Archive for February, 2011


Saturday, February 26th, 2011

27 February 2011. Number 46.

Greetings to the thousands of readers (yes, the statistics show we get over 10,000 hits every week!) from me and some of the gang having fun on my birthday.


Every visit to the hill country is a chance to stock up on tea, fresh from the factory. I prefer OP, the long leaf Orange Pekoe, as I like my tea light, plain and without sugar. Here Kumara is buying BOPF, the smaller particle Broken Orange Pekoe Fannings tea that makes a wonderfully strong cuppa liberally mixed with milk and sugar.

And of course we found a resthouse (the one at Balangoda) for a typical rice and curry lunch; here so attractively presented, I bet it makes you feel hungry just looking at it. And here’s a tip for the independent traveller: council-run resthouses where lawyers, government officials and locals eat usually serve a better rice and curry than the versions tamed down for tourists at the slicker resthouses.

March hare madness?

I realise that I have not visited England in March for nearly 50 years. I drifted to Las Palmas, Canary Islands in the winter of 1963 and then moved to Dominica in the Caribbean in 1966. Apart from being seduced by the sun, I realised I was getting too old to be a beat poet – and anyway the musicians I had been appearing with were famous under their own steam. (See THE BIG BEAT SCENE.)

In a few days all that will change, as on 8 March I shall fly from the sun of Sri Lanka to lodge for a few nights in the residential part of my old club, The Royal Commonwealth Society near Trafalgar Square.

I am doing that so I can attend the opening of an exhibition of photographs at the National Portrait Gallery (NPG) of characters (including me) by Ida Kar, described in The Times on 19 February 2011 as “The great photographer you’ve never heard of.”

I am quoted in the article as ‘The British Beat poet Royston Ellis, aged 19 in 1960, remembers the experience of being photographed by Kar as intimidating: “She knew what she wanted. I was a poet, so she wanted all the props to introduce the atmosphere of being a poet — a volume of poetry, a drum.”

The exhibition begins on Thursday 10 March and I plan to be there then, and I will also be signing copies of my book THE BIG BEAT SCENE in the NPG bookshop for anyone who cares to buy one, so hope to see some of you there around tea time (4pm?).

Sri Lankan Art

Sri Lankan artists have strong views about art, few of which I share. But now Londoners can see for themselves. From Tuesday 1 March until Saturday 12 March an exhibition of Contemporary Art from Sri Lanka is being held at Asia House. And you can express your own opinion on Thursday 10th March when there’s a panel discussion of artists, curators and experts about the show at 6.45 pm. Asia House is at 63 New Cavendish Street, London W 157 LP. Saskia Fernando of the gallery of that ilk in Colombo and Josephine Breeze of are the brave souls behind this venture. If I dare, I’ll try to be there too.



Hair Today

Of course, I am no longer the hirsute beat poet I was once so I was pleased to find that a new hairdressing salon has opened on the Galle Road by the 66km post, very close to where I live. At first I thought it was a paint supply shop as it advertises “Infinite colours for your life at our colour bank” at a place called Colour Point. But next to it there’s a Cafe Point of the cyber kind, and a “Hair, Beauty and Tattoo Point.”

As a kid, I was terrified of “short back and sides” and still need reassurance whenever I enter a barber’s. So I am happy to report that my foray into the Gents Saloon (547 Galle Road, Induruwa) was a pleasant experience. It is so modern and comfortable it could almost be a cocktail bar and I shall doubtless become a regular. I didn’t have a tattoo though, just a neat trim for my visit to England.

This is another example of the change of lifestyle that Sri Lanka is experiencing, as establishments such as quality hairdressers, drycleaners and even delicatessens branch out of Colombo and into the countryside.


Beat regards