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Thanks to you and Sachiko for the kind words and the flowers. You, of all people, know what it’s like to be on a plane carrying a small plastic container full of the ashes of someone you loved. Loved. Love.I’m doing OK. My paper, however, is a different story. Back in Cambridge, I was certain that my research and writing would exemplify the New Thesis concept. The iLed the school gave me was loaded with the beta version of ClassRoom software and I was ready to build the best thesis ever. I’d already sent a topographical map to the 3D modeling people. Even their raw wireframes looked good- the sea, the river and Government Hill were perfect! They’d already made the model of the Armenian Church, the original green and blue version, with the dome.I found some great old photos at a place called the Peace Center. That was the day after I got back from Hawaii. Hawaii. I threw orchids into teh water where she used to surf and her mom threw her ashes into the air. Anyway… before that, when we first got here, the first few months were great. Absolutely great. She found a job at a cool restaurant near the Archives, which is where I was most of the time. Beautiful area, near the park. And then the Frisbee lightning thing. Alright, no point in going on about it. OK, on a brighter note. I would be happy to meet your friend if I am still here in Singapore. Frankly, though, now with her gone I feel I need the comfort of Cambridge again. Nothing ever changes there and that illusion is what I need now. The doctors say the shock has left me in a state where I am experiencing “electrical hallucinations.” A good punt on the River Cam would calm me down. I want to float beneath the Bridge of Sighs and eat an apple on the Mathematical Bridge. Like we used to. Rivers flow and change and yet they are always the same-- you know what I mean? So, send your friend the link to this map and pass on my number. Maybe I’ll be here.Onward,Steve



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Obviously, I am failing. Falling. To whomever may have found these notes and has reached this point, I owe you an explanation. It is simple: shock. I came here as a married graduate research student, certain that I would be happy here with my wife. “There’s no crime in Singapore,” they said. “Great food!” I lost a loved one here- that is all that needs to be written. Have you read Ishiguro’s novel about human clones? Through Ishiguro’s words we smell the clones cooking spaghetti in the kitchen of their compound and we sit on the floor of their dormitory as they break curfew whispering about love and pimples. We stroll with them through their fenced meadow. We understand most of their slang and a few of their jokes. They are real people. We hold hands with them. Ishiguro’s story is one of classic forbidden love, but the “dormitory” is actually a facility where organs are harvested. The harvests take place before the clones become adults. The most poignant scene is that in which the protagonists pledge their “forever love” to each other- the night before she is to be harvested for the first and only time. She thinks she is going to go study overseas. Ishiguro’s gift: we see chances for them to escape, we see the smiling, caring evil around them, but we cannot talk to the people we read about; the people we care for. Ishiguro’s book is ultimately about the failure of writing and the illusion of communication. Writing is touching but not reaching. OK. What happened is this: silly Californian woman wanted to play Frisbee. Cheese and wine and chocolate in her bag as she tapped me on the shoulder. I was in the Archives, listening to a taped interview of an Armenian couple recalling a shop on Middle Road that once sold Persian sheet music. She embarrassed me in front of the staff: pulled off an earphone and kissed my ear. “Five fifteen,” she’d said. “Time to go.” We walked up the hill. The lawn of Fort Canning was ours alone and she was so beautiful. We were running and laughing. And then it all happened. The Frisbee went wild. She walked towards it and I began to race her for it. She was ahead of me and only then did I feel it and see the change in the sky. The clouds were like a jellyfish and the air seemed to hold its breath and then the heat. No noise. Then the white.

It grew from the ground and the grass punched her and the metal on her sandals sparked. Her jeans opened as I watched her hair change. My wife was in the air. Her mouth distorted as the muscles around her eyes bulged and creased. The brightness disappeared. Still in the air, her fingers stretched as though someone yanked a wire in her arm. She fell and I ran to her in the sound of the bang. I touched her lips. She sighed. Her legs were dark and shiny. Brown marks on her red skin traced the necklace we’d bought in Perpignan. Her t-shirt, the bones of her neck, the color and shape of her teeth- everything now frail and brittle, everything shrunken and smelling like smoke. Her eyes fell towards me and then: what do I remember, what can I tell you… the hospital pumping her chest.

Oh my dear loved one I cannot reach you now nor could I save you. Rest in peace.

Forgive my drama. The lightning greatly disoriented me, but I had no physical injuries. It is very difficult for me to concentrate now, however, and all of my notes about pre-Linotype Singapore are alien to me. I wonder how I wrote before. I can barely remember before. Professor Ho was extremely clever and kind, pulling some strings so that I can now submit something towards a PhD in English literature instead of the more demanding requirements of my original thesis. He says I should just give him whatever I have. He says my notes are “lightning writing.” So now I’m going through the notes and files I had started. I copy and paste a lot. I jump around a lot. Professor Ho says he will find someone to rewrite all my files. Everyone’s talking at me about rights and I’ve had lunch with movie people.

Life is short and the world of colonial printing academia is rightfully impatient. My contract stipulates a “historically accurate compilation of facts relevant to the production of the earliest printed materials in Singapore. These facts are to be analyzed with the goal of providing insight into the globalized media structures of the present.” I feel this project is my lifework. I mourn the loss of the handwritten letter as well as all of the handcrafted printing machinery created before the age of the Linotype. Before the linotype, text was created in the spirit of handwriting- human hands touched the let-ters that touched the paper. With the linotype, keys were pressed, like a typewriter- which became popular at nearly the same time. The person composing the text no longer touched the paper. Thus, the closing of the 19th century marked the beginning of industrialized writing, in which paper and letters would only meet as the result of distanced human interaction.

I wrote those words, I guess. They are in my computer which has her American

previous page: Coleman Street leading up towards Fort Canning and Armenian Street

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punctuation settings and my British punctuation settings and I’m happy with both, happy with this grey gray area. I’m not saying this makes sense. I’m not saying any of this makes sense. I’m not saying. This was on my computer too: Singapore Review and Monthly magazine may have been Singapore’s first magazine. One of the few historians who men-tioned it called it “a curiously varied work.” It didn’t have an editor, it had a ‘conductor’, and his name was E.A. Edgerton. One issue featured a report on Singapore’s municipal trade for the year 1860, followed by this:

Derimana dating-nia lintahDeri sawah ka-batang padi

Derimana dating-nia chintahDeri mata turun di hati.

Whence comes the horse-leech?From the wet field to the rice stalk;

Whence comes love? From the eye descending to the heart.

Sulasih alang gomilangKayu hidopdi-makan api

Kalau kasih,alang kapalangDeri hidup baik ka-mati

How radiant is the sweet basil.Living wood is consumed by fire;

If this be love, how intolerable the pains,Than life death is to me more desirable.

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Jon and Helen

Patricia Lee’s next question is about David Marshall, one of the leadersinvolved in Singapore’s separation from the British. “Helen, what was it like working for David Marshall?”

“Terrible! He had a tiger skin rug with a head on it that I’d trip over. The other secretaries wouldn’t let me go to the loo, in case he called. I was terrified.” Jon Metes, Helen’s husband, speaks up, “They had a beautiful bungalow at Changi, out near the sea. He had a little zoo. Him and his wife Jean.”

“My mother-in-law really didn’t know that the Japanese headquarters was across the street. This was in Batavia.At the time, if you were a foreigner, you went to jail unless you were German or Russian. For some reason she walked over and went into the Kempeitai headquarters to ask for information about sending telegrams or something. Didn’t know it was the HQ. They asked for her nationality, she answered and got slapped viciously. They thought she said ‘American’, when, in fact, she’d said that she was Armenian.” “I was born in Jakarta,” says Helen. “September 3rd, 1942 Batavia. 9 AM Nippon time. That’s when she was born,” says Jon. “The Japs controlled Batavia then.”

The above exchanges are two of many that took place in 2002 during a series of interviews between Ms. Patricia Lee and Mr. and Mrs. Metes. I listened to these interviews in 2010, at the National Archives of Singapore. My computer search told me that these two people had said something about Catchick Moses, an Ar-menian who started the Straits Times newspaper. The interviews were seven hours long and I listened to every second of them, even though they mentioned Moses for less than a minute. I listened to all seven hours of the interviews at least three times. The tapes are an audio diary of two people who were in love with each other, two people who were fully alive and open to all that Singapore- and life- had to offer. The interviews are also full of the wonders of speech.

For example: within one measured burst of speech Jon says, among other things, that his mother-in-law was “a large woman, like a brick. She was a good egg. We fought tooth and nail sometimes and she was wonderful. She always called me her son. Drove around on a bike in Batavia during the war and sold bottles of wine. She was a character.”

“Wow!” I say.

The tapes are full of the couple’s stories. It would be easy to present you, the reader, with edited transcriptions of the Metes’ stories, but I feel that would be rather lifeless. When travelling, Jon and Helen preferred to travel off the beaten

Dear Olive,

You cannot tell me this is a coincidence. That paper was outside of my doorway this morning. Do you see how ‘kill her’ and the lightning are in the exact same position on both sides of the paper? The paper did not suddenly fly up nine stories and sneak past the security grating of my door. Whoever sent it is obviously not just clever, but fully aware of the power of colorful handwritten fonts. I fear for my life. If they can control lightning, they can do anything. What follows is my research from the National Archives. Please read it before you speak to Dr. Ho and the Hollywood people. Related to this, I am undecided if the carpet in the main room of the archives is teal or Autumn Grey. Perhaps you can help me find this information?

Oh yes, I hope you have a fruitful new year.


Stephen Black

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on Bukit Timah Road. The Sarkies Brothers are most famous for having estab-lished Raffles Hotel. ‘Sentosa’ is now associated with the island resort on the west coast of Singapore. The original name of Sentosa Island was Pulau Belakang Mati, which, literally translated, means “island behind death.” During WWII, Japanese soldiers killed innocent civilians on the islands’ beaches. The name was changed to Sentosa in 1972.

11. Takouhi An Armenian woman’s name meaning ‘queen’ or ‘wearer of the crown’. ‘Thagoohi’ is another of several spellings of the name.

12. Theotokos Discussing religion, Jon used this Greek word, which means “intercessory prayer”; the idea that the saints, especially Mary, the mother of Jesus, will help those who pray to them.

13. WASP An acronym for White Anglo Saxon Protestant.

12. Ulu A Malay word meaning ‘rural’ or ‘primitive’.

Here, in alphabetical order, are eighteen phrases or sentences from the inter-views, with comments:

1. A thousand bucks and a ticket back This is the English translation of a Romanian expression. Jon used the phrase to explain the concept of earning money overseas before returning permanently to one’s country of birth. Although he was talking about Romanians who came to America, he also linked it to some people residing in Singapore.

2. Air conditioning is bad for your complexion. “The British were arrogant,” Jon states at one point. “They had a way of instill-ing an inferiority complex.” He tells a story about a British officer in India who abandoned his own men saying, “I want to have nothing to do with these cow-ards.” Jon says the British resented the Americans, “who did most of the fighting in the Pacific.” More than once he mentions that the British were inept. “I had virtually nothing to do with the British. Some of the Singaporeans clung to the idea of the British. The average Singaporean didn’t know about politics. The Brits still acted like they owned the place. They said tea bags were bad and that air conditioning is bad for your complexion. The Brits were not used to playing second fiddle to anyone. They found themselves on the defensive about their own shortcomings vis-a-vis the USA.”

3. At the post office they used to raise a flag to say that the mail had arrived. This was a tradition from the earliest days of the colony. What is now the Fullerton Hotel used to be the post office. In the early days of Singapore, there was also a flag system for fires. The gun at

path and I hope you do too. Life is not a package tour. I think Jon and Helen would want their lives to be presented in a stimulating manner; unconventional yet honest.

Here we go…

Here is a list of fourteen interesting words from the Metes interviews with brief definitions and bits of explanations:

1. Amah A Chinese word meaning woman helper; a maid.

2. Angmoh Translated literally, this Chinese word from the Hokkien dialect means “red hair”. It is now generally used to mean a foreigner, usually a Caucasian.

3. Batavia Jakarta was called Batavia from about 1650 to 1942, when it was controlled by the Dutch.

4. Grabar The classical form of Armenian is known as Grabar. Most Armenians now speak modern Armenian. Grabar is used today exclusively by the Armenian clergy in their liturgies etc.

5. Paper bag chicken Marinated fresh chicken grilled in paper over a bed of salt.(see recipe on page 63)

6. Orchard Road Once lined with nutmeg plantations, Orchard Road is now a high-tech boulevard for shopping.

7. Kampung A Malay word meaning village. There were still a considerable number of kampungs in Singapore until the Seventies when the government began relocating a large percentage of the population into apartment buildings managed by the Housing Development board (HDB).

8. Konfrontasi Konfrontasi (the Indonesian word for Confrontation) was declared by President Sukarno of Indonesia as a reaction to British-sponsored moves to enjoin the colony of Singapore to the Malay States (the latter had re-cently been given their freedom as “Malaysia”). He also had his eyes on the Malay-sian states and Brunei in North Borneo, which were rich in oil. (The southern and much larger portion of Borneo is Indonesian ‘Kalimantan’). Konfrontasi lasted from 1963 to 1967.

9. Satay A Southeast Asian dish of skewered meat and/or vegetables grilled on small wooden sticks and served with a bowl of peanut sauce.

10. Sentosa A Malay word meaning ‘tranquil’. In the interview it is mentioned that the Sarkies brothers, who were Armenian, used the name Sentosa for their house

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Fort Canning was fired twice in succession and a flag with the letter W was flown. The height of the flag was a code for the location of the fire: Kampong Glam, Country, Steam Wharves or Ships in the Harbour. Another early colonial communication system was a gun, fired daily, at 5 am, noon and 9 pm.

4. co*ckpit Hotel Jon: “The co*ckpit was an old mansion with outhouses in back. They had a little orchestra.”

5. Curry lunch and a gypsy band Helen: “The Seaview Hotel. Every Sunday. That was where the Europeans con-gregated. Curry lunch and a gypsy band. It was gorgeous.” The Seaview Hotel was built in 1906 in a coconut grove near Katong. Later the Sarkies Brothers bought it.

6. I’d been to Singapore, but I’d not been to Singapore. In 1965, Jon worked in New York for an American oil company with an office in Jakarta. Things were complicated because of Konfrontasi. During Konfrontasi, Indonesia refused to acknowledge the legitimacy of Malaysia and would not allow entry to Indonesia by anyone entering directly from there. Thus, if you were in Singapore or KL and wanted to visit Jakarta, you would have to go up to Bangkok and board a flight there. It was okay if that flight stopped in Singapore enroute, but no one could board there-- they could only disembark. In my case I had boarded in Tokyo and Singapore was just another stop enroute. The problem facing the airlines was the possibility that their planes might be seized or somehow lost in Jakarta by commuinist activists, or even the Indonesian government itself, so they had set themselves a 10:00 pm curfew. They would not proceed with any flight into Jakarta unless it could discharge its passengers and cargo and take off before that deadline. In other words, no overnight stopovers. My flight from Tokyo was running late and it was evident that the plane could not make in in and out of Jakarta before curfew. So they decided to layover in Singapore. Problem: If I deplaned in Singapore, I could not rejoin the flight next morning, for my passport would show that I had been there and this was nacceptable to the Indonesians. So, to overcome this little problem, the authorities kept us in bond, so to speak. We surrendered our passports, were ushered into a bus with police escort, taken straight to the Adelphi and locked in our rooms. Early the next morning we were given a wakeup call, then taken under armed escort straight to the plane, where our passports were returned with no entry chop having been made as to our presence in Singapore. So according to our passports, there was no sign of our having been there, but actually we had been there!

7. I met my father for the first time by accident. Helen does not dwell on her relationship with her father. She does say that her parents were bitter towards each other. “They were separated by choice and the war. My mother left Singapore when she was pregnant.” After the war, Helen went back to Holland with her mother before returning to Singapore, around 1948.

Somehow she met her father- for the first time, accidentally; hence the quote. Before the war, Helen’s parents had lived at the Raffles Hotel, where her father was Catering Manager. 8. Impossible to date a local Jon sounds like a great guy, he had money, he had a nice place to live but the dating thing was tough. At one point he says that taxis wouldn’t pick up an angmoh with a Chinese girl.

9. Is Nora going to get the phone? The question belongs in an audio time capsule. We barely hear the distinctive ring of a late ‘60s telephone. The source of the sound on the tape was a telephone, perhaps a black one. It sounds like a solid mechanism. It was connected to the wall by a cable. The mouth-piece and speaker were both shaped like small cups, joined by piece of plastic shaped somewhat like a small curved femur bone. Called the handset, it was joined to the body of the phone with a thick curly cable. The phone had a circular mecha-nism with holes. At the edge of the holes were numbers. A finger would go into a hole and move the dial clockwise. This was the act of dialing a number. The letters of the alphabet were next to the numbers, as a memory aid. The phone was incapable of recording anything. When Jon answers with, “If not, it’s recorded,” he is referring to an answering machine, a separate but connected device used to record messages.

10. One of our saints, St. Mesrop, founded our alphabet, in 450. Jon refers to Grabar, the Armenian language. Examples of the Grabar alphabet can be found inside the Armenian Church.

11. Pirate taxis Cheaper than regular taxis, pirate taxis were unlicensed private cars that would pick up a few passengers and then improvise the route accordingly.

12. Stuffed everything Asked to define Armenian food, Helen says “stuffed everything.” Later, the discussion centers on the collection of Armenian recipes Helen’s mother passed down to her. They talk about rice and substituting local ingredients for the grape leaves traditionally used in Armenia. There are a few recipes on page 64.

13. The busloads of Brits that would come into town and spend money... it was such a big jolt when they pulled out. There were about 25,000 Singaporean jobs dependent upon the British and when the British suddenly pulled out it in 1971 it was a major blow to newly independent Singapore.

14. They rescued it; it had to be put to sleep. They found it near Marco Polo Circle. It had a paw with a paw growing out of it. It had maggots in it. Though it must have happened more than forty years previously, Helen still

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sounds sadly horrified as she describes this nightmarishly surreal dog.

15. This little stitch of a woman bred it. Jon makes reference to Miss Joaquim, the Armenian woman whose name is a part of the Vanda Miss Joaquim orchid which is Singapore’s national flower. Until recently, most books and reference materials claimed that Miss Joaquim “discov-ered” the unusual hybrid orchid. The phrase “discovered the hybrid” creates the image of a lucky observer, whereas Jon’s description defines Miss Joaquim as a serious plant expert. Jon says the phrase almost defiantly: “There was no doubt that this little stitch of a woman bred it.” These comments were triggered by a discussion about the 150th anniversary of The Straits Times in which the writer “pooh-poohed the idea of an Armenian establishing a newspaper.” Jon says that the fact that someone not from England started an English language newspaper injured the sensibilities of the British. He concludes with, “History is written by those in power.”

16. Two years after Jesus died, Thaddeus and Bartholomew came up to Armenia from the Holy Land. The strength of Jon and Helen’s religious faith is made real by their expression of it. Throughout the interviews they speak knowledgeably about religious events from many centuries ago, describing them as if they’d happened yesterday. Jon tells Patricia Lee that Armenia is mentioned twice in Genesis. “Noah’s ark landed on mountains of Ararat,” Jon says, as proudly as if he’d helped Noah drop anchor.

17. We had cats that would sit on the toilet and do their job. Perfect aim. A self-explanatory snapshot from the world of Jon and Helen.

18. You could smoke in the cinemas. “The Orchard, the Cathay, the Lido.” --Helen.

Here are five sounds from the tapes:

1. Father O’Malley Jones from Novena. This phrase sounds like the first line of a limerick. Helen says the priest’s name like a dreamy American girl in the ‘50s would say ‘Elvis Presley’.

2. Tampines Near Changi Airport, this township area is now pronounced tam pin knees, whereas in the interview the word is pronounced as tam penis.

3. Voices and the sounds of smiling and remembering “My dad was born in 1903 in Transylvania- no Dracula jokes please,” Jon quips at one point in the interview. Patricia Lee giggles at this. Jon speaks like an American television journalist. He was born in Canton, Ohio, in the American

Midwest, where men built cars, worked on farms, or made steel. Quite early in his life, Jon moved: he is a New Yorker. Helen’s husky voice is slightly European, with a tone that is both warm and regal. When she says “gorgeous” she sounds like Bette Davis. The act of remembering has no sound. It is more than a series of “thoughtful pauses.” Perhaps it means speaking in a style slightly slower than normal and color-ing the voice to match the scene described, happy or otherwise. The tapes are like remembering.4. White organza Colombo Court and High Street are mentioned as places that sell material for dresses. Helen sounds like a fashion magazine as she elaborately describes a gorgeous “yellow dress with flowers”, hand sewn by “Gloria in the Adelphi”. In another interview she talks about “a white organza dress with yellow daisies. It was beautiful, with spaghetti straps.” “Oh! That one...” Jon says. He sounds like a man remembering a dress.

5. Yes, yes, yes, of course... Jon’s musical way of agreeing with Patricia Lee. His voice rises slightly.

A very short story about Jon Metes It was 1965 and I was selling oil to the United States government in Saigon and Bangkok. We went to Indonesia and the Communists had dug a pit for our bodies, outside of the oilfield. Somehow somebody on our side got word and we escaped.

Very short stories about Helen Metes

I “What was the experience like of going away?” “Wonderful.” Patricia Lee asked Helen this question after Helen had said that she she’d won a scholarship to study in New Jersey. “It was wonderful. The best time of my life,” Helen says. “New York was so close. It was like a movie, just out of reach during the week, and then on Saturdays there was the ferry and a full day on Broadway and Times Square and everything. The first day I couldn’t repeat it enough: I am in New York! ”

II A very good student, Helen won a scholarship to go to a secretary school in London. She had also been accepted at Cambridge, but refused the offer as she felt she should have a trade. On her school holiday she took off with fifty pounds and a suitcase. She made it to Vienna, Paris and Greece. When she got back she was flat broke and had to call a relative to get her from the station.

III “I walked into the UN one day and got a job within half a day.”


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we had to put them to sleep.”

“One or two generations ago this would have been unacceptable- marry your own kind. I’m not a WASP. My roots are from the other side of the Black Sea; not so far culturally. My food is not alien to hers. She lived in America.

“She said ‘yes’ at the Goodwood Hotel. I phrased the marriage proposal in a way so that if she said ‘no’ I probably wouldn’t feel badly. Probably.”

“Company parties? Deadly! Deadly! Deadly!” They say it in unison. “Terribly boring command performances.” Jon Metes and printing The Singapore National Library has a few editions of a brick-shaped diretory. On the cover, against a solid white background, red and blue letters spell out SOUTH EAST ASIA OIL DIRECTORY. The book feels reliable. It was started by Jon in 1976 and eventually sold to an American publishing firm in 1992. Inside is Jon’s bio: Mr. Metes holds a BS degree in Geology from Rensellaer Polytechnic Institute (USA) and did his undergraduate studies in the field of industrial management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The Directory was published once every two years. From the preface: The Directory is unique in its encyclopedic coverage of oil company activities and facilities, as well as technical details of supporting services and supplies available in this region… The information contained in this Directory has been compiled through questionnaire research for free company listings. Each edition of SEACD is entirely new, based on firsthand original research.” Jon’s directory is a snapshot of the end of the typewriter era and the birth of a new way of data management. “Before we had a shoebox and then the computer came in, and you know what? We found the shoebox was better than the computer. The thing is that with the computer, you always wanted to do more, so you spent more time learning new functions. You attempted to do more things, you overstretched by taking on more work. But then they came up with the right software- like bold typeface.” Jon worked at home, probably while he and Helen were living at the parsonage behind the Armenian Church. “I didn’t like being under people I didn’t like or respect.” is the first reason Jon gives for starting the publication. Later he says, “I started the publication because I wanted to do something that could keep me near Helen.” He then describes a panic-filled situation in which Helen had another stroke while he was across town. Jon assigned the copyright of the book to Helen, allowing her uncomplicated ac-cess to the royalties if anything happened to him.

Patricia Lee the interviewer The voice of Patricia Lee is typical of a certain kind of educated Asian English speaker. Her speaking rhythm is pleasant and her voice is slightly British, with a

*This concept refers to a very specific form of pronunciation. According to references cited on Wikipedia, “Although there is nothing intrinsic about RP that marks it as superior to any other variety, sociolinguistic factors give Received Pronunciation particular prestige in England and Wales.”

As an April Fool’s joke Helen forged an official telegram that said that Indonesia had invaded Singapore and gave it to Abu Barker, Singapore’s UN representative. He was shocked. Very shocked.

V “We had satay at Singapore’s stall at the 1964 New York World’s Fair.”

Notes about Helen Metes’ education at CHIJMES“We were in love with the altar boys.”Helen reminisces with Patricia Lee about going to school at the Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus, which is now the dining nightspot known as Chijmes. Helen: You couldn’t bathe naked. She then describes the process of bathing while wearing a thin covering. Patricia: I heard the nuns were bald. Helen: I think so. Jon then joins in on a discussion about whether nuns were actually bald or not.

Helen: There were racy billboards for the movies outside of our room and we weren’t supposed to look at them or at the Anglican Church. In the morning they would pull on your toes and then you would fall on the floor and say the Our Father. Sister Josephine was Irish and beautiful. A priest complained to the Reverend Mother about my sleeveless dress and everyone thought he was a dirty old man.

“Father O’Malley Jones from Novena told us about hell. You cannot imag-ine how handsome he was. I was shivering about hell.” Helen repeats herself: “You cannot imagine how handsome he was.”

Jon and Helen Metes speak about themselves “I had an amah, found her through word of mouth. She looked just like Mao Tse-tung. She was strict-looking, really severe. I brought Helen home. My amah looked Helen up and down and things were OK.”

“I was paid in U.S. and the exchange rate was about three Singapore dollars to one U.S. and you could get a martini for Sing 75¢.”

“At one point we had 40 rabbits in the backyard of the Church. People just kept dumping them. You see, in ‘72-75 the kampungs were cleared. No notice, just had to move. So what to do with the animals? The SPCA was swamped. No time to prepare a home. Never gave proper announcements. So much was ulu. We would take them to the vet for shots and to get fixed. This place became known as “The Garden of Rabbits.” At one point we had 30 rabbits. Half were getting scabies and

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fairly crisp Received Pronunciation* accent. Contrasted with the occasional drama of the Metes couple, her voice seems is an anchoring, solid feminine tone. Sometimes, however, her professional demeanor disappears and she almost sounds like an inquisitive child questioning her grandparents. The interviews are wonderful. Patricia met the Metes several times during 2002. Although it is not stated definitively, the interviews likely took place at the parsonage behind the Armenian Church. If I walk outside of the Archives, the parsonage and its dainty lattice trim are easily visible.

Jon is extremely knowledgeable about Armenian history and Helen, being a Singaporean Armenian, repeats stories she’d heard in her childhood. Her great grandmother was baptized in the Church. Together, Jon and Helen are the voice of one part of Singapore’s past: we are listening to two people who had talked and lis-tened to people who had talked and listened to people who had talked and listened to Catchick Moses and the Sarkies and George Coleman and Takouhi-- and even Sir Stamford Raffles.

George Coleman was Singapore’s first architect and the owner of its first paper, The Singapore Chronicle. He had a relationship with Takouhi Manouk, a wealthy woman of Javanese-Dutch-Armenian ancestry. He built her mansion and they had a child together. The child was baptized in St. Andrew’s Church, which was also designed by Coleman. He also designed the Armenian Church. Jon and Helen relay this information in warm, proud whispers. When they use words like ‘mistress’ and ‘affair’, they are sharing secrets, not spreading gossip.

In the early interviews, Patricia wanted to learn about Armenia itself. For about 15 minutes, the geography of Armenia was explained to her: the Mediterranean to the south, the Black Sea to the west and the various mountain ranges. Armenia’s rich heritage was explained, as well its turbulent history and why Armenians, in 1606, began to settle in the Shah’s new capitol of Isfahan, Persia (now Iran). “Our section of the city was/is known as New Julfa (Nor Djougha), in memory of the town of Julfa in Armenia from whence they had been evacuated by the Persians,” John explained. “We ourselves do not call ourselves Armenians. We are Hais. H-A-I. And we call our country Hayastan. It’s called after Haik. H-A-I-K… who, legend has it, collected a group of good-living and moral men, like himself, and they came to Armenia and they settled down there. This was during the building of the Tower of Babel... of course there are many theories as to how Armenia came about.”

“As you know, we were the first nation to adopt Christianity as a state religion in 301 A.D. One of our great kings, Tiridates, was healed by St. Gregory the

Illuminator. He had some madness and no one could heal him and this St. Gregory, he had been thrown into a den of what are called vipers or described as viper snakes. And he was there for years. And, eventually, somebody said that he’s the only man who could possibly heal the King. So he was brought before the King, and healed him. And immediately the whole court was converted to Christianity. This was 12 years before Constan-tine the Great accepted Christianity for the Roman Empire and Constantinople.” Also, soon after our conversion to Christianity, one of our saints, St. Mesrop, founded our alphabet, in 450. “In 1605, one of the great Shahs of Persia overran Armenia. He drove about 300,000 Armenians into Iran, where we settled in a colony called Levisian L-E-V-I-S-I-A-N. There was harmony between the races, with the exception of course, of the occasional raids or something by one or the other, generally the Persians.”

Jon and Helen speak fondly about life in Armenia and Armenian culture. However, they raise the point that now there are more Armenians living outside of Armenia than in Armenia itself. Like people everywhere, the Armenians wanted a better life- and they were good at business. According to Jon, the first foreign trad-ers in India were the Portuguese and the Armenians.” Many Armenian settlements appeared in India. First, however, there was the issue of getting out of Armenia. The journey began by travelling on horseback through the unforgiving mountains. Children were carried in saddlebags and according to Helen, they were given dried fruit for nourishment and to keep them quiet. The travelers would eventually reach the Persian Gulf and travel on to Bombay, where they were welcomed by Armenians who had previously settled there. Calcutta was another city in India with an Armenian settlement. Catchick Moses lived in Calcutta. Jakarta was another desired location and to get from India to Jakarta usually meant a stopover in Singapore. Not many Armenians decided to stay. A few began doing business in Singapore shortly after it was established and they built a small chapel in 1821. When the present Armenian Church was built in 1835, there were only about twenty Armenian families. The recordings touch upon the differences between Eastern and Western Armenians. The early Singapore Armenians had all been from the Iranian side of Armenia, not the western side- the Turkish side. “The Turkish! We have nothing in common!” “Be careful Helen,” Jon says, “we’re being recorded. We’re on tape.”

The interviews are usually extremely visual, but sometimes not: Patricia: Your wife looks Eurasian.

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Jon: I’ll forgive you for that.

At one point Jon explains what makes the Armenian religion unique. He and Patricia Lee exchange opinions. She asks detailed questions about the Holy Land and early Christian history; I assume she is religious. “What about circumcision?” Patricia asks.

Jon begins in his scholarly voice. “The issue of circumcision was a bone of contention in the early Church.” He continues with an overview of the Ecumenical meetings between Saints Peter and Paul: “The two debated and listened to a great many opinions about the expression of faith. Outward forms like circumcision are irrelevant and stand in the way. The Jewish religious culture was especially exam-ined. Paul used the example of pork and fish with scales. He said that it’s not what goes into your mouth which defiles you, it’s what comes out of it.” “Thanks for enlightening me,” Patricia Lee says. The interviews jump from cen-tury to century, from the global to the personal. Word by word, the invisible, vague cloud of the past crystallizes into specific events. My notes become filled with snapshots and more phrases:

“Biggest change in Singapore is that before, everyone was short.” “It’s the diet.” she says. “Taller.” he says.

“The Europeans built clubs, we built churches. One of the Sarkies Brothers, was denied admission to the Tanglin Club. The British,” Helen says. Jon continues”He could host kings and queens, but he wasn’t good enough for the Tanglin Club…”

“I used to read the Bible.”

Jon says, “that wall was built by Moses Catchick.” “So, then Moses bought the press and materials from his friend and set up the Straits Times. It didn’t do so well and after three years, he sold his shares. What do you think that newspaper is worth now?” Jon laughs first, followed by Helen.

The Indian Mutiny in 1857 resulted in some Church records becoming lost.

“Armenians were good at poetry, that’s what I’ve heard. So engrossed in their business. Some were amateur historians.” “We sang a capella, no instruments; very Persian.” “You lose a lot of friends. They transfer.”

The cassette ends with an abrupt loud click and the sounds of the Archives filter in through my earphones. Outside a man sweeps, surrounded by walls topped with white flowers. The sign for the Excelsior Hotel is visible; the building of the hotel itself is not. There’s no breeze and the Singapore flag hangs limply.

Almost like co*cktails on Orchard Road (a short story inspired by and based upon the interviews)

Jon is handsome and well dressed in a tropical, casual kind of way. A houseboy with slick black hair and a white jacket approaches him with a tray of co*cktails. Another follows with a silver platter of satay. It’s the third co*cktail part of the night and everyone is feeling warm. The party’s in a nice little place that overlooks the two-way traffic of Orchard Road. “Sean Connery might drop by later,” someone says, trying to be nonchalant. In an hour or so, everyone will foxtrot and do the twist. Someone mentions Jon’s new shoes. “Well, thank you Tom. Say, did I ever tell you about the time I went to New York?” Helen puts her glass down. “He was a pervert!” “Helen!” Jon scolds her. “It wasn’t like that at all.” Jon and Helen smile like a naughty comedy team and the small crowd moves closer. This is exciting; this is scandalous. Helen repeats the phrase, shaking her head, turning her lips down dramatically. “He was a pervert…” There’s some jazz on the hi-fi and everyone’s on the verandah. Helen’s beautiful in her strapless dress and her cheeks are glowing and this will be even better than drunken Bugis with its balconies full of bouncing transsexual breasts. This will be better than the blue movie at Maxine’s birthday party. “A pervert! “Helen says again. “Leather and shoes!” Jon sets his martini down. “So before I went to New York, I gave Helen the keys to my apartment. Big mistake. She went through my desk and everything.” Helen mouths the word ‘pervert’ behind his back. “You see, I used to go up to Hong Kong a lot and I had found a guy who made shoes. Lee Kee. Funny name for a guy. His sign said Lee Kee Shoes. Anyway, he did beautiful work and was very reasonable and he’d make my shoes. So what I would do is I’d take pictures of the kind of shoes that I wanted and write a description and mail it off and a month later I’d have my shoes. So, that’s why I had a box full of pictures of shoes.” Helen co*cks her head to one side and closes her eyes, “He was a pervert.” She stretches the phrase, shakes her head a little and opens her eyes. A big European man slaps his knee and a small Chinese woman tilts her head back with a big smile. Everyone laughs and Jon chuckles.Patricia Lee giggles. Helen coughs. Helen keeps coughing like she’s choking and the party from the ‘60s is over and Helen is sitting in a wheelchair now and she and Jon are being interviewed in 2002. I worry about Helen as I watch the cassette tape of her voice mechanically spin around. She finally stops and then from the cassette there is only the sound of

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a bird, followed by the mechanical hum of a motorcycle approaching. It changes gears and fades away.

