In addition to my work for remuneration, I did a lot of outside literary work in 1983. I was President of the English Association, and we began active collaboration with the British Council, which had just opened a new Multi-Purpose Hall at the premises in Alfred House Gardens into which it had recently moved. I was encouraged to develop cultural programmes by Zem Sally, who had been appointed Public Relations Officer. In addition to her work with the media, she wanted good use made of the Hall for cultural activities, and we developed a productive collaboration.
I continued too with my work at the SLBC, shifting between the ‘Arts Scene’ and ‘Literary Quarter’. On one of these programmes I interviewed Shiva Naipaul, who had been sent to me by Ian Goonetilleke, who had seen me as a protégé of sorts after my resignation. Richard’s fantastic radio voice also led to him being asked by Jayantha Wijeratne to produce a programme of satirical entertainment, which was called ‘Left Luggage’. This was hilarious, and I still recall one episode in which they did a skit on the advertising craze that had recently taken over our increasingly commercialized world, by singing the praises of Apsara products.
I continued to go often to Kurunegala to write. Lakshman was away, having been advised to take things slow after his first heart problem, but in any case I stayed not with him, but at the Old Place, the old family house that was gradually falling into disrepair, with only my mother’s cousin Lakshmi in residence. She coped admirably and, though my visits caused her extra work, I think she enjoyed them, for they were a break from the monotony of the decade and a half she spent there by herself in that rambling mansion.