Introduction at the launch at the British Council on 17 January 2012.
I am most grateful to the British Council and its Director and his staff for hosting this event, to coincide with the planned expansion of its plant, in fulfillment I hope of increasing and increasingly productive activity in Sri Lanka. I am thankful too to Rex Baker, who was an extraordinarily inspiring person for whom to work. Let me remember too today my many colleagues at the Council in those youthful days, John Keleher and Clive Taylor and Ranmali Pathirana in particular from our very eclectic unit, and Jean Bartlett and Savanthi Gurusinghe, who are not mentioned in this book, but who were the solid foundation of efficiency on which we all built.
But this book, and therefore what I say today, is not so much about people, but about place. I remember years ago reading Forster’s account of Mrs Wilcox and her devotion to Howard’s End, and thinking that he could not possibly endorse her view that people were much more important than places. Now, older and wiser, I realize that people are also a function of place, and indeed of time, and one needs to appreciate all those dimensions in order to understand how people and societies interact.