I’m where they were It was only in the last series of interviews that I learned that Helen had once had a serious stroke and a few smaller ones. I’d thought her occasional slowness of speech and unusual answers were fatigue maybe, or a highball; perhaps the start of Alzheimer’s. “You know better than me,” she had said often to Jon. “Sorry about the smoke,” she had said often to Patricia Lee.

“I was brought up to believe this is the way things should be. I want to be this way. There aren’t too many husbands who push their wives around in wheelchairs. I don’t feel like I am losing face.” Patricia Lee is quiet for a while. Suddenly cheerful, she asks Jon to say something in Armenian. He replies:

“Singapura sháp di sirun cark, ift shap markul cark.”

“Singapore is a beautiful place and it is a very clean place.”

I write the phrase down as the interview concludes. I want to go where Jon and Helen were, where they lived. In front of the Philatelic Museum, I see the wall, the back of the church and the curved road of Armenian Street: lives can intersect or lives can be parallel. I cross the street and hop over the wall that Jon said Moses Catchick built. I sit down in the empty Garden of Memories. I am surprised to see a hawk or an eagle soaring above. It floats with a sense of purpose and I am reminded of the lines from Proverbs:There are three things that amaze me- no there are an eagle glides through the sky,how a snake moves across a rock,how a ship navigates the seas ,how a man loves a woman.

I practice my Armenian:

“Singapura sháp di sirun cark, ift shap markul cark.”

I page through my printed collection of Jon and Helen’s spoken words:

... the spirit in Helen’s voice as she talkied about hitchhiking through Europe.

“And working at home meant I could be close to heaven. I mean Helen.” Jon laughs at his joke. “You mean you wanted to work at home so that I could give you hell!” Helen laughs and Jon laughs and Patricia Lee laughs.

“They’re always crying. There weren’t enough prospects for marriage.We cannot regenerate. The music is always sad.”

“There was an old organ locked in a side room. I touched it; my fingers went through it- only the lacquer was there. The white ants had eaten everything and it crumbled into a heap on the floor.”

“When I was introduced to the Church in 1968, there were eleven pure Armenians. In 1996 it was down to three.” The last Armenian service here was held in 1997. Jon then explains to Patricia Lee that Helen was one of the last trustees of the Church. “The baby.” Helen says. The words catch Jon off guard. Patricia Lee becomes very quiet. Helen says the phrase again, like a mother searching through the rubble of her home. Her voice is haunting. “The baby.” “Well, there is no baby that I know of,” Jon says to Patricia. I can hear his uneasy smile, his embarrassment, his worry. Jon and Helen had no children.

I am supposed to be writing about printing, pre-Linotype printing in Singapore, to be exact. I will have to edit out Jon’s oil supply directory story. Moses Catchick and the early Straits Times story will stay- that is what led me to these interviews in the first place. The Straits Times was going strong at the time of the interview and it’s still around now. I could grab a copy and get some of the good news from the front page to brighten this ending. Perhaps not.

I imagine that Jon and Helen are here. Patricia Lee quietly left without disturbing Helen, who now rests peacefully in her wheelchair. Jon and I talk quietly as we sip glasses of good Scotch. We are on the porch of the parsonage. The church is illuminated. Across the yard, in the center of a circle of bricks, is a white wrought iron bench. It faces a row of winged angels of stone. “Jon, I need a strong ending here. I know that you two were religious, but to end on a spiritual note would be easy... maybe too cliché… any ideas?” Jon sets his glass down and closes his eyes for a moment. “You know, Steve, you’ve researched me and know more about us than we do. You’re the writer. You can come up with something better than I could.”… Wow. Ball back in my court. How to end a story about a man and woman? A man and a woman who were born on different continents, who found each other here, charted a course together and loved each other very much. I take a sip, close my eyes. “OK, Jon... Your honeymoon.” I lean towards him. “You just picked up some Teochew food from the place in Kovan and you’ve got a bottle of wine and you’re driving in your little white car, driving out past Upper Serangoon Road to Tampines Road. The trees covering the curving road make a green leafy tunnel and it’s the afternoon and the skies are tropical blue with big white clouds. There’s a bouquet of orchids and roses on the dashboard. You turn on to Elias Rd. Helen’s wearing her raw silk blouse, the one made by Gloria. Some oranges are cradled in Helen’s blue skirt and she peels one for you. A

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sky slingshot or whatever its called + nighttime scenes

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bumpy dirt road takes you past the kampung and then the sand dunes and finally the old hotel. You check in; from your balcony you can see Johore and Pulau Ubin. Everything is salty and hot and then the room and the sky and the sea become night. You go out and talk and hold hands and enjoy everything. Everything. You’re on the old jetty, just listening to the waves, when the full moon finally breaks through the clouds. Finally, you sleep on the beach. You wake up before she does and you watch the golden light of dawn celebrate the woman you love; the woman you will love forever. Jon reaches over and delicately puts his hand on Helen’s.“Brofy estanp wi...” He says it like a whisper and I wonder if it’s the Scotch. “Jon, can you repeat that?” “Brofy estanp wi…” He picks up his glass and raises it towards me. His quiet voice is strong. “I do not use foul language and this is not Armenian foul language. It’s polite, but like in American movies when they say “Hell yeah!”” His moist eyes are bright. “Brofy estanp wi...” Helen coughs. “That place in Kovan had the best tofu. You can’t imagine how good the tofu was...” Helen’s eyes are closed, but she’s smiling as she speaks,”but tofu gives Jon gas!” Helen laughs and Jon starts laughing too.

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Paper Bag Chicken

MargarineSaltPepper1 whole fryerChopped celeryChopped bell pepperChopped onionChopped garlicRub margarine all over whole fryer, inside and out. Salt and pepper fryer, inside and out. Stuff fryer with chopped vegeta-bles. Place fryer in a brown paper bag which has been greased inside. Roll up the open end and bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes per pound.

EGGPLANT & ROASTED GARLIC BABAKANOOSHA Middle Eastern dip for crudites, pita crisps or romaine lettuce leaves!

INGREDIENTS:1 large head garlic, roasted* [see below]3 large eggplants, whole with skin on1 medium Vidalia, red or other sweet onion, chopped1/2 cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped [optional]2 tablespoons olive oil1/4 teaspoon Tabasco Sauce [optional]Salt and pepper, to tastePREPARATION:On a gas or preferably charcoal barbecue, roast the whole eggplant evenly on all sides until the skin is charred or the egg-plant is soft. Set aside and let cool. Peel off charred skin,or scoop out the soft insides of the eggplant and place in a large bowl. Add Garlic, olive oil, onion, parsley, basil, Tabasco® Sauce, salt and pepper to taste. Serve as a canape', or serve with Armenian cracker bread, as a vegetable dip, or as a vegetable side dish. Can be served hot or cold. ROASTED GARLIC:* Peel outer skin layer from head of fresh garlic, leaving cloves and head intact. Place head on double thickness of foil; top with 1 teaspoon butter and a sprig of fresh rosemary or oregano [or 1/4 teaspoon dried]. Fold up and seal. Bake in a 375 degree over for 55-60 minutes. Squeeze cloves from skins and set aside. Discard skins.

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The opening of the two-million dollar National Theatre in Singapore today will herald a new era in closer un-derstanding among the countries in this region. Altogether eleven countries are participating in this grandest show in the history of South-East Asian cultural awakening. Never before have so many countries taken part in a single festival- a happy augury for the future of the region. August the 8th will go down in South-East Asian history as the day the countries in this area started on the road to unity. Countries taking part are: Cambodia, Laos, South Vietnam, Thailand, Hong Kong, India, Pakistan, North Borneo, the Philippines, Malaya and Singapore. All of them have their own traditional cultures, their own folk songs and their own dances. But many of them had to struggle hard to retain these cultural links with their past when their lands were overrun by foreign pow-ers. In each of these countries which had once been under colonial rule, there is the frantic bid to reach out into the past for cultural inspiration.

The Straits Times, National Theatre Supplement, August 8th, 1963

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her apple dumplings are always on my mind

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Drawings from Coleman’s house. Completed in May 1829, it was demolished in 1965. I wish I could drink tea with her.

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Such a master-painter and such a golfer was Raffles, only he painted upon the canvas an empirical life and struck the golf-ball of an empire’s destiny.One Hundred Year’s History of the Chinese in Singapore by Song Ong Siang Oxford University Press first published by John Murray 1902 Copyright Oxford University Press.

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Dear Olive,

I hope you are fine. My headaches are nearly gone and since they released me, I have been listening to recorded voices in the Archives nearly every day. I am writing now in a wide variety of styles. I hope this doesn’t sound cliché, but I want the book to be a voyage of discovery for the reader, something unexpected on every page. Like life.

Here are a few questions, followed by the final versions of the mice story and the extract from my thesis about the flower named after Raffles (Chapter 8). Do let me know when I can expect the proofs from the designer.

First, when will the first round of the lawyer’s notes be ready?

Second, can we get someone to contact the Cambridge University Library? I am fairly certain that the early printers here in Singapore were buying their materials from the same supplier who supplied Cambridge. It would be good if someone here with some credentials could fire off a letter of introduction to help get things established properly. My emails to them have been unanswered*. Do you know of anyone? Lastly, were you able to get the carpet information? I really cannot finish the chapter about the National Archives unless I have the brand name as well as the year of manufacture. By the way, you are three weeks late with this information.

Thank you,

Stephen Black Attached to this email are two stories: A Cute Meal of War and Peace and Bringing Singapore to England or Nepenthes rafflesiana: An analysis of mid-nineteenth century copperplate aquatint materials and techniques.

A Cute Meal of War and Peace

“Delicious!” said the little mouse named Tanchan, She smacked her lips.

“How delicious?” asked the other little mouse, whose name was Feats.

“Fantastically delicious. The apricot flavor of the inksauce contrasts boldly with the nutty taste of the thinmeat. The mold tastes like cheese. Try a piece!”

Tanchan took a thinmeat and nibbled a paragraph about the end results of end results. Her eyes rolled towards the back of her head.

“Amazing. Even better than that encyclopedia with the flavor of fish. The twolegs are such wonderful chefs.”

“That wasn’t an encyclopedia. Encyclopedias have pictures.”

“Oh yes, you are right. But the pictures don’t taste like what they look like. Any-way, it was a thick book. And thick books are always good.”

“Absolutely. One of these will last us days.”

Feats moved his little nose and whiskers over a sentence that read “capitalism is good for the masses.” He started to eat the ‘masses’ part. “And these old ones taste so much better than the new ones.” “Oh yes. Old pages always taste better. All the flavors they hold!” Tanchan spoke with her mouth full, rhythmically chewing the remaining half-page about the rights of man. She burped.

At one sitting Feats had eaten a whole volume on something really nonsensical and had slept solidly for days afterward, dreaming peaceful dreams all the while. That had happened last week. “This thinmeat is magnificent. Like lamb.” “The twolegs surely have wondrous food. No wonder they keep these treasures under lock and key,” said Tanchan, who was licking her cute whiskers.

The End

*Undoubtedly they are still peeved about the 800th birthday celebration incident years ago. In the spirit of King Henry VIII and the men who founded Cambridge, I proposed using the budget for the light display on King’s College to ‘postmodernize’ the musical texts created by Wynken de Worde while he was at Cambridge. The texts had been used by the choir which performed in the Church, which is, of course, next to King’s College. Thus, my proposed display would have referenced “knowledge”; self-referential knowledge: Art. Instead, the display prostituted King’s College as a shallow, tourist promotion piece: techno music and pretty colors on the surface of an esteemed place of learning. The College whor*d itself once more. My hunger strike drew a large amount of attention and I still have the clipping which ap-peared in the last paper version of the New York Times. Me, next to my bicycle and back-pack in front of the arched doors of the church, with my small banner and its Garamond font text. The banner read: The wisdom of Worde’s words of music and polysynchronicity or pretty, pretty colors? A proud display of our self-knowledge or soulless, heartless superficiality? You have a choice!

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Bringing Singapore to England or

Nepenthes rafflesiana: An analysis of mid-nineteenth century copperplate aquatint materials and techniques

It is impossible to conceive anything more beautiful than the approach to Singapore, through the Archipelago of islands that lie at the extremity of the Straits of Malacca. Seas of glass wind among innumerable islets, clothed in all the luxuriance of tropical vegetation and basking in the full brilliance of a tropical sky... I have just arrived in time to explore the woods before they yield to the axe, and have made many interesting discoveries, particularly of two new and splendid species of pitcher-plant [Nepenthes rafflesiana and Nepenthes ampullaria], far surpassing any yet known in Europe. Although the above passage is poetic and thought-provoking, the purpose of this academic paper is not to reflect upon Man’s destruction of yet another perfectly balanced ecosystem, but to examine the reproduction of botanical imagery in the mid-18th century, focusing mainly upon Curtis's Botanical Magazine, an outstanding botanical magazine still in existence today. The opening excerpt continues: Sir S. Raffles is anxious that we should give publicity to our researches... He proposes sending home these pitcher-plants so that such splendid things may appear under all the advantages of elegant execution, by way of attracting attention to the subject of Sumatran botany. The mention of Sir Stamford Raffles, the founder of Singapore, should not surprise anyone familiar with the printed natural science materials of 19th century Great Britain. Raffles’ History of Java, published in 1819, was a remarkable achieve-ment, a two volume collection of notes and superb aqua typed illustrations. The volumes also feature a hand-drawn Javanese alphabet. The source of the text which is extracted throughout this paper was written in 1819 by Dr. William Jack, a scientist who travelled with Raffles on many scientific expeditions. The text appeared in the 1850 issue of Curtis's Botanical Magazine. Whoever has seen this plant in a living state must undoubtedly be constrained to consider it as one of the most astonishing productions of the whole vegetable kingdom. The resemblance that a portion of it bears to our more familiar domestic utensils leaves a lasting impression on the minds of spectators that is not easily eradicated; it is the largest and most magnificent of the genus, far surpassing any hitherto known in Europe. The hand-coloured plates used in Curtis's Botanical Magazine were beautiful, detailed and scientifically accurate. They were remarkable for their time and pres-ently are much sought after by collectors. There is no need to elaborate upon them further. What this paper will now address is a particular line from Dr. Jack’s letter. The resemblance that a portion of the Nepenthes rafflesiana pitcher plant bears to our more familiar domestic utensils leaves a lasting impression on the minds of spectators that is not easily eradicated. Dr. Jack knew how to communicate with the future and he was obviously using a code. About two hundred years ago he sent a message on its way to me. Dr. Jack named a plant after Raffles. My wife died in what used to be Raffles’ front yard. She was a chef whose career involved “familiar domestic utensils.” You cannot tell me this is a coincidence.

Nepenthes rafflesiana

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Uncle and I went clubbing.

I found that written on a scrap of paper. She said that. I wrote it down, thinking it would be a great opening line for a story. She said that in a cab ride home after our first and only night of clubbing, twenty minutes of clubbing. I was drunk with her again.

Uncle and I went clubbing.The sentence has two U’s in it. It’s like Thurber’s joke: He once asked Agatha Parker if she could think of a word with three U’s in it.“I don’t know,” Agatha said, “but the word must be unusual.”

Now I am at the kitchen table and the music from the HDB Residents’ Karaoke Night is staring at me. It is not the woman’s amplified off-key screeching through a distorted terrible speaker that disturbs me in this room. What disturbs me in this room is the sound of electricity touching everything.

When you say ‘uncle’ do you mean the brother of your mom or dad, or do you mean it like the Singaporean term of respect for an older male?

To be accurate, both. I mean Uncle Yee, my mother’s brother.I was probably an arrogant teenager taking advantage of him, now that I look back on it. But he was also kind of using me. Showing me off. His niece, living in America and accepted to study in Paris. He introduced me to everyone like I was a queen. In LA I was no big deal, but here it was like I was someone really special. And he was proud of that.

But you are someone special.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’m someone special… Anyway, he took me to Zouk.

Your uncle?

Yeah... kind of weird. And when it closed he took me to this haunted old hotel where we met all these oil rig guys and then we had chicken rice at the hawker center by the library. It was like everyone went there after the clubs. The DJ from Zouk was trying to hit on me. The National Library was still there and it reminded me of a high school.I thought it was a high school at first. Uncle told me about how he and my mom were always at the library because they didn’t have schoolbooks. Uncle said on weekends it was a meeting places and he had his first and only date with a girl there. We sat on the steps and watched people eat and talk. Then we walked up some-thing like a tropical country road to get to Fort Canning. We talked about what I’d be like if my parents had stayed in Singapore. Uncle told me about the Malayan kings buried on the hill and said he wanted

to make a documentary about them. Then he was suddenly really polite and very serious and asked if he could visit me in Paris. Said he wanted to see where Edith Piaf sang and wanted to eat at the restaurant in the Eiffel Tower. “Another country where I can proudly be a tacky tourist.” He was so funny. He gave me some books. One was that one by Paul Auster with the story about a guy who spells out sentences by walking around New York. And he gave me a French book about eggs! He was fantastic.

My wife, uncle Yee. They were both here once. Both are gone now: lightning and AIDS. Now the hawker center is a lawn and a tunnel is where the library was. The Singapore Management University is a nice building.

Now I am at my little table. I touch these keys to make little letters of light. This evening I was downtown and if my walking patterns were to spell out a sentence, they would be gibberish around the Treasury on High Street.

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The National Museum of Singapore, as seen from Road, on the Fort Canning Side from the street named Can-ning Rise PHOTO FROM MICHAEL’S CD Exterior and installation

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“Olive, you were hired to do a job and are under contract to meet an agreed upon deadline. You’ve had all this time. So how? And when?” Olive stands in front of her cubicle looking at the carpet. On her desk are piles of papers stacked upon piles of papers. Her cubicle walls are covered with post-its, quotes from the Bible, little fuzzy things, ticket stubs and receipts. In a photo she smiles in a restau-rant with her boyfriend, both flashing V signs with their fingers. Next to a certificate, a small plaque says,“You don’t have to be crazy to work here-- but it helps!” “I just cannot make a book out of scattered notes about Lady Raffles and printing and mice that eat textbooks! One file’s about Lim Boon Keng and the next’s about his dead wife again and then he de-scribes the carpeting in the National Archives for 2017 words. I used Word Count. 2017 words! Crazy!”Olive sighs. “I was wondering if I could get some help and increase the profile of the project at the same time…” “I’m listening.” Ang Koo Hon glances at her coffee before giving Olive a very serious look. Olive starts speaking in a quiet voice. “Can we hire a famous writer as a story consultant? Dan Brown? Xu Xi lived in Singapore, she’s won a bunch of prizes. Or Paul Auster or Damien Brachet? Neil Gaiman would probably come back. Maybe the Tourism Group can support?” I need someone to help me find a story in this mess. “Cannot! Just get Black back here.” “No, no, no.” Olive shakes her head. “All he does is ramble, and he’s so intense he makes me feel guilty. Useless. And all he does now is talk about his wife getting zapped. Depressing. And I already have his files! Can’t we just bring in a consultant? Please?” “Cannot, lah… My maternity leave starts in three weeks. This was supposed to be finished by then. Ask for more now cannot. And this

project is just a sign of support for the arts, not a Hollywood produc-tion.” Olive shows no emotion as she picks up a paper from her desk. “Yes, this book project is just a sign of support for the arts,” she says. “...with support from the Arts Proletariat, the Tourism Group, Tharton University, the Division of History and the Singapore Hol-lywood Investors Fund. Contact With Shadow is to be the basis for a movie enterprise suitable for a general international audience and one which embraces multidimensional cultural and educational concerns. The project is designed to yield ongoing residuals as well as increase public awareness of Singapore’s heritage. It is expected that there will be synergies between the government, education, and tourism sectors. Additionally, the movie and related enterprises are projected to generate ten thousand employment opportunities and underscore Singapore’s commitment to becoming a global hub for the media arts.” Olive flings the paper back onto a pile of papers. “Come on… let’s be real! This Black guy, a Cambridge research scholar, gets hit by lightning. The gahmen buys his half-baked notes about printing in Singapore because they feel bad about his wife. I get stuck with making a book out of it- and it’s gotta be nice for the tourists. And it’s gotta be a tear-jerker love story. And its gotta be good for Hollywood...” “Just a minute, Olive.” You did not “get stuck” with this project. You applied and you were selected based on your background and your proposal. And judging by your Facebook account and your blog, you have plenty of time for writing.” “But I hadn’t seen it! Your job description made it sound like a rewrite, not making a story from scratch. He wrote a recipe for ink! How do you make a movie out of that? It’s like notes from four or five different people. He describes the letter W like it’s a naked woman! My lord! And he’s got this weird thing about fonts. Either the sched-ule gets changed or I get some outside help or you’ll have to find someone else. Just read this garbage! Here, just read this, page 86!”

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Helvetica, time and space

For vanity and gain, fields of black cirrus cloud, arbitrary shap’d and with unpredictable and everchanging weathers of intent and meaning are doth chained to the virginal field; ink honesty thus becoming a much visited intersection, branched and mud-filled with distant obstacles, both large and damaged, as signposts...

From the Maximo Shakespeare BBC television series, the episode entitled ‘The Play about Writing a Play’, the scene after the commercial.

Helvetia is the Latin word for Switzerland. With the addition of a c, Helvetia became Helvetica*, the name of our planet’s most used font. Helvetica is a linear sans serif and prides itself on its ability to be used in any context. However, in this author’s opinion, Helvetica is to typography as chewed gum is to food: it’s on the streets everywhere -- but you wouldn’t want to eat it.** I am now up the hill from the Archives, near Fort Canning. There is something big and ugly in front of me. The National Museum of Singapore*** used Helvetica to spell out its name on the wall of its back entrance. Each letter is 600 inches tall, meaning the font is 7200 points tall****! If you are reading these words as ink on paper, then these letters are 11 point font Garamond. If you are looking at this on a digital display, the magic of font size control software displays these words at an optimum size, whether these letters are now appearing on a mobile phone, a laptop or a wall-sized plasma TV screen. This side of the National Museum is sharp and heavy looking. It’s like a great big beige shipping container unit that fell off the back of a very large truck. Perhaps the architect wanted to provide contrast to the colonial sentiments of Fort Canning***** Park across the street. Perhaps he or she just liked ugly industrial shapes. I feel like a delivery man at a service entrance. Here in this “garden” of postmodernism, I unpack the lunch she made for me. They say “postmodern” or “deconsctructivist”; I say “thoughtlessly indecisive”. If architecture is meant to mirror society however, then postmodern art is well served. The other side of the building, the front, is a classic example of British colonial architecture-- white columns and 1887 grandeur with a lawn. Inside the building, between that grand facade and this anonymous industrial zone, is the history of Singapore.

*In 2005 a movie by the name of Helvetica appeared. In the title sequence the word Helvetica is created by a ‘compositor’. Although the sequence shows only a single word being printed, one does get a sense of the steps involved in composition. The movie accomplishes its task and, honestly, I am really not upset that my opinion was not asked for.**Note to tourists: you will not find any gum on the streets of Singapore ***The building was originally known as the Raffles Library and Museum.**** A point is the unit of measurement in the world of fonts and printing. One inch is equal to 72 points. Another unit of measurement is the pica, based on 12 points or 1/6th of an inch. Traditionally printed letters in the body of a text were one pica tall or 12 points. ***** The Fort is gone and only its gate remains. The large building on the top of the hill once housed army officers but is now mainly rehearsal spaces.****** I like making little lines of stars.

The lawn in front of the back entrance is dominated by Pedas pedas (chili), a sculpture by Kumari Nahappan. The big bronze fruit has a long curved stem emerging from a dark red strawberry-shaped pumpkin; everything glossy with hardened wax. It’s about 4 meters square. Its position and placement remind me of what one of my art teachers called ‘the aesthetic of the pretty ashtray on the desk of public space’. Upon analysis, however, Kumari’s piece, this large sculpture of the seedpod of a shrivelled Southeast Asian spice, embodies and simultaneously explores and exam-ines and presents and challenges the viewer with both an artificiality of scale and a postmodernist/post feminist conceptualization of beauty, establishing, perhaps, a self-referential and contrast-laden paradigm at odds with both the Western “boun-ty” aesthetic, in which fruits symbolize wealth; and the “peach aesthetic” of the Orient, in which peaches and other fruits symbolize aesthetic, tactile and oral plea-sures. The sociological locus of Kumari’s piece- and its anti-empirical authorship, ask us not to “read” the piece, but to “read” ourselves. In the parklike environs of Fort Canning, the “Pedas pedas” subverts and reinvents and reclaims both implied and established Freudian notions of internal dialogue vis a vis public space and aims to raise environmental consciousness. Kumari’s work, as well as her entire reper-toire, both appropriates and embodies post-colonial concerns and reclaims- indeed reinvents- the Western pop art aesthetic, positioning it in a milieu “unreferenced” by gender and social status. A boy with a camera interrupts my writing: “Can you take our picture in front of the big wrinkly apple?” I take the couple’s photo, trying to minimize the giant Helvetica behind them. What would Gutenberg think? He was a goldsmith who used a jeweler’s loupe and delicate tools to carve tiny alphabets of steel. His was a jewelry of letters.

Any one typeface needed up to 300 different punches, with each steel-engraved letter and every type cast from it, and every line made up of those letters, made and set to an accuracy measured in hundredths of a millimeter. The Gutenberg Revolution, by John Man

Hundredths of a millimeter. Perfection… and Gutenberg was the first to do it. The Chinese and the Koreans had created printed texts, but he was the first to use the Roman language and pieces of interchangeable type. The “black letters” of the German scribes were the models for his alphabetic sculptures. Monks had created and used black letters for religious texts. Gutenberg wanted to mimic, improve

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upon and mass produce their efforts. Gutenberg wanted to print the Word of God. The. Word. Of. God. It seems that Gutenberg wanted to cash in on the religious fever that was sweeping Europe, but that’s another story; another collection of words.

Across the street are trees with leaves like long green hair and in the trees are bird’s nest ferns that look like wigs. By the sidewalk there are dainty orange flowers and leaves shaped like big green fans. The street has stripes and big yellow squares. I like eating my lunch in this space. I want to bring my wife here. I see CQ!There’s a white archway over there, with HIS carved upon it. The letters are in the CQ font! How rare! Capitalis Quadrata (CQ) is based on a unit of measurement called an em square, or em quad. The name refers to the fact that an M is used as the basis of an imagi-nary square. Once the size of the square is known, “invisible boxes” are made to determine the positioning of real letters. The size of those boxes, multiplied by the number of letters, determines the size and positioning of the entire word. The Romans used the letter M as it was the widest in their alphabet- Latin has no W. Too bad for them. CQ began about 200 BC, when the Romans began using the Greek alphabet as their own. Hollywood still uses CQ for epic movies. Using only capital letters, the font possesses an elegant simplicity. It is not a font for intimate communication. CQ is meant to be carved in stone and respected by the people who look up to it. Four kilometers from here is a plaque beneath a statue of Sir Stamford Raffles at Clarke Quay. It is written in a font similar to CQ: ON THIS HISTORIC SPOT SIR THOMAS STAMFORD RAFFLES FIRST LANDED IN SINGAPORE ON 28th JANUARY, 1819 AND WITH GENIUS AND PERCEPTION CHANGED THE DESTINY OF SINGAPORE FROM AN OBSCURE FISHING VILLAGE TO A GREAT SEAPORT AND MOD-ERN METROPOLIS. For lunch she made me goosiment and an apple. It is superb and I gratefully savor it. Finally, I walk into the museum where I’m greeted by a number of sus-pended miniature white buildings. They hang at many different levels beneath a skylight, next to a staircase in the middle of a viewing area. Some of the buildings are tiny, some are nearly the length of a man, but all are resting on white cloud shaped acrylic platforms. The installation is three floors high. A steady blast of air conditioning gently nudges a few of the floating architectural clouds. A large infographic mural explains that the installation, by Singaporean artist Michael Lee, is a columbarium; a gathering place for the remains of dead buildings.* All of the expired structures contained words like ‘National’, ‘Singapore’, ‘Raffles’ or ‘Lion City’ in their names. The work features actual buildings like the Singapore Asian Seamen’s Club, the National Junior College, and World Without Walls, the wonderfully named pavil-

lion created to represent SIngapore at the 2005 World Exposition in Nagoya. The installation also features imaginary structures like the National Lemming Centre and the Singapore Snow Factory. The themes of the work are personal memory, collective memory and the re-invention of history. I try to understand this, but cannot: my business is histori-cally correct words which have been printed by government licensed agencies or institutions of learning. I could never do what he is doing. On the clear walls of the staircase are names and short phrases or stories writ-ten in the Ultralight Normal 6.6 version of Helvetica**. I try to ignore the hideous font and read the content. The phrases are specific to Singapore, yet universal: “We love Poly Campus more than Princess Mary Barracks…why must a big happy family be broken up?” Some of the writings are from licensed newspapers, increasing my appreciation of the artwork. However, not all of the texts involve official government struc-tures:

SINGAPORE GUPPY CLUB It seems as though another uniquely Singaporean landmark is slated to fall victim to the wreck-ing ball. The Singapore Guppy Club will be one of the dozens of small shops forced to move when the construction plans for the new Convention Centre go into effect early next year. Like many Singaporeans, this reporter has fond memories of Mr. and Mrs. Wong and their tiny, guppy themed wonderland. Most visitors to the thirty-year old shop would agree that Mr. Wong’s artistic talents are in a league with many of today’s top modernistic painters. Mrs. Wong impresses all with both her charms and knowledge of various guppy species. Undoubtedly, thou-sands of schoolchildren have learned about our region’s geography from the “Guppy Homelands” map displayed above the rows of colorful, guppy-filled tanks. Guppy lovers and nonlovers alike are fascinated by the colorful window display which amuses pedestrians and those waiting for the 143 bus. At the time of this writing, the Wongs are unsure if they will be able to continue their busi-ness. This news is surely disappointing to those who have experienced the unique culture of the Singapore Guppy Club. Again we are forced to ask: at what price progress?Ong Chin Soh, Singapore Gazette, editorial, June 19, 1980

CINEMATHEQUE de SINGAPOUR My mother had a very negative perception of the Cinematheque. She claimed that I was being corrupted. In her opinion- a most strong one, I must say, attendence at the Cinematheque guaran-teed that I would reside overseas when she was aged, as is the habit of the English streamers. We argued often, at times quite vocally. However, one day she reluctantly agreed that, to gain a better understanding, we would see a movie together. The movie we saw was Jules and Jim. She loved it! I was most surprised as she only spoke Teochew! But with that viewing she comprehended that my cinema habits were nothing more than a pleasant and stimulating temporary respite from reality. She was still a bit confused, however. Somehow she thought that Jules and Jim were real, and every so often- even into her nineties- she would ask me about my friends Jules and Jim.

*Note to self: find way to include the fact that some real columbaria store human remains in book-shaped containers.**The cursed font seems to mutate like bacteria- yet it looks always the same. A fellow researcher spells it as Hellvetica. I much prefer Helvetica’s original name: Neu Akzidenz Grotesk.

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Floating on its cloud in a ray of direct sunlight, the cross-shaped white paper model of the Singapore Printers Guild Training Center is brilliant. According to the text, the building’s entrance once had a mural by the noted painter Tye Cheng Yan. Beneath the mural was a plaque featuring a quote by Goh Seok Wan: A nation’s character is defined by the truth and quality of the printed voice of its people. Long may our comrades of the Printers’ Guild excel in their noble craft. A long escalator begins near the base of the installation and I step upon it, descending into the heart of the museum’s boxy, luminous courtyard. Eight motor-ized red chandeliers rock back and forth overhead. I pass a café and board another escalator, continuing my Z-shaped journey to the ground floor. There is an exhibition dedicated to the concept of Image! The show was orga-nized by the city of Antwerp! Antwerp-how we loved it! Everything from the pigeons on our windowsill to the serious old government buildings. Bicycles, great beer and innovative sans serif fonts. We bought books and postcards! We ate strudel as we read the newspaper. Walking into the show is like getting off a plane. There are huge images of European people, European words and European seasons. European nightmares. Food! Landscapes. Conceptual pieces, and images that are sculptures. What is an im-age? The show asks this question again and again, always differently. I walk through installations, circle around stuffed horses from WWI and watch a documentary video about South American villagers moving a mountain, shovelful by shovelful. And on one wall: In 1555 Christoffel Plantin (1520-1589) opened a printing office in Antwerp that in its heyday counted 16 presses and more than eighty employees…The illustrations and loose prints in books opened a new media world! For the first time it was possible to distribute the ‘image’ accompanied by text all over Europe and as far as the newly (re)discovered world, such as America.Written records indicate that Plantin pushed his press to the limit…

EUREKA! What a gift! We were at Plantin’s museum! Christofell Plantin! Next to Wynken de Worde,* he is my favorite! Images! Of course! Plantin is on display here because he was the first to print im-ages! Here in this fantastic postmodern fashionable building, people are looking at images printed on preLinotype presses! This is a sign that there is an audience for my research on printing! You cannot tell me this is a coincidence! As one would expect, the images on display are full of stunning contrasts and impressive line work. Plantin’s legendary studio was the Silicon Valley of 16th Europe, full of elegance and the world’s most sophisticated ink measuring and application technologies. Now, thankfully, it is a museum. We went. We held hands, her heart racing like mine. The drawings were there- Garamond’s original draw-ings**! The 380 drawings that Claude Garamond brought to life! The drawings are a monument, a landmark in the evolution of European printing and civilization! Garamond’s font of 1540, the masterpiece he created for King Francois! I have chosen to use “Garamond” as the font for this book, but with great disappointment. Compared to Garamond’s work printed on Pinciotti’s paper, with Pannartz ink and the presses and supervision of Plantin, this computer generated Garamond font before you is like stale grape soda to very fine wine, a shoebox to the palace of Versailles, or a poor dead shark to a rich da Vinci.* Unlike that of Gutenberg, Garamond’s type is breathtakingly original. Guten-berg’s “total package” of press, steel type and oil-based inks was revolutionary and rightfully deserves to be considered as one of mankind’s greatest inventions. In terms of font design, however, Gutenberg showed no imagination; he copied what was successful. Garamond’s work has personality and originality, combining hand-written calligraphy (from Latin: beautiful writing) with mechanization. Garamond not only superbly fulfilled the wishes of the king, he also created a humanistic, trans-European tool of communication. A page graced with Garamond’s font portrays Thought and Reason. Garamond’s W is a winged spirit: the Soul. What is my favorite font you ask? It’s like asking a chef for his or her favorite spice**. So much depends on what the text is about. Obviously I am a proud

*What can I say about Wynken de Worde? He was the first to use italics in 1528. That fact alone is very remarkable but please, dear reader, deeply reflect upon this: WdW was the first to use movable type to print music and the name of the piece was Polychronicon! You can tell me that Polychronicon is a coincidence, a multiple one. To describe the atmosphere of a printed work by Wynken de Word is beyond me: it is to speak of the Soul. Only angels are worthy to touch his works. I can only say that the heart of my religion is housed in Cambridge. King’s College. Water Lane Press. St. Bride Printing Library. These places likely mean nothing to you, but the synchronicities and beauty I associate with them will be the light and dark, the paper and ink, the yin and yang that will guide me until my final punctuation mark. I conclude with a phrase that WdW used as the frontispiece for three of his books (Dives and Pauper, The Rote or Mirror of Consolation and Mundus et Infans (1522) As shapeless Ink becomes Knowledge upon Paper: so it is with Life upon Earth.**In E.B. Updike’s masterpiece book entitled Printing Types, the author states that Garamond was “only” a letter cutter and a type founder. Updike claims that the font which bears Gara-mond’s name is actually based on the work of Jensen, who was a successful type designer. The issue is complex, as Updike also says that Garamond admits that his italic is based on the Aldine italic. To this author, however, one thing is clear: the font now called Garamond was originally cut from steel by Garamond. This font is not to be confused with the equally beauti-ful Greek set of type called the typii regii, grecs du roi (the royal Greek type of the king) which was based on the handwriting of the calligrapher Angelos Vergetios. This font, considered to be the best of its kind, was cut by Garamond in 1541, under the direction of Robert Estienne. Again, the words of Updike: “Garamond’s roman fonts were wonderfully beautiful-clear and open. The very small loops to the e’s and the narrow a’s are characteristic, as are capitals that are large relatively to lower-case letters. The italic capitals slope at different angles and have a restless quality. On the other hand, both fonts, especially the italic, have a delightful unconventionality of design- free and spirited, yet noble; full of contrast and movement, yet with elegance and precision of line that marks them as French.” Amen, I say.

