Wednesday, 15 September 2010


I loved all the seashells and starfish we found on the beaches around Singapore and Malaya. I remember landing on an island off Penang somewhere, on a banyan trip, and the shores of the beach were covered in starfish. All the kids collected them up, there were thousands, but soon let them all go. I remember one kid took one back to his chalet at Sandycroft where it sat on the doorstep. There were many exotic shells on the beaches back then and most of us would have never seen anything like them. Nowadays, they can be bought at any seaside location in the UK for just a few pence! The photo shows a shell which I think is called a Tiger Cowrie. Dad's friend and colleague at KD Malaya, Poon, was on a trip to Borneo and picked up two of these and gave them to me and Alan when we were kids. I've still got them today, over 40 years later. I was amazed by all the brightly coloured shells back then and probably had quite a collection but I can't remember any of them. Most of them probably stayed at Jalan Wijaya when we returned home and some may still be in the garden there somewhere.
Incidentally, what reminded me of all this today was when I picked up a seashell in the house and put it to my ear so that I could hear the noise of the seaside - something I've been doing since I was about three!

Tuesday, 7 September 2010


I loved the sound of all the crickets in the evening at Jalan Wijaya when we were tucked up in bed. They probably helped me get to sleep. It would get dark at 7pm and they would start making a noise about the same time, although they must have chirped through the day too. It's a noise that I never heard when we returned back to England and it wasn't until I went to Australia in 1990 that I heard them again. Nowadays, you seem to hear them more in the Summer in England but I'm sure this is more of a recent thing.
Other noises that could be heard in the night, in Johore back then, were frogs and toads croaking in the monsoon drains. There were also chit-chats running about and the odd bombay runner. Mosquitoes would sometimes buzz near your ear just before they decided to bite you. Apart from that, I remember it being very quiet, I don't remember any noises from any other wild animals. We weren't too far away from the jungle so I suppose anything could have wandered into the street in the night although I don't remember seeing or hearing anything. There must have been barking dogs as there were plenty of them about but I must have slept through it all. Some people were burgled by people with long bamboo poles with fishing hooks on the end which they would stick through any open window to see what they could grab. Luckily, although it was very hot and our windows were always open at night, it never happened to us!
Nowadays, I love the sound of crickets and grasshoppers chirping and the noise always takes me straight back to those humid nights as a boy living in Jalan Wijaya.