Monday 26 December 2016

Christmas - looking from the back of other eyeballs

Colin, photographer and photography-technician extraordinaire was coming for dinner on the 22nd.

so on the 21st, I took Bus  Number 22  into the city centre to do the shopping.  The bus stopped at the Railway Station to pick up a tall, strapping young man, somewhere in his mid-thirties.  He was carrying a big and heavy rucksack on his back.  He also had a name-tag on a string draped around his neck.

To put it simply: he looked absolutely knackered - but he also wore a grim and dignified countenance. From his build he could have been a policeman, a sports coach or even a British Airways pilot - of someone holding a job that required authority and responsibility.

As the bus approached the City Centre, a comfortably-dressed, middle-aged English lady proceeded to the front of the bus where the young man was sitting, as she was about to get off the bus.

As she went past, she gave him a nice smile and said  "Merry Christmas"

With a wan, worn smile, he replied, "Merry Christmas to you."

This was the rest of the conversation.   (W=English woman;  M=English man.)

W  Are you looking forward to Christmas?

M  Well ..... it's okay, I think ......

W  It's a happy time, isn't it - sharing with family and friends.....? (and she went on and on)

M  (He began to look fed-up as it was obvious he was not prepared to natter on about the joy of Christmas)  To hell with fucking Christmas.  All for one man's birthday.  What has he done for the world?

W  (gasping with shock) Oh .. oh ...

M  I'm sorry, please, I apologise.

The bus stopped and as the woman got down, he wished her, "You have a happy Christmas, love."  

He was a Big Issue vendor.    The Big Issue is a weekly current affairs and entertainment magazine - put out specially to help the homeless......And his rucksack was heavily laden with copies he was hoping to sell - and this he will do without a kiosk or a covered stand.   If it rains or snows, he will stand in the biting cold, for the sake of a tiny income.


Figure 1

Figure 2 - A homeless man sleeping outside a big department store House of Fraser

Figure 3

Figure 4 -The East London Mosque contributing to helping the homeless in London.

We Malay-Muslims in Malaysia, have a lot to learn from the Ummah  at the East London Mosque.

Remember these?


Hari Raya 2015
See  -

Eid in Gaza 2014  (see reference to the above image)

 And there are also the Syrians, Yemenis, Iraqis, Libyans and Rohingyas to remember in their dark days. 

Are the Muslims' pockets so shallow and our hearts so grudging?   

Finally, an anecdote from my childhood to close this post about Christmas.

Makcik Ayik was my mother's best friend (during the 1940s to 1960s) from their days of being neighbours at Kampung Chantek, Dunearn Road, Singapore,

Makcik Ayik and Pakcik Mat (late 1950s)

When I was about 10 years of age my mother would 'park' me at Makcik's  during the school holidays.  As Makcik had no children, my mother thought I would be good company for the dear lady.  Also it got me 'out of her hair' and gave her some peace with her other three brattages.

I quite enjoyed being the only child at her kampung house at Batu 10, Bukit Panjang.  I remembered walking along a rickety wooden bridge across a river  to get to the kampung from Bukit Panjang. Road.

That was over 60 years ago.  Today Batu 10 has been gentrified and un-Malaydified to  TEN MILE JUNCTION.

BATU  10  aka Ten Mile Junction

Just over 60 years ago, on the 25th day of December, I was chatting to Makcik Ayik and I said,

Makcik, hari 'ni hari Krismas.  (Auntie, today is Christmas Day)

She replied, with a quizzical look on her face.

Krismas 'tu apa 'nak??  (Child, what is Christmas?)

Looking back, I reckon my mum's good friend must be thinking what a weird Malay child I am - must be because of all that schooling!!  Christmas ??!?!!

Indeed, we have come a long, long way from those dark days of ignorance!!!!

However, we're no better or kinder than Makcik Ayik's generation.

May next year's winter be happier and more peaceful  than that of  2016, 2015, 2014, 2013 etc etc.


Tuesday 20 December 2016

Political Patchwork and Stitch-ups in Malaysia

I promised myself  I would undertake more postings in this blog of mine when I'm back in cooler climes in Leicester, when the septuagenarian-brain is not getting pickled in the heat of my tanah air.

I did quite fine in November.  But December has been taken up with cooking dinners for dear friends that we have not seen for 8 months - people like Ann and Dot, Jack, Colin and Doug.  The aroma of chicken cooked in spicy-serai sauce, tomato-apricot chutney, all sorts of spuds dishes (spicy, sauteed, boiled, mashed, roasted etc), curry mutton and chicken, grilled lamb chops and a vegetarian methi cake, filled the house for the past few weeks.  As for desserts - the spouse had his fill of Eve's Pudding, apple crumble, lemon layer pudding, Bramleys topped with custard sauce and the creme de la creme - a dessert he would cry for - bread and butter pudding!!   But I must also record the great evening we had at a pub, the Rose and Crown at Thurnby, with our mates from our favourite charity shop, Animal Rescue.  Iain and I learned that we could get just as heady (but not quite pickled) on plain Tonic Water (sans the Gin) !!!!   Of course a game of Skittles was on the menu and I have to report that AsH did win a prize - the wooden spoon.  I will never live this down for the rest of my days.

