Month: August 2011

  • We had a look at Borders yesterday, with its shutters down and roses left for it by visitors. A large piece of cardboard on the inside was on display, with a handwritten goodbye letter from its staff to Singaporeans thanking them for their patronage and acknowledging their sense of loss — they too had grown up there and loved books, it said. The final line: “P.S. remember to look after your books”, was sweet enough to offset the embarrassment of their having misspelt “privilege”.

    By evening, someone had come along and left a note on the glass: “U can’t do this to us! (sad smiley), (heart) Singapore.” It seems having a large bookstore in the middle of Orchard Road for 13 years did little to instill some standards of English language use.

    I remember the first time I visited the store, all those years ago, and being floored by the breadth of what was now within reach, shelves upon shelves of poetry — that eventually, and sadly, dwindled down to a small and forgotten handful of crass anthologies in a corner — how it forced me to plan and prioritize and comprehend that much time had to be made, and many more sacrifices to be accepted, for the countless books that I now could read but for the most part never would.

  • (I’ve started keeping a journal with the Day One iOS app, and though this defeats the purpose of a private record, I think I’ll post a few entries to the blog now and then. This is one of them.)


    First takeaway from the new Smith’s Fish & Chips shop today; hard to process that this meal option is going to be a part of my life for the foreseeable future. They were doing great business with loads of churchgoers and a student sort of crowd dining in, although that’s to be expected from any new place with novel cuisine. Authentic British fish and chips is ridiculously hard to find, and Smith’s is thankfully high on the authenticity scale, alongside the Penny Black pub in Boat Quay. And with Balmoral Plaza they’ve picked one of the better locations to open up a second branch in Singapore. The English-men-with-Asian-wives category alone will keep them in business, to say nothing of the full-on expatriate families in the neighborhood.

    The food was good and took me back to the days of Big John’s as a student, where £2 would get you a nice portion of fish and chips in a cardboard box — I haven’t a clue what kind of fish they used (Smith’s offers cod, haddock, plaice, dory, and halibut) — with lashings of malt vinegar and salt. Ah Big John’s, I remember your £4 doner kebabs in naan bread fondly. By the time I used to get home with my fish, everything would be soggy and I’d eat the fries with too much mayonnaise and it’d all be very satisfying. To be fair, Smith’s is better quality than that fast food stuff, closer to £8 spent in a nice part of London, but that’s what I was thinking of when I ate it.

  • Last night, a bunch of us from work dropped by the Red Dot Museum (on our way to a long night of drinks at Clarke Quay) for a sort of artists’ and makers’ fair they usually hold once a month on weekends. I’ve been once before, and that was a much smaller affair, so I think last night’s event with its beer and food sales, guest appearance by former minister and current presidential candidate Tony Tan (who bizarrely sat for portrait sketches), live music, and subsequently larger crowds, was a one-off.

    Photos from my iPhone 4.