Category Archives: school

Those Knotty Days

As a young school-boy, I did not join the Boy Scouts, because they had a naughty “curi ayam” reputation. (It still puzzles me how that came about). 

Nevertheless, I had some opportunities to learn the ropes in the art of making several types of knots — when I joined the Red Cross society instead.  Alas, I can only recall four types of such knots, as shown in the picture. 

Granny’s Knot needed no introduction, as we had already been lovingly tutored by our own grandmas (without knowing the name). We called it “Dead Knot”. 

The Reef Knot fascinated me, as it could perform the same security as the Dead Knot, but could be undone much more easily.

The Fisherman’s Knot was supposed to be very useful if the rope was slippery.  As for the fourth one,…,I have forgotten everything lah.

Gripped By Vices

All vices will have a grip on you, but not all of them are evil. In fact some types can help you hold a job steady while you work on it !

My first encounter with a vice was in my Form One Industrial Arts class in 1968. That was a massive chunk of cast iron, bolted onto a sturdy workbench.  We gripped pieces of metal between its jaws, whereupon we did our manual sawing, hand filing and drilling.

Later on, in my studies at the Technical Institute, Penang, there were more occasions to “indulge” in  vices of all sizes and configurations, while the class underwent advanced training in metalcraft at the Engineering Workshop.   I enjoyed these lessons a lot, as I was and still am a very much “hands-on” guy.

I bet many younger folks have not seen one.

To Sir With Love

Those schoolboy days

Of telling tales and catching snails are gone…

But in my mind

I know they will still live on and on..

But how do you thank someone

Who has taken you from crayons to Brylcreem ?

It isn’t easy, but I’ll try

If you wanted the sky I would write across the sky in letters

That would soar a thousand feet high…

TO SIR WITH LOVE”

This photograph was taken with my beloved Standard One Form Teacher, Mr Francis Heng, at the 1st reunion dinner of the 1970 LCE-graduating batch of the Assumption Boys’ School, Butterworth. It was the first meeting after 45 years.

How It All Began — “A Man And A Pan”…

Flashback some three score years, when I started to received kiddie lessons in rudimentary English.  Back then, there were no nursery or kindergarten classes.  So my late mum – with her very limited knowledge of the language – took it upon herself to each me the A,B,Cs..and slightly beyond.

I remember most clearly a textbook called “The Oxford English Course For Malaya”.  The opening pages showed a man and a pan. And so off we went ranting : “A man; a pan; a man and a pan; a pan and a man”. 

Alas, I cannot remember anything past these items.  It would be nice to get hold of a copy of that vintage book.  As a consolation, I went to Google, downloaded some old photos, and re-created the cover with Adobe PS, printed it out and pasted it on a dummy book.

Going ‘Overseas’ To Study — Every Weekday

Never mind if it was actually over the sea. Just let this old man reminisce the thrills and spills of the days (1971-72) when he had to make the {12~14km} or so trip from Bagan Ajam to the Technical Institute on the island for his studies.

At first I tried cycling – getting up at 5am, I pedalled all the way to the ferry terminal, got onto the lower deck of the ferry, and then out onto the island….finally arriving at Jalan Ibbetson where TI was located.   School dismissed at 1.50pm and by the time I got back home it was around 4.30pm.   Alas, after 1 school term, I was reduced to just skin-and-bones.

My parents then ordered me to take the public buses.

Finally, in 1973, our family moved over to the island, in preparation for my Lower Six. Thus ended my odyssey over the sea.

Paip SeKolah : The Thirst Was History

Far better than Pepsi-Cola : it was cool, refreshing and clear.  And F-O-C and F-O-S too (free-of-charge,and free-of-sugar)

Just reminiscing my primary school days, when after a PE lesson or a game of football, we kids made a beeline for the solitary standpipe in the school compound, and got our thirsty throats quenched.

No SWEAT for us to gulp down this unadulterated H-TWO-O; just opened our mouths big big, and turned on the tap handle, and the thirst was history.

My late mum cautioned me against drinking straight from the tap for the fear of water-borne diseases.  She always made me carry a bottle of boiled water from home.  But….drinking from Paip Sekolah was a totally different experience.  I never told her.

Jar & The Beansprouts

One of the first biology encounters we had as primary school kids was the germinating of green beans in a jar — jam jars, Essence of Chicken bottles, etc.  Just needed to add water.  We were thrilled to see the beans sprouting and growing each day.   By the 4th day or so, our sprouts were standing tall and proud.

Our young minds and imagination were all fired up.  Mine went further, having read the story about one guy named Jack.   I quietly took some more green beans, red beans and soya beans from my mum’s treasure trove in the kitchen and threw them out onto the soil outside my kampong house.   Waited and waited,….,but no tall Beanstalk ever came out.   Haiz, maybe I used the wrong beans.