Monthly Archives: March 2017

She Sells Seashells From The Seashore

Looks like I have just given the old tongue twister a new twist!

In the days of my youth, some of my neighhours would go to the sea shore (only about 15 mins’ walk) early in the morning, often with their children, to dig for Siput Remis.  Back then, there was an abundance of these shelled creatures, and so an hour or two of enthusiastic excavation could yield a couple of baskets of these delicious seafood.

Now and then, the children would be sent from house to house in the village to sell the excess Siput harvests.  “Siput, Siput” was their call.  I remember a cigarette tin or a condensed milk tin full of the siput cost 5 sen.  Stir-fried with black soya sauce, ginger and some sugar, these tasted heavenly.

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Feet Of Clay vis-a-vis Feet Of Clay

Folks of my age would remember the ubiquitous wooden “Meat Safes” where we kept our foodstuff, and also pots, pans, bowls and dishes.  While these stood on solid ground they had the proverbial “feet of clay” as ants could easily climb up and  somehow help themselves to the food.

So to counter this “ant-surgency” threat, the four legs were usually shod with Moat Bowls made of real clay (glazed and fired).  The moats were filled halfway with water.  These formed effective barriers which the pesky 6-legged fellas found it hard to bridge or breach.  

These clay moat bowls are a rarity now, being replaced by molded plastic ones in the later years.  The moat concept however lives on — those who have pets at home know what I mean.

The Burning Question

In the finest tradition of the Queen’s English wherein we were schooled, an INFLAMMABLE substance was something that could catch fire.  Sadly, over the years, English underwent multiple puny mutilations, and somehow INFLAMMABLE became equated with something that cannot burn or cannot be set ablaze!

And so, the word FLAMMABLE came into popular and legitimate use.  What an irony!

In real life, I always face an internal tussle, “Do I stick to traditional correctness, or go with the flow?” I wonder how many people (especially the older folks) experience the same struggle.

Ah ha!  I have found a way out: nowadays, I use the word COMBUSTIBLE to douse the burning question…I mean no one would dare say something that burns is INCOMBUSTIBLE, right?  I thought that was clever.

Stoutly Harping On The Same Brew

Wow! That blackish, somewhat bitter brew has been around for 145 years (as of 2017).  As far as my memory goes, this was the Black Dog Beer (“Or Kau Bit” in Penang Hokkien) that was touted as being “Good For You”.

Then, in 1984 I discovered that in Singapore, there was no black dog beer, neither was there the bulldog logo; instead the bottles wore a label which had an Alsatian-like dog with a big red tongue sticking out.  The locals called it “Ang Zit Kau” (meaning red-tongue dog). Never mind the change of doggies, the oval label said it was brewed in the same brewery in Malaysia!

The dogs are gone now, replaced solely by the Harp as the product brand.  Guinness is still harping on the same brew, I guess.