Tuesday, 27 November 2012

My 6th Birthday

I wondered in my last posting why I was so well dressed sat in our garden at Jalan Wijaya with my talking tin robot. Then I came across this photo which was obviously been taken on the same day. There's Alan and me with my cake for my 6th birthday and the reason I'm tidier than usual is because everyone was due to come around for my birthday party. There were many kids on the estate and we all went to each other parties. Many of them I didn't even know. We all looked forward to our birthdays and knew that all the other kids would bring presents. I remember one boy brought me an excellent electronic tin car. He was so excited about it that he unwrapped it himself before giving it to me and then we both drove it around the front room!
It's hard to remember much about the day but I remember that we played pass the parcel and mum had bought many toys to wrap up so that everybody got something. I always liked the cheaper toys and I remember being pleased with a Bugs Bunny watch! We also played games like pass the parcel and pinning the tail on the donkey.

The second photo shows us playing in the garden on the same day. This is one of those photos that got lost over the years but I found that I'd once photographed it onto a slide and just discovered it recently. It's not too clear because of this. In it I can recognise my dad, Debbie Sharpe and Ian Bagwell, who lived nearby, as well as my brother. We had another photo of Ian taken just after this one which I can remember but it's long since disappeared.
I've no doubt I had a great day but probably the thing that stayed in my memory the most was playing with that talking tin robot!

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Family photos

I haven't written anything on this blog for quite a while so I thought that I would go through our old family photos taken in Singapore and Malaya during the 1960s and write a bit about each of them.
This photo shows me in our back garden at 103 Jalan Wijaya in Johore in about 1967. I wouldn't be surprised if it's my birthday (I'd have been 6) and I'm sat with my favourite toy - a Cragstan talking tin robot! It said many phrases, my favourite being, 'I am bulletproof too! Ha, ha, ha!' If you search through my blog you can hear m copying him on the reel to reel tape that we sent home to my gran in Seaham Harbour. In the background is the tree I planted myself when I was about 4 years old. It was just an old branch I found by the side of the road and stuck in the ground in the back garden. It didn't take long for it to start growing and I was soon climbing it and trying, unsuccessfully, to build a tree house.
I've got socks and shoes on so something must have been going on. I look very tidy too so perhaps my birthday party was about to happen or was taking place indoors.
I loved that robot but unfortunately he ended up in the bin. I've got another one now though (ebay!).

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Site and Sound

A couple of years ago, Peter Lamb kindly sent me some DVDs of the Singapore show 'Site and Sound' featuring Julian Davison. The shows features many of the old places that we all remember in Singapore. I've enjoyed watching it all and it's brought back some great memories.
The first two series used to be on YouTube but have now been removed. Hopefully, one day, people in the UK will get to see the show.
Episode One covered sites of original early 19th century imperial settlement. This included, as mentioned on the blurb, 'Fort Canning, City Hall, Supreme Court, Empress Place, Coleman Bridge, Old Parliament house, and St Andrews Cathedral. Julian delineates, describes and depicts the British centre of power in this area for over 150 years.'

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Our Triumph Herald

I was sat in a queue of traffic last week, waiting for the lights to change, when a Triumph Herald pulled up beside me. It was almost identical to the one we had in Singapore and Malaya in the 1960s but where as ours had a red stripe, this one had a green stripe. What struck me was just how small the car was and, as I sat at the lights, it reminded me of our days in the Far East. We went everywhere in that car including Jason's Bay, the Botanic Gardens and into the city. Someone mentioned recently how their dad would drive them over the causeway from Johore with no shoes on, buy new shoes and wear them back. Of course, this was to avoid the duty that had to be paid when you returned back to Malaya. Everyone did it and nearly everyone got away with it.
I've told the story before about when we visited the Botanical Gardens and it was so hot that my dad left the windows down. When we came back to the car, it was full of monkeys! One looked like he was trying to drive. I remember my dad chased them off and I also remember that one pooped on his seat!
I also remember going into the city and kids would ask for money to look after your car. You had to give it to them else you might find bits missing to be sold as spare parts to other people with similar cars.
We went everywhere in that car but not one of us can remember what happened to it! I suppose it was probably sold to the next Naval family that moved in after we left. I doubt it's still going!

