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I’ll say this again. This is the best olive oil I have ever tasted, and it’s avail­able now in Sin­ga­pore. And for Christ­mas and only in Sin­ga­pore, you’ll get it at a spe­cial price of $49.50 per litre!

Order here now.

Fol­low on Face­book.

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A friend of mine has done sev­eral bars around the world a favour by tak­ing empty alco­hol bot­tles off them and turn­ing them into up cycled glassware.

My favourite are the Grey Goose Vodka glasses, which come in two sizes:

Pretty tumbler

Pretty tum­bler

Rocks

Rocks

Prices start from $20 and they can be bought by email­ing for an appoint­ment to check out the glassware.

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The per­fect gift for those who strug­gled with CL2 essays: A t-shirt with pre-filled first sentence.

Xiao Ming T-Shirt

Get them while stocks last at A Nai­ise Christ­mas Pop-Up Store: 72–74 Dun­lop Street
Singapore

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Marina Bay Sins — If you know Neil Humphreys’ writ­ing, you’d know that one or two of the things in the book prob­a­bly hap­pened for real.

OK, this one’s too easy — you just point your friends to the link on iTunes to down­load the lat­est from Singapore’s best-selling novelist.

Really good if you’re look­ing to send some­one liv­ing over­seas some­thing for Christ­mas, and espe­cially when you’re look­ing for some­thing really Singaporean.

Down­load it here.
Fol­low on Face­book.

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The col­ors make you want to sing Christ­mas songs, only you can’t if you stuff one of these in your mouth. They are by far the best roasted peanut filled Ang Ku Kuehs ever. Buy a dozen and put them in a nice box for the Christ­mas par­ties you’ve been invited to at the last minute.

Price: $0.80 each

Other flavours avail­able (but not in Christ­massy colors)

Poh Cheu Hand­made Soon Kueh & Ang Ku Kueh

127 Bukit Merah Lane 1 #01–230 Sin­ga­pore 150127

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Tonight, our son, who hasn’t asked for one in ages, asks for a ‘good­night song’ to put him to bed. I scram­ble because I haven’t sung in a while, and man­age ‘Rock­abye Baby’, hop­ing he’ll fall asleep fast if I sang mournfully.

After I sing it twice, he mum­bles, ‘Papa I think that you are one of the best singers ever. Really. Really’, and falls asleep.

 

In 2003, a strange sit­u­a­tion arose and led to my busi­ness part­ner and I help­ing to sal­vage a busi­ness that cul­ti­vated a love for chil­dren that I pre­vi­ously never possessed.

The two peo­ple I met while fix­ing up this busi­ness became fast friends, and they taught me the joys of teach­ing gym­nas­tics to kids, and for the next few years, we had an adven­ture that I will for­ever remem­ber fondly.

Paul La Grua, his wife Cassi and their two young daugh­ters became a part of my daily life. Always incred­i­bly resource­ful, he some­how helped my busi­ness part­ner and I become the first two NCAP (National Coach­ing Accred­i­ta­tion Pro­gramme) qual­i­fied gym­nas­tics coaches in Singapore.

I taught classes in pri­mary and inter­na­tional schools, com­mu­nity cen­tres and coun­try clubs, always encour­aged by the bound­less energy Cassi and Paul brought to their lessons.

We finally made enough money one day to be able to afford a beer after a class at an inter­na­tional school on Orchard Road. And that was when Paul said he wanted to give back to the com­mu­nity by organ­is­ing free gym­nas­tics classes for spe­cial needs children.

We rented Bis­han Sports Hall (one of very few gym­nas­tics halls in Sin­ga­pore) for a weekly Sat­ur­day ses­sion, and adver­tised by word of mouth, and the help of an ST jour­nal­ist, free (after decid­ing to foot the costs our­selves) gym­nas­tics for spe­cial needs children.

The response after the first les­son was tremen­dous. The line out­side Bis­han Sports Hall snaked around the com­plex. It was dif­fi­cult to organ­ise, and we were on our toes every sin­gle sec­ond — and to this day I remem­ber how we had to have Spider-Man’s reflexes to han­dle two autis­tic chil­dren who ran up to com­man­deer a trampoline.

