More thrills than skills – A half-life in journalism, part 55

Over the next few weeks, is to publish, each weekday, edited 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.

THE terrace dining area resembled a shower cubicle in heavy rain and, as I tucked into my damp curry and rice, I could not help but observe a trio of half-drowned rats emerge from a drain cover.

The water ran brown from the taps. The electricity regularly failed several times a day as the aged generators vainly attempted to cope with the vagaries of the Sri Lankan national grid. And, in the heat of the night, the insects came out to play.

About 1.30 one morning, my sang froid snapped as the cockroaches, having knocked themselves out by flying into the walls at high speed, tumbled around me on the bed.

As a phalanx of room boys attacked the incursors with their shoes, beating them to death on the carpet, I summoned Cyril to the telephone.