I just finished skimming Juliet Coombe and Daisy Perry’s ‘Around the Fort in 80 Lives’. I saw this book while wandering around Galle during the literary festival. I was tempted to buy it but (luckily as it turns out) I did not. I discovered later that a friend owned it and borrowed it from him.
I was rather disappointed by the book; although it starts off with a good theme and has the potential to become interesting it seemed rather shallow and naive. A coffee table book with insufficient pictures and too much text; rather unsatisfying on the whole.
My mind was then taken back to an altogether different story of Galle, EFC Ludowyk's charming autumnal reflections on growing up in Galle. Deeply felt and beautifully written it is a lovely memoir of a way of life that no longer exists.
This is turn brought me to the other beautiful memoir, from an even earlier era which is the title of this post. I'm not sure how many people have read this splendid work, but if you can get your hands on a copy (I would suggest you try raiding the second hand book shops on D.R.Wijewardene Mawatha, if the last copy on Amazon gets sold) it is something that I think is a must read for anyone interested in this land. It is a highly entertaining account of schoolboy life at the beginning of the twentieth century, when a catapult was a regular part of any boy's armoury and birds the usual victim. It is a book of schoolboy life; of outrageous pranks and elaborately organised trips made in bullock carts. A vivid portrait of life in another era.
I get rather sentimental reading stuff like this and perhaps not just because I am a sentimental fool. I feel very alienated by the politics in Sri Lanka today, but deep down, I think I still retain a love for this land.