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Garamondista. Caslon’s very good- Ben*** used it for the Declaration of Indepen-dence. To my mind, that document is defined more by the spirit of its font than its text. Even the illiterate can detect its beautiful Humanistic spirit. Rubber Soul by the Beatles. I saw my uncle’s copy of the album and I was im-mediately fascinated: rubber letters! Certainly very different from most of the typography of the early ‘60s. The wild fonts of psychedelia held for me no inter-est, nor does the rubbish that poses for some contemporary “graphic design”. Punk was extremely interesting- especially Jamie Reid’s pioneering anti-font which has become visually synonymous with the Sex Pistols. His ransom note style was handmade and distinctive. Anonymous, handmade and personal. God save the queen- indeed. Extremely different from the Sex Pistols’ “God Save the Queen” font, is a font used inside of the Armenian Church, just down the hill from the National Muse-um. On a wall is a proclamation honoring Queen Victoria on her jubilee. The font seems to be handmade. The Church has another font in it as well, a gilded font carved into marble. It was perfect for its time. Now no one can read it.

“ I didn’t realize how bad it was. Before I was only shown extracts. Let’s see if we can get you some help with this mess.”

“Thinks he’s a smart one, lah. Always ends by saying something about lunch at the Registry of Marriages. Thinks he’s funny. Cannot.”

*From: the computer generated Garamond font: To: the author: Sir, you stab me.** As far as my favorite, I consider the font produced by Garamond to be one of Man’s greatest artworks. However, for my Documenta project I used Helvetica and Arial exclusively. Normally these are extremely unappealing to me, but in this case their blandness was an asset. The exhibition was entitled To separate: Diacritical marks and speaking directions. The soundtrack to the exhibition contains contributions from Ayuo Takahashi, Laurie Anderson, Stephanie Sun, Brian Eno, Amith Narayan, Sadato, Faculty Party, Wilson Goh, wxymn and John Zorn. It was released on Virgin Records under the title Rough Breathing / Spiritus Asper. My wife’s favorite spice, by the way, is lemongrass.*** For those unaware of American history, the Ben I am referring to is Benjamin Franklin, a printer and a politician. He was the creator of the Poor Richard’s Almanac. His portrait is on a hundred dollar bill. His genius was celebrated by the American musician Puff Daddy in the song entitled, ‘It’s All About the Benjamin’.NB: Garamond died in poverty in 1561.

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That which is before us is the most difficult to see. - Goethe

Poetry and sex on paper! The Romans of the eleventh century had never seen this before- and they wanted it. So did all of Europe. Printed by hand on thin animal skins, with lantern black used as ink, the illustrated poem starred a god named Pamphilus. “Loved by all” is the translated meaning of his Greek name. Other than his bedroom escapades we know nothing about him. The English title of the erotic work was Pamphilus and his views on love or, in Italian, Pamphilus, seu de Amore. By the 14th century Europeans called the six page poem Pamphilet. Now, a bound collection of papers, steamy or not, is called a pamphlet*.

The pamphlet I am holding is not steamy.

Getting married...or looking for that special someone? There has never been a better time to start a family! A cartoon equates a very pregnant woman with the same woman holding a big round bag of money. This pamphlet, called The Marriage & Parenthood Package has “been enhanced to support Singaporeans through a broadened scope of measures.” The information is offset printed and laid out horizontally on an A4 sized paper. It is folded twice in the aptly named “two fold” format and printed with CMYK inks on art paper. It is full color throughout, with a lilac back-ground and many cheerful baby-themed illustrations. The pamphlet is “A family production brought to you by”, among others, the Ministry of Fi-nance, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Manpower and the Min-istry of Information, Communication and the Arts. Perhaps it was printed at the Government Printing Office. “Sex” is not mentioned, nor is the word “love”. Like the world’s first pamphlet, the author is anonymous.

Although the $6,000 Baby Bonus Cash Gift and the financial incentives for having six or more children are certainly worth thinking about, I’m not here to learn about money for babies. Nor am I waiting to go into the Of-fice of Love or the Chamber of Bliss or the Room for Muslim Weddings. I am at the R.o.M. for food. I’d walked in, thinking the food area must be somewhere behind the reception area. But what is before me is a waiting room with counters and a big TV, like a clinic or a government office. Couples are sitting together amongst the room’s three rows of chairs. This is “Harmony Plaza”. A bell dings, the numbers on display change and a couple stands up. Back to the reception area. I ask the serious Indian woman behind the counter how to get to the cafeteria. She reacts like I’m a sunbaked tourist. “Sir, this is the Singapore Government’s Registry of Marriages, not an establishment where food is offered to the general public.” Oh. I had been told that there was a limited selection of food at the ROM. My priority was saving time, not choice, and so I’d thanked the woman at the National Archives, walked out, turned left and stepped into the ROM, this lunchless building with couples and pamphlets. Now I walk out. ! Noon’s whitesharp sun kicks my eyes. Bright light, bright heat, and I run on my shadow on the sidewalk, a jungle on one side, the street on the other. Men in yellow helmets shout in Tamil at rattling trucks across the street. Hot awkward colleagues surround a timid couple in a parking lot. Politely, politely, everything’s bright and smiling politely and the vertical glare keeps glaring. A tuxedo, a wedding dress, a camera and an SMS. A coin drops into a cola machine and kachunks a delivery. A bird cries, a cellphone rings. Wai? I keep moving. Finally, the Archive’s door. The cold darkness swallows me and I shiver and sigh and walk back to my desk. A click of the mouse and I’m back in the pre-Linotype world of Sin-gapore’s printing past, a world where men twisted inked letters onto paper.

I remember my wife put a bottle of water in my briefcase and I smile like crazy.

*A similar word is libel, from that Latin word libellus, meaning a little book. The word libel first appeared in 1642 and was used to describe the published tracts which were during the debates which preceded the English Civil War. Now libel is used as a legal term, similar to the word ‘slander’, but slander is for speech, libel is for text.

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enough to fill at least one book. This dissertation hopes to provide stimulating food for thought for anyone who reads and writes, whether they have been struck by lightning or not. A timeline of Singaporean printing would show that the missionaries did the bulk of printing in the colony’s early years, nearly all of it related to religion or education. However, one of the first government documents printed in Singapore was Raffles’ ban on gambling and opium farms, printed in 1822 at the Missionary Press, located on what is now Bras Basah Road.

OK. Well. I am not going to continue in chronological order. I will return to the missionaries in a while, after I write about the Free Press and George Coleman**. Why George Coleman? He was in love with someone, like I am.

George Coleman was a “gentleman, with a certain weight in society.” The street which bears his name leads to Armenian Street. Further up the hill, near Fort Canning, one can read his memorial:

George Doumgold Coleman, Esquire of Drogheda, Ireland Who was for many years the superintendent of public works in this settlement. The

important duties of which department he was acknowledged to have discharged with zeal and ability while the many public improvements which he originated and carried into effect

will long attest the value of his services. The memorial does not mention the years he spent in Calcutta and Jakarta, nor how he survived a shipwreck in the Indian Ocean. It doesn’t mention his huge mansion. He was in charge of a memorial to his friend Sir Stamford- not men-tioned. Absent is the name of his wife, who was almost half his age and bore him a son in 1843, just after their marriage. Coleman’s mistress is not mentioned. Coleman built her a mansion in the Pallatin style. It was on Beach Road, near his. George had a daughter with his mistress and her name is missing too.

George Coleman I In the Jungle It is 1829; George has been in Singapore for seven years. He’s out in the jungle, beyond what is now Dhoby Ghaut, working with the Indian convicts who make up his crew. A month earlier, the men had been attacked by a tiger*** while surveying a road. Unfazed, George has decided that the crew will stay on location for a few days rather than spend the travel time back into town. George speaks several Southeast Asian languages and the men are mostly nonviolent, mainly political prisoners who’d upset the British. We can only imagine what was discussed as the men hacked at the jungle. Was it all work? Did they discuss politics? Women? Did George learn stories from the Ma-habharata? Did they discuss the relationship between Tamil and Sanskrit, the languages of the gods? When there was a storm, did the men tell George that lightning is an arrow from the bow of Arajunam, the greatest of all warriors? Did the convicts point to the stars to show where their

Pre-Linotype Printing in Singapore: Old Paper and Ink as Keys to Understanding Humanistic Aspects of Contempo-rary Globalization

For the first fifty years of the Settlement’s existence the evil ran like a scarlet thread through the warp and weft of local circ*mstance. Not a week passed without the shadow dominating the horizon. Not a volume of official correspondence was bound that did not contain its reiteration ad nauseam.Today the grandsons and great grandsons of the bloodthirsty and turbulent pirates assimilate mild instruction at the foot of Government Gamamiels, and make their peaceful pilgrimage when the necessary tale of dollars is complete. from An Anecdotal History of Old Times in Singapore: 1819-1867

Writing is the geometry of the soul.Plato

Abstract From the time of Gutenberg, in the fifteenth century, until the premiere of the Linotype in 1883, every word of every pamphlet, poster, newspaper or book ever printed was composed by putting one metal letter next to another. During this time, electricity was not necessary to record information. These two deceptively simple statements provide a solid, yet invisible foundation for this dissertation. Founded in 1819, the island city of Singapore, with its mix of Europeans, Indians, Armenians, Chinese, Muslims, Malays and other residents, can be consid-ered to be one of Asia’s first globalized cities. This paper contends that looking at Singapore’s pre-Linotype printed matter-- both content and its appearance (paper, letters, fonts and characters)-- can provide insights into the vast and ever-changing global media landscape of today. Singapore’s early colonial past presents us with a humanized microcosm of globalization; a topic still making the headlines of the world’s remaining newspapers. In looking at the printing activities and culture of Armenian Street before 1911-- when Linotype firmly took hold-- we gain insight into our present world. What happened on Armenian Street in the past affects us today. It must be stated clearly that this paper is not ultimately concerned with news and history. Just as the Glasgow Media Group (1982) claimed that television of-fers solely a partial view of the world, leaving an open door to the powerful and a closed door to the rest of us (Philo et al., 1982: 16), so it is has been with printed media.* Nor is this paper committed to analyzing the language patterns of the era. The usages, interpretations and history of even a single word-- in any language-- are *Obviously, the Internet has equalized the playing field; individuals can now “print and publish” their views in a manner which previously had been limited to those with political and/or economic strength. In this regard alone, the Internet ranks with the printing press as one of Man’s greatest inventions.** Listen Up! Polyrhthms in Brain and Music is the name of an article which appeared in the Journal of Cognitive Semiotics (Volume 2008, Number 3 / 2008). It was written by Peter Vuust and Andreas Roepstorff. The article celebrated and analyzed the work of another George Coleman. The George Coleman featured in the article played tenor sax and worked with Ray Charles, B.B. King, Herbie Hanco*ck and Miles Davis. *** Tiger attacks were said to have occurred almost daily, but the veracity of this statement is questionable. Reports say that the tiger pounced upon Coleman’s telescopic surveying in-strument [[proper name: theodolite]] and ran away.

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departed friends and relatives had gone to? Did George hear folksongs, like Nila Nila Odiwa, with its chorus about the hungry moon coming to earth to feast on rice?

Or, was George constantly on his guard, always listening for the clanging of ankle chains? Maybe he was glad for the opium that made the men quiet. George was a free man, in the jungle with prisoners. Some of the men managed to get drunk. There were fights. It’s a considerable state-ment that George wasn’t killed or forced to suppress a rebellion. CHECKIn 1835, there were 756 Indians (both prisoners and free), xxx malays, xx CHECK Europeans and xxx Chinese. History could have been written differently. Finished in 1829, George’s topographical survey was printed in Calcutta in 1836. The stories behind its construction remain unknown.

George Coleman II: A Sunday morning in April, 1836.

The two hours of standing are over and, as usual, everyone is going to the Martins’ mansion on Tanglin Rd. for lunch. Between a line of carriages and the pale blue walls of the church, families and friends are chatting away in Armenian. In English, someone makes a good-natured joke about the success of the Free Press. The western portico perfectly frames the spires of St. Andrew’s Church. George waits for a carriage with Takouhi and Meda Elizabeth, their eight year old daughter. The sun is shining nicely.

The years between 1829-1836 were full of activity for George. Singapore’s first building boom had ended and the slowdown brought George into government service; he became the Superintendent of Public Works in 1833. He was allowed to continue his architectural practice. Swamps were filled, bridges were built and Empress Place was constructed- all with Indian convict labor* supervised by George.** George also supervised the construction of the Church of St. Andrew. Rumors soon began, claiming that forty human heads were needed for the build-ing’s foundation. The scared men stopped working. George got the government to print lithographed notices, offering $500 for information on who was spread-ing the rumors. Seah Eu Chin, the ‘Gambier King’, also helped stop the rumors. Despite the work stoppages, the church was completed in 1835, one year after it began. It was damaged by lightning several times and was replaced by the present Cathedral of St. Andrew in 1861. Two other things happened in 1835. First, George was hired to design a church for the Armenians, who had just received a section of land from the government. The land was part of the neglected, overgrown remains of Raffle’s Botanical Gar-den. Working with an Indian contractor named Malabari, Coleman finished the job

* Raffles had established a plan where convicts could earn their freedom. Many did so and stayed in Singapore. The British used Indian convicts for construction in Singapore until 1872.***These excerpts are from: An Anecdotal History of Old Times in Singapore: 1819-1867, an entertaining two-volume book about early Singapore. It was edited and written by Charles Buckley and a group of Europeans, including someone with the pen name of “Delta.” This book, and a similar volume entitled A Chinese Anecdotal History of Singapore, by Song Ong Siang, were both produced by the Free Press. These books have been greatly valued by the author. The social dynamics of early Singapore meant that very few things were produced and preserved for posterity.**Source: a display at the Arts House (, where, the night before her birthday, we saw a terrible movie about food and in the taxi back home she said, “Tomorrow we are going west, young man.” I said, “Did you know that Horace Greeley made that expression famous and he was a newspaper editor in the pre-Linotype era and a mem-ber of the Whig party?” and she said, “Will you please not say anything about 19th century printing tomorrow because it is my birthday and we are going to have an amazing picnic in the veryverymost western part of Singapore!”

on schedule and the Church was christened on March 26th, 1836. The dome of the Church of St. Gregory the Illuminator, as the church is properly called, was visible even from ships in the harbor. The dome is gone now, like my wife. Also in 1835, a printing press arrived from Calcutta. This press had been ordered by Edward Boustead, one of George’s business partners. This was Singapore’s third printing press, a Stanhope press that would be used to create the Free Press. George was one of its owners. The name “Free Press” was inspired by the repeal of the Gagging Act, a law that required Singaporean printers to submit materials to the “Supreme Government” for approval. The local government could not be criticized, nor could the East India Trading Company. What was considered offensive was not very clear. Before the Free Press, there had been only the Singapore Chronicle. As long as Mr. Crawford, the First Resident, edited the Chronicle the Gagging Acts caused no inconvenience, but later blank spaces showed where the censor had been at work. The Singa-pore Chronicle of 1828 mentions that the censor had struck out some items from the Pinang Register of the 17th September, which the Editor then had printed on a separate slip and circu-lated with the paper, which the Singapore Editor thought was a very bold step-which indeed it was. It should be noted that Mr. Crawford also wrote most of the early editorials. When the Supreme Government sanctioned the “discontinuance of the Press cen-sorship” in 1833, the Resident Council wrote to the editor of the Chronicle saying that censorship was ended. In turn, the Editor of the Chronicle quoted an old remark of Blackstone that to subject the Press to the restrictive powers of a licenser was to make freedom of sentiment liable to the preju-dice of one man, and make him the arbitrary judge of controverted points.**

The official title of Singapore’s second newspaper was The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Adviser. Printed on two pieces of “Europe” paper, it launched on October 8, 1835. Just below its masthead was an advertisem*nt for Hodgson’s fine fresh PALE ALE [sic] in casks. There was an ad for iron money chests, which were certainly useful in a frontier town with no banks. The front page was filled with notices for house rentals, property, goods and services, ship arrivals and departures and whatever societal information that the paper’s sole reporter, Mr. Walter Make-peace, could find to fill its pages. A yearly subscription cost two Spanish dollars and forty cents. In its second issue, a gentleman by the name of ‘Agricola’ wrote enthusiastically about the soil left behind when swamps were drained. One third of the front page was French. The first editorial of the Free Press grumbled about the quality of its only com-petitor, claiming that the quality of the Singapore Chronicle had “retrograded”. The

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I was not caught off guard completely, as I’d bought her another copy of Pride and Prejudice and after we finally got out of bed we took the MRT to a station called Boon Lay (“Boon, Boon. Boon!” we giggled, “Lay, Lay, Lay”) and then we got on the 193 bus. She had planned everything and we got there and it was comically desolate and she said, “I don’t care, at least here it doesn’t smell like the oil refineries. This is the most west!” We walk to the water’s edge and it’s rocky and hot and she’s wearing her cheap sunglasses, the pink ones we’d bought as a joke when we were in Hougang. After a glass of wine, I stand up and put on her sunglasses and play air guitar and singyell... with your cheap sunglasses oh yeah...I do not know the lyrics to the song, just the refrain … but it was a once a big hit by ZZ Top...oh yeah... imagine a growling deep Jack Daniels voice singing cheap sunglasses; then a funky bumpy little bass riff oh yeah... Things look lifeless in print, but this was another of the most lively moments of my life. Our life. Our lives. Our life. It is never the wine, I am always drunk with her, even in the cold cellulite mornings before work when she hasn’t brushed her teeth and she’s snoring; half-dead with breath that could knock a buzzard off a night soil wagon. Patrol ships go by with their uniformed men and flags. “We are on an island,” she says. We play Spiritualized Al Green soul mixes on the iPod and she pulls out another sweet sixteen-course meal that I will never forget. The names and techniques of molecular food are beyond me: spaghetti that tastes like olives. Lettuce that tastes like potato chips. Small fish with the flavor of Swiss cheese. Beef as tender as a kiss. Homemade bread and butter with her homemade blueberry-raspberry jelly, made from berries we had picked when she visited my parents’ home in the Lake District. She pulls out a boob-shaped plastic bag and squeezes it to write words on the green beans; lovely long words with beautiful Ms and graceful Gs. She’d made and brought long necklaces of peeled fruit and there is no one around and in that waterside area we eat slowly those necklaces of fruit. I pull out her Pride and Prejudice. Only I know she had lost her great-grandfather’s copy of Pride and Prejudice and her great-grandfather was Sun Yat Sen and we never, ever tell people this. I pick up the softcover with the orange spine and stand upon the shore. I read to her with a very stiff accent. ‘I have not the smallest objection to explaining them,’ said he, as soon as she allowed him to speak. ‘You either chuse this method of passing the evening because you are in each other’s confidence and have secret affairs to discuss, or because you are conscious that your figures appear to the greatest advantage in walking;- if the first, I should be completely in your way;- and if the second, I can admire you much better as I sit by the fire.’ ‘Oh! Shocking! ‘cried Miss Bingley. ‘I have never heard anything so abominable. How shall we punish him for such a speech?’ ‘Nothing so easy, if you have but the inclination.’ said Elizabeth. ‘We can all plague and punish one another. Teaze him- laugh at him. Intimate as you are, you must know how it is to be done.’But upon my honour I do not. I do assure you that my intimacy has not yet taught me that. Tease calmness of temper and presence of mind! No, no- I feel he may defy us there. And as to laughter, we will not expose ourselves, if you please, by attempting to laugh without a subject. Mr. Darcy may hug himself. I am very very campy and dramatic and doing the two women in falsetto Chardonnay voices and she’s laying back against a rock, her face wet with tears. We are smiling at each other with our bodies and then, “Hey it says O.B.O. here and she says it does not; it can’t, please don’t ruin this and I regret stating such a volatile fact but I say no, no, no babe, look, here on the bottom of the page it says O.B.O. I walk over and kiss her neck and that almost completely erases my mistake and I smile and say you wanna bet and she says what are we betting and I say ten minutes of cranial massage and she says you’re on and I show her the book and she takes the book; her arm next to the page, her fingers near the spine. Those three letters could have resulted in a sobering, soulless, useless deadword moment but this did not happen; our little scene on the shore was very much the opposite.

We were us and words cannot describe us. Us had an iPod and food and drink and candles amidst the bulldozed fields and rocky shores of Tuas. We couldn’t get a taxi and we could only walk east. There was a carton of Hula Hoops and somehow we ended up chatting with workers from Sri Lanka in their fenced barracks. They had survived the tsunami and they had six kids each and they were smiling and waving and playing guitar.

Now it is after... I am smelling something you do not want to smell. A bucket of clothes has been soaking in the bathroom for too long ;the water has a grey film on it. The refrigerator is also broke and on the way to the elevator I see inside next door and I see a durapak carton of orange juice on the table as he picks up the car wax and puts on his sandals and she sits down in front of her computer and sighs. I am then in the eleva-tor with the car wax man and I want to ask him what you would do if your wife were killed by lightning, but it would be like asking him about god. It would be like asking him about forever. When I come back from breakfast and reading the paper his car is covered with the wax that is guaranteed to have a long lasting shine.

We finally left the Sri Lankans and found a bus back to Boon Lay. We laughed upon seeing the Cambridge Industrial Park on Pioneer Road. On the train she told me about a new food she was creating. Two people will sit at a table with a very large glass tray between them. The tray will hold a liquid food and in the liquid will be floating white foods. Each person will use a dark sauce to write words on the white food. The staff will then turn on hidden fans to move the white foods, as if they are sailing, or floating like icebergs. Iceword ballet is what I am calling it. Is it an appetizer, a dessert or a main course? I’m not sure, she said, but I don’t think it will be something sweet. We finally got home and went to sleep and now I’m waking up and she is not here. Forever.

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editorial also lauded Malacca’s Observer and the unshrinking zeal of the editor in exposing the system of slavery, though his actions had attracted the “resentment of the government.” The Free Press was not shy about its role. “WE’RE WANTED” the editor wrote.“We do not think it necessary to set out with pompous announcements of any kind, or to make any of those fine promises which so frequently remain debtors to the performance that follows which is so often “Come like the Truth, and disappear like dreams”.

The Free Press was successful until just before it went out of business in 1869. Charles Buckley later revived it as a daily on the 16th of July, 1887. It was during this time that the articles which appeared in the Anecdotal History were written. After a roller coaster existence, it was eventually bought by a competitor, the Straits Times, which is still in existence. The machinery of the Free Press was later taken over by The Malay Mail, which is still in existence.

In 1824 Singapore was _______.a. a factory b. a base for pirates c. a boomtown with no one in charge d. becoming the largest Chinese settlement outside of Chinae. a base for Western missionaries to print religious tracts and wait until they could enter Chinaf. all of the aboveThe correct answer is f. all of the above.

Originally a Portuguese word, ‘factory’ meant places in Asia where Europeans could conduct trading. Raffles had inflated his credentials, and with no proper authorization to do so, signed a treaty with the local Malay rulers that allowed Queen Victoria’s East India Trading Company (EITC) to use Singapore as a factory. When his superiors learned of his actions, Raffles was told to abandon Singapore. The EITC said Raffles’ actions were greatly irresponsible and compared him to a man who sets a house on fire and then runs away. By the time he received

their angry orders, however, the island was already a success. The EITC tried not to trumpet this very good news, as the Dutch rightfully claimed the treaty Raffles signed was illegal. There could have easily been a war, but in 1827 the Dutch dropped their legal challenge. The EITC then began to openly enjoy the fruits of Raffle’s bold and calculated gamble.*

From 1819 to 1827, Singapore was semi-anarchistic. Officially, Singapore was first governed by Penang and then the British Office in India, but communication was slow and the East India Trading Company was more concerned with trade than setting up civic structures. The Malays were under the control of the Sultan, Chinese triads were establishing themselves and the Europeans had a police force whose poorly paid staff were frequently murdered. Merchants attempted to set up a judicial system. Singapore was a factory, not an infant city. Raffles had appointed his old friend from Malacca, a Scotsman named William Farquhar, to be in charge of Singapore. Farquhar’s wife and six children left Malacca to join him, thus becoming one of the first non-native families on the island. Under Farquhar, Singapore began to grow exponentially, instantly becoming a center for Southeast Asian trading, including the Philippines, Bali, Borneo, Java and Sumatra. From Java, for example, came European goods, rice, edible birds’ nests, gold dust, indigo, rattans, benjamin (aresin used for treating skin diseases), brass, copra (dried coconut flesh), tin, rubber, sandalwood, arrack, pepper, cloves, cassia, cinna-mon and other spices. Singapore exported the goods of India, China and Europe, iron, opium, raw silk, wheat, china, ironware, cordage, gunnies and saltpeter. Except for Farquhar and the Armenians, there were few families and almost no women. No one considered himself to be a Singaporean, any more than an Englishman posted for business in New Delhi would consider himself to be an Indian citizen. Ships began arriving from all over the world to be greeted by the Bugis traders and pirates. The Bugis* did not seem to be involved with printing. The missionaries, however, were. The printing press… “is the greatest instrument of enlightening the world... and our chief reli-ance must be placed on this, among the means of saving mankind,” The American Baptist Board of Missions, 1835.

On May 29, 1819, the head of the Malacca outpost of the London Missionary So-ciety wrote to William Farquhar, asking for permission to set up a mission for the

*As Dr. Sun Yat Sen said, “The British treat people like silkworms: once they have stopped producing, they are fed to the fish.” This seems to have been initially true in Raffles’ case. Upon returning to England, Raffles was charged and taken to court by the EITC who claimed that he had spent money on salaries and other expenses improperly. These supposed in-fractions had occurred several years previously. Raffles defended himself, but lost the case. He died a few months later and Lady Raffles was forced to compensate the company. Accord-ing to the 1968 edition of the Singapore yearbook, in 1823-24 alone the value of the trade in Singapore was $11,417,036. *Originally from Indonesia, the Bugis were traders who established an enclave near Kampung Glam. The area is now the Bugis shopping area. In one of the several Bugis malls is a plaque which details their history and claims that the phrase “boogey man” originated because of the British fear of the ferocious Bugis pirates.

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Chinese and Malays. Permission was granted and Samuel Milton arrived in October 1819. Three years later, he was joined by Claudius Henry Thomsen who brought with him Singapore’s first printing press and staff to run it. “One of the lads composes in English and one the Malay-one is Pressman-one does type cutting and another bookbinding… I would now only mention that the little traveling Press is merely provided with a small quantity of Malay Types and Old English types barely enough to set up 4 pages, some of which will be nearly worn out in 12 months- regular Bookprinting must be deferred til the Directors supply our wants.” On January 23, 1823, Milton and Thomsen received official government permis-sion to establish a printing press in a private residence, where Raffles Hotel is now located. “With regard to the establishment of a printing press in aid of your labours the Lieutenant Governor gives his full sanction to the measure, and will be happy to assist the undertaking by the patronage and support of Government as far as the circ*mstances admit.” One of the first documents printed in Singapore was Raffles’ proclamation that set up a legal system and banned gambling and opium. Raffles wrote three letters of support for Milton to take on a shopping trip for printing materials. The letters stated that the Government needed a large printing establishment. On April 8, 1823, Milton returned from Calcutta after twelve-week absence “… with three printing presses and their furniture, one fount of English type, one fount of Siamese type (this is the first fount of these types that was ever cast*) one fount of Malay types, with a quantity of English printing paper, printing ink, English compositor & also a quantity of type metal, metal furnace and ladles, one set of Siamese, one set of Malay & one set of Arabic. Matrices and everything necessary for casting types in the above mentioned languages. I have also furnished myself with a complete set of European tools, figures, letters, presses & for binding books have engaged a man to attend to that department. Hence you will perceive that that I am prepared to print, at this station, in five languages vz English, Siamese, Malay, Arabic, Chinese…” There seems to be no record of Raffles’ response, but the London Missionary Society (LMS) was outraged- they had not authorized the purchase and refused to pay for it. Milton was dismissed from the Society. Some accounts say it took eight years to settle the matter, some accounts say it took twenty. A missionary from the LMS named Robert Morrison came down from Canton to resolve the issue. He found that Milton was “without food and without credit… I lent him 1,000 dollars to supply his present necessities & I used my influence with Sir Stamford to take the Types and Presses off his hand for 2,000 dols.” Milton, however claimed that Morrison “forced” the ac-tion on him and that Raffles himself had requested the transfer of the equipment. According to Milton, the presses and equipment had been paid for with the public subscription money that had been raised for the Singapore Institution. To add to this confusion, Thomsen- who also had been dismissed by the LMS-sold the presses, building and land to Stephen Johnson of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. The cost was $1,500. Thomsen then went back to England. Although its ownership was unclear, the press was in constant use. Books began appearing with imprints from the Mission Press or the Institution Press- or both. From 1824-6 the press was used to print 25,000 Malay tracts and a number of books such as A Selection of Hymns in Malay, A Spelling Book, A System of Arithmetic and the Gospel of Mathew. The first “scholarly” book printed in Singapore was John

Anderson’s Description of British Commerce- Political and Commercial Considerations Rela-tive to the Malayan Peninsula and the British Settlements in the Straits of Malacca (1824).

Why are these boys chained like this? The Hikaya, Munshi Abdullah’s autobiography, says that Raffles had asked that question during a visit to a school in Malacca. When parents presented their boys to the schoolmaster for the first time, Munshi explained, they would ask for two things: “first, that you will spare the child’s eyes, and secondly, that you will not break his arms or legs, everything else may be just as you please.” The book de-scribes and illustrates a number of punishments. Not all of them required rattan, wooden logs, chains or leather: “another punishment for boys who run away is that they are laid down on their faces and beaten.” To use Munshi’s own words once more, “I will not say anything more about the customs of schools, for intelligent people do not like long descriptions, but just sufficient to illustrate one’s meaning.” Reading Munshi’s autobiography is like listening to a friend. He writes about Raffles: “even the poor could converse with him”, “he always liked to live in a quiet place, and had no other employment except writing and reading books”, “he seemed to me to be always in thought” and “Mr. Raffles noticed the smell of the durians and immediately held his nose and ran upstairs.” Munshi writes intimately about the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British and various citizens in Malacca. The Story of Mr. Farquhar and an Elephant Drive is the name of one chapter. Malacca once had a massive Dutch Fort. Farquhar blew it up: Now the Fort was the glory of the town of Malacca, and when the Fort was destroyed, the town of Malacca lost its glory, like a woman whose husband is dead; her face has no longer its glory. With Farqhar and Raffles, Munshi came to Singapore and likely played a part in its establishment. His accounts cover everything from the annoyances of rats and centipedes to the earnings of Farquhar’s opium farm. He witnessed a printing-related technological shift in communication in the wild, young port: At that time the custom as regards to auctions was not to beat a gong or to make it known from house to house, but dozens of notices were made and pasted up at all the cross ways, and it was stated in these notices, “Tomorrow morning at ten o’clock there will be an auction at Mr. So and so’s house” mentioning the kind of goods which were to be sold. Also Singapore roadstead was full of ships and cutters, sloops, frigates and barques, and two masted schooners and native craft, and junks from China and Annam and Siam, and Malay vessels from Borneo etc. But though the town was so crowded, no one at that time had yet built a brick house, and all the houses were merely of atap… At that time everyone lived in fear all the time; at one moment there would be a fire, at another moment a robbery in broad daylight, or someone stabbed; and when one got up in the morning there would be somebody stabbed or murdered.

It was not so long after this that Raffles returned with his wife. He planted a large garden on Government Hill, he laid out the town and he established the Singapore Institute, “to educate the sons of higher order natives and others and to afford the means of instruction in the native languages to such of those as may desire it.” The Institute was to have a library where “literature and traditions of the country, with whatever may illustrate their laws and customs and circulate (will)… raise the character of the institution and be useful or instructive to the people.” Besides the classical subjects, the Singapore Institution was to have a literary

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and moral department for the Siamese, Malay and Chinese. From his own pocket Raffles gave $2000 and Lady Raffles donated $200. Raffles laid the foundation stone and then soon returned to England. Construction was started, but the funds disappeared and the half-completed building became filled with wild dogs and thieves. Finally, in 1837, it was revived. One of the first co-superintendents of the school was Alfred North, a “practical printer who specialized in Malay”, who’d arrived in 1836. With Munshi Abdullah, he co-authored Kesah Pelayaran Abdullah (1838) and Sejarah Melayu (1840/41). These two books were the first books completely written and printed in Singapore. Raffles’ dream had been an institution where Malay could be taught and appreci-ated without punishments. However, the Malay classes at the Institute were not very well received. The largest class was fifty students, with about twelve students on average. For years Munshi and Raffles had discussed the beauty and importance of the Malay language. The abolishment of the classes must have been a great disap-pointment to him, as it would have been to Raffles if were he still alive.Raffles died in 1826 at age 44. Munshi Abdullah symbolizes Singapore’s first era of printing. Along with the Protestant missionaries, he is one of the founders of the Malay printing tradition in Singapore.

If Munshi Abdullah represents the first era of printing in Singapore, Benjamin Peach Keasberry can be said to represent the second. They worked together: both spoke Malay, both produced works at the Mission Press and they were co-Superin-tendents at the Singapore Institution in 1840.

Six years after Malay classes stopped at the Singapore Institute, Keasberry set up his Malay Mission School. The first class was made up 13 boys. Its largest class was in 1861 when there were 42 boys and 13 girls. The last classes were in 1864, with fifty students. However, Keasberry’s school was influential and its students were were very likely involved with the Jawi Peranakan Printing Press (1879) and the Malay Print-ing Press established by His Highness the Maharajah of Johore in the Malay Col-lege at Telok Blanga (1881). The Mission Press subsequently went through a few name changes, finally becoming the Malaya Publishing House (MPH), which until recently had a large store near Armenian Street. I pointed out the location to my wife one day. Keasberry’s Mission Press produced The 1875 Colonial Directory for the Straits Settle-ments (printed by Abdullah Bin Majeed, 2$). It shows that Keasberry was conduct-ing services in Malay twice a week and once a week in English at the Mission Chapel in Kampong Glam. There was also a Mission Chapel on Prinsep Street where R.P. Keasberry was the pastor. B.S. Keasberry was the master of the Mission School and W.H. Keasberry was the Assistant at Mount Zion on River Valley Road. According to the directory, Singapore had seven English language printing presses in 1875 including The Commercial Press, The Straits Times, Singapore Press and Government Press Societies. Bookbinding, lithography presses, copper-plate and perforating machines were all available. Tamil, Malay and Chinese print-

ers were setting up shop and soon newspapers in those languages would appear. Also, in 1875, Benjamin Peach Keasberry passed away at age 64 while conduct-ing services and now my wife is in the kitchen.You’re not a chef, you’re a scientist.

