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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year!

I wish all viewers a very happy new year.

                              2014

Thursday, December 12, 2013

My Memories of Gampaha 1952 - 56


My Memories of  Gampaha 1952-56

By Dr Nihal D Amerasekera                   

The human memory is a miracle of nature. Like a time traveller, I am turning back the clock 60 years.  It is my wish these memories distil the spirit of an era now long gone. I was ten years old when my father was transferred to Gampaha. By then we had lived in Nugegoda for several years. After some deliberation, the decision was made to send me to the boarding at Wesley College, the school where I had settled in well as a day scholar. This changed my idyllic life at home where I enjoyed a sheltered and privileged existence.

The town

Gampaha is a town made by the merging of five villages. It was formerly called Henarathgoda. When Sir Edward Barnes paid a visit to the area in 1825, it was a dense forest.  He decided to construct a railway through the area and to have a station at Henarathgoda. This effectively ignited the interest in the area.  

In the 1950’s Gampaha was still a small town and amazingly peaceful. It could not boast of lush green mountains or a deep blue sea, but the air was clean and the people were friendly. It was a place of beauty, loveliness and enchantment. Its only claim to fame was the Botanical Gardens where Ceylon’s first rubber tree was planted. Its pleasant undulating landscape, rolling lawns and colourful hedges have mesmerised visitors for centuries. 

 Gampaha had a thriving community of middle-class landed gentry owning vast swathes of land as far as the eye could see. Well into the 1960’s they imagined they were still in the British Empire and emulated the English aristocracy.  This was a world apart from the lives of the simple rural folk. The poor knew their position and depended totally and completely on their rich masters for survival. They lived in humble dwellings of mud houses and thatched roofs. The rich showed some empathy and care for the less fortunate, but made distinctly clear who was boss. That was the way it was in Gampaha in the mid 20th century.  

I was then far too young to appreciate the vast political and social changes taking place around me. In retrospect, the political arena then was full of young lions jockeying for position. In the heat of the battle, honesty and equality became its casualty. The shimmering dawn of the era of the common man was visible in the distant horizon. When it came, the pendulum swung too far to the left too quickly and the economy suffered. We all now know its devastating consequences. The economic freeze had a profound impact on our lives and froze peoples' freedom and the ability to travel. I was happily oblivious to these changes but as I grew up, suffered with the rest of my countrymen. It is easier to be scornful of the past than of the present. But we needed change and the seeds of change were sown with the introduction of free education and healthcare. The power of the unions gave the workers a voice. 

Buildings

I remember very little of the bricks and mortar in Gampaha. Lion House was an Ice Cream Parlour at the main roundabout and served delicious cones and ice lollies. For a ten year old, this was the closest place to heaven. I recall a beautiful tree lined street of elegant houses. There was a bustling fruit and vegetable market, noisy and full of people. On Saturdays, the market came alive with witch doctors and fortune tellers. It is a dramatic spectacle, if you can put up with monkeys and snakes. The unmistakable bus stand occupied the centre of town. The disruptive monsoon rains lashed heavily on the town and the low-lying areas flooded with disastrous results. During the warm dry months, the sweeping winds sent clouds of dust swirling into the air. Such are my memories of this sleepy town. I always felt comfortable in Gampaha where we were welcomed with courtesy. 

Our house

My parents found a house at 230, Colombo Road, Gampaha,  a splendid old house opposite the General Hospital. It was the ancestral home of Cyril Goonetilleke, a property tycoon, entrepreneur and socialite who had inherited tremendous wealth. Although born to a life of privilege, he endured perhaps more than his share of hardship.  The house had water on tap and flushing toilets, then a luxury anywhere outside the metropolis. He was a young wealthy landowner who spent lavishly on himself. Cyril was away in London studying for his law degree. He loved the good life.  During his absence, a close relative, Earle Dassanaike, occupied the house. Earle was a bachelor and was happy to let us take over the house while he used a room. Cyril had kept one room for himself which was full of his knick knacks. This was a treasure trove for us kids. Earle was a kindly man and was the Manager at the CWE at Jawatte.  His depth of kindness and thoughtfulness was obvious. His energy, generosity and mischievous humour knew no bounds. Every morning, he walked  a mile to the Railway Station  and returned late in the evening. He lead a quiet sedate life. At weekend, he often went to see his mother in a coconut estate at Katuwellagama near Negombo, an old sprawling Walauwwa with long verandahs and a spacious porch.  We sometimes went with him to his home in the country to spend a peaceful day.  

