Monday, 14 December 2009

Royal Naval School Badge

Here's a photo of my Royal Naval School badge from Singapore. I'm surprised that I still have mine but I'm pleased that I do. Mine says 'Singapore' even though I went to school at Kebunteh in Malaya.
Many of us had these at the time but, unfortunately, many have been lost over the years. If, like me, you're nostalgic for anything connected with your time in Singapore and Malaya, you probably, if you've lost yours, would like another one. The good news is that in January 2010, I am having replicas made up and will be selling them for £2.99 each. You can order yours now, if you want, but they won't be ready until January sometime.
If you want one, please pay by PayPal, there's more details here
(Sorry, this is an old posting and they are no longer available)

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Christmas at Jalan Wijaya, Johore Bahru

With Christmas fast approaching, I thought that I would post some photos of us taken at home in Jalan Wijaya in 1966. Christmas is certainly more magical when you're a kid, isn't it? I remember Christmas morning in the picture above. We'd opened all our presents in our room that 'Santa' had left us. One was a string puppet of a clown. I thought that the puppet wasn't meant to have strings so I pulled them all off! Then in the front room, my main present was waiting, this fantastic go-kart. I loved that go-kart. Anyway, in the excitement, I ran over the toy clown and you can just see the two halves of him in the picture!
What a shame that he didn't make it through Christmas day! The second picture shows Alan and me by our Christmas tree in the front room. You might think that I'm in my pants because it's either early morning or evening but that's not the case. It was so warm and humid in Singapore and Malaya that most of the kids just went around bare footed and in their pants! It's funny, this Christmas tree used to seem big to me back then. I'd have been 5 years old then, I wonder where my first trip on the go-cart was? Probably just around the garden!

Wednesday, 9 December 2009


Here's a photo from June 1967 of me on the back of a boat heading off on a banyan. I don't look too happy in this photo and I remember why. I'd been given a bit of fishing line and a red coloured fly attached to end of it which I was dangling in the water. My mum thought I was fishing but, being a five year old with a five year old's imagination, I thought that I was actually goind to snag some treasure! When some of my favourite programmes were Marine Boy, Stingray and the Adventures of Seaspray, where this sort of thing happened all the time, what could go wrong? The reason for my unhappy face is because my line had just gone over the side! It was great taking a boat out on a banyan. All the kids would get to drive and, because I was smaller, I had to sit on a pillow. I remember one beach that we landed on and the sands were covered in starfish. I've never seen anything like it since. All the kids collected them up (shame for the starfish) but I think most were let go afterwards. I can't remember where this island was but it might have been off Penang when we stayed at Sandycroft. Everyone loved the banyans and we'd have a great time. I used to think that the islands were deserted back then but thinking about it, there always seemed to be someone who would pop out of the bushes selling Coca-Cola! They've probably all got high rise hotels on them now!

Monday, 7 December 2009


There used to be a shop in Sembawang that sold annuals and I know many kids got them for Christmas. I still have one today and here it is! I used to love the Flintstones when I was a kid and so did many adults. It must have been on at about teatime. It's amazing that this annual has lasted so long as I have no others from this time. The pictures are lovely and colourful inside and I remember every story in there like I'd just read them yesterday. This one is dated 1967 so I would have got in on the Christmas just before we returned home in January 1968. Looking at it today, it certainly brings back memories. I wonder what other presents I got that year?
I think a lot of the shops sprung up just to serve the forces personnel and their families. I wonder if the local kids liked the Flintstones too? I suppose they must have, though it was all shown in English. I remember Top Cat was on also as well as Yogi Bear, Bugs Bunny and Roadrunner which all the Navy blokes found hilarious! I also remember Casper the Ghost.
I wonder how many other people have kept their books and annuals from their time there? I used to love all the comics too, even the smell of them. Wish I had some now! This was probably just a boy thing, I suppose, and many of the girls probably didn't read comics or annuals. It's funny how much stuff you wish that you'd kept sometimes!
Incidently, the price is still written inside in pencil. The cost was $5.25. A bargain!

Friday, 4 December 2009

The Ice Cream Man

Here's a couple of more photos taken from our home movies shot in about 1966. The first picture shows the strange little van that would show up everyday at Jalan Wijaya selling ice cream. I think you got free Marine Boy transfers if you bought popcorn from him and that might be the white packets you can see on the back of the van. Looking at the van, I think this might have been the Magnolia Man. Other people have mentioned the Magnolia Man to me but I didn't remember the name. I do remember that he sold Cornetto type ice creams long before they were for sale in England. I was beginning to think that I'd imagined that but when I was putting together my second book of other people's memories of Singapore and Malaya, I came across an advert for Magnolia ice cream and there was an advert for the Cornettos that I remembered! I think the van might have also sold tubs of ice cream which we kept in the top of the fridge. I remember that any ice cream you bought, you had to eat quickly because it soon melted down your arm! My brother remembers buying flavoured gums including Cola ones and I also remember Cola flavoured tic-tacs, mainly because my brother dropped his off a drain we were walking over, went to retrieve them and cut his arm badly. I loved the visits by the ice cream man. As you can see, I'm bare-footed and in my pants which seemed to be the uniform of all service kids in the Far East!
The second photo comes from the same day and I'm in a Rattan chair just by our front door looking out into the street. It's funny how things stick in your memory. Although this was about 43 years ago, I remember exactly what I was doing at the time - pretending to march like a soldier! I wonder if these pictures were taken after school had finished at 1pm or if maybe I was pre-school age? Whenever it was, the Magnolia Man always seemed to know where I was even turning up at the school gates to sell ice cream to kids on their breaks or returning home. Seems such a lovely, happy time looking at these photos. Now, so much later, it almost seems like a different world!

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Johore Zoo

I remember being taken to Johore Zoo when we were kids in about 1966. At the time, we thought it was great fun going to the zoo. There was a gorilla who would clap for food and everyone liked seeing him. Nowadays, I realise that it was all pretty appalling. The gorilla had no more than a small cage to be kept in and had been trained to clap his hands to amuse the public. These weren't animals that had been born in captivity but were wild animals who had been trapped and put in the zoo. I do remember that the zoo was very smelly and unclean at the time. I think that I've told the story before about the three legged tiger. He had been trapped in the jungle for the zoo. By the time the trappers found him, his leg was in such a poor state that they had to remove it. This didn't stop them from exhibiting him as soon as he was well enough!
 All these pictures come from our home movies so sorry they're not very clear. They show my brother feeding the gorilla, him clapping, the forlorn gorilla looking out of his cage and the three legged tiger. I hope the animals are better looked after today!

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

More Memories of Singapore and Malaya

I'm glad that everyone enjoyed reading my previous books, 'Sampans, Banyans and Rambutans' and 'Memories of Singapore and Malaya'.
I had so many people write to me with their own memories and photos that I decided to put these all together in a new book called, 'More Memories of Singapore and Malaya' which has just come out today. It features stories about Forces life, our homes, food, drink, markets, the dreaded mozzies, parties, Christmas, schools etc as well as all the other things that we remember fondly from our time there.
I've tried to include all new photos and stories and I'm sure it will make interesting reading for anyone who, like myself, misses those idyllic days in the 1960s!