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Foodage repeated on Okto in Singapore

I see that Foodage is currently being repeated on Okto in Singapore. I loved taking part in the programme and it was great to see my fellow bloggers James Seah, Lam Chun See and Dick Yip.
Below, again, is one of my favourite clips featuring Dick singing and playing the ukelele.


To give you a taste of the programme, the second clip from Foodage features Dr Leslie Tay of ieatishootipost.

Luckily, the bit I was in is nowhere to be found on the internet!

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Sampans, Banyans and Rambutans on Facebook

A while ago, I started a 'Sampans, Banyans and Rambutans' group on Facebook.  It includes memories and photos of Singapore and Malaya as it once was. Please feel free to join and add something.
Facebook decided to 'migrate' their groups a few months ago which meant that a lot of people who had previously joined were deleted. They won't let me add old members myself so, if you were deleted, please join again.
I hope to add lots of new photos soon as well as memories and bits and pieces about Singapore as it once was. The group is at http://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/318117058080/

Monday, 16 July 2012

A Ride to Remember

Alicia Tan from Ink On Paper Communications Pte Ltd very kindly sent me a copy of the book, 'A Ride to Remember' which chronicles the story of the Mount Faber and Singapore Cable Car. There are some wonderful photos within its pages including many historical pictures. I sent them a couple of the photos used in the book including one of the long-vanished snake charmers who used to ply their trade on Mount Faber. The book makes great reading and there's plenty of history included as well as lots of information about the cable car today. It makes me want to travel back to Singapore to have a go on it! I've searched for the book online but have been unable to find it but, perhaps, if you're in Singapore, it may be available from the shops etc around the cable car or from Ink On Paper Communications Pte Ltd at 57 Ubi Ave 1, #06-03 Ubi Center, Singapore 408936.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Singapore in 1990

My fellow blogger and friend, James Seah, recently featured a video of Singapore on his blog that I shot in 1990. It's funny, at the time, I thought that Singapore had changed beyond all recognition but watching the film again today, I can see that a lot of the old buildings and sites were still there. The greatest change has been since 1990 to today. Looking at recent photos of Singapore, it looks like nearly all that I remember has either gone or changed. There were still some lovely buildings and a few fishermen in the river back in 1990 but today much of Singapore seems to consist of high-rise offices and apartments, fast roads and an extensive MRT. Much of what I remember from the 1960s as a boy has now long gone. Take a look at the video again and see if you agree.

The hotel we're staying in at the beginning of the film is the New 7th Storey Hotel which is also now long gone. You'll notice the bamboo scaffolding on the outside. It's worth watching to the end just for the underwater shots of the swimming polar bear at Singapore Zoo!

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Davy Jones

 It was very sad to hear that Davy Jones had died yesterday. Like most kids in the 1960s, I loved the Monkees. It's funny, I don't remember the show being on tv when we lived in Singapore and Malaya between 1965 and 1968 but I do remember the songs being played on the radio.
'I'm a Believer' particularly reminds me of playing in the arcade at Sandycroft in Penang, it was always on in the background.
There are many songs that remind me of our three years spent there but this one does  the most!

Friday, 10 February 2012

Good Morning Yesterday

Fellow blogger and good friend, Lam Chun See, kindly sent me a copy of his latest book which I've been enjoying reading very much. It's a lovely book and I'm sure it will prove very popular.
Chun See has gathered together his memories of growing up in Singapore in the 1950s and 1960s and, with Singapore changing so much, it makes fascinating reading. Chun See's incredibly popular blog, 'Good Morning Yesterday' has received over one million page views and the book combines the many interesting stories and photos featured within its pages. It includes chapters about kampong life, family, friends and neighbours, festive occasions, family outings and much, much more.
I think that it makes excellent reading and made me feel like I was actually there. I think that it should feature on the school curriculum in Singapore to show children of today what life was once like in their beautiful city. So much has changed over the years, even since I was last there in 1990.
It was also good to see a piece in the book from another good friend and fellow blogger, James Seah.
Last year, we all appeared in 'Foodage' together and I can't help thinking that all the material featured within the pages of the book would make an excellent educational tv series in Singapore.
I'd certainly recommend the book to anyone who has an interest in the Far East and I hope it sells many copies.
There's more information on Chun See's blog at:

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Napoleon Solo

It seemed odd seeing Robert Vaughn appearing in Coronation Street this week and it reminded me when The Man From Uncle was the coolest show on tv. Alan and me would run around the garden at Jalan Wijaya in the 1960s pretending to be Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin. I always seemed to come out the worst if anyone got shot or was tied up! We had all the toys that came with the show including Man from Uncle badges, guns and annuals. The best toy you could buy at the time  was a Corgi Man From Uncle car which I remember our parents buying us at Sandycroft in Penang.