Neighbours

Ratnavali Balika Vidyalaya  was two doors next to us. Living opposite the hospital, we got to know the DMO Dr. Maheswaran. He was a bachelor and lived like a Prince next to us in a small house well hidden from the main road. I envied his bohemian life style. He was a typical old style young medic who inspired me enormously and perhaps motivated me to take up a career in medicine. He wasn’t averse to a drink in the evening and invited his friends for a sing song. Police Sub Inspector Von Hart was a regular visitor playing the piano accordion with others with drums and guitars. Von Hart had a wide repertoire of Sinhala music and entertained us well. I was completely entranced by this musical extravaganza.  Drinks flowed freely and the music often went on deep into the night. No one dared complain about the young DMO. 

Holidays

During the holidays, my cousins kept me company. We played cricket from dawn to dusk except when a serious disagreement halted the game. Umpiring decisions were a nightmare and we learnt to bend the rules to suit our game. The days seemed sunny and endless. Behind the house was a large coconut plantation with cashew, mango  and guava trees. We spent many afternoons plucking fruits enjoying the freedom of the open spaces. There were many ponds and streams scattered in the neighbourhood. I recall our fishing expeditions spending hours with the hook, line and sinker waiting for the big one which never came. All the while, we kept a close eye on snakes and monitor lizards that shared the space with us. 

Friends

The de Sarams lived about 400 yards from our house . Their house was on a hill at the edge of a coconut plantation overlooking a long stretch of paddy fields. The swallows had a made a nest at the back of their house and we saw the planning and the construction of this remarkable dwelling with mud and saliva. That was the closest I have been to nature in my short life. They respected our privacy as we did theirs.  

We walked to the de Saram’s to play with the kids. Lal the eldest was about my age and his brothers Sanath, Jaliya and Rohan joined us too. They were amiable friends. We played cricket in the dusty streets avoiding the occasional vehicle that crawled past giving us a friendly wave. Always impeccably dressed, Mr Bobby de Saram had a suave 1920’s look and was one of life’s great charmers. He was of medium build with hair combed back and resembled the Hollywood depiction of the ‘Godfather’ Don Vito Corleone. Of course he was no gangster but an honest and kind soul. Bobby de Saram was a charming and charismatic Insurance agent for Sunlife Assurance able to sell a freezer to an Eskimo. Mrs. Gladys de Saram was a gentle, kind devoted housewife who showed remarkable patience to put up with our mess and mayhem.  

We had no sense of fear and trudged miles into the picturesque countryside of meandering waterways and acres of paddy fields. I recall walking on an endless dusty road to the Ketawala anicut , an irrigation dam and reservoir. This was a bewitching place of breath-taking beauty, many many miles away from our homes. The reservoir sustained the paddy fields and remained a paradise for birds and butterflies. We heard the screeching of the parrots and the knocking of the woodpeckers. Golden Orioles, red vented bul buls and kingfishers flew fearlessly over our heads. Everyday was a new adventure fuelled by our insatiable curiosity. Barefooted, we walked brazenly into the network of footpaths across paddy fields, forests and villages and thought this blissful existence would never end. Soon we became the best of friends. Their cousins were girls about our age. We played with them too, but we didn’t like girls then!! I just remember Neela, the prettiest of them all.  

In the evenings the sky took on crimson glow before hordes of bats took to the air. The nights were quiet when an eerie silence pervaded the entire countryside. 

Bandaranaike’s

Gampaha has been the natural home of the tribe of Dias Bandaranaikes. Horagolla is a stones throw away. SD Bandaranaike was then the sitting MP for Gampaha for many decades. He was a charismatic politician and an eloquent orator who appealed to the masses. He preached of a better future for the poor.  

My parents became friends with another avuncular country gentleman, Wilfred Dias Bandaranaike. He had an irresistible magnetic personality and lived at Kirikongahena Estate on Yakkala Road in a typical country Manor House. The old house was quiet elegance and quaint charm. Dinner with him unfolded a grand spectacle of the glory of English aristocracy. Everything was polished and pristine. Wilfred DB was a graduate from the Poona Agricultural Institute and was the creative influence for his immaculate garden with an outstanding layout and design. It had colourful borders, exotic flowers, broad hedges and decorative monuments. He remained a constant fixture at social gatherings of the great and the good in Gampaha. On such occasions, he was seen in neatly pressed light summer suits with a bow tie and a Panama hat which conjures up images of Great Gatsby.  

