Mirror Magazine


Royal hopes go up in smoke
In a photograph which is bound to trouble his passionately anti-smoking father, Prince Harry has been caught on camera enjoying a quick cigarette with his friend Guy Pelly.

The pair were taking a break from a match at the Beaufort Polo Club in Gloucestershire when they climbed into the stands and were pictured having a puff.

Harry has been spending the school holidays at nearby Highgrove, his family home, with 20-year-old brother Prince William, while their father Prince Charles is enjoying a break at Balmoral in Scotland with Camilla Parker Bowles.

As he celebrates his 18th birthday today, September 15, Prince Harry is well over the legal age to smoke - 16. However, his taking up of tobacco - thought to have started a couple of years ago - is sure to be a sore point with his father.

Earlier this year, the Prince of Wales persuaded his partner Camilla to kick her 40-a-day habit, which she had taken up as a teenager. According to reports, when she was hosting Charles's dinner parties at Highgrove, Camilla had to go out into the garden for a cigarette.

When it was made public in March that Camilla had decided to quit smoking as a New Year's resolution and had achieved her goal with the assistance of nicotine patches, a spokeswoman for Prince Charles said: "He is very proud of her for giving it up."

However, it seems that the Prince may face an ongoing battle with both his sons. According to recent reports, Charles has warned his 20-year-old son William to give up a ten-a-day smoking habit before he goes back to the University of St. Andrews in the autumn.

Although St. James's Palace has denied in the past that Prince William is a smoker, saying: "He thinks it's a dreadful bait and is very "anti-smoking", some reports claim that the future heir to the British throne can often be seen with a pack of cigarettes in his pocket.

Prince Charles has good reason to be concerned about his sons taking up the potentially lethal habit - both his grandfather King George VI and his aunt Princess Margaret died from smoking-related illnesses.

George VI died of lung cancer in 1952 and Margaret died earlier this year, having suffered a series of strokes thought to be caused by her 60-a-day habit.

And Charles is not the only royal to condemn smoking. The Queen has described cigarettes as "nasty things" while her husband Prince Philip has never been tempted to smoke.
(Courtesy: Hello)

My bit of Pettah
By Aditha Dissanayake
"One for thirty. Two for fifty. Only today. Only today" (ada vitharai, ada vitharai) says a skinny teenage boy flouting a bundle of men's underwear in my face. I glare at him fiercely but grin at the other young man who invites me to have a thambili - I'm in Pettah at eleven on a Tuesday morning.

People jostle me as I try to sip my thambili. The opening at the top is so wide, streaks of water trickle down my chin. When a puddle begins to form at my feet, I give up. I realise I am not one of the chosen few, lucky enough to enjoy a thambili under the tropical sun.

The thambili costs fifteen rupees. All I have in my purse is two hundred rupee notes and fourteen rupees in coins. The boy stares at the fourteen rupees on my palm and decides he needs the missing one rupee. "Otherwise that camel will box my ears," he mutters under his breath, as he takes the hundred rupee note from me and disappears in search of a lottery seller. My faith in my species is too deep for me to doubt he will not return.

Meanwhile I watch a lady of my grandmother's age, dressed in cloth and jacket, shout herself hoarse trying to sell black shopping bags. One costs five rupees, but no one is interested.

A few yards away from her, a monk meditates over a row of kitchen knives. At first he is not sure which size to buy. "It's for the temple kitchen," he explains. He is suspicious about how sharp the knives are. His doubts increase when the salesman assures him the knives would cut through anything. After listening for sometime to the sermon of the salesman on the merits of the knives, the monk waves his hand as if he is warding off an invisible fly and walks away.

Tucking the eighty-five-rupee balance into my purse, I begin my ramble around Pettah. Young men, hidden behind piles of shirts, night dresses, towels, underskirts, plastic flowers, shout themselves hoarse - "labai, labai, thora ganna, ada vitharai" (Cheap. Make your choice. Offer valid only today) almost in unison.

Everywhere I look, I see barrows and barrows filled with apples, oranges and grapes. I am sure, even in the West, there would not be so many fruit stalls filled with these fruits as there are, here, in Pettah.

I stand near a man selling handkerchiefs, and try to diagnose his character.

I want him to be more timid, than I. When he finally notices me, I ask him, casually, "How is business these days?" He shrugs his shoulders to say "so-so". "How much are these hankies?" I continue the interrogation.

"These are ten. These are twenty. I make a profit of only four rupees and earn about four-hundred rupees a day." I feel happy for him. Rs.12,000 a month is surely more than enough.

But when I point this out to him, he shakes his head and says, "Business is not good all the time. Besides, I can't work thirty days of the month to earn such an amount of money?"

"But isn't this enough?" I ask him again. "Enough, because I have no family to support."

"Wouldn't you like to get married?" He becomes weary, his shoulders droop as he says, "Not yet."

Meanwhile, I realise a crowd has begun to form around us. "Are you from the Municipal Council come to spy on us?" asks a man. I shake my head to say no, and decide it's time to make a quick exit.

Boiled sweets in huge polythene bags catch my eye. How unhygienic are they?

How fatal would it be to tuck into a hundred grams of red Bhoondi - oozing with oil and sugar-syrup? I have not the courage to find out.

I walk along a by-way, turn and walk again. I ignore the invitations asking me to buy wrist watches, alarm clocks, small radios, combs and even small spoons used to clean one's ears called kanhendi in Sinhala. "Everything here is only sixty rupees," shouts a young man, pointing his finger at a pile of goods ranging from coconut scrapers to key-tags.

I walk some more and stumble across a street, which has only dried fish stalls lining its sides. The smell suffocates me. It does not take long to realise I am lost. I hail a three-wheeler and ask the driver to take me to the central bus-halt. He looks like a cousin of Mr. T in the old TV series - the A Team. "I am in no hurry. Please don't drive so fast," I feel like telling him, but dare not open my mouth. Instead, I clutch the iron railing in front of me and try to remember the lines of the gatha - Iti bisso...."

The last object that catches my eye as the bus leaves Pettah is the name board on the second floor of a building, which reads, "Expert Investigations and Secret Service Co."

You name it. Pettah has it.

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