Archive for January, 2013

Royston’s Report, Number 145

Saturday, January 26th, 2013

Sunday 27 January 2013.

Greetings to readers, with an apology for the fluctuating delivery time of this newsletter. If ever you don’t receive it on Sunday, please check for the latest issue

Bullock cart for sale

Some readers might remember that, flushed with funds from selling some old maps and prints at a Colombo auction about 14 months ago, I splashed out and bought a bullock racing hackery at the same auction. Regular reader Ronnie from Scotland even commented: I am sure you were reluctant to sell your maps and prints, however once you have bought your bullock cart not only will you be reducing your carbon footprint it will be a super way to collect the groceries.

Bullock hackery racing 1887

Bullock hackery racing 1887

The ancient hackery has now been restored and although I wouldn’t recommend it for racing or collecting the groceries, it would make a stunning display at a boutique hotel or restaurant, or even as part of a bar. So I have decided to sell it  – as long as I can find someone who would appreciate owning this rather special part of old Ceylon, once used for racing.

An authentic bullock racing hackery

An authentic bullock racing hackery

If you’re interested and would like to know the price, please send an email to: [email protected]. It’s located on the veranda of a villa in Induruwa.


Bangkok Holiday : Jim Thompson

Products and fabrics with the brand name of Jim Thompson ( are one of the treasures to be found when shopping in Bangkok. Thompson was a charismatic American who successfully set up The Thai Silk Company in 1951 and became known as much for his personality as for his fabrics. He disappeared while on a visit to the Cameron Highlands in Malaya in 1967, 22 years after he first arrived in Thailand.

The fabrics designed by his company retain the distinctive quality and originality he pioneered. The Jim Thompson main store is near the Sala Daeng skytrain station, with a smaller one at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, with which Thompson was associated in the 1950s. The smart shopper, however, heads for a Jim Thompson Factory Sales Outlet. The one I visited is at 149/4-6 Surawong Road, not far from Patpong.

Bangkok for fabrics like this

Bangkok for fabrics like this


I was looking for silk fabric with a bold, typically Jim Thompson design for a new shirt and handkerchiefs. Above is what I found, at a cost of the equivalent of US$ 12.93 [Rs  1,681; £ 8] a metre. The local village tailor turned it into a multi-pocket shirt for a charge of Rs 500 [£ 2.38; US$ 3.84].


Tailored 4-pocket shirt

Tailored 4-pocket shirt


Male’ Bus Journey

Bus journeys in Sri Lanka are not to be recommended given the style and speed of driving, so I haven’t been on a bus for years. That was until last week when pleasurable circumstances (ie: a paid writing assignment) took me back to Male’, the capital island of the Maldives.

Male’ is an island alone, far removed from the archetype of a tropical island, as it bristles with high-rise buildings and swarms of motorcyclists bouncing up and down cobbled alleys, with nary a palm tree in sight. Even the beach is artificial, although Male’ does have a corner where sufficient surf rolls in to entice the local hot shot surfers. It has over 100,000 inhabitants squeezed in an island less than 2 in area.

Male' bus service

A bus service has recently been introduced with buses running every 15 minutes. I waited for a short while at the bus stop near the main square by the waterfront wondering if a bus would really come. It did and I paid the equivalent of 32 US cents (SLRs 41;  20 UK pence)  to be allowed on board. It had 18 seats, windows wide open for the breeze, and a route map that showed it did a round of the island.


Male' bus ticket

Male’ bus ticket


We rattled past Sultan’s Park with its curious Republican Monument wrought in aluminium by students, to the ferry terminal for boats to Hulhumale’, a man-made satellite residential island.


Male' republican momument

Male’ republican monument


Then we breezed along the east coast to the surfers’ corner before cutting through the new developments on reclaimed land to the Southern Harbour with its colourful cargo vessels from outlying islands. Then we dashed down the main shopping street and headed back to the waterfront where harbour cleaners were at work.

Male' harbour cleaning

Male’ harbour cleaning


I got off at the bus stop where I had boarded, having enjoyed a remarkable 45 -minute tour, seeing the city and getting close to Maldivians.


Teenage Testament 

Stuck in the business class lounge at Male’ International Airport for eight hours (my SriLankan flight had gone “technical”) with no bar to turn to, I dabbed away at the free computer. That’s how I discovered a website with a “manifesto” I had written as an energetic teenager…and forgotten about.

The website complier comments: “I found this typed statement among some papers that I had bought from the late John Rolph, a marvellous man, publisher with the Scorpion Press and latterly a ‘tea bag’ bookseller in his rambling shop at Pakefield, Lowestoft. He had published several Royston Ellis poetry pamphlets including the great-looking ‘Rave‘ (1960).


Rave - poetry by Royston Ellis

Rave – poetry by Royston Ellis


“Ellis’s statement, written when he was 18, is cri de coeur from teenland–the teenager at the time had only just been invented, before that in what is now known as ‘the age of deference’ you went uncomplainingly from boy to man, from girl to woman, wore sensible clothes and behaved yourself. A historic document, not quite on a par with the Dada Manifesto (at the Cabaret Voltaire in July 1916) but of some significance– it is a carbon copy with a note by JR ‘given to me by Royston 1960.’ It appears to be unpublished.”


Rave - back cover blurb

Rave – back cover blurb

To read the rest, go to:

The Big Beat Scene is back

The Big Beat Scene is back

For more on the dawn of the swinging sixties, see the recent reprint of my 1961 book: The Big Beat Scene available through:

Beat regards

Royston Ellis