ROYSTON REPORTS, Number 293
TROPICAL TOPICS, Sunday 14 February, 2016.
Welcome lovers and others to this St Valentine’s Day edition of my newsletter, which is also the last one.
Dish of the Week
Beef in Sri Lanka has the unfortunate reputation of being tough and lacking flavour. It isn’t: it’s the lack of traditional knowledge of young chefs (and village butchers) that often render beef hard to swallow. The best local beef (from the hill country) I have ever eaten was at a bungalow in Haputale where the 80 year-old chef transformed the meat into a dish for gourmets. He wouldn’t divulge his secret but it had something to do with long marination in papaya juice.
We’ve tried cooking beef at home without success and I am wary of having it in restaurants in Sri Lanka. So I was thrilled to discover Beef Tataki in an unexpected source, the Japanese seafood specialist restaurant: The Tuna & The Crab in Galle Fort. True, it was imported Black Angus but this starter was priced at only Rs800 [£ 3.84; $ 5.55] (when it can cost as much as $35 in similar restaurants in Maldives or Singapore.
My old friend, Yasmin Cader, whom I first met more than 25 years ago when she was handling public relations for the Ceylon Intercontinental Hotel (now the voluptuous Kingsbury), has sent me information about the eagerly-awaited annual Scrabble Contest supporting those with Alzheimer’s Disease.
This is being held on Saturday 27 February from 9.30am to 4pm at the Lanka Alzheimer’s Foundation premises, 110 Ketawalamulla Lane, Colombo. Sponsors are sought at Rs2,500 a participant; telephone 011 266 7080 for information.
Thank you to everyone who sent greetings on my recent birthday, including an old friend who wrote: “Teenagers are 75 this year.”
Regular readers will know a little bit about my life before I settled in 1980 in Sri Lanka. Here are some more items from that distant place called Nostalgia.
A search of cyber space by a friend has revealed something I had totally forgotten about, an issue of the much-missed PUNCH magazine, published in England in 1960, in which I have the lead article about teenagers. (I was 19 at the time!)
My visit to Liverpool in 1960 when I encountered (and performed beat poetry in the Jacaranda cellar with) four lads – John, Paul, George and Stuart – who eventually became the Beatles, is commemorated in a plaque in Ye Cracke Pub in Liverpool. I’ve never seen it.
Bill Harry has written: “This plaque hanging in Ye Cracke pub in Liverpool commemorates the visit to Liverpool by Royston Ellis in June 1960 to perform his poetry, when he was backed at the Jacaranda by the then Beetles. It mentions the influence Royston had on Bill Harry, John Lennon, Stuart Sutcliffe and Rod Murray – ‘the Dissenters,’ John Lennon’s other band (which never played a note).”
From 1966 to 1979 (when I was blown away to Sri Lanka by Hurricane David), I lived in Dominica, considered “the nature island of the Caribbean.” I had a log cabin on a hillside overlooking the beach village of Mero. I set up, and for a time was President of, the Dominica Cricket Association (DCA). We founded the Village Cricket Tournament, enabling village teams to compete with each other for a championship cup. This gave a lot of village cricketers a chance to reveal their talents to selectors for the Dominica team.
This photograph was sent – by coincidence – to me last week by Pete Brand, the creator in Dominica of the Island House Hotel (also blown away by David). It shows a dapper young Royston with Dominica’s gentleman governor, Sir Louis Cools-Lartigue, handing a cheque to Cecil Bramble, the DCA’s Treasurer/Secretary and The Hon Arnold Active, the DCA’s Vice President.
Here’s to cyber exile
I received this personalised New Year card from an acquaintance and reader of this newsletter, which I’m reproducing here as a kind of farewell photo to all the readers who have been following these newsletters for the past six years.
“This photo, for me, summons the essence of Royston. Joie de vivre, carpe diem, celebrating life and making the most of every moment. Apologies for pigeon-holing you thus!”
All the amazons have either paperback or kindle copies of these books available on line. Copies of the more than 60 books I’ve written (including the Bondmaster series that I wrote as Richard Tresillian) occasionally pop up on ebay.
As previously announced this is the last of my weekly newsletters and many readers have written kindly expressing dismay and say the newsletters will be missed. I, too, am going to miss this newsletter – but not the aggravation of the technical side which, alas, I can no longer handle.
Of course I’m not actually retiring (writers never do, they just lose the plot) but exiling myself from cyberspace so I can concentrate on writing fiction and poetry (back to my roots) – and building a swimming pool and a couple of contemporary cottages for holiday rental in the garden of Horizon. (Let me know if you’d like to stay…)
If you’re missing me next Sunday (or at any time) go to: http://www.tftw.org.uk and click on “enter the magazine” then scroll down to page number 18 to find the transcript of a live interview with me recorded by Peter Stockton for Tales from the Woods magazine when I visited England last May.
I have informed the company that circulates (or doesn’t) this newsletter each week, that there will be no more newsletter emails to you from me in future. So if you do receive anything purporting to be from firstname.lastname@example.org, DO NOT OPEN IT. Instead, TRASH IT immediately. (So if you write to me at this address, I’ll make sure that I reply from a different one.)
Thanks for being with me all these years; bon voyage on life’s thrilling journey, and beat regards.