Wednesday, 17 February 2010


This photo shows a party at the home of my parents friends, Bette and Les Sharpe. The bar is called, 'The Almost Inn' and that's my dad in the background. Look at that crazy dancing!
Whenever I think of Les, I'm always reminded of the time when Les nailed a Catherine Wheel to a post in his garden at Jalan Dato Sulaiman, in about 1966, and once it was lit, it flew off and went up one of the legs of his shorts! Don't worry, he didn't have any lasting injuries!
As it's Chinese New Year, I thought I would mention a bit about firecrackers. I mentioned recently that when we first arrived at Johore Bahru in 1965, we were woken up by loud noises in the middle of the night. I think my parents were worried and thought that the noises might be gunfire connected with Indonesian insurgents. However, it turned out to be Mr Lee, across the way, letting off rows of firecrackers. I suppose it must have been Chinese New Year at the time and was probably about February as we had just moved in, in the January before.
I loved all the fireworks and there were many displays at the Naval Base especially at Chinese New Year and Christmas.
The film below shows a firework display in Singapore in the 1960s. It would have been quite spectacular then and much better than any display that you would have seen back in England at the time.

Firecrackers were finally banned in 1972 and an article in a Singapore paper covered the story: No more firecrackers at Chinese New Year 1st March 1972 Indescriminate firing of crackers during the Chinese New Year season each year had turned the age-old custom into such a public nuisance that the Government has decided to put a total stop to it. Minister of home affairs Wong Lin Ken said that the Government was forced to impose the ban because the public had not been cooperative in efforts to curb the firecracker menace. On 2nd June, Parliament passed the Dangerous Firework Bill. It became an offence for someone to possess or fire dangerous fireworks, such as firecrackers and rocket fireworks. Anyone found guilty could be fined up to $5,000 or jailed for up to two years, or both. To me, fireworks will always remind me of two events. One is Mr Lee letting off firecrackers on his balcony and the other is that Catherine Wheel flying up Les's shorts!


  1. Before the ban Chinese New Year celebrations were much noisier and colourful affairs. I remember how I would step out from the lift of the block of flats I lived in on Chinese New Year's morning to a sea of red on the ground left by the steady stream of firecrackers I had heard being let off overnight.

  2. I remember letting off rockets in our garden only to have one lose control and zoom into our living room.. got a right bollocking from my parents!