He was the quintessential Englishman with tall good looks, upper class conceit and arrogance. Wilfred DB was an endearing and enduring relic of the British Raj and spoke proper English (with a toffee in his mouth). His expressions and mannerisms were British. He had a certain aura about him which left people in no doubt he belonged to the ruling class.  I respect him enormously for his dignity and decency. Wilfred DB was an aristocrat caught up in a time-warp at the turn of the last century and often elegised a bygone Ceylon. Despite his remarkable wealth, he travelled in his buggy cart and never owned a car. He was always incredibly kind to me and remained a valued family friend during and well beyond our stay in Gampaha.  

The return

I remember the day Cyril Goonetilleke returned to Ceylon. Those were the days of steamships and the journey from London took 8 weeks. He came to Gampaha in a brand new red MG -TD Coupe. He spoke with a strong British accent and the drawl was difficult to decipher. Cyril occupied the 3rd room in our house and became our guest. The young Cyril had expensive tastes and added some spice and sauce to a reserved and old fashioned way of life in Gampaha.  He was remarkably polite and was always seen in the company of beautiful girls. I remember he once took us kids with a large group of girls and boys to play softball cricket at the Botanical Gardens. It was a good days fun for all. Most of all, we enjoyed the trip in his shiny red car with the open hood. Cyril was a businessman and became the sole importer and distributor of Tennent’s Lager in Ceylon. It never took off. 

Tempus Fugit

Indeed, time does fly. The years passed swiftly and relentlessly. The ebb and flow of my fortunes brought happiness and despair in equal measure. Meanwhile, the river of life has run on and youth passed into middle age. I had stepped on the treadmill to carve myself a career and raise a family. The stress of exams, tiring work routines and the inevitable pleasures and heartaches of family life seemed to have passed with the blink of an eye. They are all behind me now. During those years, I was seduced by the material world. Thankfully, now, calmness prevails and gaining wealth doesn’t have any priority. As I look back, I cannot believe more than 60 years have passed since those happy days. I have written frankly and fairly about the people I had the privilege to meet and remember them with the greatest regard and affection. I have spoken vaguely and indirectly of the politics and social aspects of the day as I was too young to grasp its complexities. It is often easier to criticise than to understand. 

The people

I never returned to Gampaha town or the house ever again. The house was later bought by a doctor who razed it to the ground and built a 2 storey Surgery for his practice. Earle Dassanaike left our house to be married. He raised a family and lead a happy and contented life. He left this world about 20 years ago. Although I never met his wife and daughters, I saw him briefly many times and reminisced at length. Cyril became a businessman and married his sweetheart, a girl who played cricket with us at the botanical gardens. I met him once in Kurunegala in 1968. He was much subdued and we spoke of those happy years. I am told his marriage sadly did not survive the rigors of life. He too died 13 years ago of a massive stroke.  

We kept in touch with Wilfred Dias Bandaranaike. His sunset years were bedevilled with poor health until finally he succumbed to a stroke. He remained a posh ‘British’ gentleman to the very end. I am reliably informed Kirikongahena estate still exists, but the house became derelict and the garden engulfed by weeds.  

Mr Saram passed away at the age of 90. He lived in Nawala with Sanath who managed a bakery. Mrs Saram predeceased him by 15 years. Lal de Saram sadly died in his early 60’s of an inoperable brain tumour. Jaliya worked for a Travel Agency in Colombo and died suddenly of a heart attack. Pretty Neela entered the Arts Faculty in Peradeniya and completed her degree. I know she got married but died young of ovarian cancer many years ago. I have no news of Dr Maheswaran or Sub Inspector Von Hart and hope life treated them kindly. I am grateful for the opportunity to have met them on my journey through life. Loss of childhood friends do leave an echoing void. As my thoughts drift towards Gampaha of the 1950’s, I am overcome by a deep sense of nostalgia and homesickness. 

The mist of time cannot erase the memories of those happy years. Thinking of the days gone by is at least for a short while a blissful escape from reality of the present. Despite the storms and tempests of life, I have often found a safe harbour protected from the fury of the winds. I have often spoken of the awesome force of destiny in my life. Destiny always has the last word, if not the last laugh. 

Credits

As I end my egotistical narrative of my journey through life, I must recall the part my parents played in my life in those days. Being an only child, I was always at the forefront of their thoughts. Nothing was ever done to hinder my progress through life. My mother has always been by my side through thick and thin. Mother's love for a child is ever so special and no words can describe it adequately. Although she lived 6000 miles away in Sri Lanka, I could always feel her presence. It is a wonderful feeling of love. I owe them everything.  Both my parents have now passed on. I dedicate these notes to my parents for their infinite love which sadly I could never fully reciprocate.

