Dag Hammerskjold, Dudley Senanayake, Gamini Corea, James Mason, Jayewardene, JR Jayewardene, Minister Hameed, Neville Kanakaratne, Nommie Weerasuriya, Odd Man Out, Oscar Wilde, Shirley Amerasinghe, Tilak Gooneratne, Vernon Mendis
I had often wondered why Lakshmi had never married. When I stayed with her as a child, she claimed that she was devoted to a boyfriend whose picture hung in her room. I realized this was James Mason after I had seen ‘Odd Man Out’, that fantastic early British film about Irish terrorism, and I had some sympathy with Lakshmi’s passion. Mason was still impressive in old age, with his beautifully resonant voice, but I realized there must be more to Lakshmi’s life, and by then indeed there was.
She was devoted to two confirmed bachelors, Neville Kanakaratne and Gamini Corea. Neither was what is termed the marrying kind, for totally different reasons, but they were both fond of her, and indulged her affection for their company. Gamini Corea, though an impressive personality, struck me as essentially self-centred, in particular in his treatment of women, many of whom adored him and many of whom I thought he exploited. But Neville was an extremely generous man, to anyone he came across, including us as children, and I kept urging her to marry him. This was despite my having realized long before that his tastes were quite otherwise. Staying in Brighton with a friend, I was told by his landlord that Neville, who had been a contemporary at Cambridge, had spent his whole time there chasing guardsmen.