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!

Saturday, 2 July 2011


Kindle seems to be the thing of the future so I've uploaded 'Memories of Singapore and Malaya', 'More Memories of Singapore and Malaya' and 'Monsoon Memories' onto there. If you're like me, you won't have a Kindle reader but I know that many people have, so here's a chance to download the books. I hope to add more books gradually over the next few weeks.
'Memories of Singapore and Malaya' can be found here:
'More Memories of Singapore and Malaya' can be found here:
Meanwhile, I've discovered a site which dispatches books all over the world, postage free. If you want to order my books but don't want to pay high postage costs, check out the Book Depository at

Friday, 6 May 2011

Ebook version of Monsoon Memories

When I got to about 45, I realised that technology was passing me by. I don't own a DVD recorder, a flatscreen tv, an iPod, an iPad, a Blackberry or even an ordinary mobile phone and I'm happier for having none of it. I don't even own a watch!
However, I realise that things have changed a great deal since I was a kid living in Singapore and Malaya and one of the things that seems to be the future is the ebook. I realise that many more people around the world would read my books if they were easily available and didn't always have to be ordered from England. For that reason, I've published 'Monsoon Memories' as an ebook and it's available at
I hope that it will prove popular and I hope to list many other titles this way in the near future.
Don't worry, if you haven't got a Kindle player (I haven't!) - all titles are still available as good, old fashioned, normal books!

Friday, 29 April 2011

My first photo

Here's the first photo that I ever took when I was about six years old in 1967. It's of my mum at our house in Jalan Wijaya, Johore Bahru. It's amazing how well all of our photos came out in those days. This was taken with an old Bakelite Kodak 127 camera. It seems funny now that you had to buy rolls of film which you had to find somewhere dark, not always easy in Singapore and Malaya, to load the film. It was a long time before digital photography would be invented. In the background is the road leading away from our house towards the shops where the films would be developed. Every Naval family seemed to have seats like these at the time, my parents brought them home with us when we returned in 1968. We're lucky to have so many photos of our time there, especially colour ones, and every one brings back a memory. I think that this one was taken after school had finished at 1pm. Dad was still at work and Alan had disappeared out somewhere, probably to go fishing or to make a den, perhaps.
The TV set was nearby where I'd watch Samurai which always seemed to be on even in the afternoons. I remember when we first got a telly and all the Chinese kids sat on our front gate to watch it.
Seems a very long time ago now...

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Neighbours from Jalan Wijaya

When I first started writing this blog, I never thought that I would ever hear from anyone who lived in our old street in Jalan Wijaya, Johore Bahru. In the last couple of months though, I've heard from quite a few people who would have been near neighbours when we were there. An older post tells of a very close neighbour, Tracey Jamieson (then Lattimer), who lived at 97 Jalan Wijaya. This morning, I heard from Steven Rayment who lived at number 78 (we lived at 103) so we must have lived quite close to each other. We were both there at the same time in the 1960s.
I also recently heard from Eric Williams who lived at 99 Jalan Wijaya which was just two doors away from us! Strangely, we didn't remember each other but we must have passed regularly. Eric kindly sent me some photos of a visit in 2003. Finally, Keith Galway wrote to me from Perth. Keith lived at 20 Jalan Wijaya much later. 

Here are a couple of the photos that Keith kindly sent me with the film. The first shows the view from our front door. I walked along this road many times to get to the shops which were just in the next street. On the left is Mr Lee's house. I'm sure that he must be long gone now. The house has been extended but the original slate-type wall was there when I was a kid. In the distance, where the red roofs are, can be seen Dato Jalan Sulaiman. The skyscraper certainly wasn't there back in the 1960s! Around the corner on the right was a grocery shop, an insurance salesman (who had his own monkey), a photographers and a cafe.

The second photo shows the view walking down into Jalan Wijaya. I walked that way many times and it reminds me of the time I came off my bike as well as the time I cracked my head open and walked all the way home and a large dog stood up on my shoulders and licked me! I ran after that!
Eric's first photo shows where the shops at Dato Jalan Sulaiman once stood. Today, there's some sort of car dealership there. This photo really brings back memories for me because we were always at 

the shops there. I remember the box of cornflakes that we bought which was full of ants! We'd catch the bus just a little further down which would always head up 'Flipflop Hill' before heading off to Johore.
Eric's second photo shows his house at 99 Jalan Wijaya in 2003. The gate is exactly the same as it was in the 1960s!

Anyone who reads my blog regularly would have seen the 1960s home movies of Jalan Wijaya posted here, as well as the home movie I made in 1990.
Seeing everyone else's photos makes me want to make the trip back and walk along the streets of Jalan Wijaya once more!

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

New edition of Sampans, Banyans and Rambutans

The new edition of Sampans, Banyans and Rambutans should be available from Amberley Publishing very shortly. In the meantime, here's a sneak preview of the cover. It should go to print sometime this week so will be in the shops very soon. The original version has sold very well, selling all over the world, and I'm hoping the new version will appear in many more shops and get a lot more coverage. It's already available on Amazon and Waterstones on the net to pre-order if anyone wants to check it out. I love the front cover with all those sampans covering the Singapore river!

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Wanchai Burberrys

This photo shows me and my dad outside our home in Jalan Wijaya, Johore Bahru, in about 1965. It's the only personal photo that I have that shows a Wanchai Burberry. Have you spotted it yet? It's standing in the corner behind me against the wall. Wanchai Burberrys are what everyone called the paper umbrellas you got back then. I think they cost $1 and were very handy if there was a sudden downpour. All I remember about them is the strong smell of fish glue which was used to hold them together. The smell got far worse when it rained. Perhaps that's why our Wanchai Burberry is outside the house! The paper umbrellas got their name because many were made in Wan Chai in Hong Kong and 'burberry' was the name that Naval personnel called their raincoats.
They still sell them, even in England, but I wonder if the girl who runs the nearby shop selling Chinese produce would know what I wanted if I asked for a Wanchi Burberry today?