But one cannot avoid the antics of politics and politicians in Malaysia even in this little corner of England.  Why do I scare myself with reading Malaysia's online papers?   Sandiwara Malaysia goes on and on, with the same actors and actresses - roaring the same nefarious and hypocritical lines, this time with their eyes on the next General Election.

Indeed we are spoiled for choice.  It's like being in a sweet shop where the bottles are filled with multi-coloured sweeties but they all taste the same -leaving a nasty, bitter after-taste in the mouth. But to be fair to Malaysia the effect is the same in USA or Britain.  Maybe not so in Singapore where the political sweet shop has fewer flavours.

Still, I have been dipping my toes (freezing at times) into an interesting pursuit - dabbling in the art and artifices of  Photoscape.  People may pooh pooh at my venture, but try to do something new and hi-tech(?) when you get to 72!

It's like making a Patchwork Project.  I sewed two lovely (so I believe) patchwork bedspreads, made up of  Liberty of London fabric samplers, for Shah on his 21st birthday and Maria on her wedding day.

But this is still the most beautiful patchwork for me - made by my dear mum to take with me to my new home in England.

A patchwork bedspread made from batik remnants.

And so patchwork samplers lead me on to amalgamate this old hobby with my new techno-thingamajig undertaking.

1. A connection of people.


2.  A stitchup - by the mouse, the frog and the hawk.

3.   Those who do not remember the past are condemned to relive it.  (George Santayana 1863-1952)  

I guess that's as much mush as I can manage - technically and spiritually.

No skittles on this blog.  Let's just do the boogie woogie with Gitarzan, Jane and the Gorilla .... and the Yellow Bananas.


Friday 2 December 2016

My brother is now a septuagenarian. Cheers mate!

Every time I reminded my brother Mus about how he intends to celebrate his 7th decade he would reply - with a cheeky glint in his eye - I'm 69, you have to wait till December.

Okay - it's just two more days to your big decade and I am throwing the book at you!

1. Here's the birthday boy in the second decade of the 21st century. ...

2.  It all began in in the first half of the 20th century ( 1946, to be precise) at Pasir Panjang Hill Singapore.
Where on earth did Abah get that beret?

Now that beret is replicated in this ..

3.  How did he manage the strength to carry all that paraphernalia in his 60s?

His training began at a very early age - hugging a broom.

Linus (from Charlie Brown) had his security blanket but Mus was more innovative.  All he needed was a yellow T-shirt but that was not the fashion in the late 1940s!

4. During his early years he had a dream of being a great hunter.
On an elephant at Haw Par Villa with Donald (Trump?) Duck behind the wired fence as his first capture.  Little brother Akim was appointed as his lookout man.

But it was not to be.  All little hunters have to go to school, get a solid education, hang on to a steady job,

..... find a nice girl and get married..

.... and start a family.
His three joys.

5.  But he has always been a rebel and cocked many a snoot at the tyranny of authority in any shape or form.  Ask him about his exploits at Pulau Merlimau Primary School.

This family trait of sticking up for justice and dignity, and getting punished as a result, had its antecedents when he was just knee high to a grasshopper.
Yah! Boo! Sucks!

6.  But don't ask me what this picture is supposed to prophesy.
Heaven knows what he's biting on
Maybe it has to do with helping his grandson to deal with a drink.

But there's a degree of similarity in their facial expression when dealing with beverages.
Where's the teh tarik??

7.  I do not know how he manages to keep looking young for a septuagenarian - still has lots of thatch on his head, still walks with a strong, steady stride, still curses and swears at stupid drivers in Malay, English, Hokkien, Cantonese, Punjabi, Tamil and even in French and German!
Fabian and Frankie Avalon rolled into one.
Ahem!  Nudge, nudge, wink, wink.  I choose  this theme song to celebrate  his teen years and his dynamite youth.

8.  I understand he's spending his birthday at Sepang with his son.  His (and Shah's) passion for cars are in his genes, from our Abah.  In his life, Abah had about 6-7 cars, not at the same time.
The Sunbeam Talbot - our first family car.
The Armstrong Siddeley - a much loved family car which kept us going for years.  Mus and Mother are on the far right.
But this Lambretta is his good friend.  If only that scooter could talk .....

Many happy returns, Mus .

He wrote this in our sister's Autograph book when he was just eight.
We won't burn our lips but we'll always love and remember you.