Very full now, just ate my words

I watched snippets of the YOG opening ceremony, and spent another hour on the Youth Olympic News Channel on Starhub TV watching interviews and re-runs and wondered why they didn’t have that on earlier. I learned many things about the Games and the athletes participating which should have been in the local media but wasn’t.

But back to the Opening Ceremony. It was very impressive, right down to the giant monster that a boy, who was later interviewed on YON Channel, described as “very fluffy”.

You guys pulled off a great show – which was the only thing needed to get this bloody country to rally behind you. No need for calls to be gracious and fines to be imposed should those calls be unheeded.

The icing on the cake this weekend for me, a non-soccer fan, was the home-grown Singapore youth football team beating, nay, thrashing the daylights out of the hitherto cocky Zimbabweans, who had earlier predicted a 5-0 routing of our Lion Cubs. I was thrilled to see such an exuberant performance from a team from our shores.

If they grow up playing like this, we might just hear the Kallang Roar again (ok, and after they demolish and rebuild the National Stadium, and ask to be part of the Malaysia Cup again too).

Keep at it, boys. Show the older sporting folk how it’s done – by throwing everything at the opposition.

Top points also to the 12 year old boy who ran after the torch and single-handedly restored meaning to the Olympic torch relay after it had been inexplicably given legs by Mediacorp (yah, I know, WTF?) artistes on the first day.

My words go down well with a tall glass of wheat beer, by the way.

Games of the 1st Youth Olympiad, Singapore 2010
Har? #sgflood again?

My National Day Parade

I remember National Day Parade 1990 the most because it’s the NDP I was involved in.

It was held at the Padang, and it featured the most impressive mobile column display since independence, involving all the military hardware and soldiers (like us) of the day.

At the beginning of that year, my battalion mates and I were in our second year of National Service – and for some reason, there was a what was called a “lull period” in our training program. By May, it became clear why that was so, as plans for the Padang parade were passed down through the combat and support companies. Our battalion was to supply one company sized mobile column/marching contingent and three companies of construction labour to build the spectator stands for the parade.

I’m not sure how it works these days, but in our time, the method of divvying up the work was this: the worst performing combat company got the marching duties. It might seem strange that the worst get rewarded by being in the limelight. But look further and you’ll realise that the mobile column/marching contingent has copped the rawest deal – hours and days of rehearsals, starching of uniforms, polishing of boots and armoured vehicles.

We moved in to the Padang in June, helping to unload the metal tubes that made up the grandstands, and then building the grandstands. It was like a giant Ikea assembly project as our sergeants and officers argued over the engineers’ manuals and instructed us to build the several storey tall structure by trial and error.

When night fell, guards were mounted from our ranks and we patrolled the Padang to ensure no one stole or sabotaged the grandstand. It was great fun.

Across the road from the Padang, where the Esplanade now stands was a hawker centre known as the Satay Club. We’d stray from our route and buy food and drink (with the blessing of the guard commander ensconced in a command tent on the grounds of the St Andrew’s Cathedral) and eat till our hearts’ content.

With the wee hours came some unusual encounters for the patrols. A group of transvestites used to frequent the Satay Club nightly, and it wasn’t because they liked to eat satay a lot. When day broke on one of the first few days we were at the Padang, our Regimental Sergeant Major had inspected the construction site and discovered condom wrappers, used condoms and other associated debris strewn around the grandstand area – people had been using the nooks and crannies made by our stacks of building material to explore their own nooks and crannies.

The order was put out unequivocally – we were not to allow any such monkey business to happen, and we were to apprehend (nicely) any civilian who were caught doing so, and ask them to leave the area and get a room. If they were to resist, we were to call our guard commander via our walky talkies, who would then call the cops via telephone at the cathedral.

So we patrolled a lot more diligently, shining torchlights into dark places and asking couples in various degrees of undress to leave the area for their safety. Thankfully, on my patrols, most did without resisting. But there was the incident of a patrol who encountered a group of belligerent transvestites who threatened them with bodily harm. By the time the police arrived, the guard commander was cowering under his table while the ladyboys sat on top and ransacked the things that were there.

I also celebrated my 21st birthday while serving a weekend guard duty at the Padang. That night, my buddies left the compound to buy a cake, some satay and lots of beer. We passed out drunk somewhere on the field and only got woken up when some transvestites wanted to trespass again.

More good times were had after the grandstand was built and when the other participants in the parade arrived for dress rehearsals. After being asked to test the grandstand by jumping up and down on them (and not causing a collapse and killing ourselves) we hung out near the Singapore Airlines contingent and asked the Singapore Girls how they had been selected to march – whether they had been rated the worst among their peers or something. They mostly ignored us.

On National Day itself, I was tasked to take my recce motorcycle and station myself at a car park somewhere in Raffles Place and guide VIP vehicles in and out of the area.

So, apart from seeing the aircraft of the RSAF perform their flypast, I missed the entire parade.

Troopers from 46SAR celebrating the completion of the spectator stands, July 1990 (I'm 3rd from left)

Support YOG, wear this t-shirt

Tired of people saying you should be interested in the inaugural Youth Olympic Games? Then wear this t-shirt and support our organisers! Buy this and other apparel and accessories at my cafepress shop made specially for the occasion.

Proceeds will be donated to a charity which I haven’t decided on.

What are you waiting for? Blaze the Trail! Hold the Torch! Burn the Flame! Pass This On!

At La Petite Cuisine with le petite canard

La Petite Cuisine

Four years have passed since Naomi and I first dined at La Cuisine – when she was still my fiance – and I had a chuckle reading that blog post about it.

Neither of us smoke any more, the maitre’d has since mellowed, and the restaurant itself has since transformed itself into a much more casual affair called La Petite Cuisine. It’s more what a bistro should be like in Singapore: no pretense (t-shirt, shorts, slippers), just good food served quickly and eaten slowly.

Well, it does slow you down when you have to hang on to a glass of iced-water that your 15 month old insists on drinking from.

Is the YOG really a shambles?

For a world’s first ever event, the PR efforts are really really poor. I had to ask around several times where the opening ceremony was (because I have a nephew visiting from Canada, and he’s really into his sport), and no-one knew.

Some said the Padang, some said the National Stadium Oh Wait They Took The Grass and Seats Off Already.

The website took me several clicks before I found for sure where it was going to be held.

By now, I should have known at least some of the star athletes competing, some of their stories of triumphing over poverty and other odds, but I don’t.

By now, I should have known what the medals look like, where it was minted, how heavy it was, but I don’t.

It’s as if MCYS took on the project thinking, “if we host it, everything else will fall into place”, forgetting that you’ve got a press who’ll only print what you give them to print, and won’t be motivated to look any further.

The only interest I have in the YOG right now is how much of a shambles it’s going to turn out to be, and how embarrassed we’re going to be for hosting it.

I do hope to eat my own words though.