Touring Geraldine McEwan’s Jane Austen show was enormous fun, and social interactions were memorable, including dinner at the Citadel when Richard de Zoysa joined us and stayed talking late into the night.

The tour included Batticaloa, which came into its own since I was determined to get to Tamil areas and Jaffna was now impossible. That involved bats and a cyclone scare about which Geraldine and Cathy would twit me when we met thereafter.

I cannot trace here the lovely pictures I have from our visit to Dambulla, so I simply have pictures of those who hosted Geraldine and Catherine, Richard Burge, my aunt Lakshmi at Kurunagala, and Yolande Abeywira in Colombo. The last two pictures are from those days, but the first is of Burge in his now distinguished incarnations, where one can see a trace of the enormously goodlooking youngster he was then.

Adventures with Jane Austen

We had a party at the Sunflower the evening after Geraldine McEwan’s performance in Negombo. Rex came up for that, and  all the critics and artists from Colombo we had invited to the show. The next morning we went from there to Kandy, with lunch at the Ambepussa Resthouse and a party that evening at the home of Richard Burge, a Commonwealth Scholar I had got to know while at Yala for his research involved study of the buffaloes there. We stayed at the new John Keells Hotel, the Citadel, which had lovely views over the river which Geraldine and Cathy much appreciated. And the next night, after the Kandy performance, Richard de Zoysa joined us for dinner there and stayed talking so late that I had to put him up in my room before he roared off on his motor-bike early next morning.

That day we went on to Batticaloa where I had arranged for something called the Y Men’s Club to organize the performance. We went via Dambulla and had lunch at Polonnaruwa and stayed that night at the Sun and Fun Hotel. Geraldine was entertained and not too nervous about the bats that were at the venue, I think the Town Hall, when we went in to set up, but the performance went off well and the last elements of what had been a sophisticated English speaking class in Batticaloa were enthused by her performance. And afterwards we were given a party at the Peace Corps which the Club had arranged.

There were warnings of a cyclone that night but we decided to stay on, while winds roared from the sea. But we left early and had lunch at Polonnaruwa before getting to Kurunagala where I believe I had arranged for Lakshmi to give them lunch. But that is not recorded, nor where we stayed, though I recall they admired the now fading grandeur of The Old Place.

We went to Colombo next morning and Geraldine performed at the Lionel Wendt that night, after which a few of us had dinner at the recently opened Flower Drum restaurant nearby. The next day there were radio and tv interviews before her last performance after which there was a party at the Art Centre Club.

We also sent them to the Maldives, though I did not accompany them. And they had also decided to stay on for a holiday afterwards, so we continued in touch and I had Cathy at home one day for lunch, and then dinner with them and lunch along with Yolande before they finally left, all of which cemented a friendship which lasted many years.