I’m a chef, you’ll see.

The Gourwatt 3000 looks like a grill with two winglike structures on either side. She finishes pouring red wine into one of three bowls and slides it onto the grill part. My wife is very precise. In the middle bowl is a bird carcass on a skewer. It’s delicate yet ugly, like a small naked plump person with a broken neck staring at the sky. The plucked bird has green peas in its eye sockets. The skewer is almost hidden in the bird’s beak, like a silver tongue. Her finger does a little dance. Nothing. Nothing for what seems like a long time. Finally vapors start to form over the bowls of wine, like pink steam. They become thicker and suddenly a purple cloud is swirling over the counter. The cloud is still for a moment and then there is a flash of white hot pink. Immediately, the sound of a big knuckle striking wood and the smells of wine and roast chicken rush towards me. The wine cloud begins to dissolve and the broken necked plump bird reappears, darkened and still staring upwards in its Gourwatt 3000 cosmos.

Wow! What do you call it? Lightning grilled chicken? Thunderbird?

It’s a partridge. I need a name. Something mysterious yet trustworthy. How does Partridge Rosé en Ciel grab you?

It grabs me, but I’ve no idea what it means. I guess you’re gonna need some fancy pseudo-philo-sophical description so people will shell out a couple hundred bucks to eat electrocuted sparrow...

Yes, Mr. Writer, something like that. Here, sit down and allow me to serve you a breast.

Now I feel great but a little sleepy and Keasberry was not a typical European. He made Singapore his home, which was unusual, and, although his printing business was successful, he was a missionary, not a businessman. He was born in Hyderabad to a military family. He also had lived in Batavia (Jakarta), where he learned print-ing and bookbinding before he studied theology in the United States. When he returned to Singapore with his American wife, he either was an agent for the Lon-don Missionary Society or an independent who passed out free tracts and taught drawing lessons to support himself. It is certain, though that he began to work at the Mission Press. The Mission Press was buzzing with American Missionaries. Their reports to the home office claimed they printed over two million tracts and Scriptures in Chinese, Malay and Bugis. Ten missionaries and their wives were at the mission, including a doctor. In 1842, China, having lost the Opium War, was forced open to missionaries. Immediately the missionaries in Singapore went north. Keasberry wrote a passion-ate and forceful request for the Americans to keep a missionary in Singapore. They didn’t, but they gave their schools, land, and a small lithographic press (which had

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been used in Malacca) to the London Missionary Society- which was now just Keasberry. They gave him an allowance of fifty pounds annually, said goodbye and took their printing gear to China. Keasberry managed the Mission Press as a successful business and it provided for his family. An early important book was the Journal of the Indian Archipelago and Eastern Asia. Two newspapers, the Tifang Jih Pao(1845) and Jit Sheng (1858) were also produced.After Keasberry died, John Fraser and D.C. Neave bought his press and used it to start a company called Printers Ltd., which lasted until the Japanese invasion in 1942. With the many hours of manpower and the forests of paper that were used for evangelization, one has to wonder what the results of the missionaries were. In Singapore not many records have been kept in this regard, but in 1859, a Congre-gationalist missionary in Bangkok was forced to admit that, despite the many hun-dreds of thousands of pages that had been produced and distributed, only eight or ten Thai and little short of one hundred Chinese souls had been saved over the previous thirty years. My wife just called and said she’s bringing me something to eat, so to save time and conclude, I will just use the nicely concise words of Mr. Walter Makepeace, the reporter of the Free Press who wrote, in One Hundred Years of Singapore,

The Singapore Chronicle was the first newspaper published in Singapore, established in 1824 by Mr. Frederick James Bernard, five years after the founding of the Settlement. In order to get permission to publish The Chronicle, the first number had to be sent to Bengal. The principal contributor to the paper for the first two years was Mr. Crawford, the Resident, and in January 1831 The Chronicle was enlarged to a four-page paper, 20 by 121/2 inches, published fortnightly.

The writer, Walter Makepeace didn’t mention his earlier criticisms of the paper, including its “retrograde” journalism. Elsewhere in the book there is a reference to the “respectable old Chronicle”, which despite cutting the price of its advertise-ments by half, fell victim to the success of George Coleman’s Free Press. The last is-sue of the paper was published on Saturday, 30 September 1837. Its press and type were dismantled and shipped to Penang, where they were used to print the Pinang Gazette and the Straits Chronicle.

Upon examining the Chronicle, we see notification that newspapers from other

countries had arrived-five or six months after they were published in their home countries. Rarely do names appear and letters to the editor are signed with words and pseudonyms like: I am your obedient servant Wile, or Your Obt, Servant Cubebs. A. Spark from Malacca was a frequent letter writer, as was Octavius. Oc-casionally a real person would sign his name.

“We don’t view Malacca or its Observer with unfriendly feelings, but very much the contrary.” John Prince* Resident Councillor

Before George Coleman’s Free Press vanished forever, it printed a two volume book called An Anecdotal History of Old Times in Singapore: 1819-1867. In it is a de-scription of the paper documents once stored in the block of Government Build-ings near the river: Much of the paper in the earlier volumes has yellowed with age-a condition probably due to the indifferent manufacture of the paper. The maker’s name is watermarked on nearly all the sheets, the earliest being that of Edmeads and Pine, dated 1798, which is in good preservation. That of J. Budgen (1803-5) is also in good condition. Other early papers were by W. Thomas (1815) which was always poor and J. Rump (1818) which was consistently good. Smelgrove and Son, of 1820, seem to have been never good, but J. Whatman, Balston and Co. were, generally speaking, masters in the art of paper production, and they were also the first amongst the local records to use the badge of the East India Company as an additional watermark. This badge was used by the Company on their bills of landing and other situations where a coat of arms was unsuitable. The watermark for Victoria’s East India Trading Company is surprising. The company’s only real interest was profit. It was ruthless or diplomatic or cunning or militaristic towards anyone who might decrease its profits, including governments and “de Verenigde Oost Indische Compagnie” -- The Dutch United East Indies Company**. The actions of Victoria’s East India Company allow it to be defined as the world’s first global drug cartel. For the most part, they looked down on Raf-fles when he became successful and legally attacked when he was about to retire, a dying man who gambled his reputation for their benefit-and they benefited greatly. The watermark used by the employers of Raffles is quite simple, and almost cute: the letters VEIC daintily surround a perfect heart and I hear her key in the door.

C’mon, time for a break. Hurry up. Come here. I made this just for you.

It smells great. What do you call it?

*John Prince! Yeah, you! I don’t care if you are the Resident Cornflour or whatever it is. Tell me- who is “we”? You got a mouse in your pocket or what?...and...what the heck is this- “very much to the contrary”? When you write, are you paid by the word? Don’t you have the guts/common sense to say something without using the wimpy double negative? “don’t view…with unfriendly…” I imagine you’d prefer to “not have this conversation.” Simple English is not necessarily spoken by simple people- get that through your ye olde thicke skulle! Can’t you say “I love Malacca?” That’s what ‘we’ call ‘honest communication’. Of course if you’re getting paid by the hour that is too short… If you weren’t dead I’d make you a ”I heart Malacca” T-shirt.. and teach you how to talk sincerely. When you’re nibbling on your tea and crumpets with your slaves cookin’ and cleanin’ you can use as many syllables as you want, but the local fishwrapper aint the place for your ivory tower nonsense. Are you a lawyer or what? You’re not fooling anybody when you say A, but you mean B. I know you’re dead, but answer me, John Prince. Or is that Prince John? Who’s your daddy anyway? To the Most Honourable and Esteemed John Prince, Sir, I am most sorry for the impromptu outburst printed above. It seems as though my young wife, who has spent considerable time in the American colonies, has been at my desk after a bit too much cooking sherry. We most earnestly hope that you, sir, with your most noble disposition and gracious good hu-mour, will understand that my wife does not view you with unfriendly feelings, but very much the contrary. I remain your obedient servant, Stephen Black **The Dutch East India Trading Company created their own uniquely formulated ink from a strictly guarded recipe.

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I’ll tell you in a minute. But you gave me the inspiration.


Yep. Do you remember you told me how they once made roof tiles in China? Rooftiles? You mean how they shaped tiles by wrapping clay over a woman’s leg?

Exactly. Well…after I had my legs waxed, I went back to work and no one was there, and I made some pie dough. And I had some butter and some honey from Thailand, some blackberries, some thimbleberries, and some thyme and mint and whipping cream, and I thought of you all the while it was in the oven, and I rushed back home and here we are…

And here we are. Wow. They’re shaped like your thighs and the blackberries look like…

Shhh… come over here and eat. C’mon over here to the kitchen table. C’ome over here and eat this nice warm thie.

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What is your name? “I’m making letters.” “What do you mean, you’re making letters?”

I know he is doing his job and he knows I am not a terrorist. Both of us are embarrassed, but he needs to be thorough. “I am photographing imaginary letters,” I say. “Are you a tourist? Are you a P.R.? Do you have any ID?” he asks. “Did you ever read that book by Dr. Seuss, the book called On Beyond Zebra? says I. “It was my wife’s favourite. She wanted to invent a new food group: meats, vegetables and prangdoons.” “What is your country?” He’s serious now. “Let me show you this new letter I just found.” I tap the camera a few times and the new letter appears. “This is parking stripes in a mirror... photography.” “Yes, photography. Writing with light! Can’t eat it though!” I have to show him an image of a flesh-colored piece of marble with black kind of lightning-shaped streaks. “I’ve seen that heart before,” he says coldly. “It’s near the Treasury.” “Well,” I say, “this is a letter, not a heart.” He clears his throat. “You must be with the F1.” “Yep,” I say, “I must be with the F1”. He smiles and we thank each other.

He walks away and I turn the corner. There is a courtyard here and I talk to the cherubs above the windows. At the other end a crew is installing fences for the F1. The Supreme Court hovers like an alien space ship and the trunks of the palm trees are the color of the stone build-ings. Above a square machine on wheels is a sign with three words printed on metal: Excellent silent generator.

WW Near here, history says, George Coleman built a large mansion for Takouhi Ma-nuk. Books say she was a princess, books say she was the sister of the richest man in Southeast Asia, books say she was charming and beautiful. “Coleman had a romantic attachment to an Asian lady.” “They had an affair,” “Takouhi was George’s mistress.”“She bore him a daughter.” A woman’s voice on a recording in the National Archives says that “their daughter was lost to the winds of time.” Books say Coleman later “married one of his own kind, and Takouhi remained a spinster.” Books say this and that.

WWWJohn Collier’s surreal Alphabet for Grown-up Grammarians (‘By a Supposed Lunatic’, 1778) gives a suggestion about the origins of the word wood itself:’ For instance, take up a stone or an axe and knock it against a tree and I cannot help fancying but with the breath of the stroke it says Wood as plain as the letters can form it or we can pronounce it... this I call the language of God, of nature, of common sense.From Beechcombings: The Narrative of Trees by Richard Mabey


Before, no one could recommend any place to go to after the concert. Downtown was dead. Newton Circus was nice. The hotel television showed almost comically bad programming. There were endless commercials for a Japanese pillow made of beans by Dr. Tani and more commercials for expensive watches. We had no desire to return to Singapore. I decided to go back to school to learn about historical printing techniques and she started learning about molecular food.

WWWWWThe window was open and it was our first night in the blue room. They were yelling at a football game downstairs. I told her what someone had said to me.

“I’m sure you are a food writer.”“Why do you say that?”“You told me you’re a writer and here we only have three kinds of stom-ach writers. ““Stomach writers?”“Yes. Stomach writers. First there are the navel gazers who write and beautifully bellyache about the imported lint on their stomachs. Then your type, the biggest group and the best writers: food writers, those who write about what goes into the stomach.”“And the third group?”“Gutless writers no one can stomach at all.”

WWWWWWWhere are you now?

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Dear Olive,Here is the story about automatic writing I told you about... do let me know your thoughts asap. By the way I am also inventing new letters :).Thank you,Stephen Black

You and UBy Lee L. Ben

Let’s look at this bridge, shall we? The bridge between us is made of paper, ink and language. Upon the paper*, dried ink has been formed into the shapes of some of the 52 letters in the Eng-lish alphabet (26 letters, upper and lower cases) and supplemented with spacing and punctuation marks. Hopefully, the ink creates words and sentences which lead to ideas and thinking. Hopefully. I think this is miraculous. If you have read this far, your actions indicate you may agree with me. You are reading my mind, so to speak, or, more accurately, you are reading my recorded thoughts. Yet, if I were sitting next to you on the bus and I started to tell you these thoughts, you would likely get up and move away, perhaps quickly. Obviously, paper and ink generate some level of trust. This is largely due to the fact that, historically, the printing process was expensive in terms of materials and time. Before the Internet, it was difficult and time-consuming to publish trivial nonsense. Do my words seem wooden to you? I am doing my best to be light-hearted, but my style has been well matched to my job. After graduating from Manfred Uni-versity in England, I returned to Singapore to work for the DOB. My job was to develop the software for the WRITE project. WRITE was an acronym for Words Rhythmically Intuitive, Technically Excellent. It was part of the nation’s drive to become a regional communications hub. It was formed in 2020 with local and foreign talent. Its primary purpose was to collect and process all of the digitized English words in the world. Secondly; we were to analyze the words we’d collected for the purpose of creat-ing logarithms which would create perfect English sentences. Allow me to elaborate, as this second point is deceptively simple. Although our project was secular, we thoroughly studied Sanskrit, one of the world’s oldest languages. Sanskrit was said to have been based on harmonics. In Sanskrit, the mouth and breath are considered to be sculptural devices for creating the smallest components of the universe: musical sounds. First, we proved that the sounds of Sanskrit are not only pleasant to the ear, but lead to a mental state suitable for learning and exchanging information. Then we began writing programs to produce sentences.

However, pleasant sentences alone do not create effective communication. Here is not the place to go into the complexities of language- but there are many, espe-cially when the goal is to create the equivalent of a new global English language from chaotic localized ones. Imagine a conversation full of co*ckney slang, Los Angeles “valleyspeak” and Singlish… We aimed to create text that would combine information with the dynamics found between two mutually respectful people speaking to each other within a comfortable space. I hope you see what I mean. The following sentence was one of our earliest highlights: All I have is my love of love; love is not loving.

I hope you agree that the sentence is pleasant to listen to, yet quite sophisticated in its word usage, grammar and style. We slapped ourselves on the back when we saw it. It was a step toward the sentence we considered to be the gold standard of concise clear musical writing: To be or not to be. The All I have is my love… construction was found in one of WRITE’s self-generated writing exercises. We do not, as a rule, enter into debates on whether software can express consciousness of self. Obviously though, words on a page can take on a life of their own, so to speak. However, we discovered that the British musician David Bowie had written the same line in a song entitled “Soul Love”. Wanting to avoid misunderstandings, we used another sentence for our first presentation to the DOB. The sentence was also from a self-generated writing exercise: Greenbacks greatly make the evening glow.

Funding was not an issue. We needed money and received it. There was, and is, a worldwide market for influential text. Eventually, WRITE became ALWAYSWRITE, the acronym for Automatic Linguistic Wares Advancing Your Sentences With Reliable Interactive Technical Excellence. “Let’s make ALWAYSWRITE always right” was an administrative joke we soon tired of. The DOB became very excited about our work. At one of our earliest pre-sentations, the software was asked to “write eight paragraphs about the sidewalk outside.” After I’d finished reading the software’s result a few moments later, the atmosphere was a mix of awe and happiness. I am forbidden by law to repeat the paragraphs, but one man said “Wow”, one fellow shook his head for quite a while and one woman leaned way back in her chair, smiled and asked to be excused for a cigarette break. The first time we “volunteered” for an outside project was in response to a request from the Chamber of Labour. They discretely implied that they could “not get exactly the wording right” on an interdepartmental presentation. We input their document and initially set the parameters for a university reading level. They were thrilled with the result. Word of mouth soon created a huge demand for ALWAYS-WRITE. When I wasn’t in meetings, I was doing demos and ‘tests’ that more often than not were used as official documents. It was an open secret that ALWAYS-WRITE wrote the Advisor’s historic UN speech. Why did ALWAYSWRITE change its name to U? ALWAYSWRITE was too * I am referring to the historical way of producing and reading books. The process

of reading and writing on electrical devices is one of the wonders of our age.

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long. When marketing came on board we had to make the software “edgy”. In our discussions for a new name we rediscovered that in Sanskrit, the sound of U means ‘agreement’ which we thought was excellent. U was born! But, as U quickly grew up and became successful, I became unhappy. Bad ideas seemed marvelous when U rewrote them. One of my golf partners used U to get a raise. The son of a colleague slipped in one night and had U write his Oxford thesis paper, a paper that made the news due to its “lucidity and superbly written form”- as well as the resultant scandal. Interns used U to start or end relationships. The Chairman of Finance himself came down to see U. Later, he successfully proposed legislation that banned U from writing budget proposals. Projects written by U had received funding regardless of how bad their motives and calculations were. What you have been reading, by the way, was written by U.

Y Yes, dear reader, the above text was based on feeding U about forty of my old emails and a 100 word brief. I set the reading and vocabulary levels at average, with a target word length of 9 characters. I assure you that I, Lee L. Ben, am now writing this and U is not. To prove this, I will write in the future tense occasionally. Why? Because U can-not write of the future except at a lower primary school level. Did you notice that the first part of this essay is set mainly in the past? U ‘thinks best’ of the past. U can only produce “writing” based on text which was already written; U has no imagination. U cannot understand the difference between information and knowl-edge. U is best at “sweet talking” about the past. Also, U cannot use parentheses. The following section will showcase a writing technique comparable to what is called stream-of-consciousness. U is not capable of this technique. Combining maps with unusual text is my new area of research. I am still working on the fol-lowing text.

The evening By Lee L. Ben

You’ve agreed to meet me. (Finally.) You’ve crossed Hill St., passed the Fire Station and turned left onto Coleman Street. A fire engine shoots out of the station, its red flashing lights on but its siren off. There is a sign for wedding parking, there are some big balloons with Flutes written on them and there is the Masonic Temple-what the Malays used to call rumah hantu, the haunted house. The street is broad and it branches; there are two ways to go. This place feels like a big stage, the few remaining big trees are like curtains. I’ve been waiting for you for ever. You are meeting me for the first time now. We walk towards the Armenian Church. We will be walking for a while. (What time is it? I don’t know. As the author of this scenario, I should set a time. For now, let’s be timeless: the light is like evening or dawn. Although- where are we in reality? You are in your reading place and I am at a kitchen table in Singapore. We are far apart, yet on this page we are together.) Walking into the churchyard is like turning a page. There’d been a storm and now the air is clean, recharged. The earth is wet and the area is calming to our nerves drunk with the unknown. The church is a pure white cube amidst a simple 19th century landscape: a lawn, a parsonage, a stone driveway and the Garden of Memories. Other phrases to describe this scene: a release of pressure, antique spirituality, the scent of night-blooming jasmine, the sounds of tropical plants drinking rain. On a white step of the church is a collection of leaves, red seeds and twigs; the artwork of a child. There is a sense of innocence and something like hope. We will remember this for years, just like a pressed flower in a treasured handmade book. The light is even. There are no shadows to cue our eyes for depth. (Depth signi-fies serious thought; depth is a word for beneath the surface; that which is absent. Excavation.) Our first meeting should be remembered without text.

Across the street, over there at the Archives (lately I’ve been in the Archives a lot), I once read the phrase contact with shadow. The phrase was linked to a time and day in 1847 when the sun gave the moon a shadow that was a round black mark upon the earth; an eclipse. We cannot, at this moment, physically see an eclipse. But, just as we can retrieve memories, we can imagine the planets. They whirl, and will continue to whirl, throwing shadows on us, even if we think we are still and standing in the light.

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YYY I hope you enjoyed The Evening. I am looking forward to posting the finished version when the corresponding holomaps are finished. I am now tapping a keyboard at a kitchen table in Clementi just after midnight on October 23, 2014. I am tapping these keys and I will write and rewrite again and again and again then put the words into the pipeline that leads to you, dear reader. Time and unseen processes will do their magical things as they have done for this to be in your hands. I know this style of writing is unusual and if you have made it this far I am grate-ful. I am the actual author of this book, Contact With Shadow. By now you may have caught on to my secret. I used the letters of the alphabet, in alphabetical order, to begin each new chapter in this book. So what I have written--and you have read-- is a series of pieces that are linked by geography and the alphabet. That is either very simple or very profound. Maybe you are wondering what happened to me and U. Well, the ALWAYS-WRITE people are still always right;) (For some reason, I cannot call them U people.) The military caught wind of the software and, basically, they declared it to be a matter of national defence. That’s all I can tell you about that. I can tell you why I am no longer with U. Before I quit U, I found a book of short stories by Roald Dahl. One of the stories was entitled The Great Automatic Grammatizer. I was amazed. Dahl, one of the world’s best short story writers, wrote a story about a machine that could write stories! His machine became extremely successful. Just like U! The story was obviously written before computers, but Dahl’s comparisons of the absolutes of grammar to the absolutes of mathematics-based programming were extremely perceptive. His categorization of language was spot on. (The time we could have saved reading his story instead of the bloated university papers we were given!) Dahl’s breakdown of qualities such as tension, surprise, humor and pathos were revelations. The story contains a great number of excellent sentences, including my all-time personal favorite: Bicycles with passion beat rockets. I showed Dahl’s story to the director of the DOB. I’d only half finished my tea when she slammed the book down, shaking her head. “Impossible! Stupid!” “Well it’s fiction and it’s dated and we are doing so much more. We work for the DOB...” “The man in the story is so clever that his machine can copy the style of any writer, right?” “Yes…” Actually I hadn’t read that or I’d forgotten it. Dahl’s analysis of sentence constructions had blinded me to everything else in the story. “He tells famous writers that they can stop writing and let the machine write for them instead. He will use their name and they’ll get paid for doing nothing. Why do those people say no?” Before I could even think of replying, she received a call. A moment later so did I. We mouthed our goodbyes and continued our phone conversations as we walked away.

Much later, I finally arrived at home. It was after 11 and I reluctantly reached into my bag for my laptop. I felt Dahl’s book. I thought for a moment, then walked to the kitchen table and sat in one of the two chairs. I poured myself a small glass of wine and began to slowly reread the Automatic Grammatizer story, this time focusing on the characters. Now, with respect to Roald Dahl and all of the great writers of the world, I will share with you the conclusion of The Great Automatic Grammatizer:

‘And you know why she signed?’‘Why?’‘It wasn’t the money, she’s got plenty of that.’‘Then why?’Knipe grinned, lifting his lip and baring a long pale upper gum. ‘Simply because she saw the machine-made stuff was better than her own.’Thereafter Knipe wisely decided to concentrate only upon mediocrity. Anything better than that--and there were so few it didn’t matter much-- was apparently not quite so easy to seduce.In the end, after several months of work, he had persuaded something like seventy percent of the writers on his list to sign the contract. He found that the older ones, the ones who had run out of ideas and had taken to drink, were the easiest to handle. The younger people were more trouble-some. They were apt to become abusive, sometimes violent when he approached them; and more than once Knipe was slightly injured on his rounds.But, on the whole it was a satisfactory beginning. This last year-- the first full year of the ma-chine’s operation-- it was estimated that at least one half of all the novels and stories published in the English language were produced by Adolph Knipe upon the Great Automatic Grammatizer.Does this surprise you?I doubt it.And worse is yet to come. Today, as the secret spreads, many more are hurrying to tie up with Mr. Knipe. And all the time, the screw turns tighter for those who hesitate to sign their names.

This very moment, as I sit here listening to the howling of my nine starving children in the other room, I can feel my own hand creeping toward that golden contract that lies on the other side of the desk.

“Give us strength, O Lord, to let our children starve.”

Thank you for reading this.Lee L. BenSingapore, October 23, 2014

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I am ink, a painting of marks upon this canvas. I am Stephen Black as ink, hiding on Armenian Street. This code of letters is my life: my great ragged ups and downs are now lines of small fine curves upon this page. From Toledo to Tokyo to this table in Clementi, my trail’s now perfect w/ tabs and paragraph breaks. This is the book. Words are to life as ice is to water and I’ve been drinking. Small gravities are words; the governmental pushings and pullings of tax painters and art officers. Anarchistic dictators are words. Family run businesses make the best words of all. My ink stains will grow poorly with beautiful rust. Wait! I was wrong. I’m sorry. A new slate can? Cannot; the pen of life is permanent. I will write now again. Please reread me, let me go. I cannot tell you how I felt upon the hill; feel upon the hill. Government Hill. That lightning is gone. I want ink honesty black as ink; with rich and subtle warm darknesses and permanence; beauty and truth. How long must I wait for my perfect match; I lie like a burnt wick in a white candle bed. If this is before your eyes because you want to see art, I hope you are seeing it. My signature is here in black and white. If you are a traveler near Armenian Street, here is a helpful tip: there are free toi-lets, interesting printed matter and an air-conditioned gallery at the Substation. The same is true at the nearby Singapore National Archives. There are also restrooms at the National Museum of course. And there are some in Fort Canning Park, but you need a map to find them. If you are a printer, I hope this does your noble profession justice. If you bought this wanting to know something about me, all I can say is that a night walk along Fort Canning can be more crazy-making than “the black liquor with which men write.” Imagine gamelans. Think hitchhiking in Spain. An evening like a steam train raga. A kiss in a tunnel alive on a bench and the stars, the stars, the wrinkles and the stars. Somehow this is before you and I thank you. George Coleman and Tahouk were lovers in early Singapore, nearly two hundred years before us. Here are three sentences; love letters: The salty evening breeze whispered over Scandal Point, meeting and touching her skin. Filled with thoughts of the forbidden man who was but five blocks away, she moved the feathered quill towards “la Perle des Encres,” – the Pearl of Inks. She quickly dipped and grasped the quill tightly, and then, slowly and rapidly, she began swirling her thin fingers to make wet lines that would dry and burn; burn like thin black flames forever.

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Grabar text and photograph on display inside of the Armenian Church

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Khor Virab is the starting point for this piece of writing. Besides Khor Virab, I will write about a number of things, including the National Archives of Singapore and the Armenian Church which is across from it. I will also write about a man whose head and hands are buried in three different places. I will make a suggestion about where to eat in the Armenian Street area. The ending to this piece of writing will be uncanny.

Khor Virab is a hellish place. It is a dungeon, a pit of imprisonment. The man whose head and hands are now buried in different places was kept in Khor Virab for thirteen years. Let me tell you about him. The man spoke a language we cannot name. Although he was what we now call Armenian, the Armenian language was not a distinct language until about the fifth century, when it became known as Grabar. Before Grabar, the Armenian people used their mouths and ears to exchange sounds in a lingual bouquet of Greek, Farsi and a number of obscure Indo-European languages which have long since withered away. The man who is buried in two or three places is praised by all Armenians. A man named Mesrob Mashtots also praised him. In the fourth century Mr. Meshtots cre-ated an alphabet for the Armenian language. In the 12th century two more letters were added, bringing the total number of Grabarian letters to 38. Was the Armenian alphabet created so as to uniquely capture the rhythms of Armenian speech? Perhaps the alphabet was a spontaneous burst of creativity? A way of maintaining secrecy amidst spies and enemies? A natural evolution driven by business and recordkeeping? Perhaps some Armenian text holds the answer to these questions. Before I return to the story of the man who is buried in two or three places…same topic, different topic. A moment please, while I digress.

For artists and writers, here is a thought: the classical Armenian language is thought to have no feminine gender. For tourists: if you are now near the Armenian Church, please look at the beauti-ful examples of the Grabar alphabet inside. They are linguistic fossils. They were written by Persian Armenians, who are now extinct in Singapore. The Armenians living in Singapore now are very likely Turkish Armenians. The fact that the wall plaques were based on the Persian Armenian language of two hundred years ago means they are now, perhaps, merely coded things of beauty. You may want to sit on the benches. They were not present when the building was built in 1835. Historically, churches did not have benches. The benches here were installed in 1890 and cost $600*, which was a large amount of money at the time. It was raised by subscription from local and overseas Armenians.

For all other readers: the architect’s name was George Coleman and he had an Armenian mistress. Did Coleman’s mistress bring him to the Armenian Church? Their daughter was baptized in the nearby St. Andrew’s Cathedral, so it seems that their affair was not extremely secretive. I think Coleman came here and was warmly welcomed. How did the Irishman

feel in the midst of a Middle Eastern Christian ceremony, the language of which was probably incomprehensible to him? Did he learn Armenian? Coleman’s financial situation varied, despite having built most of the city’s land-marks, owning a huge mansion and being employed by the government. Most of the people around him in the Church were likely far richer than he was, including the woman he loved. What went through his mind as he stood next to her, perhaps worried about money, in a church of his own making? Back to the man buried in two or three places. He is called a number of names: Krikor Loosavorich (sometimes spelled Lusavoritch) Grigor Partev (Gregory the Parthian)Grigor BartevBart Simpson (not true) However, in the English language, he is usually referred to as St. Gregory the Illuminator, the author of Armenia’s conversion to Christianity. Let’s look at St. Gregory’s childhood. For now, let’s call him Greg. Greg was born in 256 AD. Life was tough. Greg’s uncle and Greg’s dad were fighting each other in a typical mixed-up crazy case of royal intrigue and lust for power. People were killing people everywhere. Greg’s uncle killed Greg’s father. Relatives quickly and secretly took Greg away before the uncle could kill him too. They took him to a place called Caesarea. Now, before all of this bloody craziness, an Armenian prince went to Rome for his formal education. His name was Drtad and when he was on his way back to Armenia, he passed through Caesarea where, of all people, who did he happen to meet, but Greg. Greg had become a scribe, meaning all he did was copy words all day. Copy words by hand that is, over and over, the same thing. Over and over. By hand. Yeah. Prince Drtad thought it would be a good idea to take Greg back to Armenia with him. Split the rent, that sort of thing. Maybe open a restaurant or hey a bookshop or something like that. Yeah. So off the two went, back to Armenia. On the way the strong and valiant Prince Drtad was shocked that Greg would not do what he wanted. Prince Drtad wanted him to offer sacrifices to a goddess named Anahit. “Cannot,” said Greg. “Why cannot?” said Prince Drtad. “I Christian lah. Cannot be go to heaven one if I do sacrifice to lady god. She false one. Use your common sense. And besides, I tell you big secret one. My father killed your father.” Wow! Prince Drtad’s world was rocked by Greg’s words. So unexpected! So what to do? So how? Khor Virab- that’s how. By this time Prince Drtad had matured enough to become King Drtad. King Drtad tortured Greg in a number of unspeakable and unprintable ways and then threw him into Khor Virab, that deep dungeon I men-tioned earlier. Ouch! Big ouch! And talk about being in the dark! Ow! Although Christianity had been underground since it began, it was now officially outlawed. It was considered a great threat to the state and the pagan world. “Death to Christians and their Christian helpers.” That’s what King Drtad said. In Arme-nian. OK, technically not Armenian, but the language that pre-dated Armenian.

* According to an article in the December 13, 1914 issue of The Straits Times, the construction cost of the entire Church in 1835 was $5,058 Spanish dollars.

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Some people say that Greg was in the pit for 13 years and did not eat the whole time. Some people say the King’s sister was a Christian and she secretly brought him food or vitamins. Anyway, everyone agrees the following story happened while Greg was in Khor Virab. There were some Christian virgins. One was very beautiful and the King wanted to have his way with her. The beautiful nun’s name was Hripsime. She said, “No way king” and boom boom boom, the king had her and two other nuns killed. Legend says this terrible act made King Drtad go insane and act like a wild boar. It must have been very bad for King Drtad to act like a wild boar. He ignored ques-tions and wouldn’t show up for appointments. He was running all over the place and acting in a sexually aggressive manner towards the town, its people and farm animals. So what to do? So how? Well, the King’s sister had a dream that made her think that Greg could cure the king. So, they called Greg and what do you know, Greg cured the king. Boom, boom, boom. King Drtad found Jesus and ordered everyone else to become Christian- even the army. Armenia became a Christian nation just like that. Wow! This was truly miraculous, so from that moment on, Greg became known as St. Gregory. This happened in 301 A.D. Now, King Drtad and St. Gregory got along and they ruled together. They ordered a church to be built where the virgins had been martyred. Pagan pagodas were torn down and the names of the feast days were changed to honor Christian saints. St. Gregory then went on an Armenian tour and spread the holy light of Christian-ity throughout the land. The Armenian Church gained lots of followers and lots of land- over 10,000 farms- and signed a contract to provide King Drtad with 5,000 cavalry and 4,000 infantry soldiers whenever he wanted. Armenia was the first Christian nation in the world. When St. Gregory was on tour in Vaspouragan, he saw Jesus descend from heaven with a golden hammer and hit the ground where he wanted a church to be built. St. Gregory took this very seriously and in the year 303 A.D., St. Gregory built Holy Echmiadzin which is the Mother Cathedral of the Armenian Church. If you visit Vaspourgan, you can see the Holy Altar of Descent-that’s where the golden hammer hit the ground. St. Gregory had two sons: Aristakes and Vertanes, who became bishops. St. Gregory retired to the mountains where he died in 326 AD. After his death his corpse was removed to the village of Thodanum. His remains were scattered far and near in the reign of Zeno. His head is believed to be now in Italy, his left hand is in Armenia, and his right at the Holy See of Cilicia in Antelias, Lebanon. Different topic, same topic… For Singapore printers: Illuminator* has two meanings. One refers to something which is a source of light, often used in a spiritual context. The other meaning refers to a scribe, one who writes books by hand, especially those books with illus-trations. I believe that St. Gregory the Illuminator was a printer of sorts. A number

of portraits show him holding a book, which seems to support this. When we remember that the Master Printer’s Association, the Methodist Book Store and The Straits Times were all at one time based near the Church of St. Gregory the Illuminator on Hill Street, we can accurately say that this historic area can be called ‘Singapore’s materialistic and spiritual printer’s hub.’

KK Here are the English words from one of the plaques inside of the Armenian Church:

The consecration of the Church was officiated, on the hands of the same Parish Rev. Father Krikorian, on March 26th, 1836 A.D. on the

commemorative occasion of the entry into the Deep Dungeon (Khor Virab) of Saint Gregory the Illuminator,

the first Catholicoss of the Church of Armenia.

Here are some other words on the wall: If you are Armenian (or at least feel so) and would like to join the Armenian community in Singapore, please contact Kani at [emailprotected]

There is an Armenian writing style known as terchnakir (literally, bird writing), in which birds and animals were shaped into Armenian letters. No examples of this style of writing seem to be visible in the church, unfortunately.

