Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Driving in Singapore


This photo reminds me of when we used to take the car across the causeway from home in Johore to Singapore. Singapore would be very busy with cars, lorries, scooters, push bikes and buses. They all seemed to drive down the middle of the road although they were meant to drive on the left as we do in England. It was great fun just watching everyone. The scooter drivers would often wear their jackets back to front when they were riding their scooters but I was never sure why. Once we had parked our car, Chinese kids would run up to my dad and ask for a dollar to look after it. It was worth it because if you didn't give them the dollar, you might find something missing from your car when you returned. Dad's friend, Poon said that if you gave them five dollars they would also find any part you needed for your own car, probably from another parked car nearby!
The traffic was certainly hectic in Singapore and I remember the time we were hemmed in between two lorries and thought that we were going to be crushed. Thinking about it now, it was always a great adventure for me.
There was always a lot of noise. There would be car horns hooting, bicycle and trishaw bells ringing and the noise from the busy street markets. There'd be market sellers calling out to us trying to sell us things or just to get us closer to their shops. There'd also be arguments going on mainly between all the car owners, cyclists and trishaw drivers. They all seemed to drive all over the place! I don't know if there was a Highway Code in Singapore but if there was, no-one took much notice of it!
We used to catch Mercedes cabs quite a bit in Singapore and I can't remember if this was to get us back to the car, after being to places like the Botanic Gardens or Tiger Balm Gardens, or if they took us all the way back home to Jalan Wijaya.
It was certainly a very busy place and very hectic. There certainly must have been a lot of accidents!

Friday, 15 October 2010

Fun at Jason's Bay

Here's a colour photo that features in the new Amberley version of 'Sampans, Banyans and Rambutans'.
It was taken at Jason's Bay in about 1966. Sat on our lilo is Linda Bagwell, Debbie Sharpe, Ian Bagwell and me, complete with water wings. I never was a very good swimmer! My dad is giving us a push on the right.
I remember that the water always had stuff floating in it and I remember seeing a jellyfish swim by us once. I don't remember anyone ever being stung though. There were probably sharks and crocodiles and other dangerous creatures beneath us but most of the time, we didn't think too much about it.
It's lovely seeing this in colour as most of our photos are in black and white. I think that colour film was much more expensive then. This photo was taken by Tom Bagwell and comes from a slide. Looks a great day and it looks like we were having a good time. We must have visited Jason's Bay many times in the three years that we lived there. I can still remember what the beach was like and the strange smells from cows, oxen and just about anything else that was around.
We probably had a barbeque later in the day near to the parachute that the men used to set up so that everyone could shelter from the heat and the sun.
Seems such a long time ago now!

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Amberley Publishing to republish Sampans, Banyans and Rambutans


Many of you reading this will have read my first book about my childhood in Singapore and Malaya in the 1960s, 'Sampans, Banyans and Rambutans'. The good news is that it is to be republished by Amberley Publishing and will hopefully be out later this year. The book will feature colour photos and be glossy and the quality will be a lot better than the original. Also, it will receive better publicity and distribution.
I'm amazed at the many people who have read the book since it first came out in 2006 and I've had hundreds of letters and emails about it over the years. It's been very interesting to hear other people's stories and memories and to learn what everyone is up to nowadays. Previously, the book has only been available through myself, Amazon or ordered through bookshops but hopefully, it'll soon be available at your local branch of Waterstones or W H Smiths etc.
BBC 4 were interested in using memories from it in a new documentary about children's experiences in the Far East in the 1960s but, unfortunately, this seems to have fallen through. Hopefully, with renewed interest and publicity for the book, the documentary will one day get the go-ahead.
I get emails almost daily about people's lives in Singapore back then and I know there's still a great interest in those happy, idyllic times. I hope a lot more people will read the book and I hope that it will bring back many fond memories.