Saturday, 20 August 2011

Who's that on the telly?

When I was a little boy, lying in my bed in Jalan Wijaya at night, listening to the chirping crickets and the croaking toads in the monsoon drain, I couldn't have imagined the future - returning home to England and living a totally different life back there. I couldn't have imagined future inventions such as colour televisions, cassette players or walkmans. Now, there's mobile phones, ipods, ipads and, of course, the internet. All this weird modern stuff would have seemed like something from one of the many tv shows, that I loved watching as a kid in Singapore and Malaya, like Star Trek or Lost in Space. I certainly wouldn't have imagined that one day I'd  be on the telly myself talking about our life back then.
So, it was a strange experience when Sitting In Pictures asked me to record a bit for their show 'Foodage'. Sohkiak Chang had already sent me the first episode via the internet and I was pleased to see all the people that I'd made friends with in Singapore appearing on the show. To me, they seemed natural speakers and I enjoyed every minute of it.
My bit was recorded and put together with photos and cine film of my idyllic childhood and appeared on the show last Thursday. Sitting In Pictures did a very good job of making me look not as bad as I was (like a startled rabbit in the headlights of a car!) and I think that it all turned out okay.
Watching everyone else's memories and experiences of Singapore past just makes me want to return even more!
Hopefully, people in the UK will one day be able to see the show (you can close your eyes when my bit comes on!).

Sunday, 14 August 2011


There's an excellent series showing on Okto television in Singapore at the moment. It's called Foodage and is shown at 8pm on Thursday evening. It traces Singapore's food history in the years since independence. Through collective personal memories, home movies and photos, the series recaptures the lifestyle and food trends of the past.
It features many of my friends and bloggers from Singapore reminiscing about food sellers, markets and the many changes over the years.
The show really captures how Singapore was in days gone by. The country has changed vastly and there are many clips of old buildings, kampongs, Tiger Balm Gardens and all the other places that we remember from our childhood.
If all goes well, I'll be in the episode shown on the 18th August (the day before my 50th birthday!). I've seen the first episode but I'm not sure I'll be as good as my other bloggers have been!

Here's a clip from episode 2 showing The Wise Old Owl - Unk Dicko. Dick Yip sings and plays the ukelele. Excellent!

Here's another clip, this time showing my good friends, James Seah and Dick Yip.
If you're in Singapore try to catch it and, if you're not in Singapore, let's hope that it will all pop up on YouTube eventually.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011


There were certainly many dogs roaming around Century Gardens in Johore Bahru in the 1960s. Occasionally, we'd hear about someone being bitten and they would have to be taken to the local hospital to get a tetanus jab. This happened to Alan one day when he was out. I don't know what happened to the dog but Alan was fine (after he'd had his tetanus jab!). Some dogs were wild and just seemed to roam around scavenging for food and some dogs were owned by Forces families and stayed with them while they were in Singapore and Malaya. Unfortunately, most of the pets were left behind when their owners returned home.
To stop rabies etc (Singapore has been free from rabies since 1953) policemen would travel around on trucks and shoot the dogs with rifles. I never saw it happen but I remember Alan telling me that he'd seen it. The only contact that I had with dogs was being barked at when we were walking around the estate (the dogs were probably pets but looked ferocious to me!) and the time when I cracked my head open and was walking home and one stood up on my shoulders and licked my face! The dogs in Singapore and Malaya (well most of them) didn't look much like the dogs you got in Britain at the time. Most looked something like a dingo! I think I remember someone further down the street having a couple of poodles but they seem odd dogs for Singapore so maybe I'm remembering it wrong!
The photo shown is the only one I have of Alan and me with a dog. It was taken at Sandycroft in Penang in about 1966. The dog belonged to the cafe owner and it would play with all the kids. I loved it. I'd have been about 5 at the time but I still remember his name - 'Pepper'!
I suppose he was some sort of Labrador, he certainly looked friendlier than the dogs that lived near us!

Monday, 1 August 2011

School photos

Every photo we had taken at school, on sports days or on other occasions was taken by Mr Lee. I wonder how many people remember him? I think that he probably took all the photos of our parents' functions and parties as well. Looking at the back of my school photo I see it's stamped 'Lee Photo Studio, Admiralty Rd West, HM Naval Base, Singapore 27. Photographer T K Lee.' He seemed old to me back then but probably wasn't (I was only a small boy). I think that Peter Banks told me that a few years ago that he had visited him in Singapore and he still had all the negatives. I don't know if he'd still be around today but I hope that one day that collection of pictures from our past isn't all just thrown away. I haven't been to Singapore for a very long time and it's all changed greatly over the years. I doubt that Admiralty Rd West is still there. Or is it?
I remember the photo shown here being taken in December 1967. I can only remember the names of a couple of the kids though who included Ian Bagwell, Nigel Barton. I'm third from the right in the front row, by the way.
It's funny how little I remember of my school days but I remember so much about everything else!