KKK Our simple lunch in the backyard of the Armenian Church is over. We spoke of nothing as we enjoyed the quiet and the soy milk we bought at the little stall near

*Phonetically, ‘Illuminator’ is similar to ‘Eliminator’ which means someone or something which eliminates. Eliminator was also the name of ZZ Top’s 1983 album, which spawned the hits “Legs” and “Sharp Dressed Man” as well as “TV Dinners” and “If I Could Only Flag Her Down”. Noted rock critic Jaan Uhelszki has remarked that the album marked a departure from the band’s Delta blues roots and the first time the Texas trio had used studio wizardry “to goose up their meat and potatoes boogie”. In fact, guitarist Billy Gibbons’ experimentation led to a sound that is now called the Eliminator guitar tone.It should also be noted that the album’s cover featured a cherry red 1933 Ford coupe called the Eliminator. The car, along with the 3 band members, was omnipresent on the nascent MTV. The car’s last appearance was in the ‘Rough Boy’ video in which the Eliminator is the only customer at a car wash in outer space.

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the Killiney Road Kopitiam on the ground floor of the Funan Center where, on the sixth floor, we also purchased reasonably priced nasi lemak and chicken rice. We walk back up the hill. I go into the Archives. She goes back to make molecular food. Again I’m inside the Archives. This was once the Anglo-Chinese School and I wonder if this room was once a classroom. A book catches my eye and I pick it up, thinking it may help with my research. The book is called One Hundred Years of Singapore and it was printed by the Free Press, the paper started by George Coleman who also built the Church where we just ate. I take this as a good sign. By chance I open to:

ARCHǼOLOGICAL AND HERALDIC NOTESBy Dr. Gilbert Brooke The early colonial records extend from about the year 1800 to the Colonial office régime in 1867, and consist of nearly 1000 bound volumes of correspondence, returns, gazettes, etc. which are at present filed in the room … on the ground floor at the rear of the block of Government Offices. These records were recently collected, catalogued, and shelved, and have proved to be of great use in disclosing and correcting material which has been used in this History. Often, when the writer has been working late in the evening amongst the dusty tomes, with the silence of the great deserted building above and around, and the cool night breeze bringing confused sounds of life from the river, the ghosts of the past have emerged with a verisimilitude almost uncanny.

I am a writer who finds pieces of the past and then wonders about them. I’ve experienced important moments of my life here in the Archives as well as at the National Library. I am here at this point in time.

Like a fourteen story Star Trek hotel, the National Library Building has a garden, a theatre and a place with good food and coffee. The structure has metal arches, Pompidou elevators, lots of glass and things that look like jet engine parts. On Thursday evenings music thumps and blares over lines of sweaty office workers in nylon leotards doing aerobic dancing in the Library’s large, open foyer. On the eleventh floor are archived materials. Next to the rows and rows of books and dozens of tables, there is a microfilm room. Inside it, silhouetted individuals look at reversed images of newspapers; white text on black. The researchers rewind sometimes, filling the dark quiet room with the whirring slapping sounds of film against metal, until there is the silent white light punc-tuation mark of an empty projector. Often, when the writer has been working late in the afternoon amongst the books and multime-dia materials, with the hushed sounds of library activity all around, his perceptions become height-ened. The columns begin to glow with a golden color. Eventually, there is a metallic pop and the curtains ascend to the ceiling, revealing grand views of Singapore. A Ferris wheel, the Esplanade,

the green of Fort Canning and the sea are not far away. Raffles Hotel is below. The bright and color-ful geometries of Clarke Quay, Orchard Road and Bugis appear. Old churches, the IR and Suntec; all are letting go of the day. The moon appears over housing units waiting by roads full of traffic. Far off in the distance, over Malaysian hills, purple strips of clouds float amidst deepening oranges and blues. And there, past the Treasury and the Supreme Court, are what used to be the blocks of Govern-ment Offices; great deserted buildings now quietly solid against the confused sounds from the river. People walk past them, speaking into phones that hold private lives and a civilization’s worth of stories, information and dreams. Stepping back from the windows, one sees not the city so much as the reflections of those using the library. Like transparent avatars, these studious readers, writers and laptop users seem to float above the Singapore skyline, an illusion with a verisimilitude almost uncanny.

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From: Pablo Arthur L’Oreal March 18, 2018To Olive Wong, Director, Cinema Development Fund

Dear Olive,

It was a pleasure to speak with you on the phone earlier today. As discussed, I am sending you my notes for a movie based on Contact With Shadow by Stephen Black. I forward look to hearing your thoughts. I do hope that these notes are fruitful and contribute towards a successful and entertaining film about your unique and historically rich country.After reading my notes, I think you’ll agree that there are a number of great script possibilities. I strongly fel that a Lord of the Rings/ Kill Bill style of production would work very well. With one shooting schedule, two or even three Raffles-themed movies could be realized. Think of Sir Raffles as Batman or Bridget Jones. Scooby Doo even. Renting elephants is cheaper by the month-trust me. I welcome the opportunity to create a script based on thses notes. It has been a delight to work with you and the talented staff of the Cinema Development Fund. Again, I sincerely hope my notes are helpful towards what will be certainly milestones in Singaporean film.

May your scenes always well be written,

Pablo Arthur L’Oreal

PSS It is embrassing to even acknowledge the ludicrous situation, but I hope believe you me when I say I am innocent, regardless of what the scandalmonger-ing media blurts nonstop at all hours of the day from when we wake up. Where ar the evidence? Even is Singapore you can read newspapers and internet tube those charges will be dropped. W’ll see! I’ll show them. Even if I’m not impicated and I won’t be please give me a break. Just think it for yourself. Thank you for beliving in me!

The Armenian Street Journal Film Development Notes

Preface As we are all aware, Contact With Shadow, the bestselling by Stephen Black is a collection of writings of various themes. The themes include 18th century print-ing techniques, profiles of early Singapore, the Armecian community in Singapore and unusually written diary extracts about his wife, who was zapped by lightning. Frankly speaking, as a book, in my opinion I must say Contact with Shadow is a frac-tured tragedy of a work, a flawed diamond. Despite this, I believe that there is also more than enough material in it for a Hollywood blockbuster and Indiana Jones type franchise. A franchise such as the DaVinci Code or the whatchamacallit franchise with Nicolas Cage (the one with the eye on the dollar and the Constitution or something with explosions and lasers) is also possible. I would be happy to work on a script.

I believe the chapter called Gardening at Night is a good starting point for a very successful series of movies. Sir Raffles was a good guy and he was always sick and people around him were dying. There’s nothing we in Hollywood like better than a good guy who’s dying and fighting bad guys. Hellooo Oscar! And he was a real knight! We just need Sir Raffles to cough a lot. As the primary scene is set in the garden on Government Hill/ Fort Canning we automatically establish Singapore as a locale of importance, as per your briefing.

NotesDespite all of the statues and Sir Raffle’s magnificent accomplishments, we must presently assume that the general international audience demographic of global people worldwide is unaware of him at this point in time. Basically, for Joe Ticket-buyer and Susy Concessionstand, Raffles is a nobody. The following concepts are to be considered as expository concepts for Raffles concepts. I believe these concepts must be included in the script. These concepts are cinematic gold:a. Sir Tommy and the Temple of MajopahitA lost kingdom and a knight in the jungle!

b. Napoleon in AsiaOne short man stands tall against the storming of empires in Asia!

c. A Child Named SingaporeRaffles: Father of a city conceived by accident in a good location!

d. The Burning Ship of LoveRaffles and his women: love and hope on the heartless sea, like a candle and matches in the dark-ness of misery.

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Sir Tommy and the Temple of Majapahit Just as Indy Jones has his Temple of Doom, Sir Tommy has his ancient Malayan Kingdom of Majapahit. The fact that Raffles’ wife trekked through the jungle needs some thinktime. The little boy demographic vs. the chick flick market. Women don’t buy games or plastic crap and little boys are terrified of Thelma and Louise. We’ll fig-ure it out. Either way, you say Majapahit, I say megamajor hit! Also, Raffles always had pets-weird ones like tapeworms and orangutans in suits of armor- maybe we can use CG animation to make them talk like that pig from New Zealand or whatever we can copy from Disney.

Please note that all of the following italicized text is from Sir Stamford Raffles, Eng-land in the Far East By Hugh Edward Egerton, M.A., Author of ‘a Short History OF British Colonial Policy’ London,T. Fisher Un Win Paternoster Square, Copyright by T. Fisher Unwin, 1897, for Great Britain and the Unit-ed States of America (This is an internal document and I think we’re clear on using this and no one can sue our pants off. But check.)

Scene/Concept Ideas Mr. Raffles was availing himself of every opportunity of gaining local knowledge. The native chiefs were constant guests at his table.

Raffles: “The late members of Council came forward in a body, and, after taking the oaths before me, I am sorry to add, got most jovially tipsy at my house.”

He was moderate at table, but so full of life and spirits that on public occasions he would often sit much longer than agreed with him. In general the hour for dinner was four o’clock, which enabled the party to take a drive in the evening; but on all public days, and when the party was large, dinner was at seven o’clock… on public occasions sixty and eighty were often assembled at the Government House, and at balls from a hundred and fifty to a hundred and eighty. Men were employed in collecting plants, insects, shells, birds and nests for Raffles. ‘Many people profited from going to search for the living creatures that exist in the sky and the earth, sea or land.’ He took great interest in looking into the origin of nations and their manners and customs of olden times…

Our first day’s journey was to Camumuan, which we reached a little before six in the evening, after the hardest day’s walk I ever experienced. We calculated that we had walked more than thirty miles, and over the worst of roads… a heavy rain came on and soaked us completely. The baggage only came up in part, and we were content to sleep in our wet clothes, under the best shade we could find. No wood would burn; there was no moon; it was already dark, and we had no shelter erected. By perseverance, however, I made a tolerable place for Lady Raffles, and, after selecting the smoothest stone I could find in the bed of a river for a pillow, we managed to pass a tolerably comfortable night. . . . The next day we reached Merambung, where we got upon a raft, and were wafted down to the vicinity of Manna in about seven hours. The passage down the river was ex-tremely romantic and grand; it is one of the most rapid rivers on the coast; we descended a rapid almost every hundred yards.’

The journey down the coast from Manna was performed on horseback, principally on the sea beach, and in the middle of the day, on account of tigers. The heat of the tropical sun proved fa-tal to one of the party, the botanist, Dr. Arnold, whose loss both on private and scientific grounds was a severe blow to Raffles…

Arrived at the market, they formed an extensive circle several rows deep, the front row squat-ting; nearly the whole were armed with spears, and among them were some women. . . Finding ourselves among a set of people who exhibited in their manners so much of the savage, we deter-mined to keep our party close together, and whenever any general movement was made, to call in the aid of the drum and fife, which fortunately we had brought with us; this imperfect music, most wretchedly performed, seemed to have a great effect upon the people.

‘The path was frequently undistinguishable. In some places it lay over steep mountains, and in others followed the courses of rivers, or wound through the mazes of deep ravines.’ One of the attendants was nearly torn to pieces by a tiger. The scenery was lovely, and the journey gave Raffles ‘the opportunity of examining in person those stupendous monumental remains of a hierarchy, long since obsolete, which are promiscuously scattered through all parts of the island. They consist of ruins of Hindu temples and of images, sculptures and inscriptions…

Besides the above extracts, Raffles’ own book, The History of Java should be refer-enced extensively. It is still considered a classic and was influential towards Raffles becoming a knight. It contains a hand drawn Javanese alphabet. It also underscores the fact Raffles was a natural scientist, an archeologist and an Oriental philologist. He was also one of the last people to taste the flesh of the Dodo bird. This occurred on his first voyage to India (1805) when his ship landed near a small is-land near Mauritius to take on water and food. The ship’s landing party “was most surprised to find a very small colony of Dodo birds”. Though the meat was “as though of leather”, the omelets were “quite not unsatisfying.”

Raffles: the Napoleon of Asia Sir Stamford Raffles and Napoleon the Great were both ambitious men who shaped nations. Raffles refers to Napoleon in several of his letters. Napoleon, of course, met his Waterloo and was exiled to the isle of St. Helena, which is where Raffles met him in 1816. Napoleon fought countries; Raffles fought illness, the Dutch and the corrupt incompetence of his employers. We need to structure the film so that the audience anticipates a great mental battle between the two men when they finally meet. In reality, their meeting was psychedelically dull and Napoleon mumbled a lot. Raffles asked Captain Travers and the other men who met Napoleon to write a poem about the meeting. Although Raffles’ poem about the meeting seems to have survived, it has not been publicized. As Edgetron writes: but as even the piety of Lady Raffles does not give them a place in the memoir, it may be conjectured that the gods had not added the gift of poetry to the numerous gifts of our hero.

On our approaching, Napoleon turned quickly round to receive us, and taking off his hatput it under his arm. His reception was not only not dignified nor graceful, but absolutely vulgar and authoritative.

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Napoleon put a series of questions to Mr. Raffles in such quick succession as to render it impossible to reply to one before another was put. Napoleon’s first request was to have Mr. Raffles’s name pronounced distinctly. He then asked him in what country he was born? How long he had been in India?

On Mr Raffles explaining, he seemed most attentive, and then asked whether the spice planta-tions at Amboyna were doing well, and whether the Spice Islands were to be also restored to the Dutch. He then asked the name of the ship on which we were going home, with what cargo laden, and which was best, Bourbon or Java coffee.

A Child Called Singapore Although Raffles was in Singapore for only about eight months, his influence upon it was great and he seemed to genuinely respect the people his employer was dealing opium to. Raffles’ brief stay on the island for the signing of the treaty of 1819 should be presented, of course. The following scenes are from his eight month stay in 1823/4. During that time he laid out the town and created a system of laws. His conflict with his old friend Farquhar is another possible plot point.

Our friend Abdulla tells us what happened when Raffles observed the preparations being made for Malay boys. Raffles asked why the schoolmaster did not teach Malay. To this the schoolmaster replied, “It is the boys’ own fathers that have ordered me to teach the Koran first; and, when they have completed this, they can then commence Malay. This is our custom. Further, it is not the custom of this place to maintain a school for the Malay language.” Then said Mr Raffles, “Very good, O master! I want to know only. Don’t be angry with me.” So he said good-bye, and went out. He questioned me, “And is this truly the custom of the Ma-lays? “To this I replied, “True, sir.” He then smiled, and said, “If I live I shall have a school set agoing for teaching Malay. I am most anxious about this, as it is a beautiful language; further, it is of great utility.”’

The time had now come for this promise to be made good. The starting of the Institute is best told in Abdulla’s words: — About one month after this the Sultan, Tumung’gung and all the leading men of the Europeans were invited to the house of Colonel Farquhar, where they as-sembled at ten in the morning, none knowing the object of their coming together. After all had assembled, Mr Raffles entered, first paying his respects to the Sultan and Tumung’gung, seating them on either side of himself. Then addressing the Sultan, he said, “Oh! Sultan, Tumung’gung, and all ye gentlemen here gathered together, I have a desire to give effect to, to wit, an undertaking of the greatest utility to this and to future generations; for to-day we live that we may die and then pass away. Now, if we can show good deeds, we are named as good hereafter, and if bad, so accordingly. Now, while we have the opportunity, let us make a good name for future generations. Now, what I desire to do is to erect an edifice in which all races can be taught, each in their own language and by their own schoolmasters, in all knowledge which pertains to true intelligence, such as may be imparted to each and every one, saving and excepting such as affects faith; confining the institution to languages, writing, arithmetic, astronomy, geography, etc. But my greatest anxiety

is to advance the Malays, by easy degrees, in their own language; otherwise let each race have its assigned place, and all this without expense, but let the teaching be gratuitous. To whom it may concern: My name is George Quail and I work for Pablo Arthur L’Oreal. I researched these notes about Raffles and came up with the story ideas. PAL doesn’t want you to know about me. He hired me two years ago to do research for the movie treatment of Bold Before Dawn (which took in 150 million its first week alone and for which PAL was paid $300,000). I also worked on Mr. and Mrs. Death, which meant another big paycheck for PAL. In both cases I contributed significantly to both treatment and final screenplay. Pablo -if you’ve even bothered to read this you know what I am talking about. I am writing these Contact With Shadow ideas. Everyone knows that Pablo is now hiding somewhere to avoid arrest. Pablo-if you even see this- You owe me big time. I’m betting you won’t even check this before sending it to Singapore. Cinema Devel-opment Fund people-if PAL is in jail when you get this, don’t worry. I wrote most of PAL’s recent hits. All PAL does is cut and paste and then adds some “creative ideas” to what I’ve written. PAL still thinks Singapore is in China. He is now insanely rushing me. This is a shame because the ASJ book really has the potential for a great series of movies. I need more time. I hope this strange way of contacting you doesn’t scare you off. We can move forward smoothly without PAL. Contact me directly at [emailprotected] Thanks! This will be a great film project-no doubt! Sorry to have to meet you this way, but PAL has lost the plot, literally and figuratively. I am psyched about this project! Sincerely, George Quail The country will increase in population in time, so if there be such an institute, its fame will spread to all races. What do you, gentlemen, think of my proposition, is it good or not? “The Sultan and Tumung’gung replied that the proposition was excellent, as their children would thus be enabled to obtain instruction. All the European gentlemen also expressed themselves as approving of the scheme. Then said Mr Raffles, “Let us settle the matter by subscribing to the erection of the edifice.” To this all replied assenting. On this Mr Raffles took pen and paper and, by way of precedence to the East India Company, he wrote down two thousand dollars, himself adding from his private purse the same sum. Then he asked, with a smile, what the Sultan would give. “Shall it be two thousand also?” But he replied with a loud exclamation, and a laugh, that he was a poor man, so where would he get two thousand dollars? To this Mr Raffles argued that he should give more than he (Raffles) gave, as the undertaking was of immediate utility to the Malays, and greatly more so than to the English, but let it be one thousand dollars. Then he asked the Tumung’gung to give one thousand dollars, Colonel Farquhar the same, Dr Martin two hundred, and Lady Raffles two hundred. After this the various English gentlemen gave their quota, the whole amount-ing to seventeen thousand five hundred Spanish dollars.’

‘I need therefore say,’ he continues, in his reply (dated January 25, 1825) to Colonel Farquhar’s memorial, ‘how much I was shocked in hearing the cries of a female, shortly after my landing in Singapore in 1822, proceed from a vessel in the river, whose principal cargo was female slaves for the market of Singapore.’

…upon the whole Raffles had good reason for satisfaction. For the first time he had a free hand for the accomplishment of some, at least, of his ideals. There is a note of disquiet in the words which Lord Minto used on the eve of his departure from Java — words which Raffles liked to recall, and which bore good fruit in his measures — ‘While we are here, let us do as much good as we can.’

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The Burning Ship of Love Raffles was born off the coast of Jamaica on a ship named Ann. One of his children was also born on a ship. The voyage from England to Java alone took five months- and he made that trip a number of times; Raffles spent a lot of time on ships. Sailing ships are beautiful vessels; floating poetic symbols. Besides being used as locations, they can be used as cinematic cues or transitions between scenes. Ships symbolize the passing of time. Finally, the burning of the ship called Fame is silver screen gold!

The gale was so severe that during this period we were unable to leave our cots; the sea poured through the decks into our cabin, and the roar of the wind was such that we could not hear each other speak. Lady Raffles, though boarded up in her couch, was obliged to have ropes to hold by to prevent her knocking from one side of it to the other; the ship lay like a wreck upon the ocean at the mercy of the winds and waves, and we resigned ourselves to the feeling that our pilgrimage in this world was soon to close. At last, after it had been arranged to go home on another vessel, the Fame arrived; and on February 2, 1824, Sir Stamford and Lady Raffles embarked, and sailed at daybreak for England, ‘with a fair wind and every prospect of a quick and comfortable passage.’ Dis aliter visum! A fresh misfortune was to subject Raffles’ philosophy to a strain more trying in its way than the misfortunes of the past few years.

Raffles wrote: — The fire had its origin in the storeroom, immediately under the apartments oc-cupied by myself and family, and was occasioned by the shameful carelessness of the steward going with a naked light to draw off brandy from a cask which took fire. . .

‘Sophia!,’ Where is Sophia? Here. The children? Here. A rope to the side, lower Lady Raffles, give her to me, says one; I’ll take her, says the Captain. Throw the gunpowder overboard! It cannot be got at. It is in the mag-azine close to the fire. Stand clear of the powder. Scuttle the water casks. Water! Water! Where’s Sir Stamford? Come into the boat! Nilson! Nilson, come into the boat. Push off, push off! Stand clear of the after part of the ship. All this passed much quicker than I can write it ; we pushed off, and, as we did so, the flames burst out of our cabin window, and the whole of the after part of the ship was in flames! Pull off from the ship. Keep your eye on a star, Sir Stamford. There’s one scarcely visible. We then hauled close to each other, and found the Captain fortunately had a compass, but we had no light except from the ship. Our distance from Bencoolen we estimated to be about fifty miles in a south-west direction. There being no landing-place to the southward of Bencoolen, our only chance was to regain that port. The captain then undertook to lead, and we to follow in a N.N.E. course as well as we could; no chance, no possibility being left that we could again approach the ship, for she was now one splendid flame, fore and aft and aloft, her masts and sails in a blaze, and rocking to and fro, threatening to fall in an instant. There goes her mizzen-mast. Pull away, my boys. There goes the gunpowder. Thank God! Thank God! You may judge of our situation without further particulars. The alarm was given at about twenty minutes past eight, and in less than ten minutes she was in flames. There was not a soul on board at half-past

eight, and in less than ten minutes afterwards she was one grand mass of fire. All was swallowed up in one grand ruin.

… most of them are what no money can replace; such as the service of plate presented to me by the inhabitants of Java; the diamonds presented to my family by the captors of Djokjakarta; the diamond presented to me by the Princess Charlotte, on my embarkation for India, a week before her death. These and many other tokens of regard, friendship and respect, during an active and varied life, cannot ever be replaced.

All my collections in natural history, all my splendid collection of drawings, upwards of three thousand in number, with all the valuable papers and notes of my friends, Arnold and Jack; and, to conclude, I will merely notice that there was scarce an unknown animal, bird, beast or fish, or an interesting plant, which we had not on board: a living tapir, a new species of tiger, splendid pheasants, etc., domesticated for the voyage. We were, in short, in this respect, a perfect Noah’s Ark. All, all has perished; but, thank God, our lives have been spared, and we do not repine.’

Except for the credited extracts, all other text is copyrighted property of Pablo Arthur L’Oreal and The PAL Silver Screen Treasure Company

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There’s a paragraph inside the Armenian Church! Printed on paper, extremely well preserved, it rests behind glass in a wooden frame! It describes the history of the church! Here it is:

On the other hand, two brothers, Bedros and Hovsep, and years later, the Armenians Khatchig Movses and Parsegh Hovakim, Hovannes M. Movses, who considered

and found appropriate, along with the financial assistance of Armenians living in Calcutta, to restore and renovate our church, and to construct the Dome Cuppola,

and presently, Baron (Mr.) Set Aved Setiantz, donated to the church a throne cathedra, and a watch tower, in affectionate memory of their deceased beloved ancestors.

In that 75-word long paragraph is the name Khatchig Mouvses, usually written as Catchick Moses! Born in Calcutta in 1812, Moses’ uncle arranged for him to come to Singapore, where he first worked as an apprentice for Bousteau and Co. The Free Press had been set up by Edward Bousteau and George Coleman, so it’s likely that Moses learned something about newspaper production from his boss. Next, Moses and his uncle, Aristarchus Sarkies, formed a company. When Aristarchus died a year later, Moses took over. The company, keeping the name Sarkies and Moses, was a success and Moses gained prominence in the Armenian community. Moses was proud of his Armenian heritage. He named his residence Mount Ara-rat, Mount Ararat being the mountain where Noah is said to have landed after the flood. According to Respected Citizens: Armenians in Malaysia and Singapore by Nadia Wright, Moses and his wife once attended a fancy ball dressed as King Levon and Queen Mary of Armenia. Moses passed away at his home on Oxley Hill and his memorial is in the Garden of Memories behind the Armenian Church. This is all we know about Moses Catchick, except for one other thing. He was the founder of The Straits Times.

Another Armenian, Martyrose Apcar, of Apcar and Stephens Trading Co. had planned to set up a newspaper. He arranged for a press and materials to be brought from England. Before it arrived, however, he died. Gilbert McMicking was put in charge of the estate, including the printing materials. He sold them to Moses. It has been suggested that Moses bought the printing press more to assist the family of Mr. Apcar than anything else. What we do know is that on July 15, 1845, at 7 Com-mercial Place, a newspaper was born. Moses Catchick was the proud owner of the

Straits Times and the Singapore Journal of Commerce. The paper’s first words were…. Good morning to you kind reader! So you expect from us some sort of declaration of our intentions, and the course we intend pursuing in the management of the Straits Times…The Press is allowed to be “the fourth estate” and ought never to be wanting in an unequivocal and zealous maintenance of its object, since it embraces a defense of the immunity and privileges of a free people…. We have been frank to declare our jealously** for the intactness of public liberty, yet we are by no means desirous of being set down disciples of the crabbed school.

We are not bilious: born round-faced and good-humoured,we do not dislike jokes in their way, nor are we so far removed from the sedate as to be repugnant to that becoming gravity which public instructors should possess. Green we may be, but it is in reference to old age more than inexperi-ence. Perhaps we are somewhat given to facetiousness; where we do so indulge it is soberly done in the best spirit-aye, in ardent spirit-not spirit of wine… Well, we have mounted our Pegasus which is a quiet and well-disposed animal, such indeed as gentlemen of a certain age (like ourselves) ought to ride.…our Pegasus is apt to shy, it might kick or even do greater violence. We have said our quadruped possesses a good disposition, may it not be crabbed.Exactly one hundred years later, the Straits Times newspaper celebrated its birth-day and described its nativity scene... It was the day of the heavy dark suit and tall hat, the crinoline and the parasol.Tanglin was covered by nutmeg plantations. There were sugar plantations at Balastier. Tanjong Pagar was a fishing village. Tigers prowled……… the newspaper was printed by “F. Johnson”. Nothing more is known of him. It is probable, however, that his tiny case room, where the type was set by hand, and at the small clanking hand press he had the assistance of the first of a long line of Indian printers, who have served the Straits Times for a century. The circulation of that first issue cannot have been more than 100 copies*. The paper listed subscription and advertising agents in Hong Kong, Macau, Ma-nila, Batavia, Malacca, Pinang, Calcutta, Madras, Bombay, Paris, London and Liver-pool. The paper was issued on the morning of Tuesdays and continued weekly. A yearly subscription was 16 Spanish dollars or 36 Company’s rupees. A single copy was one Java rupee. Next to the welcoming editorial was a long advertisem*nt for medicine- in French. There was also a poem which began:Old Bachus one dayConquered India they say...The front page also provides a glimpse into the life of its printer.“A comfortable and conveniently situated house on High Street, suitable for family, with outhouses complete.” Those interested were asked to “Apply to the Printer of this paper.”

New to Singapore and twenty-nine years old, Robert Carr Woods was the only writer on staff. Moses wanted to focus more on his successful trading company than his year-old, unprofitable newspaper. He couldn’t find any buyers, however,

*According to the 100 Years of Singapore book, however, “(Robert)Woods hand pressed the first 200 copies of the first edition in a godown at 7 Commercial Square, now Raffles Place.” ** This appears to be The Straits Times’ first error in type, the writer must have meant “jealousy”)


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and eventually transferred the ownership to Woods. Woods ran the Straits Times until 1869, when he sold it to W. Wyener and Company.

One aspect of Woods’ job was to write up “exclusive dispatches from our overseas correspondents”. This meant asking for information from people who had just got-ten off the ships. It might be rumors overheard at the market or loud stories heard in a tavern. With notes in hand, Woods went home to his rented mansion on Ar-menian Street, across from St. Andrew’s House.Woods called the mansion ‘Zetland House’, a reference to the Masons.

Woods was the only tenant in a fourteen room mansion owned by Aristarkies Sar-kies. Built around 1840, the mansion was suitable for large assemblies and Woods, who had just become a Mason, used it for Masonic gatherings. The building was later used by the YMCA (1903-1913).The Anglo Chinese School used it as a hostel in 1917 and the Singapore Boy Scouts used the building in 1918.

We know only a few things about the man who produced the English news in early Singapore. Robert Carr Woods, senior, was born in xxx in xxxx and moved to Bom-bay in 1814. While in India, , “his time was spent chiefly in writing for the Press, and he paid much attention while there to the native character, in order to study which he traveled in India for some time in disguise, being more than once mistaken for a political spy as a consequence.” In 1849, “Woods was admitted a law agent in Sin-gapore, and his knowledge of the native character, his talent and uprightedness won for him an extensive practice.*”* 100 Years in Singapore

According to an article which appeared on 15 February,1853 in the Courier, a newspaper in Hobart Tasmania, Mr. Woods volunteered to present his views to an unspecified Society there.

…recognising in earthquakes and volcanic action the source of hurricane and other such violent disturbances, and giving a series of most interesting details of typhoons and storms which have traversed the Indian Ocean, the Malay Archipelago, and the Polynesian Seas, during the last year. Mr. Woods kindly volunteers his assistance to the Society and to Mr. Dobson, in further elucidat-ing this important subject.

In 1854, Woods found himself in another sort of storm. His newspaper had printed some things about Sir James Brooke. Woods had become engaged in a bitter dis-pute via the Straits Times, against Brooke and Keppel over an incident which had occurred in 1849 called the Battle of Batang Mauara The most disputed issue was about the suppression of pirates GET QUOTES FROM PAPER, An official investigation in 1854 found that ‘false and calumnious stories which had been printed in the Straits Times had been wholly concocted in the offices of the Straits Times’.

Mr. Buckley, under date 1854, after giving an account of the “Persecution of Sir James Brooke, “as Admiral Keppel calls it, condemns the first Editor, Mr. R.C. Woods, for being the instigator of the calumny which”founded on falsehood and

strutted up with newspaper lies” as “the one big blot on the history of Singapore, “for which the community were in part to blame. Years later Woods lived in “Woodsville”, his estate on Serangoon Road. It was considered to be “one of the most charming country residences in Singapore. However Mr. Woods was a very prominent man, a Municipal Commissioner, and a leading lawyer.

THIS SECTION NEEDS TO BE EDITED/DESIGNEDYEREVAN (Armenia): SHORTLY after Sir Stamford Raffles founded Singapore in 1819, Armenian merchants made their way to its shores, seeing business op-portunities at South-east Asia’s newest port.

Singapore’s Armenian link

THE woman who bred and lent her name to Singapore’s national flower, the Vanda Miss Joaquim, was Armenian.

... moreRELATED LINKS LOCATION They went on eventually to make significant contributions to the young city, set-ting up businesses, including the iconic Raffles Hotel, and adding to its economic, social and physical landscape.

Fast-forward to the present, the people of Armenia are once again seeing oppor-tunities in Singapore, but of a different sort: They want to learn how it achieved its economic success, and how to apply it in their country.

Their interest was reflected in the range of questions directed at Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew on Friday.

The first Singapore leader to visit Armenia, MM Lee arrived in the capital Yere-van this week on the second leg of a three-country visit. He started off in Britain on Sept 13, flew here on Sept 17, and leaves for Russia on Saturday.

The Armenian media have credited the Minister Mentor for Singapore’s eco-nomic miracle. At Friday’s meetings with the country’s leaders and businessmen, the question of how Singapore had achieved its strong economic growth came up repeatedly.

‘What are the key economic, political and social fundamentals, as well as cultural driving forces, that Armenia needs to achieve similar success to that which East Asia has experienced?’ asked one businessman. ‘What is the role of the govern-ment in achieving progress? Should it just be setting policies, or taking an active role?’ asked another.They likely saw similarities between the two countries. Armenia, a landlocked

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country in Caucasus, has a small population of about three million.

MM Lee posed a question in reply. ‘Where is your wider hinterland? Is it your neigh-bours? Is it the CIS states of the former Soviet Union? Or is it... Europe, America and other developed countries?’

‘I would believe that your best growth prospects would come from leapfrogging the region... make your connections with Western Europe, America and I would say East Asia, because that is the growth region for the 21st century.’

Read the full story in Saturday’s edition of The Straits TimesTHIS IS NOT YET DESIGNED PROPERLY ..SB Jan 23, 2010

The above text is an homage to Jacques Derrida and his artwork of text entitled Glas, a French word meaning knell, the solemn toll of a bell. Derrida’s work paired the playwright Jean Genet with the German idealist philosopher Georg Hegel.

Writing is about absence; the voice is the privileged medium of meaning.Jacques Derrida

Dear Reader,

Thank you for reading this far. I hope this book’s presentation of words and im-ages is not incomprehensible. I do wish to present information in a dynamic man-ner, but I do not wish to be considered aloof, academic or confusing. My name is Phillippe Charles and I am the author of this book. I will later explain why I ‘hijacked’ the name of Stephen Black. I was in love with a woman named Helen Metes. Helen Metes was a Singaporean Armenian who came to Paris in 1971 to participate in the drafting of the Animal Rights Conference set up by UNESCO. We met before a conference on nonverte-brate population growth patterns, a conference unbelievably ignored by the rest of the UNESCO-sponsored gathering. I was standing with my sign that said, “Spineless animals have rights too!” She made her way to me through the huge crowd like a jel-lyfish manipulating itself through the tides so as to feed upon a fish carcass. Without words we knew we were soul mates, kindred spirits. Helen was brilliant, like a sun in tasteful feminine attire. She spoke with light, direction and depth. She was Gaia in the flesh. How we shared that time is not to be discussed here. I knew she was married and in love with her husband. With megaphones, we did our best to raise awareness of the invertebrates- the ani-mals which symbolize the very essence of life. From plankton* to insects to squids and octopi (with their eyes so similar to ours) we put forth an urgent, lucid docu-

ment stating that to ignore the declining populations of these animal species was the equivalent of ignoring the disappearance of oxygen.

The Animal Rights Convention was bittersweet. Helen and I vowed that at the next convention the invertebrates would be center stage. We’d met a Brazil-ian bee keeper and an amoebic specialist and together we pledged that next time the invertebrates would get the attention they so rightfully deserved- by any means necessary.

