More Thrills than Skills – A Half-life in Journalism, Part 54

Over the next few weeks, is to publish, each weekday, extracts from the memoirs of Scottish war correspondent, Paul Harris. ‘More Thrills than Skills: A Half-life in Journalism’, is being scheduled for publication next year.

It must be difficult to find a hotel anywhere in the world so redolent of the charms of yesteryear as The Galle Face.

More of a colonial-style palace than a hotel, aged retainers in pristine white military style uniforms, replete with red epaulettes and gold braid, cheerily salute your progress through the magnificent, airy halls and over the creaking, teak floors and fraying, red carpets.

During the late ‘90s, many of them had worked in the hotel for more than half a century. The ratio of staff to guests was a generous four-to-one. No employee had ever been sacked, apparently, until ‘dynamic’ new management was drafted-in in February 2002. Then things started to change somewhat.

Your bedroom in the old wing, furnished with genuine, highly-polished antiques, would likely be the size of half a dozen modern chain hotel rooms put together: the average size seemed to be around 30 foot by 20 foot. And all for less than $50 a night in those days. . .