 I've still got it but it's seen better days. It would have been pushed over all the floors in Jalan Wijaya and crashed into walls and propelled up the garden. It got the same treatment when we got back home!
I wonder what other stars of 60s shows still pop up on tv? I can't think of many apart from William Shatner.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

The Little Black Sambo

The Little Black Sambo was the first book that I ever read while attending the Royal Naval infant school at Kebunteh in Johore Bahru in 1965. I loved the book, especially its very colourful illustrations. It told the story of a small boy whose colourful new clothes, shoes, and umbrella are taken by four tigers in exchange for them not eating him. The tigers get jealous of one another and chase each other around a tree until they turn into butter. The boy collects his clothes and takes the butter home to his mother who then makes pancakes out of it. As a small boy, I believed that this could happen and there were quite possibly tigers in the jungle further up the street!
I would love to have a copy of this book but haven't seen one since the 1960s although I know it's regularly sold on ebay. The story was written by Helen Bannerman and published in 1899.
Over the years, the book and its title have been seen to have been racist and it has been rewritten and released with such titles as 'The Boy and the Tigers', 'The Story of Little Babaji', 'Sam and the Tigers' and 'Little Kim'. However, it has been republished many times with its original title and seems to be sold all over the internet and is still available on Amazon and other bookshops.
Of course, when I was a boy, I didn't realise it could be taken as being racist. I didn't even know what racism was. We were surrounded by people of all nationalities and we all got on pretty well. To me, it was just a lovely colourful book with characters I could imagine living not too far away from where I lived.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Our local postman

Liz Garcia kindly sent me a photo of her postman who delivered to her home at Jalan Chendera at Serene Park, Johor Bahru in the late 1960s.
We weren't too far away in Jalan Wijaya and it would be funny if this was our postman too!
There are a few things that I remember the postman delivering. One was sweets and sherbet from my gran in Seaham Harbour in England. My brother also rembers her sending us Easter Eggs but they were all broken by the time they reached us. I also remember the 'Letters Home' reel-to-reel tapes that would go back and forwards between us and our gran. I wish that we still had them all now. I think that maybe we recorded over the same one over and over again. The only tape that still survives has me pretending to be my toy talking tin robot, singing songs from school and letting gran know what we'd been up to that day. It's certainly a lot different to the technology of today!
Liz remembers a lot of things that I remember and writes;
'I remember the 'gardeners' with their scythes and also the man who cycled around the estate selling bread and cakes and a van in the evening from which I had my first taste of nasi goreng. I'm attaching a photo of the postman - or as we used to call him "the pejabat pos man". He was always a welcome sight bringing letters from my husband when he was away (which was most of the time) and from the UK.'
We took many photos while we lived at Jalan Wijaya but never thought to take photos of the postman, the nasi goreng man or other unusual sights. Film was quite expensive back then to get developed but, even so, we still have many wonderful photos to look back on.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Tiger Balm Gardens

I love this photo taken at Tiger Balm Gardens which shows my brother, Alan, me and our mum. I look very little so I suppose the photo was probably taken in 1965 when I would have been 4 years old. All I remember about the day was that it was quite a job for me getting on that rhinocerous! My dad had probably quickly put me on its back before taking the picture with our Kodak 127 Brownie. I remember that there were signs everywhere, in both English and Chinese, asking people to keep off the exhibits. I don't think that anyone ever took any notice though!
Last time, I was at the gardens in 1990, there was no sign of the rhino and the gorilla at the main gate had also disappeared. I know that the gorilla has been re-instated, with his fierce pointed teeth filed down, but I wonder if the rhino ever made a reappearance?