Helen returned to Singapore, never to leave the island again. I followed the events of that extremely well governed city-state like a clam watches the phases of the moon. When they banned Cosmopolitan I smiled without joy, knowing Helen’s thoughts about women who wear perfumes tested on laboratory ani-mals or wear overpriced creations made from the skins of our animal brethren. When the government began culling cats I cried as Helen must have cried. Foolish human animals! Microbes feed on us- let us not forget the implica-tions! Another bitter sweetness in my life: watching Jon (Helen’s husband) climb from one success to another. I must confess he made my love for her ques-tionable and even awkward. How different things might have been if he were a gambler, an alcoholic or unfaithful. Our time in Paris was like lightning: brief, bright and life-changing. If she were to remember that time at all, she would likely say that we were just “one of those things,” like hitchhiking had been in her youth or like her relationship with her father. She said that my “beret talk” was a nice change from Singa-pore. We were animalistic and yet I was not a human animal to her; I was not a man. I was a tourist attraction. Ultimately, revolutions are about no one in particular: they are ultimately the anonymous implementation of policies; just as certain caterpillars display a fierce false face to distract predators while the real face eats undisturbed. Jacques Derrida, the most dynamic philosopher of his time... His philosophies shaped this artwork. I met him in our neighborhood café. At first only the bump of elbows as we’d have our morning coffees. Eventually we began to share the paper and after some time we shared a bottle of wine now and then. Fascinat-ing man. The most serious joker in the world. Or, equally true: the most playful serious person I have ever met. This was after I met Helen. It was when Derrida was being ridiculed by Cambridge. He actually enjoyed it. Non placet**. He liked to repeat the phrase. “They pronounce their memorized phrases as though they are using their

*Plankton are the source of life for every form of ocean life, from shrimp to whales.**Non placet is a Latin phrase meaning “not contented.” This usage refers to Cambridge University and its tradition of awarding honorary degrees to distinguished people. It is not clear why they do this, but somehow this is beneficial to both parties. On March 21, 1992 Jacques Derrida was on the list of people to be awarded an honorary degree. For the first time in twenty-nine years a nomination was questioned. To question the nomination, a committee member says “Non placet.” Four members of the committee did so. A ballot was arranged. The press was alerted!

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lips to sculpt gold. Do they know what they are saying; do they know what their voices are creating?” His laugh was very, very gentle. “They are using the language of Rome and Greece in their home country, where French was once the national language. Of course they will be non placet. Are we to listen to the actor, the mask or the playwright? Opium and child labor built their empire, blood, guns and slaves christened their School of Divinity. History is not the voice of the leader; it is the thoughts of the masses who do things. If they ever truly realize that, they will be tres non placet! Before he moved to Harvard, we spoke of so many things….the speech of dolphins, the sign languages used by apes and the communicative dances of bees. “Actions!” he would say. True communication is physical action-this was his mantra and he would always say this with a gesture- opening his hand or touching his heart or banging on the table. “Speaking and listening are the only communica-tion! Life speaks to life only with action!” He encouraged me to write, despite my first presentation of terrible poems. I trusted him to read excerpts from my journal. We talked at great depth about the writing, sounds and memorization techniques associated with Sanskrit. What you have before you is the result of years of experience, years of research, years of unrequited love. I have created a love story for Helen Metes, using the fictional experiences of Stephen Black in Singapore, the sounds of Sanskrit and the philosophy of Jacques Derrida. I must acknowledge my debt to Msr. Moses Jazz Weiner for his invaluable ideas and help in making my language “less French” and more accessible to a young read-ership. I refuse to call Mr. Weiner a DJ (disc jockey) as he does not use discs; nor is he a turntablist. In front of large groups of dancers, he plays dance music stored on computers. To say he is a data jockey is appropriate yet not fully accurate. I have coined a title for him: DP. DP meaning Dance Provocateur. DP Moses Jazz Weiner. Oui. Finally, I must say that there is a ‘real’ Stephen Black. I have, without permission, used images from his website to illustrate this project. More importantly I have used him as a symbol. I apologize for any inconvenience and hope for his understand-ing. His being in Singapore seemed a cosmic happening, one which gave form to my notes. I can be reached care of the publisher of this book. My intentions are honourable. It is my understanding that Stephen Black is not married and if this is not accurate now or in the future, I wish the couple a long life full of health and happiness. Thank you again, dear reader, for experiencing this book. I hope I have crafted an artwork of intimacy, a piece of writing unlike the slickly manufactured “novels” which feature cleverly written blurbs on their back cover, blurbs which are more about self-promotion than the book itself. My art does not need detestable, shallow associations with false celebrity.

Phillippe CharlesRennes, October 22, 2014

PS I cite the following pieces of information as proof that the above state-ments are true. A simple check on the internet of the National Library of Singapore’s website will produce the following pieces of information:

“We should learn lessons taught on TV by Jacques Cousteau” Helen’s letter to the editor of the Straits Times from July 17, 1982. In it she refers to the 14 point universal declaration of animal rights which was unveiled at UNESCO in Paris on October 16, 1978.

It is sad to note that a human using the name of “Flipper” responded to Helen’s letter in a negative fashion: I disagree with animals putting on apparel for man’s amusem*nt. But the exercise that some marine animals go through during a performance acts an occupational therapy, unlike some animals in zoos looking obese and neurotic. “Flipper’s” insensitive fractured logic is doubly ironic as the human was undoubtedly referring to the performing dolphins in the Gay World and Great World Amusem*nt Parks. The dolphins in those aquatic animal slave camps were named Flipper and Robin.

There are also brief mentions in the Straits Times stating that Helen was secretary of the SPCA in 1971 and re-elected in 1972. Finally, I must share my opinion that Helen’s husband Jon most likely contributed to the creation of the letters to the editor. I admit I have often imagined- in great detail- how Helen and her husband wrote the letters together.

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“Never before has Armenian Street been portrayed so dynamically…several decades of history are brought to life, each a differently styled literary treasure. Romance, poetry, food, history and even comedy pleasant vie for the reader’s attention. An added bonus is a map of the Armenian Street/ Fort Canning area.Goh Lee George,Singapore Examiner

Tasty. Moody. Inky. Funny.Amy,

“A postmodern hall of mirrors reflecting immense research and not much else.”Vincent Yamada, New York Times Book Review

A wordy sleeping pill as written by a third rate Thomas Pynchon or a second rate Italo Calvino…the book is a self-pitying, self-indulgent, first rate bore.Reginald O’Shea, Philadelphia Statesman

…here there are no graceful designs of flight, but rather an almost comically bloated attraction to falling… Black has no rhythm and the literary chops of a 15-year-old Primary 4 student.Ivy Seen, critic, Singaporean blog Words, Stages and Walls

Snappy postmodern writing has a new name and its name is Stephen Blake. Contact With Shadow meshes landscape with wordscape, creating a poetic conceptual work with the seriousness of historical nonfiction, the excitement of good travel writing and the tragedy of a romance novel… as well as something about ZZ Top!?AA Loh, architect (Hoffman Institute medallion Winner, 2005)

Plotless and pointless, CSW wanders “forever” in search of a theme. In Singapore, where the “action” takes place, is mindless self-indulgence punishable by caning?Chiaki Williams, International Finance Gazette

The Armenian community and its role in Singapore’s early history are given a grand treatment in this thought-provoking and entertaining collection of writing. A map of the area surrounding the Armenian Church makes this a must for anyone visiting Singapore.Armenians Worldwide Website

… after taking off at high speed with good intentions, the book crashes into one roadblock after another. Yes, the book goes somewhere, but it’s certainly not a joyride. Sun Yat Sen, Stamford Raffles, leg-shaped blueberry pies and ZZ Top may be on board, but literary dead ends do not a travel book make….Dana Pirapo, Mumbai Spotlight

Black plays with English like a baby monkey plays with jello.Teo Bell, Ars Caffeinus website

There’s money in music and this little book is in tune!Pete the Fiddler, internationally acclaimed author (Fiddle Your Way to Wealth) and renowned Forex trader

One part love story, three parts Travel Channel and a dash of poetry make this book about Singapore a must for summer readers. The book screams “I’m intellectual, but not too intellectual and I can dance you silly. Buy me a drink.”Jee How Wee, twitterdemia

Stunning, original writing and dynamic yet meditative images make CSW an instant classic. The book ignores boundaries as it shares information, tells stories and hints at knowledge.Antoinette Burris, Local Global website

Black writes about colonial men and their women, he writes about a lost world of printing and he writes about being in love. ”I am in a cloud here” the narrator repeats throughout this unique book- and the clod is a wondrous one.Singapore Language Arts Quarterly

With illustrations, photographs and a map of the Fort Canning and Armenian Street area. Plus over three uniquely Singaporean recipes!

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Olive,See what you think of the following. As we discussed, very few people could read and write in Singapore before 1900. But they were clever and enterprising, of course…Anyhoo, feedback asap, s’il vous plait.Just a reminder- I need the carpet info! And the last story, about the automatic story writing software… you still have not told me if you passed it onto the Council on Medicine Technology. I need their thoughts.Have a great weekend.Stephen Black

Liquid Words

On the surface, words are simple: young, old, in, out, up, down, left, right, black, white, etc. Below the surface, however, there are only wordless aquatic whispers and the swirling mixings of tides and currents. Above the surface: the cold, star-filled void and occasional laughter. A boy has tucked himself into a ball and is now below the surface, letting his body be moved by physics and the whims of the sea. He hovers in the sounds of the seadrums, above the school of angel fish swirling over the piano coral. A squid drifts near him. He startles it and it disappears, leaving a small black cloud. Finally, he kicks towards the sky. There, he floats on his back on the sheets of sunlight that smoothinually dissolve into the waves. His home and his mother are somewhere between his feet. The tides lift and spin him; his arms move against the ocean water and he is steady for a moment, now with a line of ships between his feet. Ants on the docks feed them coal. Another spinning wave and now he sees an old clipper ship, strong as it ever was, gliding somewhere with its full and curved white sails. B had decided he wasn’t going to go eat with the others and he’d decided he wasn’t going to smoke with them either. He’d bought a packet of noodles and a package of opium and walked far away from the docks. Now he swims and listens to the moon. His skin is no longer covered by coal and the afternoon is as soft as his mother’s kind face. There are warships and little Malay prahas full of men standing and rowing. Boatloads of Chinese men and boys crowd around the ships arriving from Canton, screaming about what they have and what they want. From here, their voices are as small as the sparkles on the waves. An island. A hill covered with rows of pineapple trees. Palm trees by the shore.The sea. The moon says all of this is one. B lets the waves move him toward shore. He walks up to the road. He knows where he wants to go: he wants to see the beacon at night; the navigation beam on Government Hill. It’s like a star over the city. B will be like a sailing ship and the currents and winds of the city will shape his path. He wants to touch the star. B will dream his way through this city in Nanyang, dream his way to the houses on Gu Chia Kia Lo, where he will see if the little mui tsai girls are hanging clothes to dry or sneaking glances out the window. He’ll dream and watch the pi pa tsai girls

eat their noodles. Even a woman with a hundred husbands would be welcome on this adventure. He thinks of looking at the star on the hill with a woman. Women are dainty and soft and have small feet and big hearts. They have wet eyes and red lips. If he could find a woman, he would be quietly virile and they would watch the star on the hill together. He jumps onto a cart half-full of pineapples. The driver barely notices. B’ll go wherever the cart is going. Out comes the opium and a ball goes to the driver. B eats one, chewing the carroty resin until it disolves into something like grainy bitter mud. The bignoses were so bad to China, bringing in all that opium. We could have grown our own. That is what TT would say. He says that so often that now B just gets up and leaves when TT starts ranting. TT rants against the big noses and the big dogs and the demons and their taxes. The big dogs killed us in the Opium War. Now they’ll protect us? TT would then spit. TT had been like a brother at first. Now the spark in his eyes is vicious but weak. TT had been in the Post Office Riots, TT was in the gang that had fired up the boy to throw an axe at Pickering. TT was in everything that had happened before. TT now smokes more and more and carries less coal. This has been going on for so long that it seems normal. TT always talks about women. He talks about how he’s saving money to buy land by the river back home. Let TT smoke with the old men. B isn’t sure where he is now. He’d once seen three Hakkas with poles beat a Teochew to death. It happened in the daytime, in front of a crowd. Maybe the Teochew was an innocent shinkek with bad luck who’d just come off a ship. Maybe the Teochew owed money; maybe the Teochew had used words that were stronger than he knew. The ox pulling the cart is a sweaty black cloud. The shop houses are colored square clouds, the wharves are made of straight and rough wooden clouds and there are grey clouds over the steamers. B moves the shadow of his hand over the pineapples. This is a cloud too, he thinks and laughs at his foolishness. He has to be careful: somewhere around here is the building full of crazy people. Nanyang feels like a festival’s being set up. There’s always something to do and there’s always a chance to be lucky. Tomorrow B will carry coal all day. Tomorrow B will start saving money. Today is for floating around. B hears English words! Dressed up school boys are getting into rickshaws in front of Gan Eng Seng School. They are so marvellous, these boys! They are half lion, half dragon. They probably never have to carry coal in the rain. They prob-ably know everything about the star on the hill. They can probably float through Nanyang any time they want. They must learn important things at their nice school. Their dreams must be big ones. One of them will become Emperor or become the King of the bignoses. B is lucky to see these boys! The streets are jammed with rickshaws and B jumps off. He finds a tea shop in Chinatown, where he sits in a corner, excitedly eavesdropping on anyone speaking his dialect. He hears about a fight amongst the rickshaw pullers waiting for custom-ers near the Raffles Hotel. He hears about all the gold eagles in California. He sets out again, amazed and cautious amidst the grand European buildings and Indian shops. He weaves his way through High Street, through the crowds of Sikhs and Singhs.

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Carrying coal is simple, B thinks. Two lines: there and back; from the pile to the ship, from the ship to the pile. But here, Clarke Quay is noodles. Men yelling carrying pushing through other yelling carrying pushing men to buyers in every language of the world. Opium medicine eyes trading knocks and bumps around cunning men who count money and look to see who’s watching. Gray chests, wooden rough cornered boxes thrown about and thrown about again. Smells of coffee beans, nutmeg and vanilla. Coolies on full carts behind oxen sneezing with cuts and sores and clouds of flies. Rutted ground mud with gobs of betel juice and tobacco spit rats on their back feet like little men. Old frail bowels pouring on the stone steps of the quay, garbage in the quay, bloated bodies of cats and rats and dogs in the quay and floating ragged clothes in the quay. A European woman in pain with a handkerchief near her face. Menstare. Lifeless sweat absorbing burlap bag bodies of rice, dull and pounding on aching bony small shoulders. B hands opium to a coolie old and bleeding with pain. Flags all faded and loincloths and prows and stained tax collectors so sober and paper notices and boats and logs jamming the river. Queues and elbows, ribs and the cracked yellow teeth of men who never swim and the bloody mouths of betel nut chewers open while bosses swear and kick to get spilled things off the ground. B crosses River Valley Road. He buys a coconut and sits in the grass at the bot-tom of the hill. He eventually starts walking up. Suddenly a big nose is there! The eyes of the bignose widen, but he stays quiet and continues on his way, carrying two buckets of water. B watches him go down the hill and come back up. He is bringing water to a ship in the quay from a stream on the hill. The sky has become dark blue and the star will appear soon. B watches the torches appear in Clarke Quay and thinks about the crowds starting to gather in front of the storytellers. The moon is still saying marvelous things, but B cannot stop thinking about the bignoses and the water: surely some of the men in the noodles of Clarke Quay would pay for a cup of fresh water… The star on the hill starts shining. B stares at it for a long while before he moves.

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Fournier was a man typical of a certain class in France, who treat their work with a respect which dignifies both it and them. For he was neither a bad workman, a bad pastry-cook, nor a bad Frenchman, who, when asked about the idea that ornamental pastry was the one Fine Art in the world, modestly replied, “ No there are three Fine Arts-- Sculpture, Painting and Ornamen-tal Pastry-Making- of which architecture is a branch.” E.B. Updike, describing Fournier, a famous French typographer, from Updike’s classic text, Printing Types, Their History, Forms and Use: A Study in Survivals

Just come home, baby. Forget the cake. It’s a beautiful day, like the music of a flute. I should be working on my paper about the lifework of George Coleman in regards to printing and architecture, but the Archives are closed and I’m at the kitchen table, in front of the blue walls, wishin’ you were here. Behind the bustling port and in front of a hill cultivated for farming, mid-nineteenth century sailors coming into Asia’s newest city could see the dome of the Armenian Church designed by George Coleman. Nowadays, the dome is gone and the small Church feels vulnerable in the shadow of the shiny big building next to it. A living time capsule, the Arme-nian Church is possibly the only structure in Singapore that still has project-ing square porticos with Roman Doric references. Ya see that, honey? Ya see that babe? I just wrote ‘Roman Doric references’. Am I writing about architecture or what? But I’m thinking of you much much more than I’m thinkin’ of Roman Doric columns, I’ll tell you that! I’m thinking of you much more than I’m thinking of Timber-louvred windows on the ground floor allow for cross ventilation and diffusion of the strong sunlight. The pews, with their airy, woven rat-tan backs, were bought in 1896. Historically, churches did not have pews. George Coleman and the Armenian congregation stood for the duration of their church services which could be as long as three hours. 1896! That’s history babe! Tell me we’re not history, honey… Tell me you’re thinkin’ of me while you’re mixin’ that dough, while you’re squeezin’ that frosting. ‘Cause, sweetie pie, I’m crying over you as I write about The Church’s closeness to the equator demanded wide verandahs that would shelter churchgoers from the sun and protect them from tropical downpours. It should also be kept in mind that horse-drawn carriages were the means of transportation in Coleman’s day. Singapore was a frontier and the roads were often rutted disasters full of oxen droppings. Coleman designed the north, south and west porticos to be level with the base of the carriages so that ladies and gentlemen could step directly onto the porch without worrying about mud. Oh honeybunch! I wish you weren’t a million blocks away. But you ain’t here so I’m emailin’ ya all my love and a whole lot of info on the S-pore superstar, George D. Coleman. GDC. Yeah, check it

out, uh uh, GC was hanging with Sir Tommy and buildin’ cribs for the man. GC had a posse, Indian guys in chains. I aint talking bling, yo. GC and his posse got attacked by a tiger. Awesome, baby, ferocious. A big old motherdustin’ ferocious Grrr, like last night, clawin’ away. In the jungle. In the jungle wit’ you. Yeah. Yo! Blueprint, newsprint, GC doin’ ‘em up big time. Building buildings and printin’ papers-- you know what I’m saying? GC:Man of action! GC: man of Singaporean 19th century action, groovin’ with his princess with his big old beard irritatin’ her skin. Yo! GC makin’ the headlines every day. GC named his rag the Free Press ‘cause the Gagging Act was repealed. Once more for my lady: the Gagging Act. Yeah. Repealed. 1836. You with me babe? The Gagging Act Act. Everybody say oh yeah! Tigerbabybunnylove you are my free press and I wish you were here for a long time, makin’ headlines every day, just you and me… The Armenian Church is a national monument, having been gazetted on July 6, 1973. It offers visitors a respite from the hustle and bustle of one of Asia’s most dynamic and cosmopolitan cities. The grounds surrounding the Church are lush, featuring a pleasant well-kept lawn and tropical greenery. A small statue-filled Garden of Memories is behind the Church and there is also a parsonage which was built in 1906. Coleman’s original dome bell turret became structurally unsound and was demolished in 1846. Its replacement was a square tower featuring Doric pilasters. That structure also was short-lived and came down in 1853. My man GC! He and his paper boys used a wooden screw press. One sheet at a time. Yo baby. Got me thinkin’ of you. GC and his mistress the princess. Puff Daddy Coleman did up her castle. They rocked in her crib by the sea. Yeah’ Coleman’s foxy lady was an Armenian Dutch Javanese princess, you hear what I’m sayin’? You’re my princess, princess, and you got me dancing on the sad keys cuz I miss you so much. I’m a sinkin’ ship in the Garden of Memories. Drop that cake and come back home. Let them eat bread. My keyboard is a piano, babe, and I’m tickling the ivories for you while you’re makin’ that cake, flour on your ivory skin in that ivory tower. A calm sense of spiritual rationality welcomes the visitor. The eastern side of the building is the location of the main entrance and it features an el-egant bowed apse graced with a pediment. The church’s foundation was laid in 1835 and this date, in a modified form of the classic Roman memorial font, is carved into the pediment. Triangular pediments also cap the Tuscan Doric porticos on the north, south and west fronts of the church. The present bell tower is simple and geometric: an octagonal tower sup-ports a spire, which is topped by a ball and cross. To support the weight of this addition, the east portico was added to the original chancel. These

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changes were made by Maddock, an English architect who also replaced the pitched roof with the present one. It is thought that he also widened the entrance on the west portico. Records indicate that the building’s original coloring was blue. Babe, I can’t concentrate cuz I am so in love with you. Come back home and let me widen your main entrance, let me top you with a ball and cross. Yo! Everybody in the house say elegantly bowed apse! OK, I’m sorry baby, just delete this email when your cake’s in the oven and you’re waitin’ for the timer to go off. It’s just that I love you so much and wish you weren’t workin’ on this Sunday afternoon after such a fine fine Saturday night. That’s a fact. The chancel-cum-altar is semi-circular. In fact, the entire structure is circu-lar, imposed on a square plan in the Palladian style and was likely inspired by James Gibbs’ circular plan for St Martin’s in the Fields in London. Coleman very likely saw the British Neo-Classical design in Gibb’s Book of Architecture (London, 1728). Inside, the main space feels light and airy, with the elevated altar area be-ing somewhat somber. The layout refers to the Armenian mother church of St. Gregory in northern Armenia. This reference was most likely in the client’s briefing. The circular interior is based on a square cross and is said to resemble the famous Round Church in Cambridge, England. You see that sweetie, you see that babe? All that precise stuff but I just can’t cut it at this point in time. Octagonal cone sup-ported a small bell turret with Ionic columns? No comprende! I’m a puddinghead without my baby. Stepping back outside, one again is struck by the graceful simplicity of Coleman’s design. The church is linear and sharp in direct sunlight and on cloudy days the small white building appears to be almost soft, even sweet; not unlike a wedding cake. Come back home now baby. I’ll get off the computer and give you all the cake you need. You can leave your puffy hat on.

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Munshi AbdullahWords surrounding love:Sample 1From the Introduction : Autobiography of Munshi AbdullahIn the year 1246 of the Mohemaddan era, on the 23th of the month of Shaaban, being the 22nd of October, 1840, a friend of mine whom I loved, begged me to tell him my ancestry and the story of my life in the Malay language. As I sat thinking about the request of my friend, I felt trouble about all this. And oppressed in spirit, for all of the circ*mstances he referred to were in the past.Sample 2 The Story of Tengku Long, page 134, from: Autobiography of Munshi Abdullah The following extract refers to a meeting which took place just before the signing of the treaty which sold Singapore to the East India Trading Company.At that time Raffles was speaking with smiles and with a pleasant face, and kept bowing his head, and was as sweet as a sea of honey. Not merely the human heart but even a stone would be broken by hearing such words as his. With a gentle voice like the sweetest music, in order to remove any sadness, and that the doubt which might be concealed in the treasury of the human heart might also disappear, and so all the waves of uncertainty which were beating upon the reef of doubt were stilled, and the cloud which threatened a squall of wind with darkness such as that of a great storm about to break was dissipated, so that the weather became fine, and there blew the gentle breeze which comes from the garden of love, and then suddenly there arose the full moon of the fourteenth day with its bright light, so that the sincerity of Mr. Raffles became evident to Tengu LongPublication: The Autobiography of Munshi Abdullah, also referred to as Hikayat AbdullahPrinting Company: Methodist Publishing House, Armenian StreetAuthor: Munshi Abdullah(Malay)Translator: Rev. W.G. Shellabear D.D. of the Methodist Publishing HouseDate Printed:1918Biographical Information: Munshi Adbullah was born in Malacca in 1805, the day that the British took Malacca from the Dutch. He taught Farquhar and Raffles the Malay language and played an important role in Singapore’s early print industry.

The Singapore Chronicle.Words surrounding love:What a bunch of wretches’ mumming mimicry acting is! Pasteboard and paint for the black breathing orange groves of the south; green silk and oiled parchment for the solemn splendor of her noon at night; wooden platforms and canvas curtains for solid marble balconies, and rich dark draperies of Juliet’s sleeping chamber, that shrine of love and beauty; rouge for the startled life-blood in the cheek of that young passionate woman; an actress a mimicker, a sham creature in fact, or any other one for that loveliest and most wonderful conception, in which all that is true in nature, and all that is exquisite in fancy, moulded into a living to act this! to act Romeo and Juliet!Publication: The Singapore ChroniclePrinting Company: Singapore ChronicleAuthor: unknownDate Printed:18xx CHECKBackground: Chronicle was Singapore’s first newspaper

Reverend Benjamin Peach KeasberryWords Surrounding Love: The Substance of Our Saviour’s SSermon of the Mount contained in the 5th, 6th and 7th Chapters of the Gospel according to St. mathew (1st edition) FROM NAarchives?Printing Company: Mission PressType of Press used: StanhopeInk used: information presently unavailable, likely from IndiaPaper Used: Likely from India or ChinaTechnical Notes: To be researched. A Selection of Hymns in Malay or something else may have been first.

Regarding Love: A sampling of Singaporean printers of the 19th Century with their occupational perspectives Among other things, love is a four letter word.

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Charles BuckleyWords surrounding love:Mr. Woods lived at first in Zetland House, and from there the Straits Times was first edited; he later bought and created the beautiful property, well out of town on the Serangoon Rd., called Woodsville. Botany was his favorite hobby, and the laying out of the grounds at Woodsville was a labour of love; in selecting his trees he gave preference to those, such as the champake, which would afford food for birds by their fruit, with the result that not only were the grounds of Woodsville the best laid out in Singapore, but in them was to be seen a greater variety of birds.Publication: Printing Company: Author: Translator: Date Printed:Location:Biographical Information: Notes

Usumnaser Words surrounding love: Although there are copies in the Melbourne Library, research and translations were not available at time of publication.Publication: Printing Company: Author: Translator: Date Printed:Location:Biographical Information: Notes Gregory David GalastaunPrinting Company: Usumnaser, a small fortnightly Armenian Newspaper. The title is the Armenian word for scholar. The paper was distributed locally and overseas.Type of Press used:Facilities at Lithographic Press where a fellow Armenian named Peter Seth worked. Seth designed the logo and masthead of the Usumnaser

Rev. W.G. Shellabear D.D.Words surrounding love: TO BE ADDED-- The text reproduced is Baba Malay, a language spoken by the Peranakan people. Peranakans are a group of people unique to Southeast Asia, especially Singapore and Malacca. They are descendents of Chinese who intermarried with Malays Baba Malay Bible published 1911 The selection shown is Jesus’ sermon where he says love others as I have loved you.Publication: Methodist Publishing HousePrinting Company:

Date Printed: To followLocation: Methodist Mission PressBiographical Information: To follow

Straits Time Words surrounding love:The first time the word love appeared in the Straits Times was in its second edition in which the adventures of a fur trading American are presented.Thoughts of this nature were not the only ones that caused my father’s letter to be extremely unpalatable to me. A little Boston lassie had caught my eye, and at that time I imagined myself to be desperately in love.July 22, 1845 Vol. No. 2

The Straits ProduceWords surrounding love: When he goes to the Club for his cup of teaOn drainage he’ll lecture to the gallant R.E.,Hydraulics he’ll teach the unlettered C.E.,And expose the ignorance of McR—chie.

When the limelight he works upon the stage,He refresheth the hearts of youth and ageWith sweet fairies and scenes our minds engage,With troubles of lovers and of love and rage.

And the children love him so His kindness is felt by all, Meanness of self he does not know, He helpeth those who fall.

Notes: The poem printed above is about Charles Buckley, the editor of the revived Free Press. The Straits Produce was a light-hearted humour magazine. The aim of the Straits was to be“ humorous and amusing without admitting anything ill-natured or personally spiteful.”It was produced in 1868, 1870, 1893, July 1894 and April 1895. Mr. Neave, of Fraser and Neave, etched the zinc plates for the illustrations. He was also a photog-rapher, but the technical challenges were too great to include photography at the time, as the resources for ‘blockmaking’ were scanty in those day. The profits were given to the St. Nicolas Home.

A Code of Bugis Maritime Laws Words surrounding love: The work being printed mainly for the sake of gratifying a lover of oriental literature, a vocabulary is added, containing the pronunciation and explanation.Notes: This small publication not only explained the laws of the Bugis people-t he native Singaporeans, it contained a small dictionary. Here are several extracts:

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-The Bugis have a Code of Civil and Criminal Law. Similar to that of the Malay undang, but of an older date, and referring to a state of Government and society of a patriarchal character.-The alphabet is readily traceable to Sansrit(sic), from its order and sounds like sev-eral others in the Archipelago.-If a fray or murder shall take place among the crew, and the King’s son be involved, or if a free man should kill the King’s son, in either case the Captain stands clear, when come into Port, by virtue of the power delegated to him by the King.Lao-go, sail Now-matupaa Yea-yes-iyoKimodalai-having capitol Rimalaka to MalaccaVerily-tong ong Publication: Printing Company: Mission PressAuthor: Translator: Date Printed: 183Biographical Information: Interjections are all watery and faded.The Graphic Illustrated Words surrounding love:Date Printed: 4 November 1876

The Eastern Daily MailWords surrounding love:Date Printed: (1905-6)

The Straits Advocate Words surrounding love:Translator: Eurasian Date Printed: in the ‘Eighties’

The Straits Guardian Words surrounding love:Publication: Printing Company: published on Saturdays at “the Reporters PressAuthor: Translator: Date Printed: 1856

Reporters’ Advisor Words surrounding love:Date Printed: tri-weekly, gratis;

The Shipping GazetteWords surrounding love:Publication: Printing Company: the Commercial PressAuthor:

Translator: Date Printed: 1858 at

Straits Intelligence Words surrounding love:Date Printed: 1883-6

The Singapore HeraldWords surrounding love:Date Printed: about 1883-6

Singai Nesan Words surrounding love:Date Printed: Tamil 1888

Jawi Peranakan 1876-95Words surrounding love:Biographical Information: Notes Malay

Lat PauWords surrounding love:Biographical Information: Notes Chinese

Seng Poh Words surrounding love:NotesChinese

Utusan MalayaWords surrounding love:Publication: Printing Company: Author: daily in Arabic and romanised Malay,

Translator: Date Printed: established in 1911???Utusan Malaya subtitle Warta Free press Malaya 1907-1921

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The sun is a drop of ink...

Here is my Mona Lisa, my wabi sabi, my dream of the Tate. This is my Quiet Days in Clichy, my Chinese landscape, my Sergeant Pepper, my Poe. This letter is my Rose City, my Rennes and my Lower East Side. My W is my Idiot, my Mozart; the music of Miharu.My W is an enormous why.


My W is the eternal present. It is positioned at the end of a phrase, before a space of white. It is calm yet energetic, like a Japanese painting of a tossed stone about to enter a quiet pool. Unlike a tossed stone, however, my W can cause ripples forever. At first, the ripples are the smallest possible. Reflected light from the page enters the eye, where it then dances on bridges of storms throughout the brain to eventually-perhaps- set into motion events that may continue as long as humans communicate. The trail of my W goes into the future, into forever. The brain barely thinks about the W. The word containing the W is more important. Most important of all, of course, are the ideas represented by the collection of words on the page.

The idea my W represents is bigger than the earth itself.

The W I write about is in this line: First contact with shadow…

Because the sentence was written at a time when printing supplies and space on the page were limited, the full sentence was not used. The full sen-tence might have been something like: Due to the effects of the eclipse, the shadow of the moon will first contact the earth at 6:07 a.m. July 15, 1847. Contact with shadow: there is a row of small dots after the w. They are points and points in time and space. They concludes a phrase that is probably 4 inches long, yet a phrase which informed the reader of the pre-dicted positions of celestial orbits in our solar system. Wow.

TT My W was created in a room as quiet as a laboratory or a painter’s studio. Dominating the room was a contraption that was part door frame, part table, part grape press. This was the printing press; a fountain of knowledge made of beams, sawdust and iron. The room also had at least five cases, each holding a font. In each case were about 300 different pieces of type: letters, numbers and punctuation marks. There was an upper case- for capital letters and beneath that were the lower case letters. The letters were reversed, so that the marks they left upon the paper would be correct. Some letters were difficult to read backwards. W, M, E and 3 look similar when they are pieces of tiny type. The letters p and q mirror each other; it was important for a printer to mind his ps and qs. Letters were com-posited into reversed sentences. For example:

We are presently reading about the past. would look like

.tsap eht tuoba gnidaer yltneserp era eW

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Pieces of lead were used for spacing above and below the lines of text. Every-thing was then locked into an iron frame called the “chase,” and put on the press. To set one page of a newspaper would take about seven hours. The typesetter stood the whole time. Also in the room would be the ink- probably from India, although the printers might have made their own. Ink making was an alchemy in which the goal was a solid black from an ink that clung to the metal type and then transferred itself into the paper easily and with regularity. Burnt silk and lantern black were some of the many ingredients used. Housewives in Germany used to trade ink recipes. Paper, obviously, was also part of the process. Smooth, well crafted paper mini-mized problems; rough, uneven paper caused them. Singapore’s high humidity meant that even quality papers absorbed ink inconsistently. Whether the letters had arrived by ship or were made in Singapore, humidity made its mark upon the letters. Moist salty ocean air leached out the hardening agents of metal letters, causing parts of type to break off. * Normal wear and tear also resulted in broken letters. Sometimes the pieces of type were not locked in properly and they met the paper at an angle; if they didn’t break, they may have been flattened or bent. Pages were printed one at a time, which meant that a small number of letters were used repeatedly, increasing the chances of break-age. Letters were used well past their prime. The line of full stops following my w, for example, looks like a row of black cook-ies. The line does not look like this: ....................

Mistakes or problems became apparent only after the process was ended and a ‘proof ’ was studied. Sometimes the printer was trapped and frustrated by his limit-ed resources. The printer of the Almanac, Thomas Baptist, prefaces his publication by humbly (and somewhat confusingly) stating: The Editor, in presenting the following work to the Public, is sensible that it is not as perfect as could be desired; it has been compiled for local circulation; and although considerably less in bulk than the publication of the former year, the cost has been reduced to one dollar. Singapore, December 15th 1846. This is the challenge of printing: the results are nearly immediately seen by the public. The collection of ideas, stories, ads and facts is one thing; the craft and materials used to put them on the page is another. There was no place to hide poor work. The printers in the British colonies did the best they could. In the Melbourne Advertiser’s premier issue of 1838 is a passage which could have been written in Singapore: ‘We earnestly beg the public to excuse this our first appearance, in the absence of the compositor, who was engaged. We were under the necessity of trusting our first number to a Van diemonian youth of eighteen, and this lad only worked at his business about a year, from his tenth to his eleventh, 1830 to 1831. Next the honest printer, from whom the type was bought, has swept up all his old waste letter and called it type, and we at present labour under many wants; we even have not as much as Pearl Ash to clean the Dirty Type’. To put inked letters in contact with paper required the strength of a boxer and the delicacy of a surgeon. A ball made of stuffed leather was dabbed into a tray of ink and then vigorously patted against the type. All of the letters had to be coated evenly. Too much ink and the letters would blur, too little and the text would be faint.

*As I write this, I am listening to a CD which features one of my wife’s favorite classical pieces: Schubert’s E major Op100 Scherzando, as performed by La Gaia Scienza. I am not playing it loudly as it is now three in the morning. A cat however, walked in through the grating in the door moments after it began playing. I have never seen this cat before. It sat regally in front of the door, watch-ing me. Now, as the piece is reaching its crescendo, the cat is meowing in front of my wife’s favorite chair and gently making a crying noise! I have just looked closely and the cat has a stripe in its leg like a lightning bolt! The music has just finished and the cat has brushed against my leg and run out! You cannot tell me this is a coincidence!

