QUIRKY THEMES: Not Just for Tourists. book reviews

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One for the Road and Other Stories: Recollections of Singapore & Malaya
Julian Davison
Singapore: Topographica, 2001
Call No.: SING 959.57 DAV [HIS]
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Julian Davison is an angmoh who spent his childhood years in Singapore back in the days when she was still part of British Malaya. Chock-full of entertaining tales, Davison describes his experiences of bygone days, for example, the Cantonese amah who took care of him when he was young and the seafront in Singapore before it was reclaimed. One for the Road weaves fact and memories with “autobiographical sketches, potted histories, anecdotes and descriptive vignettes”.

An example would be his elegantly titled chapter, The Gentleman in Stripes. He starts off by recounting how he saw a man carrying a tiger head while taking a bus in Bukit Merah, then he proceeds to highlight the various killings (man killing tiger; tiger killing man) the island had experienced, including an entertaining retelling of the famous Raffles Hotel incident.

The title of this book comes from a “rallying cry for a generation of Englishmen in the East” as Davison puts it. A funny aside: the Malay version of this expression became “satu empat jalan” (literally, one “four” the road).

Part history, part nostalgia – an elegy for colonial Singapore.

One for the Road has been made into a TV series called Site and Sound.

Contributed by Lim Lee Ping, Librarian, Adult and Young People Services

Have you read this book? What do you think?
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