Last Sunday, I was told the devastating news of the death of Desmond De Silva, a giant of a man in every respect, whose book of memoirs , Madam, Where Are Your Mangoes? Quartet published last September. I knew Desmond and members of his family for many years and still can’t believe that he is no longer with us. Yet his memory will live with those who knew him for evermore. May the Lord above take good care of him.
Here what I said in my brief address to those who came to celebrate the launch of his book at the time.
We are here today to mark the publication of Desmond de Silva’s episodic memoir, with the attractive title Madam, Where Are Your Mangoes? You can guess already that the reader is in for a memoir which is different from any other we are accustomed to. For Desmond is a remarkable man, who has lived his life to the full whilst becoming one of the most high profile and brilliant jury advocates of his generation.
Born in Ceylon in 1939 – eight years younger than his publisher and, as you can see, more handsome and certainly admirably more eloquent – full of verve and raring to go whenever a challenge presents itself; he splits his time between Belgravia and Sri Lanka.
It is most appropriate to mention that in the course of a long and distinguished career he was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 1984, became the first British chief prosecutor of an international criminal court in 2005, was knighted for services to international law in 2007 and made a member of the Privy Council in 2011. He is also a Knight of Justice of the Order of St John for his charity work. What Desmond has achieved is certainly the envy of many of us and is likely to dwarf anything we aspire to, which shows the magnitude of his varied talents and the strength of his personality.
This passionate and insightful memoir provides an authoritative account of many of his most remarkable cases, covering over half a century of practice in the courts of England, the Commonwealth and as chief prosecutor of an international criminal court. It is also a revealing portrait of Britain’s post-war social, political and cultural landscape and a testament to the unparalleled importance of the rule of law in societies all over the world today.
Honest, idiosyncratic, entertaining and never dull, de Silva writes without censor about a remarkable life spent in the corridors of power.
Without further ado, and to keep my address as short as possible, you are invited to show your appreciation for a man who has done so much to gain your admiration by buying a few copies of his book to celebrate this memorable occasion and in the process endeavour to spread the good word around.
As they say, the proof of the pudding is in the eating – you can demonstrate your generosity by showing us the colour of your money preferably of the red denomination to cheer up the author and his hard-up publisher. Let us see what you can conjure up to make the evening an unforgettable experience.
Thank you for your indulgence.