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Location: Singapore, Singapore

A "recycled teenager" learning to blog.

May 30, 2010

Childhood Days in Singapore

This photo Derek looking very happy as a boy in Singapore.
Photo Credit: Derek Tait

Derek Tait left his heart in Singapore since four decades ago when he returned to the United Kingdom with his father, a British Navy officer here in the 1960s.

The treasure chest of old Singapore photos which Derek brought home are alive today and he had shared these precious photos everywhere on the Internet. Just do a Google or other search engines on the Internet for "old Singapore photos" and we can be sure that many old photos of Derek are found. He doesn't care whether his photo credit are acknowledged or just found anonymously in the public domain without names untraced.

How many more saved by Derek, while the hundreds and thousands of memorable photos were lost one way or another, accidentally or otherwise, to save storage spaces, thrown during annual "spring cleaning" or fed to the silverfishes in the personal photo albums of private individuals.

The memories of Derek's "Singapore's 1960s" photos are inspired by many bloggers in Singapore and enriched their own personal memories of Singapore "nong nong ago" for reminiscence and posterity.

Derek's "To Singapore, With Love" as appeared in TODAY.

With his penchant for anamnesis precision to recollect the memories of his childhood days in Singapore, Derek is the fervent writer of "Memories of Singapore and Malaya", "Sampans, Banyams and Rambutans", "More Memories of Singapore and Malaya" and more published books soon.

At a time when Singapore was mostly kampongs and slums, toys were make-do improvisations for childhood days in Singapore. Nowadays, young children could explore for themselves Fun with Nature and Pasir Ris Kids Kampong about "longkang" fishing.

Following a previous blog about the "memories aid" for old photos, blogs and written articles, diaries to remember nostalgic memories, there are many art forms and multimedia channels expressed in painting, music, poems, dance, cartoon and caricacture. These are oral or written heritage and history which every individual experience and express; including those with visualisation to express.

The gifted talent of painting could preserve the memories if a camera as a common "memory aid" is not available. The human brain has the dexterity and artistic skills compared to the functions of a camera and artificial intelligence.

The Singaporean artists with paintings as "memory aid" are featured below:

Marcus Lim (林国安), an award-winning historian painter with his statement at The Art of Marcus Lim website.

[While the rest of the world advances with time, my work on Singapore heritage takes me otherwise. With every crumble and erosion of a pre-war building, landscape or item that once belonged to Singapore's illustrious past, we lose a big part of our identity.

My quest is not only to preserve these images in my paintings, but also to immortalize the essence of that part of history, its lessons and messages that we can impart to the future generations of Singaporeans].

"Unveiling the Golden River" painted by Marcus Lim

"Chinatown Backlane" painted by Marcus Lim

"New Year at Eng Hoon Street" painted by Marcus Lim

"Kwan Im Temple, Waterloo Street" painted by Marcus Lim

"Old McCallum" painted by Marcus Lim

"Sultan Alley Barber" painted by Marcus Lim

International well-known artist Ong Kim Seng 's "Heartlands: Home and Nation in the Art of Ong Kim Seng" and awarded the 1990 Cultural Medallion, presented by the Ministry of Information and the Arts, Singapore and presented the "PONNADAI" (Golden Shawl) by the Singapore Kairalee Kala Nilayam (Singapore Kairalee Arts Centre) in recognition of the artistic achievements given to Singapore.

"Backlane Barber" painted by Ong Kim Seng

"Kampung Radin Mas, Now and Then" painted by Ong Kim Seng

"Magazine Road, Now and Then" painted by Ong Kim Seng

"Changi Point Jetty" painted by Ong Kim Seng

"Singapore River" painted by Ong Kim Seng

Here's a quiz:
Who is the well-known Singaporean who described below his childhood days in Singapore?

"I didn't do any work. I was too keen on running around, catching fighting fish in the drains along Changi Road, Joo Chiat Road. They were all rubber estates and they had these open drains. At the open can catch good fighting fish and you keep them in bottles and you buy them in the earth and then you feed them with worms and you put a bit of green plants to oxygenate the water. There was great fun also flying kites and putting the thread on two poles, pounding the glues and the glass, fixing the line so you can cut the other fellow's line.

And then playing tops: you armour your top, you get a top and you put thumb-tacks, polish it up and then you hit the other fellow's and make a scar on his. It was a more do-it-yourself, amuse yourself childhood than what children now have, where toys are just given to them to be amused. But here, you've got to amuse yourself, which I think in retrospect was a better way."
Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew in the book "Lee Kuan Yew - The Man and His Ideas" by Han Fook Kwang, Warren Fernandez and Sumiko Tan.



Blogger Lam Chun See said...

I too have used several of Derek's photos in my blog. Initially I did not know they belonged him, but I asked for permission from Tom O'brien of Memories of Singapore to use photos that appeared in his website.

By the way, if you are interested to read a bit about PM Lee Hsien Loong's Childhood days, you can check the book Relatively Speaking by Joan Hon (1984). She is the oldest daughter of former Minister of Finance Hon Sui Sen. The Hons and Lees are family friends. In her books shared some snippets of their childhood friendship. I can't recall details.

I used to have a copy of this book but have since lost it. But never mind, it is available at NLB (Call no.: RSING 320.95957 HON)

May 31, 2010 at 9:28 PM  
Blogger Thimbuktu said...

Hi Chun See,

The TODAY feature in "Singapore, With Love" mentioned GMY and Victor Koo which is linked to this blog. Both you and Victor are the pioneer blogs together with several other bloggers to contact the Britbrats Tom O'Brien, Derek Tait, Lynne Copping and John Harper for their old photos for regular email and guest bloggers. Thanks everyone for memories to share with us at our respective blogs and related post links.

Thanks for the tips to check on the books to update the blog on childhood days after reading them. Best Regards.

June 1, 2010 at 12:33 AM  
Blogger derek tait said...

Hi James,
I love reading your blog.
Thanks for the great write up, it's much appreciated. I'm glad that people enjoy reading my blog and I'm very glad that they're getting to see all the photos and I'm happy for people to use them elsewhere. Hope to finish another Singapore book soon and I'll make sure that I send you a copy.
Best wishes,

June 5, 2010 at 11:35 PM  
Blogger Thimbuktu said...

I share your sentiments, Derek. Our blog feedbacks and responses from friends and readers are much
appreciated. Compliments are appreciated as encouragement to strive on happy blogging. Comments, criticisms or brickbats are also appreciated suggestions for improvement. Displayed on a food stall: "If you like it, please tell everybody. If you don't like it, just whisper to us softly" :)

Best wishes for your book publication soon. Best Regards.

June 7, 2010 at 4:07 PM  

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