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!
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: http://goodmorningyesterday.blogspot.com/
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.
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.
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.
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?
Thanks to my good friend in Singapore, James Seah, and Dr Tan Wee Kiat for kindly sending me a lovely book this week called 'One for the Birds'. It features images of banknotes and stamps from Singapore, many of which I can remember from when I was a boy in the 1960s (seems a long time ago now!).
I think I've mentioned before in my blog that I once had a wonderful collection of stamps from all over the world. With my dad being in the Navy, he would send home stamps from every country he visited. I also had a lovely collection of stamps that we'd collected in Singapore, Malaya and Penang. However, sometime in the 1970s, they all disappeared. I can't remember if they were given away, swapped or (hopefully not) thrown away. I certainly wish I had them all now!
This lovely colourful book certainly brought back happy many memories for me. I doubt that stamps are much collected by kids nowadays but back then every boy seemed to have a collection.
It's a wonderful book and I'll certainly treasure it.