 

 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Some Recollections of my Early Life

By Nihal D Amerasekera 

I was born in Kandy, that splendid city nestling in the central hills of Ceylon. In 1942, the World War was raging and peace must have seemed far away. It was Douglas Walbeoff Jansz who severed my umbilical cord and slapped my back to help take my first breath in an unsettled world. My grandma was eagerly waiting with her watch to time the birth to cast my horoscope, but had forgotten to do so in the confusion of the delivery room. By some strange coincidence, Jansz was a Lecturer in Physiology during my time at Medical College. Despite its magic and charm, Kandy was never to be my home. Even after all these years, when I visit this idyllic city my past connections remain a magnet for my soul.  

My earliest recollections are of Bogawantalawa at the foot of the Kotiyagala range. It was in the middle of tea country with many European Planters rushing on their motor bikes. Everyone wore  mufflers and sweaters and rain was never faraway. Then we moved to Kadugannawa near the Dawson Column living sandwiched between two railway lines. The steam trains huffed and puffed at all hours and how we slept amidst that mayhem still remains a mystery to me.  

In 1947, my parents decided I was of a ripe old age for schooling. My grandparents then lived in a large house at 56, Church Street, Nugegoda, just beside St John's Girls School. There I spent three uneventful years but for a slight mishap when my mother in her enthusiasm, sent me to school after a heavy dose of laxative with disastrous consequences. We lived opposite the Anglican Church and witnessed the baptisms, weddings  and funerals -  the full gamut of Christian life.  

I still recall our independence from British rule in 1948. Although I was too young to realise its importance, I do remember the joy and happiness in the faces of the people. They were now released from the shackles of bondage that held them down for nearly 500 years. With freedom comes the responsibility to unite and strengthen our country with hard work. We were swept by a wave of nationalism. There was an overwhelming desire for change and the British and Dutch street names became the first casualty. Overnight, the well known landmarks in Colombo lost their links with the past. It disorientated the older folk and disillusioned the young. Many still ask themselves whether this was ever necessary. The cost of this exercise was borne by our sagging economy.  

The early 1950s was a time of idyllic splendour and tranquillity in Ceylon. As a nation, it was our age of innocence. The Galle Face Hotel, the Queens Hotel Kandy and the Grand Hotel Nuwara Eliya were the only hotels with any star quality. The affluent and the not so wealthy, indulged in a weekend flutter on the horses at the Race Course in Reid Avenue. The Parliament was by the sea and the breeze helped the politicians to think rationally and clearly- or so it seemed. During April, the rich went "upcountry" to Nuwara Eliya to escape the Colombo heat. Galle Face Green on a Sunday was packed with people sucking Alerics Ice Cream. 

Colombo in the 1950s was a city of contrasts with the beauty of prestigious estates with pleasant houses in some areas, and slums, shanties and tenements in others. The poor with large families lived in a single room in screaming poverty. The falling plaster, broken windows and fences, corrugated iron roofs were the hall marks of the poverty we saw. It is a scene straight from the annals of our urban life of that era. For many, the new found political independence did little to give them home or hope.  

For me, real life began when I started at Wesley College at the bottom of the pile. The journey to school on the narrow gauge Kelani Valley train with friends was exciting. I felt grown up carrying the money to buy my own ticket. All Railway Stations had that special smell of steam and coal which hung on to our clothes for days. My father was in Government Service and had to move from town to town every three years, what was then euphemistically called "transfers". In their wisdom, my parents decided to send me to the hostel, at great cost to themselves. It was to give me a stable life and teach me the social skills and discipline. I achieved their goals only to lose them in the rough and tumble of University life. 

Memories of life in the boarding can fill a book. I was lucky to belong to a generation inspired contemporaneously by great teachers and principals. They gave us lofty ideas, great inspiration, self respect, firm discipline and  anchorage. It was a sublime experience. The first day at the boarding was full of tears specially when wishing the parents goodbye. Nothing could have prepared me adequately for this trauma. It was the large frame of Mrs. Hindle, the Matron, who welcomed us. The loneliness and bewilderment was overpowering at times. All our possessions were crammed into a large metal trunk and the clothes had our name tags. In the first term, they all called me "new boy", a strict reminder of the pecking order.  

