by Desmond Kelly ‘the Star of eLanka’
The memories keep flooding back. The year, 1950, St.Peter’s College, Bambalapitiya, Form 1, so many good friends, such fabulous “natural talents”, my buddies, all now “gone to their rest”, & in a much better place, friends like Denis Roberts, the gentle, light-eyed “crooner” who, if you closed your eyes, WAS Frank Sinatra or the lead-singer of the fabulous “Inkspots”, depending on the song he wanted to sing at that moment. I still remember his own favourites of “Frankie boy”, as we called him, were “From here to Eternity” or “Learnin the Blues”& “To each his own” sung by Bill Kenny Jnr., the lead-singer (tenor) of the Inkspots. Then there was Patrick Nelson, another fine musician and pianist who could “tickle the ivories” with the best of them and was also a “Peterite”, another “musician friend” by the name of Elmo Mullholland, who loved to play the guitar and invited “yours truly” to his home in Dehiwala to teach him a few chords and went on to be able to teach ME some, plus become one of the very BEST “Bass” players in all of Ceylon. These fine musicians were just examples of personal pals of mine, who will never be forgotten.
Then, of course, there were the guys like Ray Forbes & Basil Ambrose, “top” students in class & also one Mohan Lalvani, from the very well known “Lalvani Bros” family in Colombo Fort, & Carl Jansz, son of the well-known Jansz family of the latter end of Lorensz Road, who would do ANYTHING to create mischief & get a laugh. Carl is now “gone”, but I do believe that only “the good die young” & Mohan, who used to tease me with the saying ” Kelly, belly, beans on my belly” & “this bean” are still alive & kicking.
From this period, I will also never forget my pal David Swan, son of the Ceylon Judge St.Clair Swan, who used to “pinch” his dad’s “Black& White” cigarettes for US to smoke at the little thosai-joint at the top of Lorensz Road, after a feed of thosai, string-hoppers & sambal, finishing off with a “kiri-kopi”(milk-coffee), after which we would go across the “Galle-Road” to the “Swan-residence” , a superb, large home (became “Studio-Lekha”, later), for me to listen to all the latest “Long-playing” recordings that the Judge would buy for his only son, after which I would resolutely “cap” (0gle) another six or seven beautiful daughters, who Mrs.Swan had presented her husband with, and as such, were David’s sisters. At this stage, I have not been able to contact David. Someone told me that he has “passed away” in England. If so, R.I.P. my friend.
Again, my dear readers, these are just a few memories from literally thousands I am so very proud to recall.
These are just the “tip of the iceberg” , but I feel certain that, as they read these “memories” in brief, EVERY Sri-Lankan/Aussie,Englishman, Canadian, American, in fact, every Lankan/reluctant migrant, wherever you are, will have your own happy memories to sustain you through life. If my “articles” do this for you, then, I have done my job. Please take your time and read my stories thoroughly. If there happens to be an error or three, please excuse me.They are simply mosquito-net “TYPHO-ERRORS”. Also PLEASE make some brief, honest comments of your own . We are all “students to the grave” and I am happy to keep learning something new, every day, for the rest of my life & remember this, my friends. We are ALL just a “Blink of an eye”, in the context of time. The way “things” are going, at the moment, I am afraid that even that “BLINK” may not now be possible. Happy to tell you folks that these bloody terrorists are now losing the war down at Mosul & North Korea’s nuclear-type missiles are being (digitally) shot down & done-away with before they go anywhere. Mr.Trump will “bump” them off.
My dear readers, I will take my chance to “explain” my frequent use of the word “bloody” in my articles. You see, while I spent my formative 26 years in Ceylon, I was really a “holier than thou” young lad, Altar Server at School, went to Church in Moratuwa every day, learn’t all the Prayers, Hymns etc., in Latin, even, and everyone thought that I was heading into the “Brother Desmond” bit, , BUT, that “title” didn’t even sound right. I really enjoyed those “young years”, never studied much but had a “retentive memory”, passed all those younger “exams” and DID READ everything I could lay my hands on. My primary education at the time came from READING. My mid- years ( 12-15 ) were spent at Lorensz Road, Bambalapitiya, at St.Peter’s College, ending when I was fifteen & a half years old, as the MONITOR OF THE MOST NOTORIOUS “FORM” IN THE COLLEGE (Junior D.) with my pal DENIS ROBERTS as Prayer/Assistant Monitor. Whenever WE wanted to skip a certain period to go out & rehearse a comedy-skit or song, both Denis and Desmond “played-up” & were “kicked out” of class, usually by the Sinhalese Master, who was so thin, we used to call him “Hoona”(or lizard, in English). A fine Priest, I would have made! I left College, couldn’t get a job, for obvious reasons, joined Mr.Donavan Andree who always had some part-time work for me, plus, he gave me the “order” that whenever he was around at any “concert” that I took part in ( was around three, every week ) I HAD TO SING “Ain’t Misbehavin” for him. I dutifully sang it, even though I knew that he DID misbehave at times like we all did. Denis Roberts also sang for Donavan & I still remember that he HAD to sing “I’ll make up for everything”(the World has done to you), Also, being about three years older than me, & also jobless, Denis joined the Royal Ceylon Navy as a “Signalman”. He was “drafted” straight onto H.M.Cy.S “Vijaya”, went to England, took part in a talent contest there, and was dubbed as the “carbon-copy” of Frank Sinatra.
