Archive for the 'history' Category

you learn something new every day

Cheesecake isn’t a modern American invention but dates back a few thousand years to ancient Greece (read more here, here and here)!


rags to riches

It is astonishing how short a time it takes for very wonderful things to happen. It had taken only a few minutes, apparently, to change all the fortunes of the little boy dangling his red legs from the high stool in Mr. Hobbs’s store, and to transform him from a small boy, living the simplest life in a quiet street, into an English nobleman, the heir to an earldom and magnificent wealth. It had taken only a few minutes, apparently, to change him from an English nobleman into a penniless little impostor, with no right to any of the splendors he had been enjoying. And, surprising as it may appear, it did not take nearly so long a time as one might have expected, to alter the face of everything again and to give back to him all that he had been in danger of losing.

Little Lord Fauntleroy, by Frances Hodgson Burnett, is one of my most favourite classic novels. It tells the story of poor American boy Cedric Errol who is summoned back to England to become the heir of his aristocratic grandfather. Most notable is the ridiculous prejudices that the Americans and Englishmen in the book have for each other – I found those descriptions rather amusing, considering how far each country has come. Then again, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

my surreal connection to my ancestral home

This article really made me want to take a similar trip back to China…… perhaps next year?

My surreal connection to my ancestral home
By Lisabel Ting

It is a human desire to return to where we came from and to know what has come before

Three weeks ago, I made a trip to Fuzhou in China with a dozen members of my extended family.

Continue reading ‘my surreal connection to my ancestral home’

you learn something new every day

I was googling for Queen Anne’s Lace, and naturally stumbled upon the Queen Anne’s Revenge, a flagship of the infamous pirate Blackbeard. In 1718, Blackbeard ran the ship aground at Beaufort Inlet, North Carolina. Almost 300 years later in 1996, a private firm discovered its remains underwater!

you learn something new every day

Two brave animals which both served in wars – a horse and a dog!

you learn something new every day

Was on one of my usual jaunts through Wikipedia, this time delving into medieval European royalty, when I clicked to this odd-looking word – baldachin!

to the next 50 years

And now…… looking forward to SG75 and of course, SG100!

the real sg50

Happy 50th birthday Singapore, our sunny island set in the sea!

(Now that the big shebang’s over, I wonder if SG50 fever will finally subside……)


His search for a sewage pipe, which began in 2000, became one family’s tale of obsession and discovery. He found a subterranean world tracing back before the birth of Jesus: a Messapian tomb, a Roman granary, a Franciscan chapel and even etchings from the Knights Templar. His trattoria instead became a museum, where relics still turn up today.

I really enjoyed this article, about an Italian man who started digging to fix a pipe, and ended up unearthing an amazing array of historical artifacts!

end of an era

This morning, I woke up and turned my phone on around 7.40 am. One of my Whatsapp groups buzzed. Daphne had sent a message at 5.23 am: ‘Lky passed away le / So sad’. Sze Yong shared a link to a press release from the Prime Minister’s Office, which announced that Mr Lee Kuan Yew had passed away peacefully at the Singapore General Hospital this morning at 3.18 am.

Quickly turned on the TV to Channel NewsAsia. At 8 am, Prime Minister (PM) Lee Hsien Loong addressed the nation in a live telecast. He spoke in Malay, Mandarin and finally English.

Although we all knew that the old man had been hospitalized for over a month and didn’t seem to be getting better, the news still came as a bolt from the blue. Still can’t believe that ‘first of our founding fathers’, as PM Lee had put it, has gone. It’s the end of an era……

china’s crime-free crime films

At least half of Hong Kong movies today are co-produced with mainland organizations, and screenwriters here are also having to toe the Beijing line. “That’s why we usually make ‘ancient swordsman’ films, or stories that happen in the period before the founding of the New China,” the Hong Kong screenwriter explained. He meant that you can show something negative in mainland China only so long as it happened before the Communist revolution in 1949 — but be careful not to portray that period as a golden era, because for that you might get censored.

Can a good story be written under such conditions? It’s difficult. Some screenwriters have managed through cunning: One director squeaked a crime movie set in Hong Kong past the censors after claiming the action took place before the transfer in 1997, while the territory was still under the rule of those evil Brits.

I found this article on the Middle Kingdom’s film industry both sad and amusing. Click here to read ‘China’s Crime-Free Crime Films’!

you learn something new every day

Several days ago I went on one of my usual Wikipedia jaunts, clicking from link to link, going through members of mediaeval European royalty, when I came across this interesting person – John Blanke!

a rose by any other name

I was fact-checking a local medical history piece, contributed by one of my writers, a couple of months ago when I stumbled upon this 16-year-old news article, which may prove instructive with regard to the Angsana Primary naming issue. I quote (and I do find this portion particularly incisive):

What is needed is not a clinging to historic names but someone to trace their history and evolution, and explain the changes in the context of the social and political developments that they mark. For example, what we know as Fort Canning Park, was once a real fort, called Fort Canning and named after the first viceroy of India.

Before Stamford Raffles annexed Singapore for the British, it was known as Bukit Larangan, or Forbidden Hill, the home and burial grounds of ancient Malay kings. Who knows what it was called before that?

Now, if Singaporean leaders of the 21st century should change the hill’s name to Lee Kuan Yew Park, to honour the man who led the country to independence, would it rob Fort Canning of its history?

Of course not. A place’s current name is like an onion skin. Peel it away and another name, another story lies below.

Continue reading ‘a rose by any other name’

what’s in a name?

I have always been interested in the linguistics of names, and this issue naturally piqued my interest……

Griffiths and Qiaonan alumni upset over new name for merged school – Angsana Primary
Qiaonan and Griffiths hold plenty of history and memories for former staff and pupils

By Pearl Lee And Ho Ai Li

What’s in a name?

Plenty of history and memories, say former staff and pupils of Griffiths Primary School and Qiaonan Primary.

They are upset that the two pioneer schools, which together have been around for 145 years, will be merged to form Angsana Primary School – a name with little connection to its predecessors.

“Why Angsana? Why not something like Griffiths-Qiaonan?” asked 86-year-old Eunice Tan Khe Tong, a retired principal, who was there for Griffiths Primary School at its start, and its end.

Continue reading ‘what’s in a name?’

a markedly different perspective

While writing my previous entry about Goh Lay Kuan’s interview with the Straits Times (ST), I googled to see if anyone else had shared their thoughts on it, and came across this post, penned by Kampong Academic. While the ST interview was relatively benign, Kampong Academic reveals a markedly different perspective of Goh.

I also read through some of the other pieces on Kampong Academic’s blog, Unravelling 1987 – which is, as I guessed correctly, named after the ‘Marxist conspiracy’ arrests of 1987. Overall, his site is pretty interesting and definitely worth a visit.

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