Memoirs of Maxie Bulner

Interviewee:                          Maxie Bulner
Born:                                    28th August 1933
Date of Interview:                  12th  June 2014
Length of Interview:               48.09 Minutes
Interviewer:                           Gayle Bartholomeusz



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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)


0:00:42.8:             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.

0:23:26.9:             I really enjoyed the swinging sixties.  I saw Tommy Steele performing in a coffee bar in Piccadilly. 

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.

The End