Then, the “Circus” came to town. On the way to Ceylon, the Jenkins’ family who came to the Island in order to “tour” around, under contract to Donavan, for 6 mths., lost their eldest son to typhoid ( in India ) & this was the reason that, with Donavan’s help, I joined the show called “Continental Nonstop Revue”, a “Circus Special” stage show, 7 days a week, doing 3 daily, 2 hour shows, playing a broken down 6 string guitar & singing Hawaiian Songs for the Hula dancers on stage. 6 months of this & I can truthfully say that I enjoyed every minute of it. “CIRCUS” is truly the EPITOME of “Showbiz”.
Back home to Lorensz Rd, still no proper employment, so I then decided to Join the Navy too & see the World.
It was here that this other special “adjective” was put into place, not only by myself, but everyone else around me. I will not print the four-letter word here, but it begins with the letter “F”, ends with the letter “K” & I’ll leave YOU to fill in the blanks. Incidentally, the word is quite common now, as is the meaning of the word, in language, on films, everywhere one copulates.
To make a long story short? ?!!, I started working & earning my own money from the age of 15, had a gloriously busy 26 years in Ceylon, Served my Country in the Royal Ceylon Navy for nearly 9 years, taught myself EVERYTHING I do, came to bloody Australia in 1962, started regular work here WITHIN a week, worked
until I was 70, did “every-bloody-thing” as the Aussies say, paid my taxes, NEVER took a cent of the DOLE, actually, hardly took any “leave”, annual or otherwise because I do ENJOY everything I do, but sometimes, I get SOOO BLOODY ANGRY, I purposely left the REASON for this “article” to finish on a very important message to all Lankan*Aussies, via eLanka, to which I am indebted for giving me the chance to vent some of this bloody anger,
WE HAVE ALREADY KNOWN IT FOR MANY YEARS NOW & STILL, SOME OF US SPEND MONEY GOING TO BLOODY BALI ON HOLIDAYS. LANKANS & AUSSIES, PLEASE NOTE. IF YOU HAVE NEVER SUFFERED “BALI-BELLY”, DO NOT PUSH YOUR LUCK. Some of these “Balians” or whatever they call themselves, have been serving you “DOG-MEAT”, calling it Chicken. Yesterday, on T.V., I could hardly watch it, but I did, I saw a mother-dog trying desperately to nudge her baby-puppies into hiding (yes, they have motherly feelings too), but had to leave them to try to escape the bastards who “got her” anyway, to drag her out, choking on a rope around her neck, to brutally kill her & later “serve” her to you “khebab-style”, lying to you for the sake of a few bucks. Dog-meat is what you tourists ate, when you consumed that poor faithful animal. She was a white labrador-type dog. poor thing.
I consider myself to be a tough, hardened, ex-Navy man, but friends, wild emotions took over as I had to sit, helpless, angry & frustrated & watch animals who ARE man’s best friend, slaughtered so inhumanely.
FOLKS, GIVE BALI & ANYWHERE ELSE, WHO ARE KILLING DOMESTIC PETS FOR MEAT, A BIG BLOODY MISS WHEN YOU NEXT VISIT YOUR TRAVEL AGENT.
Yes, we do have to eat “meats” for the protein they afford, BUT, as long as the Cattle, Pigs, Chickens etc., are HUMANELY disposed of, there is no argument, but, speaking for myself, as I usually do, I will make EVERY EFFORT POSSIBLE to SHOW-UP “SCUM” FOR WHO THEY ARE. YOU WANT TOURISTS? , then, do the right thing and don’t serve them with DOG-MEAT. THIS MIGHT TASTE LIKE CHICKEN FOLKS, BUT BELIEVE ME, YOU WILL END UP WITH THE WORST BALI-BELLY SYNDROME IF YOU DON’T HEED MY WARNING.
Star of eLanka.