More thrills than skills – A half-life in journalism, part 97

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.

I CAME to adjust my feelings about Sri Lanka after I went there in November 2001 with fond notions of maybe settling down in the Indian Ocean ‘paradise’.

‘Paradise’ is a much over-used word. British travel writers apply it to anywhere with an ambient temperature of more than 20 degrees and a couple of palm trees. I even titled my own book of photographs of Sri Lanka, Fractured Paradise.

It was published a few months before I arrived in Colombo, full of positive feelings about the country.

After the launch of Fractured Paradise, at the Galle Face Hotel, I was taken to dinner by the chair of the English language crusading newspaper, The Sunday Leader.

Lal Wickremetunge asked me if I would come and edit his paper as it looked as though the editor, his brother, would have to leave the country by the end of the year after intimidation by the then People’s Alliance (PA) government.

The job offer, however, soon enough fell through, after a general election delivered a new party in power: the United National Party.

It wasn’t a problem. I was remarkably content to be settled in the fading colonial splendour of the Galle Face Hotel, Colombo, as correspondent for The Daily Telegraph and Jane’s Intelligence Review, and writing a book on the hotel.