Friday, June 08, 2012

From my inbox – Rob O’brien remembers Singapore

There was a programme on TV over the last 2 weekends about “The fall of Singapore to the Japanese in 1942” and this started me thinking of the days I spent as a child in Johor Bahru and Singapore. I have since read several of your blogs and find them fascinating and remind me of many of my own experiences during that time. Thanks for bringing back so many memories.

My name is Robert O'Brien, born in February 1950 and was very fortunate to have grown up in Malaysia and Singapore from 1953 until 1956 and again from 1959 until January 1963. My father was in the British Army based in Johor Bahru where we lived in 2 houses that I can remember very well, in Jalan Wadi Hana (53-56) and Jalan Tarom (59-63). My father just loved being there and was fortunate to get posted back for a second time. He could speak fluent Malay during the first visit, and on the second visit we even traced our old Amah, Nonah, but she was not free to join us and we were fortunate to have her sister Elijah as our Amah.

Me with my sister and Father, c 1954

My sister with Nonah, our Amah/maid who was like a second mother to us

From the very early days of the first visit, and all during our time based in Johor Bahru, every Sunday was our day out in Singapore. My father would drive us across the causeway (no customs / restrictions in those days) down the Bukit Timah Road and on to the Britannia club where we spent the morning by the pool, had lunch there, and went on to either the Cathay Pacific or Odeon cinemas in the afternoon before returning back to JB. I can even remember several of the films we saw.

From 1961 until we left in 1963, I went to school in Singapore, attending the then Alexandra Grammar School. This was a daily trip for me and several others; but the majority of students were boarders from all over Malaysia. I have many many fond memories of those days and since 1995 have been fortunate to visit Singapore and Malaysia (all over South East Asia) on many occasions as part of the business I was in (selling equipment to the oil companies) and have seen many changes over the years. I retired last year and went back to Kuala Lumpur just this April as a farewell visit to my friends over there.

 PS - My intention is to do some research/investigation and talk to my mother (although she lives almost 300 miles from me in Sunderland where I was born, and I now live in Newbury, Berkshire) and post some blogs on Good Morning Yesterday.

No comments: