites and canapés to curries, various rice dishes, sambals, cakes and sweet desserts with as many attendants as there were dishes ranged like sentinels behind each platter ensuring none ran empty. When it came to the birthday cake and the blowing-out of the candle-bearing numerals, I found myself included with a second cake complete with candled numerals marking my eightieth birthday last May and a chorus of ‘Happy Birthday’ too. I was so overwhelmed and mesmerized by the whole affair I forgot to take photographs of the banquet; something I hope to remedy when I make a return visit before returning home to UK.
Currently I’m sitting on an upstairs shaded balcony with a fan on full blast. The breeze is just playing through the arches and the palm trees are swaying like Honolulu beauties. Sri Lankan woodpeckers, bluebirds, and blackbirds have been skitting around with the odd little squirrel-like creatures doing trapeze acts along the telephone and electric cables. The air-conditioning at night is a blessing in the bedroom. The food is sublime. I’ve just eaten a sliced fresh sun-ripened mango and drunk the juice of a king-coconut sipped through a straw to wash it down.
I was pleasantly surprised by a recent email from someone who was rehearsing at the Gate Theatre, Dublin when I was playing in Under Milk Wood in 1958. He’s in his seventies now and a long standing professional in the Irish theatrical world. We exchanged names of some of those in the enormous cast and I promised to send him scanned copies of the reviews in the press of those far off days. Proof indeed that fact is stranger than fiction and the internet enables people everywhere to communicate anywhere in the world.