Paul is surprised when he is summoned to see Luke late one evening. He is even more surprised to find that he is the only person present apart from his host, and is conducted into a small cosy room at the back of the house, covered with bookshelves on which there are volumes of Hansard and copies of Luke’s own publications and lavishly illustrated guides to various places Luke has visited. Some of the shelves turn out to be false, and are swung back to reveal a lavishly stocked bar. Paul is offered whiskey but declines and asks for beer. This takes some time to be brought, and until it is Luke guides Paul around the room and shows him several photographs of ceremonial occasions on which he shook hands with diverse Heads of State, some of them the representatives of ancient and revered dynasties.
They sit down at last, before a mock fireplace with a large metal grille in it across which orange flames dart after Luke throws a switch. Paul is reassured to be told that this is simply a very sophisticated form of air-conditioning, and that it is cold air that is being blown forth. They go on to talk about high technology, and Luke’s detailed plans to reconstruct all the buildings and bridges that have been damaged in the riots, and many more besides, in all sorts of intricate shapes and vivid colours and stupendous sizes. Luke wants to know whether Paul thinks the Big White Power, or indeed any other Powers of whatsoever shade, would be interested in these eminently forward looking plans.
Paul gives a non-committal but enthusiastic answer. He knows that there is more to come. Luke moves on to discuss international reactions in general to the recent events, and varying perceptions about the particular roles of White Powers and Red Powers and Brown Powers and even Muslims. Paul notes that Luke says nothing critical about anyone, except possibly Karl Marx and his Brothers and hangers on in a collective sense, and he himself follows suit. Luke then goes on to talk about Trincomalee, and the need to exploit the resources of that splendid natural harbour in conjunction with a Responsible Power; but Paul still feels, fascinating though the subject might be, that Luke’s heart is not in it, and that there is something more which this meeting is all about. Continue reading