Needless to say, there was no television, no computers, and no mobile phones. We made our own entertainment and amused ourselves. Despite the hustle and bustle of life and the regimentation, we had time to put our arms round our pals and share in their joys and sorrows. We shared our secrets and exchanged stories about our parents, brothers and sisters. There was a certain closeness which was rarely seen in friendships later on in life. We talked about our dreams and aspirations for the future and assumed we will always be friends. It fills my heart with sadness to think many of us never met again as adults. It is a horrible reminder of our own mortality when we read or hear of the death of school friends who played, laughed, sang and fought with us all those years ago. For me they will always remain fifteen, healthy and smiling. It is hard to believe they will not be playing those elegant cover drives ever again or be ready for a pillow fight.  

Unlike at present, the students had no voice at all. Parents took decisions for us at home and the teachers did so at school. On looking back, we believed teachers wielded immense power and perhaps they did. But law enforcement was done with knowing restraint influenced mostly by their faith. Others depended firmly on the swish of the cane. Punishments at school were a necessity to keep the riff raffs on the straight and narrow. The types of punishment were brought to Wesley by the British Principals from English Public Schools like Eton, Rugby and Harrow. They were harsh and on looking back, unnecessary. There were times when I raged at the injustice of punishments. In this 21st Century of human rights, corporal punishment is looked down upon as demeaning and humiliating for which there is no real need. Reading the reminiscences from the first half of the last century, we get a glimpse of those hard times. It would be a mistake to apply the liberal values of this modern age to life at school 50 years ago. 

Sports dominated my life at school. Cricket in those days was played by gentlemen. Umpires' word was law. We congratulated the opponents’ achievements in the field. We walked away when we felt it was out though the umpires did not see . The spectators dissent and applause was confined  to areas beyond the boundary. No streakers, foul language or efforts to intimidate the batsman at the crease. When we lost, though crest fallen and frustrated, clapped the opponents back to the pavilion. Those injured in the heat of the battle were comforted by the captain of the opposite side. My generation grew up with peace. This gentlemanly behaviour on the pitch, merely reflected the peaceful and chivalrous times of our youth. In the 21st century, these seem rather tame as the cricketers have given up being gentleman for the high stakes they play for.  

The enchantment of the cricket matches of my childhood still haunts me. At school, Cricket was not only a game but a way of life. My lasting memory of cricket at Campbell Park is the sight of the setting sun behind All Saints Church and its lengthening shadows. The Church bell rang at 6 o'clock. As the bails were lifted, we all departed discussing the ups and downs of the day's play. Losing a match in those days was like the end of the world, but we always bounced back. It was certainly a good training to face the peaks and troughs of our own lives. The songs we sang and the friends I made, are etched deeply in my memory. After leaving school, I went for some matches in the following year. The magic and the aura of this extraordinary spectacle seem to have gone, not being an integral part of it anymore. Thereafter, life got too complicated  building  my own career. 

In common with the development of road transport worldwide, bus operation in Ceylon was pioneered by private enterprise. Private entrepreneurs Ebert Silva, High Level Bus Company and Ceylon Tours provided the service with many other companies whose names I cannot now recall. Demand continued to increase with population growth and the private companies found it difficult to change, invest and improve. The service began to crumble. The Government nationalised bus transport in 1958 and the Ceylon Transport Board was born. The red reliable British Leyland single and double decker buses then were a  part of the Colombo scene. Quickshaw Taxis competed for business with the Morris Minor Cabs. Rickshaws in the 50s were confined to Fort and Pettah. Trolley buses were popular for a decade in the 1950s, running between Borella and Pettah. Bullock carts were seen on the roads well into the 1970s. 

1955 saw the emergence of Rock 'n Roll music. The first Rock 'n' Roll record to achieve national popularity was "Rock Around the Clock" by Bill Haley and the Comets . I queued for hours in the heat of the day to see the film at the Savoy. Bill Haley succeeded in creating a music that appealed to youth because of its exciting back beat, its urgent call to dance, and the action of its lyrics. The booming base and the twang of electric guitars produced a foot tapping sound. Haley abruptly ended the ascendancy of the bland and sentimental ballads of the crooners popular in the 1940s and early 50s. I was then in the boarding, singing, clicking my fingers and gyrating to the music coming through the Rediffusion set in the Hostel common room. Music of Elvis Presley and Cliff Richard and the Shadows was all consuming to us teenagers. The Colgate Hit-parade on Tuesdays was as good as watching cricket on a Saturday. I cannot believe nearly 50 years have passed since those exciting times in our youth. 