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Paper was slipped into a platen, resting on notched points to keep it steady. The platen was attached to a worm screw, which was then twisted downwards. This required strength. Paper met inked metal on a bed of sawdust. The platen was screwed back up and the process repeated. Printing was a slow process. Inks usually contained iron and, after long periods of time, rust would form on the inked paper. My W looks black on the computer screen, but it may have been altered. My W probably made a faint impression into the paper. Gutenberg’s Bible was said to be such that the blind could recognize the reversed and raised letters on the back sides of its pages.I do not know where my W actually is. This digital version is all I have. I hope the original W, my possibly rust-colored, camel-shaped masterpiece, is safe somewhere. How nice it would be to hold the paper that holds my letter, to run my finger over my W. For now I have only an image of something that may no longer exist.

Addendum1. Wavewhite wedded words. Quiet dances of printing the perfume of embraces before the bride dressed her husband.From Ulysses by James Joyce. The French printer of the book, Maurice Darantiere, ran out of Ws during the printing of the 1922 edition.

2. The poet William Wilberforce undoubtedly shaped the life path of Sir Stamford Raffles and his wife, but is largely unaccredited for his role in the founding of Sin-gapore. Woodrow Wilson, the most visionary of U.S. Presidents, laid the founda-tion for Earth’s first government, the United Nations. Second only to Shakespeare, the American television series entitled the West Wing is the gold standard of writing scenes and dialogue for actors. The art of William Wegman undoubtedly influ-enced a generation, and rightfully so. The glories of the printer named Wynken de Worde are described elsewhere. By the way, dear reader, my name is William Word and I am the author of this book, regardless of what you may have heard.

3. The sound we associate with W could easily have been different. A W could be used to represent the number 3. 33II could have meant WWII. The same with EEII or MMII or any symbol in the alphanet or any symbol period. But somehow these things have happened the way they have and we just use them. Wow. How we are doing this, how do we do this and why?

4. We’d just arrived. It was very late and we were jetlagged and we didn’t have much Singapore money. We made rice with olive oil and furikake and used coffee cups to drink a small bottle of 7-11 wine. Dessert was a mango, eaten by candlelight. I told

her about the Tamil king who was given a magic mango, one that would make him immortal. He served it to his favorite poet.

5. When she read, whether it was in bed or beneath a tree, the world became per-fect. Sometimes she read words and made them into food.

6. Please do not think I blindly adore Cambridge. My father grew wheat at Tadpole Farms before the University took it over. This is neither the time nor place to enter into discus-sions of elitism, rank and privilege and manipulative governmental/big money practices, but I assure you the shores of the River Cam are not unlike those of the Thames. In my book, The Backs are Words; statements to be read by those who travel the River of Life.

7. One day we went to the National Orchid Garden and it was wonderful. My wife reminded me of the time I threw an orchid at two of my university colleagues. The orchid was a corsage from someone who’d dropped it before or after the May Ball. We’d taken advantage of King’s College’s free punts and set out just after dawn. It was gloriously full of peace and quiet. The noisy tourists hadn’t yet polluted the river and Cam-bridge was as beautifully picturesque as only Cambridge can be. “My dad had a canoe,” was the only thing the American said the entire morning. The young woman, from the south of China, was polite, but said very little. It happened just after I’d punted us very near to the Bridge of Mathematics. I touched it, as is my habit. Suddenly, as if on cue, they both pulled out devices. I was certain that they were going to take a photo or video. Instead, he began tapping buttons incredibly fast and tiny explosive sounds filled the air. She had opened Facebook and I could see her ID photo, her in a restaurant with some ridiculous stuffed animal. She began to play a game also. I exploded. I blasted and ranted, something about being blind to tradition, something about knowl-edge and wisdom and running away to this postcard resort on rich parents’ money and government aid. Vitrolic blablabla that I knew was a waste of breath. I stomped my foot for emphasis and that tipped us over. I madly brushed the willow branches out of my path and hopped onto the shore. They stood there, midstream, as the boat moved floated away. They looked at me and returned to their devices. I saw the orchid and hurled it at them, screaming about Beauty, Blindness, Children, Isaac Newton and Stupidity.

8. How did printing go wrong… ? It was literally a clean slate. How naïve I once was to think that a new invention- a great tool of communication- would make life better. Gutenberg had at first wanted to sell mirrors. That’s all printing is: mirrors.

9. She disliked cutting meat, though she wasn’t a vegetarian. She covered tables with soups to be drunk from cups and solid foods that could be eaten with hands. She created foods constructed like sushi. She minimized the number of tools at the table. Her silverware was carved.

10: Now that’s what I call a milkshake! Well I made it and I get to name it. I call it Laughter.Wow. Laughter. And what is laughter made of? Organically grown Agaricus blazei murrill mushrooms, nonGMO homemade vanilla ice cream with hand pestled Madagascar vanilla beans, soy milk and Mama’s

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button strawberries. Everything organic. Oh yeah-- and a shot of 75 year old Regal Weather Rum. This happened at the East Coast.

10. My uncle had a record by a band called the Talking Heads. The band used unusual fonts on their record jackets. They used upside down letters or backwards letters. They made an album called Remain In Light which featured a song called Once In a Lifetime. On that recording one can hear David Byrne yelling, “This is not my beautiful Y.” It was not until I saw the lyrics years later that I learned he actually was yelling, “This is not my beauti-ful wife”. I was most disappointed. I was certain that Mr. Byrne and I were secret comrades, united towards making the world a better place by using stimulating fonts. Lightning took away my wife. I still wear my wed-ding ring and her photo watches me write. I am trying to write this coherently and thoroughly so as to honor her memory. I am this I am this W and this is not my beautiful Y.Once in a lifetime.

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Burmese printers, restaurants and shops of all kinds abound in Peninsula Plaza, built in 1965. Until that time stood the large structure which Coleman built for himself. His residence was said to be second only to the Governor’s in terms of size and splendor.

Our hero’s nature, however, was not one to yield to misfortune. I am not one of that “Satanic School” who look upon this world as the hell of some former and past creation, but am content to take it as I find it. . . A letter from July 25, 1822 by Sir Stamford Raffles, quoted in Sir Stamford Raffles, England in the Far East by Hugh Edward Egerton

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This is tea! Tea leaves! Those are peanuts. And these are kidney beans... sesame seeds. Those are chick peas and little cubes of tomato and fried slices of garlic. The sauce seems to be a cooking wine with a bit of lime juice and vinegar. Let me borrow your pen… La Phat Toke You know me- food’s fuel. All I know is that it tastes good. The peanuts are fluffy, like popcorn. How did you find this place? Well, there were all these signs for printing… And you had to see for yourself…. But I discovered Little Myanmar! Would you expect food like this in a place called Peninsula Plaza? And this fish, it’s a freshwater fish. Nga gee chalie kyan. The book says it used to be so rare that it was given as a bribe. So sweet. And there was another fish that was only poisonous on the night of a full moon, a fish called mothinga. OK, now I’m going to read something to you. It’s about what we talked about last night… Olive oil? I’m going to pretend I didn’t hear that. Actu-ally, I’m going to think about that all day, but for now let me read this to you …

As the proverb says, “It is the jeweler who knows the jewel.” Especially at this present time, since the founding of Singapore, grasshoppers have become eagles, and bedbugs are tortoises and earthworms are dragons. Now all of these wonders have come to pass through the influence of money. For though a man be of humble rank and ignorant as well, as long as he has money he will be held clever and in high esteem; but if he

should be really clever and eminent but have no money he would be looked down upon. Now I apply all these examples and illustrations to my own case; in the first place I am in a humble position; secondly I am a poor man; thirdly, my knowledge and education are deficient; and fourthly I am not competent to write a book. Apart from God I have no ability or aptitude for the task, and I feel at all times my weakness and deficiency. This tofu is like slightly buttery ice cream. Here, try it. And who wrote that? … A guy named Munshi Abdullah. He was a printer who came to Singapore when Farquhar did. See, I told you: self-doubt is normal. Mr. Munshi was just as worried about his writing as you are. And now, here we are, reading his book two hundred years later. Now, come on… finish your tofu like a good boy and we’ll go make out in the stairwell.

Five weeks later, same location… Wow! This is spicy! What’s the name of this tea again? Fat boy? La Phat yay. You know, you’ve almost developed a sense of humor… almost. La phat yay… OK. This soup is amazing. According to the book, it’s usually used as a sauce for noodles. Cooked banana leaves and deboned freshwater fish. Wow. Guess who ate and drank here? The guy from Sweden who’s researching the history of colonial rubber stamps? No! Somebody famous. Really famous! Madonna? Barack Obama? Otto Mergenthaler? No, no, no! Joseph Conrad! Oh. You know, Joseph Conrad, the writer, the sailor. Wrote the Sea Wolf.

Oh… that Joseph Conrad. Yeah! And guess what else! Wow. I don’t know… what? This place is located where Coleman’s house used to be! George Coleman--famous architect and early colonial printing bigwig-used to eat where we are eating! After he died they made it into a theatre and a hotel with a bar. Downstairs, Conrad drank rum on the verandah with sea captains and pirates. Maybe they should put up a plaque. Yeah! And babe, listen to this. You’ll love it! It’s about the plaster they used in Coleman’s house:… it is so very hard that it seems Madras chunam was used, -- shell lime without sand, mixed with whites of eggs and coarse sugar or “jaggery” and beaten together to form a paste with water in which the husks of coconuts were steeped! After drying, the plas-tered surfaces and mouldings were rubbed with rock crystals until a remarkable polished, smooth and glossy surface resulted. Wow. Amazing. Sounds like a recipe. OK… hurry up and finish your tea. There’s something in the stairwell I want to show you.

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Contact With Shadow

Stephen Black

Book Merah/Blacksteps Pte. Ltd.

Black, Stephen, 1960-

Contact with shadow : artist’s cut / writ-ten and illustrated by Stephen Black. - Singa-pore : Blacksteps, 2010.

p. cm.

ISBN-13 : 978-981-08-5389-1 (pbk.)

1. Singapore - Fiction. 2. Singapore - History - Fiction. I. Title.


813.6 -- dc22 OCN571773723 mentioned teh desired effect is that suddenly we Pre seeing teh front pages of the book...the title page, and then the table of contents.This could be page 1 In the old version that is printed out, the TOC on te next page starts with 2..all of this is a bit flexible....have fun...

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One ought only to write when one leaves a piece of one’s flesh in the ink-pot each time one dips one’s pen Tolstoy

The Editor, in presenting the following work to the Public, is sensible that it is not as perfect as could be desired…Singapore Almanac for 1847

Many thanks are in order to…All of the people at Nature Services, including Kerr and Felix and my book-binding teacher Mr. Soon Amith Narayan Vikki WestonJack OurheroMichael Lee/Studio BibliothequeDavid East, Wuen Tan, Ng Yi-Sheng, Albert TangThe Clement Cultural Council and SubrajaliSteven Lee, The Camera DoctorThe staff at the National Library, especially those helpful people on the 11th floorThe staff of the National Archives of SingaporePeter DeanSpecial thanks to John MetesMichael Han/53

If the reader is a traveler to Singapore interested in a unique perspective with which to define a memorable experience, the pages marked with a or . will be well served.

If the reader is interested in printing the icon will guide you to your inter-est.

If the reader desires to follow the trail of a soul caught in a storm between chaos and rationality, please read cover to cover in a somewhat linear man-ner.

= Armenian Street.= Fort Canning

¥= SunYat Sen§=Sir Stamford Raffles?=Stephen Black ♀=My Wife

=Printing‡= Essay/Short Story

? ♀Chapter I A confession of failure Chapter II A tale of two people and Armenian Street‡ Chapter III Two stories attached to a letter., ♀ Chapter IV UncleChapter V Eat my words?,.Chapter VI Civil Servants Discuss Helvetica on Page 141 or They Will Never See It♀,, ‡ ? Chapter VII p*rnography and a strange place for lunch,,. Chapter VIII George Coleman and the Free Press? Chapter IX I.D.‡I, Chapter X I, RobotwriterChapter XII My Signature‡Chapter XII A funny thing happened on the way to the deep pit‡§ Chapter XIII This was written in Hollywood Chapter XIV PegasusChapter XV Reviews of this Book‡.Chapter XVI Liquid hard words,♀ Chapter XVII Armenian Church Cake Analysis with Vanilla Printing Chapter XVIII Words of Love? Chapter XIX ,? The sun is a drop of ink♀,? Chapter XX Saying George’s name where he used to liveChapter XXI Here we are,, ♀, ?¥ Chapter XXII Sun Yat Sen, my wife and art‡§,., Chapter XXIII Gardening at Night?., ♀ Chapter XXIV A bouquet of evenings?. Chapter XXV Playing RecordsBibliographyRecipes

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Sun Yat Sen and my wife

Along with Confucius, Mao Tse-Tung, Deng Xiaoping and the inventor of the Chinese printing press, Sun Yat Sen is one of the five people who shaped China’s history. He was exiled from China in 1895 and from that time until 1911 he spent nearly eight years in Japan and regularly visited Hawaii, Hong Kong, the United States, England, Europe and Southeast Asia, including Singapore. Sun Yat Sen, because of his untiring efforts to overthrow the Q’ing dynasty, is recognized as the “Father of Modern China” by mainland and Taiwanese Chinese. My wife was an angel who lived and cooked well.

The fruits Sun Yat Sen enjoyed and my wife Dr Sun had six favourite tropical fruits. He had to have them whenever he visited Singapore. They are: mangosteen, pineapple, banana (pisang mas), jambu, chiku and little mangoes that come in a bunch. If you look closer, these fruits all have a cooling or neutral effect when eaten. Dr Sun was a medical doctor who knew how to keep himself in good health. He could not afford to fall ill as he had to conduct fundraising and lecture tours constantly for the revolution.

Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall website:

She grew up on a surfboard. Her first job was as a waitress on a cruise ship that shuttled between Hawaii and the mainland. This was helpful when her parents divorced and her father moved to Los Angeles. She became a chef specializing in both Asian-influence molecular cuisine seafood dishes and flour-based desserts.

Sun Yat Sen’s relationship to printed matter and my wife

“He loved reading, either holding the book in his hand or putting it on the desk. He always returned the book to its original place after reading it. Every book he bought must be covered with paper to keep it clean. His books were systematically classified so that they could be found easily whenever they were required. When reading a newspaper, he would first read the headline news, then those of less importance and then the local news. After reading the newspapers, he always folded them back neatly and never scattered the sheets around.”

“He liked to buy new books, particularly books on history, geography, political science, economics, military science, philosophy and Chinese classics. But he did not like novels, music or painting. He had never been heard humming a song. He liked to play Chinese chess though.”

She organized her spices according to a system she had created, a system in which the sweetest spices were less accessible, and most of the “spicy” spices-- and all of the hot ones-- were easiest to access. She liked books about food, especially those featuring the cuisine of her Big Three: Morocco, France and Thailand. Besides many magazine covers and articles, she appeared in Coco, a book published by Phaidon about emerging chefs. She was planning her own book.

Sun Yat Sen and Armenia and the Arts and Humanities

In 1897, the exiled Sun Yat Sen was kidnapped by officials from the Chinese Em-bassy in London. He wrote a book about the experience, Kidnapped in London. In it, he describes the morning of On October 11th, when he was “walking towards Devonshire Street, hoping to be in time to go to church… when a Chinaman ap-proached in a surreptitious manner from behind and asked, in English, whether I was Japanese or Chinese. I replied, ‘I am Chinese.’ He then inquired from what province I came and when I told him I was from Canton, he said, ‘We are coun-trymen, and speak the same language; I am from Canton.’ Very quickly another Chinaman joined the first and then a third.” The three forcefully led Sun Yat Sen into the Chinese consulate. They soon made it clear that they were going to secretly take him back to China. In China he would be killed as a traitor. Dr. Sun was, of course, desperate to find a way out of the situation. At one point he secretly wrote notes and threw them out the window, hoping that passersby would find them and then take steps which would lead to his rescue. At one point his captors allowed Sun Yat Sen to speak to a representative of the British govern-ment, Mr. Cole. “When he came in I asked him: ‘Can you do anything for me?’ His reply was the question, ‘What are you?’ ‘A political refugee from China,’ I told him. As he did not seem to quite grasp my meaning, I asked him if he had heard much about the Armenians. He said he had, so I followed up this line by telling him that just as the Sultan of Turkey wished to kill all the Christians of Armenia, so the Emperor of China wished to kill me because I was a Christian, and one of a party that was striving to secure good government for China. ‘All good English people,’ I said, ‘sympathise with the Armenians, and I do not doubt they would have the same feelings towards me if they knew my condition.’He remarked that he did not know whether the English Government would help me, but I replied that they would certainly do so, otherwise the Chinese Legation would not confine me so strictly, but would legally ask the British Government for my legal extradition. ‘My life,’ I said to him, ‘is in your hands. If you let the matter be known outside, I shall be saved; if not, I shall certainly be executed. Is it good to save a life or to take it? Whether it is more important to regard your duty to God or to your mas-ter?- to honour the just British, or the corrupt Chinese Government?’”

The kidnapping made the front page of the newspapers in England and around the world. Eventually Dr. Sun’s freedom was arranged and he was escorted out of the back doors of the Chinese Embassy to his freedom.

In 2012, the exiled Stephen Black was staying with friends in Tiong Bahru. On October 11th, he was “walking towards Lower Delta Road, hoping to be in time to go to a movie, when an Englishman approached in a surreptitious manner from behind and asked, in English, whether I was American or British. I replied,” I am British.” He then inquired from what area I came and when I told him I was from

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Cambridge, he said, “We are countrymen, and speak the same language; I am from Cambridge.” Very quickly another inquisitive Englishman joined the first and then a third. The three soon led Stephen Black into a British pub, where they soon made it clear that they were going to intoxicate him. Stephen Black was, of course, desperate to find a way out of the situation. At one point he wrote notes and threw them out the window, hoping that passersby would find them and then take steps that would lead to his rescue. His captors allowed Stephen Black to speak to a representative of the Singapore Bar Association, Ms. Ling. When she came in I asked her: “Can you do anything for me?” Her reply was the question,” What are you?” “A recently widowed writer/artist researcher grad student from Cambridge,” I told her. As she did not seem to quite grasp my meaning, I asked her if she had heard much about the struggle between artistic expression and commercial success. She said that she had so I followed up this line by telling her that just as certain com-mercial authors kill their artistic selves, so Economic Reality wished to kill me be-cause I was an artist, and one of a party striving to secure genuine artistic expres-sion as a step towards improved communication for all. “All good Singaporean people,” I said, “sympathize with the artists, and I do not doubt they would have the same feelings towards me if they knew my condition.”

She remarked that what I am now writing is an insult to Sun Yat Sen and to the Armenians. “Why?” I asked. I was genuinely shocked. I am merely using an interesting piece of historical text as a starting point for creative writing or maybe entertainment or maybe something else. “Sun Yat Sen referred to the Armenians” I explained,”and his reference fascinat-ed me, as research for my graduate thesis had led me to discover the importance of the Armenians in Singapore. Sun Yat Sen established a reading room on Armenian Street in Singapore and one on an Armenian Street in Penang! Two cities, two Ar-menian Streets and two Sun Yat Sen reading rooms established on the two Arme-nian Streets! Don’t you think the coincidence is amazing?” “Most certainly not!” she said. Although I have no doubt your intentions are misguided and merely naïve, you put yourself at risk. The Armenians might justifi-ably think that you are treating their history as something to be made fun of...” “That is not my intent at all!” “Allow me to finish! Not only can you be misperceived by the Armenians, you could upset other groups and races who were slaughtered mercilessly, such as the native American Indians, the aboriginal people of Australia and New Zealand, the French Lutherans, the Palestinians, the hom*osexuals of Germany in the ‘40s, the Aztecs, the Mayas, the citizens of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the victims of the Cultural revolution, the Jews, the Indonesians, Iranians, Iraqis, the Cambodians, the Rwandans, Stalin’s victims, the Sudanese, the citizens of Nanjing, and people everywhere who have been killed because of blind greed and stupid prejudice, to say nothing of extinct animals, plants and natural beauty. “Wow. I guess you are right. I will rethink this. Maybe I should just write about

the technical issues involved in printing and not try to think about what is actually printed. All of those people must have suffered a lot. What I feel about my wife… multiplied endlessly.” The Englishmen who had kidnapped me now pretended to be asleep with their heads upon the bar. Ms. Ling then escorted me out of the back of the pub. There was a gentleman waiting there with a car. He said he was happy to meet me as he had heard that I was from Cambridge and working on an entertaining piece of writing that could benefit the tourism industry.

“Electrical hallucinations.” That phrase appeared in the Straits Times in 1883. A psychoanalyst used nearly the same exact phrase in regards to me and the nonfatal electrocution I experienced as I watched my wife get struck by lightning. The diagram of facts which follows is composed of real facts.


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The construction of Singapore Management University, 2004.

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Coffee shop, across from the Substation. The coffeeshop was closed in 2007.

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Coffee shop, across from the Substation. The coffeeshop was closed in 2007.

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Next page: S-11 was a collection of hawker stalls at the end of Armenian Street, where it used to intersect with Stamford Road.

Stamford Road, near Armenian Street, 2004

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THIAS TIMELINE WILL LIKELY need to check this version

This timeline consists of developments in printing technology as well as issues and events linked to the concept of overseas Chinese identity.

BackgroundBoth Chinese self-identity and the Singaporean written word network experienced great changes between 1870 and 1911. By 1911 both China and the world of printing had undergone revolutions; China had rid itself of an emperor. The Industrial Revolution meant that Printing had become a global community ruled by electricity and the Linotype.Singapore reflected both of these changes. A British colony with the largest concentration of Chinese outside of China, it was affected by whatever happened in China .For example, in 1870, Singapore was expanding its docks in Tanjong Pagar to cope with ever increasing business. The opening of the Suez Canal, the coming of the steamship and the telegraph were reinforcing Singapore’s role as the hub for Southeast Asian trade.And what was being traded? Besides spices, typical goods were “opium, tobacco, foodstuffs, cotton, cutebs, cutch, ‘dragon’s blood, earthenware, ebony, elephant tusks. By 1911, ships were carrying cargo made of metal, cables, wire and steel-the components of the Industrial Revolution. Lim Boon Keng was born in 1869. Born in Singapore to a third generation Peranakan family, he can be said to personify the issues of overseas Chinese identity. As the timeline shows, he existed in the upper political echelons of both the British and the Chinese. His actions made it clear made it clear that his heart belonged to the future of China, despite the printed documented which declared him to be a British subject. Although the majority of Singaporeans were Chinese, Singapore was a city in Malaya and Malaya was under British control. Control, however is a relative term. Chinese secret societies maintained social order within their own organizations, but battled with others. In 1874 the British government set up a Chinese division, focusing on triads, prostitution and illegal activities. The idea of Singapore as a country was nonexistent. Traditional Malay councils governed their own. Indian convicts were pardoned unconditionally in 1873. These 1,100 men had likely been political prisoners and many stayed in Singapore to work as artisans and tradesman, joining other Indians who raised cattle, worked in security, money lending, and agriculture.

PRINTING 1850Reporters Advertiser- no year given Singapore Herald no copies availableSingapore Local reporter 1852-1853Straits Guardian 1854Shipping Gazette 1858-?Singapore Daily Times 1858-1882Straits Messenger 1842-3Straits Overland Journal 1868 approximatelyDi Fangri Bao 1845Ri Sheng 1858

1869Most Chinese printers are 2nd or 3rd generation from Gwantung province. Cantonese.speaking, many are from the same group of villages. Wong Peck Chee, father of Wong Tien Choh arrives from Kwan Tung Province

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Straits Observer 1869-76Overland Straits Observer 1869-1870Overland Singapore Free Press 18?? GR library only) 1872?

1875Rev. Benjamin Peach Keasberry dies and the equipment of the Mission Press is bought by John Fraser and D.C. Neave. Their company, called Printers Limited, lasted until the Japanese invasion of 1942.Robert Carr Woods, writer, editor and owner of the Free Press, dies 31/7/1816, died 16/3/1875,Bintang barat 18??Shamsul Kamar 187??Nujum’l fajar 1877-188?Tangai Snahan 1878 PRINTING1879 Tthe Jawi Peranakan Printing Press takes on five Malay apprentices, teaching them printing and book-binding. Singapore Leader 1879

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1881 a Malay Printing Press established by the Maharaja of Johore in the Malay College at Telok Blanga,The pro Qing LAT PAU newspaper founded. It is one of the earliest Chi-nese newspapers.

1882Straits Intelligence 1882-1886

1883-the Straits Intelligence, 1883-6; and the Singapore Herald, about the same time.-Singapore Daily Times reverts to its old name, the Straits Times It was printed by the Commercial Press, of which John F. Hansen(his father) and A. Zuzarte were the proprietors. The paper was short-lived.1884-Singapore Free Press revived. One of its publications, An Anecdotal His-tory of Old Tmes in Singapore: 1819-1867, is an important reference work.-Ottmar Mergenthaler (German) created in U.S.A. the Linotype machine, which first work was first used by the "New York Tribunal"1884-Government Malay Press set up to publish Malay school books. This even-tually became the Government Printing Office-The Echo 14 1886-Hot metal typesetting introduced1887-Singapore Free Press as a daily was published on 16 July 1887W.G. St. Clair and Walter Makepeace reporter and assistant- Singapore Eurasian Advocate 1887-9, established by (no copies in exis-tence)Singai nesan 1887-1890

1888There was the Tamil paper, the Singai Nesan, and the Malay Jawi Per-anakan. The Chinese papers, the Lat Pau and the Seng Poh had a wide circulation, and the Utusan Malaya, a malay daily in Arabic and romanised Malay, is one of the longest lived, having been established in 1911.Sekola Melayu 1888-191889Hippolyte Marinoni, at the Paris Exposition, demonstrates a high speed rotary press which turns a roll of paper back on its path, enabling sheets to

1883SUN YAT SEN American-educated Song Qingling (宋宋宋) (January 27 1893 - 1981), is second of three famous daughters of Charlie Soong, a former missionary and owner of a printing firm.1884SUN YAT SEN In Sun studied English at the Anglican Diocesan Home and Orphanage (now the Diocesan Boys' School) in Hong Kong. In April 1884, Sun was transferred to the Central School of Hong Kong (later renamed Queen's College). Sun was later baptized in Hong Kong by an American missionary of the Congregational Church of the United States, to his brother's disdain. Sun pictured a revolution as similar to the salva-tion mission of the Christian church. His conversion to Christianity was related to his revolutionary ideals and push for advancement.[1] As a result, his baptismal name, Rixin (宋宋), literally means "daily renewal." 1895SUN YAT SEN In 1895 a coup he plotted failed, and for the next sixteen years Sun was an exile in Europe, the United States, Canada, and Japan, raising money for his revolutionary party and bankrolling uprisings in China. 1896 SUN YAT SEN The Globe reported SYS was kidnapped. Qing govern-ment grabbed him on his way to church. Kidnapped in London cost 1 shilling and was published in 1896. 1900SUN YAT SEN Summer 1900, Miyazaki Toten came to Singapore to visit Kang Youwei who was staying at Qiu Shuyuan's residence. Kang thought Miyazaki was here to assassinate him and reported him to the local colonial government. Miyazaki was thus arrested. On notification of his arrest, Dr Sun rushed to Singapore on September 7 1900 from Saigon to rescue him but instead, Sun got arrested too. Fortunately, with the intercession of his friends, Huang Kangqu, Wu Jiemo and especially Prof. Lim Boon Keng (who was a classmate of Sun in Hong Kong), they were released. Sun had the chance to explain Miyazaki's intentions to the governor of the Straits Settlements and that the Hong Kong dollars that Miyazaki brought were for the revolution in China. 1904SUN YAT SENIn March 1904, he obtained a Certificate of Hawaiian Birth,[5] issued by the Territory of Hawaii, stating he was born on Nov. 24, 1870 in Kula, Maui[6] 1906 Dr Sun established the Singapore branch of the Revolutionary Alliance Teo was the vice chairman. 1906, Teo Eng Hock offered his villa, Wan Qing Yuan, to Dr Sun for his stay.

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1892LIM BOON KENG Although he was the first recipient of the Queen’s Scholarship, Lim faced many difficulties when studying at the University of Edinburgh, from which he graduated with a first class honours degree in medicine in 1892. He faced discrimination from fellow students from China because he unable to speak Mandarin or read Chinese. he gradu-ated with a first class honours degree in medicine in 1892..1893LIM BOON KENG He took up Mandarin and Cantonese upon his return to Singapore in 1893, and immediately immersed himself in the study of the Chinese classics 1896 LIM BOON KENG As one of the doctors responsible for certifying the deaths of prostitutes who had died from infectious diseases, Lim visited brothels to treat prostitutes . He also headed a commission of enquiry in 1896 which uncovered the terrible living conditions of the majority of people living in Singapore, and recommended sanitary improvements 1897LIM BOON KENG He co-founded the Straits Chinese magazine in 1897 to serve as an”organ of progressive Straits-born Chinese opinion’.

1899LIM BOON KENG He attained such a proficiency in Mandarin that he began teaching the language in 1899.Lim Boon Keng founded the Singapore Chinese Girl’d School in 1899 next to the Masonic Temple Hill and Armenian St.with Song Ang Siang7 students 1899 report of the Committee appointed by the Governor of the Straits Settlements to Look into Venereal Disease.1902 LIM BOON KENG Dr. Lim Book Keng’s articles on the “Chinese Crisis from Within” (Wen Chang was the name he wrote under, at a time when secrecy was essential in the interests of the writer) were reviewed in book form among the notable books of the month, in the Review of Reviews (1902) in the terms: He writes English with marvelous facility and accu-racy, and possesses the gift of making his narratives interesting as well as informing.” 1905LIM BOON KENG As an anti-opium activist,he ran an experimental re-habilitation center funded by a group of Peranakans under the auspices of the Singapore Anti-Opium Society, which was established by the Chinese Consolate in 1906.

1913LIM BOON KENG 1912 made president of the Board of Health in Nan-jing

Armenian StreetThe English called the Street Armenian Street, the Chinese knew it as Seng poh sin chu au meaning the back of Seng Poh’s big new building.


SingaporePeranakan Methodist Church built (the Baba Church) now known as Sculpture Square

1871Armenian StreetArmenian's church, St. Gregory's Church is the oldest church of Singa-pore, having been built in 1836. The street was already in existence at the time the church was built but had remained unnamed. By the 1840s, the street which ran along a third of the church, came to be known as Armenian Church Street. It is likely that the name was shortened to Ar-menian Street some time later. This led to the mistaken belief that many Armenians resided or had businesses along this street. However, only one Armenian residence stood here, that of Aristarkies Sarkies whose mansion, the Zetland House, occupied one-sixth of the eastern side of the street but Aristarkies stayed no more than two years here. The street also only had one known Armenian business, that of George Michael who owned a photography studio in the early 1900s, located at the junction of Armenian Street and Stamford Road. Beside Armenian Street, there were several other byways associated with the Armenians nearby. One of them was Armenian Lane which is since lost to development work, and a short unnamed portion which ran off Hill Street opposite the church and was built over in the 1990s.

18751875 Consulates in Singapore included: German Empire, Ottoman Em-pire, United States of America, Siam and Russia, Japan and China

1876the Post Office riot. This riot was not between rival societies but against the British authorities, over the imposition of a charge to the Chinese for letters and money sent to China. Even as late as 1876 Mr J.D. Vaughan stated that he knew of no instance of a respectable woman emigrating with her husband. From the 100 yrs.

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be printed on both sides and then cut and folded into piles of completed newspapers.1890Sing Po 1890-98 The Free Press publishes a number of Rudyard Kipling stories Linotype takes the USA by storm. 1891The Agricultural Bulletin of the Malay Peninsula( 1891-1900) The Ag-ricultural Bulletin of the Straits and Federated Malay States (1901-1911) The Gardens official journal, The Gardens’ Bulletin Singapore is now in its 60th year.Apprenticeships were also attached to the English printing Office. For the first five years only five were awarded, but in 1892 seventeen held schol-arships.

1892, He started a paper in 1892, and called it the Daily Advertiser. The first editor was John Webb, a European. He was an erratic worker, and it was not long before Henry Barnaby Leicester was engaged to write the edito-rials, with D.C. Perreau as a regular contributor. With regards to matters foreign the paper was necessarily conservative, but it could not be any-thing else but democratic in local topics. It ran for four years. It changed its name to the Phoenix Press. The promoters did not obtain public sup-port, and the paper died in 1900. Daily Advertiser Makepeace gives first dates of publication as 1892 pub-lished by Phoenix press 1894-1900Absorbed by SC Herald may 7 1894The Malay Mail, a paper first issued on 14 December 1896 and later bought by Straits Times Press in 1952, and The Malay Mail became a national paper. The popular paper was distributed to all major towns with separate editions for Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. On 1 September 1972, with the split of the Straits Times Press Group, the Malaysian op-erations changed its name to The New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd. and took The Malay Mail with it. The Malay Mail continues to be in publica-tion in Malaysia today Tian nan xin bao 1898-1905Straits Telegraph and Daily Advertiser 1899-??Ji Hs’in Pao 1899-1903PRINTING1894 Straits Budget launched, except for a gap during the Japanese Oc-cupation, it lasted until 1969Mid-day Herald and Daily Advertisor 1894=1898Straits Budget 1894-1942

1908After the failure of "Zhennanguan Uprising", the Qing authorities stepped up investigations on Dr Sun in Annam. Dr Sun had no choice but to move to Singapore. deported On In October 1908, Dr Sun went to Singa-pore from Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) to expand the revolution's reach. 1908 Chinese Revolutionary Alliance members from all parts of SE Asia gathered in Singapore. Dr Sun reached Singapore. His movements were kept secret to escape detection by the Qing assassins. The Qing govern-ment requested the Straits Settlements government to expel Dr Sun. The governor interrogated Dr Sun but did not deport him It was inaugurated on 8 August 1910 by Sun Yat Sen, father of modern China. In 1911 this library was moved to Armenian Street. The library was set up as a part of the 50 reading rooms by the Chinese Republicans to promote their cause overseas. 1911Chinese Revoltion

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Singapore had the largest concentration of Chinese in the region,

In 1877, the Chinese govt reversed its position and the Manchu govt became interested in the Chinese of Spore

1878Sing Water Works opened 1879Whampoa met U,V, Perry and U.S. Grant in 1879 Lim Nee Soon, aka Weihe or Qihua, was born in Singapore on November 8 18791880In 1880, India alone exported over 6,000 tons of opium. By contrast, the global production of all opiates in 1980 was less that 3,000 tons. (Lin, 1993) (2) 2. The 6,000 tons that was exported from British India in 1880 was only exceeded by the amount of the drug then being produced in China itself, which Lin Man-huong estimates to have been in the neigh-borhood of 12,000 to 18,000 tons. (Lin, 1993)

1882Rickshaws were introduced to Singapore in the 1880s and they became an important source of livelihood for the Hokkien, Henghua and Hock-chiaa sinkeh. In 1881, when the population was 139, 208, only 9,527 had been born in Malaya, only eight per cent were under 16 years of age while 56 per cent were men between the ages of 21and 45.source Singa-pore Yearbook 1968I served notice on all the brothels, about the beginning of 1882, about children not being allowed in the brothels, children between the ages of 8 and 15.W. A. Pickering, Protector the Chinese under the C.D.O. No-vember 1857 Tan Kin Seng donated money 13,000$ for the govt. for the purpose of improving the water supply. Sing Water Works opened 1878 in 1882 the Municipal Commissioners erected a large fountain with an inscription to commemorate his donation,

18851885 Straits Settlements: Singapore, Malacca and Penang were a Crown Colony under direct control of the Colony Office in London1886a Straits-born Chinese, Gan Eng Seng, founded the Anglo- Chinese Free School. Besides reading Chinese books, younger learned about Chinese

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Straits Chinese Herald starts 22nJanuary 1894 Malay Title:Surat Khabar PeranakanAbsorbed by daily Advertisor May 1894Straits Mail 1894-5Bintang Timor 3x a week 1894-1895Indochinese Patriot 1900-1911Singai mitthiran 1900-1912 checkAl-Islah 1900-19051900-1945 Malaya Publishing House replaced Methodist publishing House replaced The American Mission press replaced the Mission Press PRINTINGThe Agricultural Bulletin of the Straits and Federated Malay States (1901-1911)PRINTING Offset press1903PRINTINGThe Linotype Composing Machine Has no rivalForeign and Colonial Governments and Government contractorsEastern Depot S-1 Dolhousie Square CalcuttaThis paper is partly set upon Linotype composing machine Eastern Daily Mail(1905-6); It was not until 1905 that an Indian gentleman started the Eastern Daily Mail, which paper ceased publication abruptly after a libel case.PRINTINGScreen-printing1907 In 1907, the Singapore Free Press decided to set up the Malay edition of the newspaper, Utusan Melayu. The paper invited Mohammed Eunos, a wealthy merchant educated at Raffles Institution, to join as Editor. Initially published three times a week, it became a daily newspaper in 1915Chong Shing Yat Pao 1907-1910the Methodist Publishing House built, situated at the junction of Stamford road and Armenian Street Edwardian commercial street architecture style The MPH Building, built in 1908, is situated at the junction of Stamford road and Armenian Street. A big portion of the building extends into Ar-menian Street though its main entrance faces Stamford Road. The build-ing was originally known as the Methodist Publishing House but it was renamed as Malaya Publishing House, after its operations were commer-cialised. Built in the Edwardian commercial street architecture style, it used to be well-known for the retail bookstore until in 2003 the building was sold to commercial educators.The United Chinese Library was built between 1908 and 1911 below Fort Canning.Taman Pengethuan 19041904, Teo Eng Hock started the Thoe Lam Jit Poh with Tan Chor Nam

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culture and history. Philanthropist Gan Eng Sang starts to educate chil-dren in his shophouse at 130 Tanjong Pagar Rd.

