When Allan Thompson and Ms Chong Yoke Lin wrote to me recently in response to my previous post about Han Suyin, they have one thing in common. Both had been in the restricted military compounds of Singapore's RAF base camps in the 1960s. Below are their letters about wearing kipper ties, meeting William Holden, Roger Moore at a shop doorway and impressionable teens watching movies at RAF cinemas:
|1. Sound track credits Riz Ortolani.|
I saw your feature on Love Is A Many-Splendoured Thing (previous posting) which is a film I enjoyed as much for the music as the story. Its male star, *William Holden, did quite a lot of filming in the East, partly because he loved Asian women (and who could blame him?).
|2. British trad: kipper-tie|
Apparently, when he was in Singapore, he had some clothes tailored by them which is why they called themselves Chosenco! He also filmed The 7th Dawn in the region, co-starring Susannah York, and the **film score was composed by Riz Ortolani.
When I returned to Singapore in 1968, I bought a gaudy tie from Chosenco and found that a life-size cut-out of Roger Moore was standing in the shop doorway because he had recently been filming there and had some suits made by them. Poor William Holden had been relegated to the back of the shop near the changing rooms!
Incidentally, I still have my gaudy Chosenco tie because it has a special significance for me. I was based at RAF Tengah from 1968-1970 and I worked on 74 Squadron which flew Lightning jet fighters. One of the youngest pilots was a Scots chap called John Webster who used to wear brightly-coloured ***kipper ties at Squadron functions.
Some of the other men tried to outdo him in this respect which is why I bought my tie. Sadly, John was lost in 1970 (or 1971) when his aircraft hit the sea during a night-flying exercise in the Malacca Strait and neither he nor the aircraft was ever recovered. I wrote a poem about him many years later called "No More Kipper Ties" which I will send you sometime if you wish.
*According to the local dailies, William Holden had been in and out of Singapore countless times. He must love Asian women. Holden was in Singapore in 1963 on transit to Bombay and in 1975 to promote his movie, Towering Inferno. Roger Moore was in Singapore in 1965 to promote his TV series, The Saint.
**The haunting theme song had been recorded by Filipino/Chinese pop singer Jose Mari Chan. (It's on the right bar of this blog.)
***A Kipper Tie is a necktie fashionable in Britain in the mid 60s to late 70s. The characteristics are its extreme breadth - 4.5 to 5 inches - with unusually garish colors and patterns.
2) A note from Ms Chong Yoke Lin
I read The Rain My Drink (also by Han Suyin) a long time ago but can't remember what it's about. Such reads are not meant to be retained --not even in long-term memory bank. I watched A Many Splendoured Thing in the mid 50's in an RAF cinema (could have been Seletar).
|4. Astra Cinema @ RAF Tengah Singapore.|
|5. Projectors in use at an RAF Astra cinema.|
Original articles by: Allan Thompson and Ms Chong Yoke Lin.
Image 1, 2: Google.
Image 3 courtesy of Allan Thompson.
Image: 4, 5 from: http://cinemawales.homestead.com/SKC.html