1956 saw the beginnings of the political decline of our country. We moved away from the Westminster style gentlemanly politics into an abyss. The jingoism and the ultra-nationalism was a recipe for division and disaster. It was Albert Einstein who said that Nationalism is an infantile disease and is the measles of mankind. The rapid abolition of English as the state language, drove many educated people away from the country. The Burghers who formed a colourful community and contributed immensely to the welfare of the island emigrated in their thousands to Australia, England and Canada. They had a tremendous love for life which they showed in the way they lived. I remember the sad goodbyes when my friends left. The first Dutch Burghers came to Ceylon four centuries ago, when the maritime provinces of the island came under the Dutch East India Company. They joined the legal, medical and teaching professions and played a major role in the fight for independence. During my time at school, the Burghers ran the CGR and did so most efficiently. The time keeping of the Ceylon Railways was second to none. Their departure coincided with the economic and political decline and saw the beginning of the ethnic divisions which ravaged the island. The politics of the country was in crisis and our coffers were empty. The many upheavals, disunity and the workers' strikes had brought the country to its knees. 

1958- I remember it well as the year when the sport of Kings - horse racing that began in 1922 was banned in Ceylon. I am no punter and it had no effect on me personally, but a Saturday ritual of many, rich and poor, was suddenly taken away. The bookmakers and the customers went underground and business flourished. The beautiful Reid Avenue Grand Stand and its spacious turf was left to decay and wither.
 
1958 also saw the race riots, a tragedy which remained to haunt and destroy us until the end of the 20th Century. 

The 6th Form years at Wesley were some of the best of my life. It is indeed a wonderful experience to look back on one’s life 50+ years after leaving school.  I was 18 then, life was beautiful and saw the world in vivid technicolor. Disagreements, disappointments and the heartaches seem to be all forgotten. All I can remember now are the pleasant memories of happy times. I recall the sunshine and the warmth and not the monsoon rains. Anecdotes and images appear at random. The innocence of the fifties gave way to the cynical and raucous sixties. Beatles and Elvis Presley were still riding high in the Hit Parade. The hippy culture of sex, drugs and rock and roll were making the headlines and setting the pace.  

At Wesley, we had the large expanse of the Welikada Prison just opposite our front gate. Every morning, the  prisoners wearing white were taken along Baseline Road by the guards in khaki shorts. Being so close to the prison for over a decade, I had often let my mind wander about the life of those in jail. For many of us even now, prison is almost an unknown place and very few knew what happened behind those grim gates that swallowed the convicts. We imagined that its inhabitants were desperate people and dangerous criminals. In our minds, the place was associated with isolation, humiliation and suffering which were all part of the punishment. Sometimes, the sheer lack of privacy and at other times, the loneliness of solitary confinement, must be soul destroying. Time then is not a luxury but a burden to endure. A few had the benefit of work and exercise. I would hate to think of what food they received and of the many who walked out free, how they faced the world again. 

In those days, for anyone studying the Sciences, the choice was rather limited, being confined to Medicine, Biological Sciences, Agriculture and Engineering. There was a belief that entry into Medical College was a passport to Nirvana. That was just an illusion which for a few, turned out to be a nightmare. It was only the beginning of a long struggle with busy days and sleepless nights. I hope this popular misconception has now been properly addressed. If I am allowed to be cynical - it is no more a noble profession but a kind of business. As I look around the various professions, their nobility has been eroded by the pressures of modern living. As a 6th Former in the sixties, I wasn't to know all that. 

I left school in April 1962,  a day I will never forget. Nostalgia is my great sin, and I remember with a sense of loss a kinder, gentler world which disappeared forever as I left school. The most painful of all is the disappearance from my life the people who meant so much to me, friends, teachers, chaplains and Principals in all those years at Wesley. I stepped on the treadmill to carve myself a career and raise a family. Now having reached the end of my working life, I still yearn for those days at school even though more than half a century has passed me by. 

A professional career with its disruptive routines and untold strain on my time and leisure, has invariably taken its toll.  As a 6th Former at school, I would never have imagined life would turn out this way. Call it destiny or the will of God, good fortune has been on my side most of the way. 

I dedicate these memoirs, firstly to my parents who provided the encouragement and paid the bills.  Secondly to my teachers who educated me beyond the call of duty, and thirdly to my mates at school and medical college who by their friendship, enriched my life.