Photographic Society was founded 1888 there was a darkroom on Hill St. In 1888, only 2,799 children were born in Singapore (including the first to be born in a hospital), as many as were born in 14 days in 1957. Of these babies the Malays exceeded the Chinese in number. On the other hand, life was hard and uncertain, the death rate was 45.3 per thousand with 39% of the deaths in the age group from 24-44; and the infant mor-tality rate was 37.59 per thousand. The majority of deaths were either be-low the age of one or between the ages of 25 and 34. Malaria and cholera took their heavy toll. Hospitals, education and welfare societies did not exist.

Sir W. E. Maxwell’s Manual of the Malay Language (1888) ran eas-ily to a second edition. He wrote voluminously on Malay literature and customs-Malay characteristics, fairy tales, the Law relating to Slavery among the Malays1890By the 1890s, many Baba Malay translations of popular Chinese classics had been published ny Chan Kim Boon, a writer who wrote under the pen name of Batu Gantung. Chan was born in Pemnang in 1851 and his pub-lications included translations of Sam Kok (The three Kingdoms) Song kang, (Water Margin) and Chrita She Yew (Journey to the West)18911891 there were 282 Tamils,

1893Armenian StreetIn 1893 he set up the Anglo-Chinese Free School (Gan Eng Seng School).

1896 Check Spanish dollar vs, rupee (made by East India trading co) and Mexican dollar and HK dollar 1896 first attempt to regulate currency

1899Armenian StreetA disorderly house Reverend went to testify mode of life led by the oc-cupants of the house on the junction of Stamford and Armenian Streets was scandalous and demoralizing to society in general and to the young people passing the house on the way to church in particular. 1899 May 5

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and was its editor. The paper ended 2 years later.In 1904, Lin Shouzhi donated $2000 to the alliance for uprising purposes. He also gave thou-sands of revised copies of Zou Rong's The Revolutionary Army to vari-ous overseas Chinese communities.PRINTINGForeign and Colonial Governments and Government contractors 1910 25 January ST This paper is partly set upon Linotype composing machinePrinting without ink bids fair to be the newest development in newspaper enterprise, and indeed throughout the whole printing industry. The pro-cess is an electrical one and disposes entirely with ink and its attendant distributing mechanism. The manipulation of the process is a simple one. It calls for no electrical skill and a boy can work it. Eastern Depot S-1 Dolhousie Square Calcutta the Utusan Malaya, a malay daily in Arabic and romanised Malay, is one of the longest lived, having been established in 1911.1911 - The Copyright Act began to come into force in USA. The Association was first formed in the year 1912 and its founder mem-bers were Messrs. Chan Khu Cheong, Wong Kay fai, Siw Swee Kong, Yam Hoi Yin, Yam Koh, Yam Shuen Lok and Fong Kam Leong. At that time, the campaign for new members resulted in less than a hundred becoming members of the Association. This is because there were less than thirty printing shops in Singapore employing a total of slightly over a hundred printing workers.After the establishment of the Yit Chan As-sociation, the membership was slightly over thirty. With the exception of a single table-tennis table, enthusiastic members had to bring in their own musical instruments to form a not so complete string music group. Prac-tices were held twice a week at the Association’s premises. As the major-ity of members were Cantonese, Cantonese music was practiced and this has, to some extent, attracted quite a number of non-practicing members during the practice nights.

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1901Armenian StreetThe street also only had one known Armenian business, that of George Michael who owned a photography studio in the early 1900s, located at the junction of Armenian Street and Stamford Road.King George V and Queen Mary visited Singapore in 19011900-1970s Manufacturers added speed and quality to the production capacity of their presses. After 1900 electricity replaced steam and provided a new easily conducted energy, which enabled a variety of electrical devices and in-novations to be installed.

U.S. passes Chinese Exclusion Act

1904Armenian Street1904 Mass at 8 a.m. service at 6 a.m.1904 Mass at 8 a.m. service at 6 a.m.17th century Armenian Bible printed in Venice used every Sunday Church cost 5.058 13 December 1914 Straits Times1904 Russo-japanese War

1905We regret to have to announce the death of Mr. J.O. Dowd, a journal-ist deservedly popular in and around Shanghai and the Far East gener-ally. Poor “Jimmy” O’Dowd came from a family of journalists. He was for some years the sub-editor of the North China Daily News, and was the inceptor of that always interesting and amusing little Shanghai sheet Sport and Gossip. In 1897, he took a trip home and came out late in that year as an agent for the Far East of the Linotype Co. Ltd. Coming down from Shanghai on board the P & O SS Bombay he caught a chill which proved fatal. He died at 1:30 a.m. on the 12th instant and was buried at sea. An upright, genial man, Mr. J.H O’Dowd will be sincerely missed by everyone who had the good fortune to know him, either at home or out here.

Chinese Revolution in ChinaSingapore Rubber Association 1911 Population increased from 229,904 in 1901 to 311,303 in 1911, an increase of 35% to be followed by an in-crease of 37.5 per cent the following decade Civil war and peasant unrest in China

Armenian Street

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The United Chinese Library was built between 1908 and 1911 below Fort Canning. It was inaugurated on 8 August 1910 by Sun Yat Sen, father of modern China. In 1911 this library was moved to Armenian Street. The library was set up as a part of the 50 reading rooms by the Chinese Republicans to promote their cause overseas.

Staged on April 27, 1911, in Guangzhou, the "Second Guangzhou Upris-ing" (commonly known as Yellow Flower Mound Revolt) was one of the largest in scale of Dr Sun's ten failed uprisings. Its significance went beyond its predecessors for it was the spark that ignited the successful "Wuchang Uprising" on October 10, 1911. Planned in Penang, many overseas Chinese from Singapore and Malaya participated in the "Yellow Flower Mound Revolt." It was one of the most violent episodes of the revolution.

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Larry King interviewed teh letter W

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Notes on Gardening at Night

Following this introduction is a short story which was written by Dr. Parker Yang in 1953. Singaporeans of a certain age may remember it, as it was frequently used in the classroom, but the following notes provide background information so that all may have a better appreciation of Yang’s subtle craft.

The musical piece referred to in the story is O Temerio Arbacem, an aria from Mozart’s first opera. The greatest of child prodigies, Mozart’s later mature style is clearly obvious in this piece, which he wrote at age 11. Raffles’ wife Sophia, a classical musician, was known to perform it extremely well.

Because the audience for Contact With Shadow is an international one, this story has been edited. Dr. Yang’s original version contained a reference to an interaction between Raffles and a Singaporean trader by the name of Tan Che Sang.*

In Dr. Yang’s original version, Raffles is in his garden, furiously recalling Tan’s angry insults. Tan had called Raffles, amongst many unprintable Hokkien insults, “the crazy dreaming little spoiled brat of the British” and had threatened to turn the Chinese community against Raffles. Tan literally spat on Raffle’s proclamation against gambling and opium. Raffles was most upset about the fact that Farquhar had calmly walked over and quieted Tan with a few words after having watched the scene impassively for “a duration of the most offensive length, when even a moment of such an outburst would have stirred a proper uniformed man to direct and decisive remedial action.”

Those readers interested in reading the full version will find it in As We Both Remember and Dream: The Singapore Stories, a compilation by Professor Wong Eng

How (Everfortune Publishers)

Finally, a brief biography of the story’s protagonist… In 1781 Stamford Thomas Raffles, an Englishman, was born off the coast of Jamaica on a ship under the command of his father. He began working for the East India Trading Company when he was fourteen and in 1805 he was sent to work in the administration of Penang, one of their trading centers in Java. He taught himself Malay on the way to Penang. Just before he left London, he met and married Olivia Fancourt. She died unexpectedly in 1814. His strong feelings against gambling, slavery and opium put him at odds with his employer. At 30 he was in charge of Java, nearly the equivalent of being in charge of India. He published a book called The History of Java and the book’s success was a contributing factor towards his knighthood. With his second wife, Lady Sophia, he explored the jungles, mountains and lost worlds of Java. Raffles was also a serious naturalist and he assigned English and Latin names to numerous Malayan

plants and animals. In 1818, Raffles was assigned to Bencoolen. He and Lady Sophia Raffles arrived shortly after an earthquake had destroyed the city. “This is, without exception,” he wrote to an associate, “the most wretched place I ever beheld. I cannot convey to you an adequate idea of the state of ruin and dilapidation which surrounds me… we have scarcely a dwelling in which to lay our heads, or wherewithal to satisfy the cravings of Nature. The roads are impassable, the highways in the town overrun with rank grass, the Government House a den of ravenous dogs and polecats. The natives say that Bencoolen is now a tana mati, a dead land.” Bencoolen improved, but it was there that the couple’s children died quickly and unexpectedly. Their oldest son, Leopold, died in late 1821 and both Marsden and Charlotte died the following year. They sent their youngest daughter Ella to England with a nurse. Both Raffles and his wife suffered poor health. “I have been desperately ill,” Raffles wrote from Bencoolen in February 1822, “and confined to a dark room the last ten days, but, thank God, I am better. I dare not write much.” Raffles had “a severe fever, which fell on the brain and drove me almost to madness. Lady Raffles has in point of health showed better than myself, but she is miserably reduced and lowered.” In 1819 Raffles signed the treaty that established Singapore as a free port. When Raffles and his wife returned to Singapore in 1822, they first stayed with his sister, Maryann. Maryann had been with Raffles during most of his time in Asia and her husband, Captain William Flint, was a government official. The architect George Coleman** had designed and quickly built a wood and attap bungalow for Raffles at the top of Government Hill. Raffles and Lady Sophia moved into it during December 1822 and about two months later were joined by the Flints. The Flints had a son, William Charles Flint, nicknamed Charley. With his parent’s blessings, Charley went back to England with Raffles and his wife in 1824. While in Singapore Raffles was plagued with painful throbbing headaches. These were from the brain tumor that would soon kill him. The location of the story is Government House, the bungalow which functioned as the official residence. At the top of what is now Fort Canning, the bungalow overlooked part of the 19 hectare Botanical Garden which Raffles largely paid for and developed himself. The settlement was unable to afford to maintain it prop-erly after Raffles left and it became overgrown. Dr. Yang’s story is set on the night of the full moon of February 14, 1824. Within the same year Sir Stamford and Lady Sophia would return to Bencoolen, where their daughter Flora was born nine months later. Flora died of fever a few months afterward.

*One of the wealthiest men on the island, Tan Che Sang slept in a room surrounded by locked boxes full of his money. A habitual and frequentlyunlucky gambler, he cut off one of his fingers to remind himself not to ever gamble again. He was also the culprit behind a case of poisoning in which he tricked a servant to put arsenic in the food of one of his many enemies. On April 13, 1836, his funeral was attended by over ten thousand Chinese who marched through the commercial part of town on their way to the Hokkien burial ground. * Coleman and Raffles first met in 1822. Coleman designed a garrison church for Raffles, but this was never built. Coleman built the government house very quickly-in about two weeks, according to one of Raffles’ letters. Later Coleman added brick and stucco pediments to the original wooden structure. Coleman was present when Raffles and the colony’s engineer, Lieutenant Philip Jackson, drew up the Jackson Plan, which laid out the early streets and buildings of Singapore and divided it into sections: European, Chinese, Malay and commercial. The debate continues as to whether Raffles or Coleman originated the uniquely Singaporean ‘five foot walk’, those covered public sidewalks which provide protection from both sun and rain. They first appeared after the Jackson Plan was put into effect.

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Gardening at Night

Anxious for her husband’s return, Lady Sophia replaced her book to its shelf and then stepped outside, immediately thankful for the soothing breeze and the citro-nella torch. She stood on the porch of the bungalow, surrounded by young and fragile orchid plants staked into the opened earth. She imagined them beautifully in bloom, and how delightfully they would frame the town below. How wonderful to have a Botanical Garden at one’s door! The landscape before her was the very image of ordered Nature; Life shaped by Design. The rising pale sphere of the full moon divinely balanced the exquisite composition before her eyes. The view of Singapore now before Lady Sophia was a remarkable assemblage of works by Man and Nature, a veritable manifestation of Romance. The breathtaking scene neces-sitated no effort of imagination. Lady Sophia thought of her abandoned habit of letter-writing, suddenly wanting to memorialize this view and the feelings it stirred within her.

The dramatic patterns of her married life had also been fashioned in a spectacu-lar manner, seemingly guided by Morpheus himself and even the coldest recital of their conjugal adventures would serve as lively topics of excited discussion by envious ladies and women of all ages and means. Lady Sophia and Sir Stam-ford had honeymooned throughout the Continent’s stateliest European capitals. She’d played the harpsichord in the palace of the King of Holland! Her husband was a knighted gentleman! Her husband had held council with the exiled Napo-leon! With her betrothed she had once awakened in an ancient Hindu palace, on a balcony surrounded by tropical mountains that had been gilded by the twilight before they’d been bathed and drowned by hypnotic variations of an ever deeper blue which had culminated with the appearance of the theatre of the night and the constellations about which her life mate had so charmingly and elegantly described. Lady Sophia had ridden elephants and whilst aboard a clipper ship in the middle of the Indian Ocean she’d given birth to a daughter! Lady Raffles went inside. The women from town had visited earlier in the day for tea and cakes and conversation. With the recent unexpected deaths of her three children, her role as a mother had been tragically shattered and oh, how the women had expressed their sympathy! They were always so light and bright and sparkling as they changed kittens into rabid tigers. With smiles they kidnapped impressions and distorted them, later releasing their wrathful monsters with great patience and malice, as though hiding angry vipers in muffin tins. And what they’d said about Sir Stamford’s headaches! Thank God for the graces of Maryann and Captain Flint! The constant good cheer of dear sweet Charley was like a priceless lamp, capable of minimizing the painful darkness that oft obscured Life’s path. Like her husband, the four-year-old boy spoke in smiles. With a great deal of affection, Lady Sophia easily imagined the boy, who was now likely sleeping in the house which she and Sir Stamford had shared until yesterday. All was prepared for Charley and the Flints to move in properly after tomorrow’s lunch and Lady Sophia found this a comfort-ing thought. The women had departed before the arrival of a storm of remarkable fury. Lady

Raffles had watched the endless grey sheets of tropical rain as they fell upon the port below. Although in her bosom there had been no fear, the storm had once again made her extremely conscious of the peculiarly Javanese experience of main-taining a residence closer to the heavens than that of any other inhabitant. The storm’s magnificent cracking of thunder had not startled her, nor had it produced the immense anxiety which accompanied those great storms of her past. Most peculiarly, the lightning had seemed to Lady Sophia that it was a manifestation of her personality, as though her very soul had been opened and yielded a spark that left a trail of brilliance as it instantly journeyed to the Heavens, to become lost in the omnipresent Darkness.

Her thoughts were disturbed momentarily by the sound of a small animal scam-pering across the attap roof. With a smile of resignation she began to make her way through the main room of the bungalow. After confirming her appearance in a mirror, she paused at her desk to verify the condition of her inkwell. The room’s trunks and boxes had been rearranged once more and were nearly in their desired state of order. In the day’s course of examining their stored contents, Lady Sophia had been greatly relieved to see that her piano sheet music had survived another sea journey in fine condition. Her disposition had become gay and momentarily she had allowed her imagination to weave a tapestry from the fibers and colors of Memory. The tapestry was barely begun when the activities and questioning looks of the servants had once more demanded her attention. The pleasant freshness which had followed the day’s storm still perfumed the air. Lady Raffles allowed her eyes to wander amidst the vast chaos of the stars, settling them finally upon the horizon. There she saw the silhouettes of ships and their tiny lights. She remembered sailors from her travels, always drinking and gambling beneath the torches. Then, in front of the ships, was Singapore, displaying its small and scattered collection of luminances, both those in motion and still. The dark mass of the jungle was not far behind her, dense and vibrant with flora and fauna. It was the plant life that seemed to captivate her husband the most.Lady Raffles recalled her husband’s passionate description of the sea almond tree, that species which mimics the arboreal autumn celebrations of her beloved England. The sea almond displays glorious flame-colored leaves which are then shed, leaving bare branches until the vernal equinox. Thomas had picked a young green leaf from the tree and presented it to her. “This is Spring,” he had quietly proclaimed, in a voice that stirred her.

The face of Lady Raffles immediately displayed the most joyous of expressions as the torch of her husband appeared at the bottom of the hill. It was a rare oc-currence when her husband took the carriage up the hill, as he so greatly enjoyed his nocturnal garden strolls and found them to be a most calming amusem*nt to his ever curious mind. As her husband’s torch began a slow ascent up the hill, Lady Raffles thought of his wisdom and his guided energy; qualities which would eternally delight her. Her spirited husband had created order out of chaos with his

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daring and the force of his will; Thomas had established connections that would have been unthinkable without his brilliant foresight. Thomas was a builder of the Empire, likely its greatest. Watching his torch moving and periodically stopping, Lady Sophia imagined the face of her husband examining that which was before him and her af-fection for him grew every moment more valuable. Sir Stamford’s torch was now mounted above the walkway and his silhouette indi-cated he had found a botanical matter demanding his fullest attention. The distance became unbearable and Lady Sophia began to make her way down the hill.Mysticus fragrans: nutmeg.

Midway up the hill, Sir Stamford was framed by precise rows of seedlings barely above the red earth. Like the other young plants surrounding him, the nutmeg shoots seemed to be quite healthy, despite the insects they attracted in considerable numbers. For not the first time Sir Stamford imagined the hill a few years hence, when there would be proper tea leaves, when the sugar cane would be grandly tall and the aro-matic bounties of pepper, gambier and coffee would be ready for the harvester’s deft fingers. Here was a garden for future generations, a sanctuary devoted to the Botani-cal Arts, un laboratoire au natural for the service of Commerce, Science and the Better-ment of Man. Opium was not to be here! Sir Stamford took a deep breath and was rewarded with the scent of cloves. Surely animals would be attracted to the Garden’s offerings and Sir Stamford pondered the prophylactic measures necessary to prevent such occurrences. He then turned his thoughts toward the complete fullness of the moon, confident that every ship’s cap-tain in Southeast Asia was now studiously noting the same celestial timing. Indeed, Sir Stamford thought, all subjects of Nature’s Kingdom are constantly aware of the lunar orb’s journey through Time. He cast his eyes towards the direction from whence he came. How Singapore had grown, despite La Haute Politique and its self-centered lack of vision! Before the eyes of Sir Stamford was the result of his beliefs and perseverance, his vindication that he had been right. His daring experiment would redefine the age, finally ending the tyranny of the seventeenth century. His was a child of the future, a city that would symbolize the best of Humanity for generations to come. Sir Stamford’s view was defined by the moon-silvered horizon, that linear meeting of Heaven and Earth. Vessels of many nations sat in Clarke Quay and in the waters beyond, their captains undoubtedly satisfied by the free port’s growth and opportuni-ties. The godowns and houses testified to the success of his vision, despite Farquhar’s failures. Sir Stamford imagined the city in a few years time, when his town plan would be realized. He wondered if he would see his child in the future. The keramat, where the ancient Malay kings were entombed was not far from where our hero stood and he thought of them once more. The bungalow- with a torch in front! Sophia! He sensed no danger, she signaled no panic. To the contrary, the torch began to move towards him with rhythmic grace. This short distance from Sophia was to be eliminated at once and Thomas headed towards her, towards the woman he loved for no reason except that he loved her.The torch in her hand hid the face of Sophia and with thoughtful pleasure Thomas visualized his wife. He could hear her faint vocalizations. As the distance from her joyfully decreased, Thomas recognized O Temerario Arbacem, the aria Sophia had once

performed in the King’s music chamber for him alone! With an immense shock of great sadness, Thomas realized Sophia had not performed at the piano since their honeymoon, hadn’t performed at a keyboard since that golden afternoon in Amsterdam. There had been no piano in Bencoolen. Sophia had last played her harp to soothe and calm the children. Now the face of his beloved was clearly in view and her vocalizations stirred great sentiments within him. Thomas deftly moved the torch a distance from his face and wiped his eyes with the greatest discretion the circ*mstance would allow.

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Vanilla! I smell vanilla! Don’t open it. Wow. It’s warm. What’s in it? Cookies? Brownies? Let me see... Keep the bag closed! Give it back! But it feels so nice and warm and vanilla-y. OK close your eyes… open your mouth. Fishsticks! Vanilla-flavoured fishsticks…yum! You idiot! No, babe, seriously… these are fantastic. Aaaaah. I cannot describe how good this is. Can I open my eyes now? Yep. Wow! They look like little wedges made of foam. The bottom layer is Saskatchewan whole wheat cookie dough with Venezuelan freeze-dried chocolate chips, then a layer of black Muldavian organic raspberry garché covered with a vanilla chiffon made with micropuréed Barun strawberries and dusted with honey-cured Turkish orange peel dust. I wanted to make some-thing like a durian, but not with durian. They are amazing. Do you mind opening the wine? It’s been a long day. Tang’s on his way to Dansoteque with 475 of these things. And these are called…? Don’t know yet. For now we just call ’em chiffon puffs. Haven’t had time to come up with a proper name. And how’s your paper coming? I’m happy. You see this symbol? ♀ The symbol for female, right? That makes you happy, the symbol for woman? You see, silly woman, the symbol has another meaning. The symbol is also the symbol for the planet Venus! Do you know how exciting that is? No. OK! Think of it! The year is 1847! Thirty years previously Singapore was noth-ing but skulls in the harbour and tigers and rain forest. One hundred fifty people and a plantation for gambier, whatever that is. Raffles gets here and it’s all jungle until he has the convicts bulldoze it. So, anyway, to buy type, you had to get it from England or from India. Either way, it’s expensive. Shipping costs, right? A piece of type representing a planet would be a luxury. Venus and Pluto are rarely in the headlines. You wouldn’t buy planet type unless it was necessary or you had a big budget. I need to research. Letters of type don’t grow on trees. But that’s why I’m happy. Maybe, because of all of the sailors here they needed to print night sky maps with the planets for navigation. Or maybe there were a lot of serious astronomers here. Or maybe a bored compositor with lots of money thought it would be cool to order pieces of type for objects in the solar system. The point is that the piece of type for Venus symbolizes a planet and something about British colonial society. And Venus is the goddess of beauty! Cool. Very cool. And you, babe, are my goddess of beauty. Yes, yes, yes. I am your goddess of beauty who’s trying to think of a name for these chiffon thingies.

Venus cookies! That sounds like something in a sex shop. Uh, yeah…. So, should I tell you some things about Fort Canning? Do I have a choice? Ha ha. OK, I won’t annoy you. Oh please! Please annoy me with historical facts about Fort Canning. A fat white jogger bounces past a group of young people with swords and cameras in the cemetery at the bottom of the hill. They are a group of cosplay fans. From this distance they are cartoony but serious, Gothic but cute with hair of white, red, green and blue above black trench coats and bright dresses. They pose by the ornate graves and angels. One poser has a real sword and he thrusts it into the sky. The photographers snap away. Well, in 1847 Venus was at its brightest on Sept 24. Actually, in the document I’m researching the author uses the phrase “greatest brilliancy”. Nice phrase. “greatest brilliancy”. If anyone wanted to see Venus, they would probably come here. This is the highest place in Singapore. Hey I know! You could call these “greatest bril-liancy cupcakes”! Can I get a refill? OK, OK. Um, in 1847 there were two eclipses of the sun and two eclipses of the moon.... Busy year in the heavens. Yep. And I saw a beautiful phrase: contact with shadow. It had something to do with the timing of an eclipse. They used a font like Garamond and an upper case S for the word shadow so it looked like this: Shadow. I’ll bet their font was nothing like the Garamond drawings we saw at the Plantin Museum in Antwerp. You know it, babe! Give me five for the G-man! And how about some sugar for the Steve-man? The insects of the park begin their long droning conversations. Far away, a bird sounds lonely, others warble and chirp like they’re at a party. I had lunch in Funan today and started talking with an Indian guy. He told me how Singapore got its name. There were these Malay princesses, right? And they were bathing near the sea. And there was this Singh boy, you know Singh, the In-dian religion with the head covering for men, right? So anyway, this Singh boy was watching the bathing princesses and then he runs over, grabs all of their clothes and runs away! OK, now the Malay word for ‘steal’ is kaporo. SO….The Malay women were cry-ing out “Singh kaporo”, “Singh kaporo” when this shipwrecked king lands on the island. The king saw naked women running around yelling “Singh kaporo! Singh kaporo!” and he thought Singhkaporo was a good name. And that is how Singa-pore really got its name. Is that gonna go into your paper? I don’t think so. The Gothic photo crew is now in front of the Fort, not far from George Cole-man’s memorial. They passed the part of the brick wall where there is a plaque for Ellen The Beloved Daughter of BPK Keasberry Missionary and Printer. A boy covered in red vinyl pouts, then looks defiant. Again, the photographers click away. The other

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models wait, and a girl in a candy-colored spacesuit adjusts the eye patch of a boy with tall, stiff silver hair. They’re both wearing thick white makeup and white con-tact lenses and whispering about omake and nosebleeds. They all eventually walk past, a mix of huge platform heels, camera bags, white knee socks, jeans, T-shirts, tripods, flipflops and dresses made of layers of ruffles. Someone says “blur blur hair” and they all laugh.

“The ancients thought this hill had magical powers.” She was chewing when she said that. “The herbs that grow here are very strong.”

A jet goes overhead. A bridal couple with a photographer appear at the bottom of the hill. We watch the clouds.

I learned a word today. Vespertine. This is vespertine.

Vespertine means relaxing; the opposite of vexing maybe?

No, vespertine means related to the evening.

Mmmm nice word.

OK, this is officially the last time I talk about people in printing history. OK. You see those white things over there? Those are called cupolas and they are in front of what is called the Fort Canning Memorial to James Brooke Napier, who was the son of William Napier. William Napier was one of the guys who started the Chronicle, Singapore’s first newspaper. OK that’s it. No more history from me…. What did you call those white things? They look like igloos on Greek columns. Cupolas, those are cupolas. Nice word, huh? Hey! How about calling them cupola cakes? Not bad. Actually, I thought that vespertine would make a nice name. I was thinking of calling these vespertinas… or, in honor of a certain someone, wesper-tinas. Wow. Wespertina! I’d eat something with that name any day. I’m still thinking. To judge a name properly, you need to hear it. To hear it, you need to say it. To say it, you need to move your lips and blow air through your mouth. Why don’t you say them for me?

Cuppppolllllaaaa Vesspperrttinnaa

Cuppppolllllaaaa Wesspperrttinnaa

Why don’t you come over here a minute?

My wife and I kissed for two hours and then she said:

Let’s go to Dansoteque. You and I have never been clubbing.

There’s a reason for that.

No, no, no, we are going to finish this wine and these cuppola cakes or these vespertinas or whatever they’re going to be called and then tonight you and I are going clubbing.

We take our time and eventually start down the hill in the moonlight. We hold hands. Near the bottom of the hill, at Timbre, Smokey Ng is singing the blues, softly wailin’ about livin’ on borrowed time. The music moves towards the stars like a lonely beautiful parade. As we walk down that hill we touch each other forever.

Readers, this is the ending of the book. Better that you quit here. The next chapter is too conceptual. It’s so-so with a lit-tle reminiscence thrown on for emotional effect. It’s filler, frankly. I think I wrote it before the lightning. I think I’ve mixed up my files again. The chapter after that is a chart. Then, there is a piece of science fiction. It’s OK. My working title for it is Writing in the Future, but I’m thinking about changing the title to I, Robotwriter and making it more Hollywood, more Will Smith-friendly. Get some lasers and aliens in it. Android editors. Yeah. And the last section features a terrible, self-pitying poem called Please Touch Me With a Ten Foot Pole by a poet who shall remain anonymous. So yeah, but now I’m serious. Seriously. This chapter is how I remember her, in vespertine scenes like this before we played Frisbee. So, just think of me and my wife here on the hill in Singapore. Imagine us strolling amidst the flowering trees and listening to music. A little wine and eating sweet things and talking and kissing and watching the moon over the city. Then close the book.

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“This is a piece of paper white on which we write our word or two and then comes night.”

Henry MillerFrom the book BIG SUR and the Oranges of Hieronymous Bosch

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The sky tonight, the moon glimpsed amid boiling clouds, reminds of something. What is it-- oh yes-- washing a fountain pen in the sink, the way the blue black ink coils as it spreads through the water, obscuring the white porcelain.Alberto Fusi, Argentinean poet

ZZ Top, a trio of musicians from Texas, performed at Fort Canning a few weeks ago at an event linked to the Singapore F1 Grand Prix. They played with three other groups of musicians who had the following names: No Doubt, N.E.R.D. and Simple Minds. I did not attend that concert, as I was still with her mother in Hawaii, but I have seen ZZ Top perform. They played years ago at a place called Cobo Hall. Cobo Hall has since been renamed as Joe Lewis Arena. It is in Detroit, Michigan, in the United States of America. The radio stations used to say that Detroit was the home of rock’n roll, but many other places probably used that expression too. “You didn’t have to love me like you did, but you did and I thank you,” are the lyrics to a song that ZZ Top made popular. The song is what is called a ‘cover version’, meaning that one artist sings a song written by someone else. In this case ZZ Top covered a song written by Isaac Hayes and David Porter, one of the most successful songwriting partnerships of the 1960’s. Because of the automobiles it produced, Detroit was also known as the Motor City. Motown was another nickname for Detroit. There is only one Motown. Only Detroit could say it was the Motor City.* In the 1960s, Motown Records was born. They produced concerts by people like Stevie Wonder and Al Green, and groups like the Supremes. Motown Records also made albums of sound recordings on black discs of vinyl. When those record-ings were put on a record player, an electrified chip of diamond would settle into a groove on the outside edge of the record and ride that groove towards the centre. The needle touched the irregularities of the groove and amplified them. Somehow, this amplification made music. Sometimes the needle skipped on a scratch or a piece of dust. “The record’s skipping” someone might then say. The “skipping” produced a warm popping noise or even caused the needle to jump and land in the groove of another song. Repetition occurred sometimes. Repetition occurred sometimes. Repetition occurred sometimes when the needle became trapped in the same sec-tion of the groove, in which case the listener would have to physically pick up the needle and place it on another song; another part of the groove. The groove was continuous; one groove contained all of the music on the album of songs. At the

time, Motown’s music was called black music, or sweet soul music. Even if it was sad, it made you feel good. “You didn’t have to love me like you did, but you did and I thank you.” Repeti-tion occurred sometimes. Smaller recordings were called singles. They were also called 45s. This referred to 45 revolutions per minute, as opposed to the 33 revolutions per minute of the larger recordings. Singles were 7 inches across and had a large hole in them. They had one song on each side. I liked the labels Motown used. The artist’s name and song title were printed over a map. The map had a star by the word Motown. A highway ran south of the star. The highway and the label stopped just before where there would be a city called Toledo, Ohio. That is where I was born.

ZZ Amith saw ZZ Top here and he told me about it. He said he was disappointed that they used a recorded soundtrack at times, but that if you asked anyone else, they would say, “The show was great!” I value Amith’s opinion because he is an excellent musician. He stopped being a lawyer for a while and used laser technology to record two shiny plastic CD albums of music. I admire that. During the time he fought for his art in the music business, his wife stood beside him. I admire that much, much more.

ZZZ I have been dreaming, dreaming about her again. I was in the Archives. I was researching the printing techniques of long ago, when men in small rooms twisted wood and metal to make documents. Ink and paper told me things. I thought about printing and I thought about writing. Then I went out to lunch. I walked up here to Fort Canning and fell asleep on the lawn. It has been a nice day. Memories of lightning did not hit me very much and the cupola cakes made me smile and cry happy tears. But now I must go home. I head up the steps of the Fort and then turn left onto a walkway that leads to something like a jungle.

*However, Chillicothe, Ohio frequently called itself the ‘Windshield Wiper City’ and I once saw an old postcard for a place called ‘Fan Belt Town’.

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The walkway leads to a wall. There is a seven-pound cannon here and it is a nice place to look over the city; I am standing in a viewpoint. I read through my notes and think of a poem by a Singaporean poet I imagine:

There’s our gambling kingdomcity:Made of lightning, emails and chance. Here’s a rambling curiosity:Made of laughing, syllables and danceShe’s a heavenprinted somethingicityMade of flour, orchids and FranceI again want her fingertips touching our kitchen utensilsMaking our nebula bla bla bla recipe.Like the moon taste is one in a billionO! How I’ll love her forever and ever desire her words that start with Wand rhyme with utensils and dance. A well dressed couple in black appear and we are all awkward and embarrassed for a moment, as if they’ve overheard my poem. I start walking again. To get home, I can catch a bus at the bottom of the hill, in front of the Arme-nian Church. To get there I must pass the Registry of Marriages which, by the way, does not serve lunch.

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