The pro­gramme ranks as one of the most reward­ing things I have ever done, I remem­ber mrbrown bring­ing Faith for a ses­sion too. The joys of the kids and their par­ents at these ses­sions were so pal­pa­ble and sim­ply freak­ing great that it made all the extreme exhaus­tion that fol­lowed later worth every ache and pain.

Paul La Grua was a cham­pion youth gym­nast in his day — he almost made the Olympic team in the 70s. But more impor­tantly, he shared with me the same sat­is­fac­tion of bring­ing the joy of move­ment to chil­dren who yearn the same, but have dif­fi­culty doing and enjoy­ing so.

Paul passed away in the U.S. this week. He is sur­vived by Cassi and their two children.

I hope to be able to remem­ber him by reviv­ing the gym­nas­tics ses­sion for spe­cial needs chil­dren. I chal­lenge Sports Sin­ga­pore to give me Bis­han Hall rent-free for this pur­pose. I will find the coaches who will be able to help. Par­ents of spe­cial needs chil­dren who are in sup­port of my idea, please con­tact me here and let me know how you can help.

See you next time, Paul. I’ll get coaches who can catch two autis­tic kids on a tram­po­line when we organ­ise classes for them again. And I’ll remem­ber that the coaches need to have long arms.

 

To every teacher who taught me, including:

The one who said the school’s chem­istry lab was so old, the pipette was donated by Sir Stam­ford Raffles;

The prin­ci­pal who asked if the Head Pre­fect enjoyed his trip after the lat­ter tripped and fell while walk­ing to the micro­phone dur­ing morn­ing assembly;

The eco­nom­ics teacher who insisted on pro­nounc­ing it KEE-NEE-SIEN the­ory, the his­tory teacher who believed that “the more civilised we are, the donkey-er we become”, and the geog­ra­phy teacher who started every semes­ter by draw­ing a per­fect cir­cle on the board and say­ing “The world is round, is it not?”;

The frus­trated Chi­nese As A Sec­ond Lan­guage teach­ers, includ­ing the one who became less frus­trated when we stood up in class and replaced our “Lao Shi Zao An” greet­ing with, “Lao Shi Ham Sum”, and gig­gled to him­self for two Chi­nese com­po­si­tion periods;

The Math teacher who was so short-sighted that the class thought they pranked him good by replac­ing chalk with chicken bones, only to be pranked back when he insisted he could see what he wrote on the board;

The Addi­tional Math­e­mat­ics teacher who knew that the stu­dents nick­named him — based on his ini­tials F.S. Leong — “Fuck Spi­der Leong”, and didn’t care.

The teacher who made us recite, “I refuse to take out the refuse”, and “The police car could not patrol because it ran out of petrol”, so we would know the impor­tance of empha­sis­ing the right syllable.

The teacher who told me I couldn’t use words such as “bitch” when describ­ing Jane Austen’s characters;

The teacher who instead of assign­ing essay top­ics dur­ing two-period Gen­eral Paper lessons, screened pirated VHS copies of Woody Allen’s movies, Monty Python episodes and the occa­sional rugby test match between Wales and every­one else.

HAPPY TEACHERSDAY, wher­ever you are.

 

There will always be things to poke a fish­ball stick at, and it’s become a tra­di­tion for mrbrown and myself to watch the National Day Rally speech with intent. For those who haven’t, here’s what you should take note of:

Hon­or­ing Yusof bin Ishak

Not least because he was the country’s first Yang di Per­tuan Negara (Head of State), but by doing so, I’m hop­ing we’ll also get to remind our­selves that our national lan­guage is Malay, and our her­itage as a nation is indeli­bly linked with that of our clos­est neighbours’.

Munic­i­pal Ser­vices Office

About bloody time some­thing like that was set up. I’ve talked about the inef­fi­ciency of a uni­cam­eral leg­is­la­ture, where our poor MPs dou­ble up try­ing to fix the nation’s macro woes while doing OT at weekly MPS. The fish ball stick is most def­i­nitely felt across the island. Thank you, lit­terer, for prick­ing the con­science of a nation.

