Memoirs of Maxie Bulner
Born: 28th August 1933
Date of Interview: 12th June 2014
Length of Interview: 48.09 Minutes
Interviewer: Gayle Bartholomeusz
CLICK HERE to listen on a mobile device.
At the back of Maxie’s home in Mankulam was a jungle. From his back window he could see cobras and pythons; cheetahs chasing wild boar and deer. Attending boarding school at just 5 years, he learned to be independent and down to earth. Hear about the day an angry father shot at Maxie when he tried to date his Sinhalese daughter – and how Maxie’s love.for adventure has had him working around the world.
Detailed summary (with time stamping for ease of access)
Some of my happiest memories as a boy.
0:01:20.8: I was sent to boarding school at 5 years old. My life at boarding school.
0:02:28.3: My cousins came over during the holidays. We lived near the jungle.
0:03:04.0: At 7 years I was sent to St Michaels College.
0:04:19.1 I liked living near the jungle.
0:05:07.5: Games I liked to play as a child.
0:05:46.1: You could see cheetahs chasing wild board from our back window.
0:06:45.7: We didn't know much about city life or the beach.
0:07:13.8: When I started work I started going dancing. When I took a girl out I had to pay for her whole family to come with us.
0:07:56.8: I was working in sales and marketing and I asked one of the agents how I could get a job in England.
0:09:52.0: The reason why I decided to come to England in 1960.
0:08:31.0: The government wanted Burgher radio broadcasters to speak Sinhalese in Sinhalese accents rather than Burgher accents and one was fired because he didn't conform.
0:11:10.0: In Colombo companies manned by 90% Burgher staff had not even 50% by 1960.
0:12:27.2: On 10th May I told my mum I was emigrating to England on 15th May.
0:13:53.3: I arrived in England on 1st of June 1960.
0:14:08.7: My ship docked at Marseilles. Then I caught a train via Paris to Calais and then a boat train to Victoria station arriving at 5.30pm. With nobody to meet me.
0:15:32.5: A friend I knew happened to be there and he took me to the Ceylon Student Centre in Bayswater.
0:16:49.1: I paid 10/6d a week bed and breakfast at the Ceylon Student Centre.
0:17:25.4: How I found a job on the second day of my arrival in London by conversing with a policeman.
0:20:25.3: I then met a friend walking away from my job interview and he gave me a place to live.
0:21:40.7: I arranged for my girlfriend back home, her brother and his wife to come over. They came on 14th November 1961. I got married in 1962.
I really enjoyed the swinging sixties.
I saw Tommy Steele performing in a coffee bar in
0:24:51.0: My children were born starting in 1962, 1965 and 1967.
0:25:06.6: I had to study to get qualifications to work in the oil industry.
0:25:15.0: I then wrote to the personal manager of a petro chemical company stating I couldn’t get a job in the industry without experience but how can I get experience if I am not in it? They gave me an interview and finally the job.
0:25:21.7: I then wanted to work abroad and went to Iraq.
0:25:31.1: How I reacted to being fired. Three days after I left the guy who fired me was fired.
0:25:40.6: I then got a job in Saudi Arabia. I was there 10 years. Lots of culture shocks.
0:25:55.3: If I fell off the bed in the night it was because a camel had rubbed itself against the wall of my cabin.
0:25.55.8: How I am a Burgher.
0:26:42.3: My great great grandmother had 22 children. Yet she outlived some of her children and grandchildren.
0:26.54.7: The day I went to the doctor's surgery in Ealing in the 1970s and met another Bulner from Ceylon who I never knew before.
030:10.1: The time I got shot at in my youth by the father of a Sinhalese girl I was pursuing.
0:35:02.1: When I visited the Dutch Burgher Union in Sri Lanka I found it was manned by mainly Sinhalese and Tamils and only a few Burghers. But they are one happy family bunch.
0:36.37.0: In the early days I had fun in London nightclubbing with nurses.
0:38:07:1 When I visited Australia I was amused that so many Burghers had lost their Burgher accents and gained Australian ones.
0:42:10.0: My adventures in Columbia. I was mistaken for the President’s brother.
0:46.20.8: I don’t think I would fit in anywhere else in the world other than London. My family are here.
0:47:17.5: My shock when I came here was to do with the prejudice.