Was browsing around in the second hand bookshops on D.R. Wijewardene Mw, just at the corner of Darley road this afternoon. Now these bookshops were famous for their collection of porn and in the dark days of the 1980's and 1990's (and for aeons before that) the only reliable source of supply for the starved male population of the country.
I was there trying to make a quick buck by selling a couple of Playboy magazines (the April 2008 issue plus a Playboy Nudes Special Edition) but apparently things are not going well for the bookshops. Numerous police raids and the advent of the internet have killed their porn magazine business and nobody deals in that anymore. They now retail small quantities porn of DVD's and VCD's but thats about it.
I had gotten the Playboy magazines down after news spread that a girl with some Sri Lankan ancestry named Cristina Caldera appeared in the latest issue of Playboy. Many frantic email and SMS's later I had these two in hand, neither of which had the blasted woman. It was probably in the previous edition but the newsstands don't apparently stock back issues and my friend who brought these down was not able to track the specific issue down.
Disappointed I asked if they had a copy of the Singapore Story but no luck there either. Asked if they had any Kenneth Anderson books (the finest writer on the Indian jungles), but the guy had disposed of four quite recently and had nothing.
Finally asked for James Herriot and picked up two Omnibus editions for Rs.800, about half the price of the new book.
I've been trying to buy his books for some time, they are occasionally available at Vijitha Yapa's but the series is never complete. I read them as a boy and loved them but unfortunately I was introduced to them through the omnibus editions; All Things Wise and Wonderful, All Creatures Great and Small and The Lord God Made Them all. While these have the bulk of his books, some stories are missing.
I read the coffee table book, James Herriot's Yorkshire at the British Council Library, although the book was mangled with several pages torn out.
I did see some of the television series and I came across this wonderful tribute to the man on Youtube, by the actor who played him in the television series : check the links here and here.
To those not familiar with the man - these are books you simply MUST read. They can be enjoyed by both young and old and are an excellent way of reinforcing the reading habit in children (Enid Blyton, in my opinion, being the best way of sparking the interest reading in the first place)
The Wiki entry on the man is here.