Thursday 5 November 2009

School Days

I remember this day at school. Our class photo was taken on December 1967 and all the photos seemed to be taken in that month, I suppose because it was coming to the end of the term. I remember waiting at the top of the steps to come down to have our photos taken by, I think, a Mr Lee.
In the photo, I'm holding the hand of the girl next to me. I'd long forgotten who she was but her sister emailed me recently and told me that she was Caroline Flack. Also in the photo are my friends at school then, Ian Bagwell and Nigel Barton. 
I couldn't remember much that we got up to at school but then I listened to the tape that we'd sent my gran a year earlier and I'm singing some of the songs that we learned. These include, 'Little Bird', 'Rain Rain Go Away'. All Things Bright and Beautiful', 'A Spoonful of Sugar','Once I caught a Fish Alive' and 'Darkness, Darkness.'
Some of these I don't even remember today but I seemed to know all the words then! 

Football match, Penang 1966

This photo was taken on the playing fields at the Sandycroft Leave Centre in Penang in 1966. The men played the women in a football match but all the men wore the women's gear and vice versa. I think the women won by 7 goals to 5. I remember this day perfectly but for another totally different reason. Down by the main part of the Leave Centre by the cinema and arcade, there was a litle shop that sold toys. Alan and me loved Batman, The Man From Uncle and the Green Hornet and the shop had just got in the new Corgi Man From Uncle car. The Man From Uncle was a very popular show and the two stars Robert Vaughn and David McCallum were treated like pop stars. The Green Hornet was a programme we also absolutely loved but when we got back to England, we discovered that it had been banned because apparently it was too violent! Maybe that's why Samurai was never shown either. It seems funny now, doesn't it? Anyway, back to the day of the match, Alan and me decided we wanted this Man From Uncle car so we set about tracking down our parents to see if we could hassle dad to give us our pocket money early. We finally found them playing football, got the money and bought the car. I've still got it today! It's funny how these things stick in your memory.

The Brit Club

Here's a photo of the Britannia Club on Beach Road in Singapore which was set up for members of the forces and their families for recreation and social purposes. It was also known as the NAAFI club or the Brit Club and was opposite Raffles Hotel. Inside, there was a swimming pool and in the back room was a giant scalectrix set, great for the kids though I think it was mainly used by Naval personnel!. Around and above the swimming pool was a huge balcony where we'd all eat and get drinks. You could have a full English breakfast - sausages, bacon, chips and Daddies sauce. Not a very Singaporean meal!
There were high diving boards too by the pool, though a lot of people didn't have the courage to go on them! Certainly not me!

Wednesday 4 November 2009

Jalan Wijaya 1990

I've just found this photo I took in Jalan Wijaya in 1990. As you can see, it had just stopped raining. This was taken from the front of our old house looking towards Mr Lee's house on the left. The road leads to where the cold store and the other shops were in Jalan Dato Sulaiman. It's funny to think of the times I've walked along this road when I was a small boy. On the right was the area where the photo of the grass cutter was taken and also where I found the branch that became the tree in our back garden. It's funny that most of the stories in this blog centre around this small area. Lots of it hadn't changed but just further up the road, the area had changed completely with more houses and shopping centres. The land that was once just jungle was long gone. To the right of the picture, in the distance, is where the insurance man had his office and kept a monkey chained to his door. In 1990, this seemed to be some sort of garage and all of the small shops had disappeared. Mr Lee's house had grown considerably, I wonder if his family still live there. Looking back I wish that I'd spent longer looking around the area and taking photos and I'd love to be back there today just looking around. I wonder what it all looks like now?

Our new home

This photo shows Alan and me sat in the garden at Jalan Wijaya. Alan is reading, 'Mickey Mouse'! This picture was probably taken after we returned home from school, though we could have been on school holidays. I can't remember how the holidays worked, or when they were, but I know that we had them because Alan says about them on that reel to reel tape that I mentioned earlier. I hope to post clips of this once I work out how to do it! We had a Chinese landlord to start with called Yap Choon Lim but he sold the house and it was then rented to my parents by Swan Singh who I remember wore a turban and had shoes that curled up at the end. When he was asked his name, he would say, 'Swan Singh, fly like a bird!' Mr Singh would come around with his brothers if they had anything to discuss like the rent. I always enjoyed seeing them, maybe because of the way they dressed! They were all very friendly. There were times when I would just be looking at his curled shoes the whole time he stayed! I suppose I saw him like something out of the Arabian Nights! At the end of our street was just jungle, far different from now where all the land has been cleared and a Holiday Inn and shopping complex has been built. A lot of the area was covered in rubber plantations at the time. It's hard to imagine now!

Tuesday 3 November 2009

Birthday parties

These two photos were taken on my 4th birthday party in August, 1965. The first picture shows Alan, me and my cake at Jalan Wijaya sat at the front of our house. I remember that this was taken in the morning before all the kids showed up to my party. Although it's a long time ago, I recognise some of the kids in the second photo.In the back row is Carol Webster who lived next door to us and then Alan and Fadzilla who was our Amah's daughter. Her brother, Fadzil, is in the front row next to David Webster and Judith Webster who also lived next door. Then I'm pulling a funny face and next to me is a ginger-haired kid who lived the other side of us but I can't remember his name.
 It was lovely all the kids turning up because they all brought presents. I remember getting a great remote control battery-operated tin car. The kid who gave it to me was so excited that he unwrapped it to show it to me! I also remember other toys like a tin aeroplane but the car must have been my favourite. There were some great toys available then. After we'd had our birthday party with lots of jelly and cake, we would play games that our mums had arranged like pass the parcel, pinning the tail on the donkey and blindman's buff. I've obviously been dressed up for the day because I would normally be just walking around without my shirt and shoes, keeping cool. It's funny that this photo would have been taken shortly after we first arrived in Singapore and Malaya. I don't think that I was even at school then. I've had many birthdays since but I'll always remember this one.

Monday 2 November 2009


This very busy scene shows Chinatown in the 1960s. It was a very busy place with many market stalls and traders selling all types of goods. Washing can be seen hanging from long bamboo poles which poke out of the many windows. In the foreground is a trishaw complete with passenger. My parents were once tipped out of one of these onto the pavement when the driver had an accident with a car. He still expected a tip! The camper van in this picture looks like it has a long wait before it'll be able to make its journey along the road. Further up, a lady is loading up her car with newly bought goods. There are also quite a few trishaws further up the road maybe transporting sightseers and buyers around the busy stalls. I remember being fascinated by all the goods and eager sellers when I was a kid. When you're smaller, everything seems curious and of interest but I think maybe you miss a lot of this when you're an adult. I remember all the smells which included wicker, fish glue and the general smell of Singapore at the time! From this picture, I can see a lot of rattan goods for sale including chairs, baskets and tables. One of the chairs looks very similar to one that we had at Jalan Wijaya. The more modern building in the background looks out of place but of course, there are many far taller buildings in Singapore today.