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At the Frontline Club discussion on Sri Lanka, I finally came across Frances Harrison. The name had been familiar, for in recent years, whenever I went to England, she used to tweet madly about me, in what seemed to me desperate hysteria, though I soon enough found out that many journalists tweet in that mad fashion. This time round, her fascination with me continued, in that she saw the discussion as ‘Ch 4 vs prof rajiva debate’ as she tweeted an hour before the discussion.

It is possible however that the lady is cunning rather than obsessional, because this was also a way of cutting out the contribution of Arun Tambimuttu to the discussion. Initially it had indeed been meant to be me and the High Commissioner debating Jon Snow and Callum McRae, but Snow dropped out. I thought it was because he was nervous since previously, when the High Commission had asked Channel 4 to invite me for a discussion, they had dodged, except once when we managed to corner them with the help of the BBC Today programme. However it is possible that, as one of his loyal fellow employees said before the discussion, in explaining his absence, he simply says ‘Yes’ to everything, and then changes his mind.

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Roma Tearne

Amongst the most interesting offshoots of the discussion on Channel 4 and Sri Lanka held at the Frontline Club in London was a wonderfully creative piece by the novelist Roma Tearne. Her photograph is that of a very smart young lady, long face set off by bullet shaped ear-rings and long dark hair, with a tasteful fringe on the forehead.

I dwelt the more on this fine picture because aesthetics is clearly important to her, and I suppose if you look like that, it should be. She had described me as having a ‘fine pudding basin style hair cut’ which was flattering since I simply have cheap hair cuts whenever my hair becomes too unruly. The last one cost just over one pound, which must be much less than Roma pays for her superb styling.

The result of my carelessness however gave Roma great pleasure, for she brought it into her article six times. After her first description of my hair, she referred to me twice simply as Pudding Basin, which is the sort of humour which has schoolgirls rocking in the aisles. I could just imagine the joy with which she anticipated guffaws as she then referred to me as PB. Finally, doubtless worrying that the joke was wearing thin, she rallied her troops by twice calling me Pudding Head.

I presume this type of prose is what goes down well now in England, since the lady’s first novel, the incisively titled ‘Mosquito’, was shortlisted for the 2007 Costa Book Awards First Novel Prize. She is now a fellow at Oxford Brookes University, which suggests intellectual distinction of an admirable sort.

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Rajiva Wijesinha

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