Pio­neer Gen­er­a­tion Card

You’ll prob­a­bly keep hear­ing about the Pio­neer Gen­er­a­tion ad nau­seam. The day before #NDRsg, I got a pack­age in the mail con­tain­ing the PG Card. Now, if my dad wasn’t bedrid­den and suf­fer­ing from Parkin­sons and demen­tia, he might have been able to flash this priv­i­lege card at var­i­ous med­ical ser­vice providers and got­ten gen­er­ous sub­si­dies. It’s just a ges­ture, but one I will be eter­nally grate­ful for. My father vis­its the A&E once a quar­ter on aver­age, and that $800 annual top up into his Medis­ave? That’s my lifesaver.

Chi­nese Cul­tural Cen­tre

The Prime Min­is­ter said it was to cel­e­brate our unique Chi­nese cul­ture in the “Nanyang” style. I think it’s right we finally stand up and claim as our own the many ways we order our bev­er­ages at the kopi­tiam, and stand tall and defend the kopi­tiam aunty when she scalds a for­eign Chi­nese per­son, because every­one should under­stand that when she says, ‘lai, sio’ in Hokkien, she means, ‘fuck off, I’m car­ry­ing a shit load of hot drinks’.

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It’s National Day, not quite the big one, which is next year (good luck Dick Lee).

But know­ing us, this year’s NDP will be a spoil mar­ket spec­ta­cle. If there’s a lesser known Sin­ga­porean trait, it is this: We are good at shoot­ing our­selves in the foot.

Just look at our Sin­ga­pore Air­lines — ever since they launched their “biggest busi­ness class seats the world has ever seen”, first class pas­sen­gers who are not on the A380 Suites have been won­der­ing why they’re pay­ing dou­ble for essen­tially the same sized chair. (OK, nicer cham­pagne and all that, but you get my point).

So, after today’s parade is done and dusted, we should get down to plan­ning what we want to see for next year’s SG50 NDP, to make sure it’s bet­ter than this year’s.

MILITARY ITEMS

The Com­man­dos (whose motto must surely be changed from “Who Dares Wins” to “Every Year Also Best Unit”) and Armour units get all the glory every year, march­ing and rolling down the tracks in their fierce machin­ery. Enough ok? It’s time we got the Gen­eral Sup­ply & Main­te­nance Base PES C,D & E mechan­ics and other non-combat NSmen to march in the parade. They deserve their day in the set­ting sun. Any unit that once had the motto “Strive To Main­tain” does.

CIVILIAN ITEMS

There should be a Hello Kitty Queue con­tin­gent, spon­sored by McDon­alds, because it’s their fault for start­ing the craze. The con­tin­gent marches in sin­gle file, and the high­lights include spo­radic fight­ing between con­tin­gent members.

Park­ing Aunty Con­tin­gent — because now with LTA and Cisco out­sourced offi­cers who don’t “pung chan” as much as the Aun­ties do, they’re soon to go the way of the Sam­sui Women. We salute you.

Tis­sue Aunty / Uncle Con­tin­gent with their fanny packs will wave three pack­ets of tis­sue paper in your direc­tion as they march past.

School kids will be rep­re­sented by a TAF Club Con­tin­gent. Because fat kids should be shamed nation­ally just as they are at school level — run­ning and exer­cis­ing while their fit­ter peers enjoy their recess / pub­lic holiday.

STAT BOARDS

Parades and other spec­ta­cles should include things to jeer at — so there should be a tax col­lec­tors’ con­tin­gent from IRAS.

And given the increased chat­ter about and aware­ness of our Cen­tral Prov­i­dent Fund, the CPF Board should also have a con­tin­gent. Imag­ine the commentary:

“And right at the end of the parade’s march past, because you have to wait long long before you can take out your money, is our very own CPF con­tin­gent, led by Madam Min­nie Sum, who has been with the Board since its incep­tion. She doesn’t look like she’s retir­ing any time soon”…

Happy National Day!

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