It seems strange shivering in cold, wet England that we once spent our Christmases in the warm, humid atmosphere of Singapore and Malaya. I've featured the photo, shown here, before in my blog but I think it really sums up the heat back then. It's hard to imagine walking around like that nowadays in December in England. Back then, that silver artificial tree seemed huge to me. You used to get some brilliant decorations back then and mum would spend the day decorating the front room. I think that I helped to decorate the tree but probably knocked off more decorations than I put on! We had many of these Christmas decorations until the 1980s but they've all long since disappeared now. This photo would have probably been taken in 1966 when I was about 5 years old. Alan would have been about 10. There was a lot to look forward to back then. Not only all of our super presents on Christmas morning including go-karts, tin robots and cars etc but also the Christmas party at the Naval Base where there would be a Santa, another present, rides, fireworks and a cinema show. There was also the Christmas tv which included Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie, I love Lucy, the Three Stooges, Casper, the Flintstones etc. It's amazing that this photo was taken 44 years ago and looking at it today is almost like looking at a totally different person. Certainly a lot has changed since the sixties!
Friday, 19 November 2010
There was one show that we all loved to watch in Singapore and Malaya back in the 1960s and that was Star Trek. It's funny how your mind plays tricks on you because I always remember watching the show in colour but, of course, back then, we only had rented black and white sets. I think Star Trek was always on about 7 or 8pm. I remember it was dark anyway! People laugh about William Shatner's acting back then but it all looked great when I was a kid and the show was way ahead of its time. We never missed it. I remember the first episode I ever saw of Star Trek. It was the one where Kirk fights an odd looking dinosaur alien. It appears that there wasn't much money spent on this episode! I recognise the location because it's been featured in many films and tv shows over the years, including 'Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure'. That dinosaur gave me nightmares afterwards but he looks very harmless today. Of course, nowadays, we've all seen every episode of the original Star Trek at least 12 times and know it all off by heart but back in the 60s it all seemed amazing. Alan and me would re-enact episodes in the back garden at Jalan Wijaya the next day.
I've found a clip of that very first episode that I saw on YouTube. It's described as the 'worst fight scene ever'. See what you think. I never did watch any of the follow up Star Trek shows on the telly and, although millions of people enjoy them, I don't think I'm missing much!
Tuesday, 26 October 2010
Friday, 15 October 2010
Saturday, 2 October 2010
Many of you reading this will have read my first book about my childhood in Singapore and Malaya in the 1960s, 'Sampans, Banyans and Rambutans'. The good news is that it is to be republished by Amberley Publishing and will hopefully be out later this year. The book will feature colour photos and be glossy and the quality will be a lot better than the original. Also, it will receive better publicity and distribution.
I'm amazed at the many people who have read the book since it first came out in 2006 and I've had hundreds of letters and emails about it over the years. It's been very interesting to hear other people's stories and memories and to learn what everyone is up to nowadays. Previously, the book has only been available through myself, Amazon or ordered through bookshops but hopefully, it'll soon be available at your local branch of Waterstones or W H Smiths etc.
BBC 4 were interested in using memories from it in a new documentary about children's experiences in the Far East in the 1960s but, unfortunately, this seems to have fallen through. Hopefully, with renewed interest and publicity for the book, the documentary will one day get the go-ahead.
I get emails almost daily about people's lives in Singapore back then and I know there's still a great interest in those happy, idyllic times. I hope a lot more people will read the book and I hope that it will bring back many fond memories.
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.