Surprisingly, many of them have fond memories of Singapore. Recently, I came across a website, known as Memories of Singapore hosted by a gentleman by the name of Tom O’brien. (Coincidentally, Tom, like me, was also born in 1952). At this website, they exchanged stories of their time in Singapore. For example, there was an interesting discussion about a smelly fruit called the durian. They also shared photographs and other memorabilia of their school days back in 50’s and 60’s. There are also many links to other similar websites.
I approached Tom and he kindly gave me permission to use his photographs in Good Morning Yesterday. With the help of these photographs, I hope to start a series of blogs soon, entitled Places I Remember (inspired by the Beatles Song of the same title; an idea stolen from my friend Toycon, a twenty-something yuppie who enjoys old songs).
I also thought that it would be wonderful if Tom and his friends could share some of their stories with readers of GMY. I believe they can offer a unique perspective of life here which even Singaporeans of my generation are not able to. I am happy to inform you that 3 of them, John Harper, Lynn Copping and Tony Boyle have agreed to do so.
For a start, let me ask you. Do you know which schools they went too? As far as I could tell, most of them went to schools operated by the British Forces Education Services which was later called Service Children Education (link). One of these was the Bourne School (known earlier as Alexandra Grammar and Alexandra Secondary Modern School??) located at the Gillman Camp which I blogged about early this year. At that time, it was known as Gillman Barracks. Another was the St John Comprehensive School in Dover Road – presently occupied by the United World College. A third was the Changi Grammar School. Do the names confuse you (And I thought only our 'gahmen' likes to keep changing names)? Never mind, I am sure our British friends will clarify later.
The above photos are of the Bourne School located in Gillman Camp. I am so happy to be finally able to show you a photo of the Gillman Pool. My thanks to Tom O’brien and Maurice Hann, a former teacher at Bourne School for sharing these photos.
Thanks to the marvel of the internet, today we have a chance to bridge a cultural divide between Singaporeans and Britons of my generation; something which close physical proximity could not all those long years ago. Thanks also to the marvel of the internet, we can go back to the past and learn something new about what Singapore was like one generation ago, whilst our counterparts in the UK can find out what the Singapore they knew one generation ago is like today.