Saturday, August 08, 2015

British Invasion Of Goodwood Park Hotel: 1965

   "If You Gotta Make A Fool Of Somebody" Freddie/The Dreamers 
   Video Edward Kemp.

A fun Singapore National Jubilee 2015 contribution from Allan Thompson:

Around February 1965,  some Britons tried to invade Goodwood Park Hotel at Orchard Road in Singapore. This plot included Allan Thompson from the RAF,  a strange twosome from Philips, Freddie Garrity with his Mersey henchmen and a couple who worked in a Brunei oil company.  About ten people involved.  No laughing matter this. 

It all started with a telephone call to Mr. Thompson's HQ @ Changi.  And after 50 years, below is his report:

Dear Andy,  

One morning in early 1965 I received a phone call at work (Modifications Control, HQ Far East Air Force, Changi) from my cousin, Jean Muir.  Her husband, Ross, worked for one of the big oil companies in Brunei and they were having a holiday in Singapore with their two very young children, staying in the Goodwood Hotel.   

Jean invited me to have dinner with them the following evening and I was delighted to accept.  The only problem was that I happened to be almost broke, having only about 15 dollars to last me until pay day which was the day after the dinner date. (At that time I was saving almost half of my salary with a view to purchasing my discharge from the Royal Air Force). 
I asked all my friends if they could lend me some cash until then but, without exception, they were in a similar situation that week.  In addition, I realised that I would need to wear a jacket in the Goodwood,  but the only one I possessed had been given to me by one of my colleagues when he was posted back to the UK.  I had only accepted it because it was very similar in colour to my lovat-green slacks, but the stitching was coming undone on the shoulder.  What to do?  

At lunch time I went into Changi village and asked a dry-cleaner if he could stitch the shoulder and then clean the jacket for me.  He said it would be ready the following morning and that I could pay him later in the week.  I was stupidly hoping that dry-cleaning the jacket might lighten it a shade nearer the colour of my slacks.  
When I collected it next day, I tried it on with the slacks and they didn't look too bad in low artificial light, which I was hoping for inside the hotel.  I had still had no luck in trying to top up my cash, so I would have to own up to Jean and Ross that they had caught me on the hop. Carrying my jacket, I took a pick-up taxi from Changi to the Capitol cinema, costing me 60 cents.  

Then I took a trishaw from the Capitol, up Orchard Road, and asked the driver to drop me just before the hotel.  That was a dollar, including a tip.  As dusk descended, I strolled into the hotel drive, climbed the front steps, and entered the not-too-brightly-lit foyer.  
          Writer Allan Thompson in all his splendor at the Goodwood.

A male member of staff phoned Jean's room, and while I waited for someone to come down for me, I glanced discreetly at my reflection in a wall mirror and was relieved to see that my mismatched 'suit' looked okay in the artificial light. Ross then appeared and took me upstairs where I met Jean and the two toddlers who were just being tucked up in bed.  I hadn't seen Jean since I was about 9 years old, and had never met Ross before.  

They were very easy to get on with, and we all had a drink before going down for dinner.  The spectre of my lack of money was making me sweat, and I was trying to pluck up enough courage to confess when Ross told me that the evening was on them because I was their guest.  I hoped my sigh of relief was inaudible!  
When we had finished our drinks and the children were safely in their beds, we left them in the capable hands of an amah and went downstairs to the Arundel Room which was a large dining room with dozens of tables and a raised stage. The lighting, thankfully, was very low and I was feeling more at ease in my jacket with every passing minute.  The meal was excellent and it was the first time I had ever eaten a prawn cocktail which was served in a tall narrow glass with a single prawn hooked over the rim.  Very tasty.  

Entertainment was provided by Jan and Kelly, a pair of very pretty British girls dressed in cowgirl outfits with very short mini-skirts.  Some of their songs were quite risqué but they were received enthusiastically by the diners.  It was a very pleasant evening and I thoroughly enjoyed myself in the company of these kind people.  I worked out that if I took a trishaw back to the Capitol and caught the last bus, the 'Changi Flyer',  it would cost me less than two dollars, leaving me about nine dollars until I was paid the next day.  
I was quite alarmed when Ross told me he had asked Reception to get one of the hotel's own taxis to come round to the front to take me home.  I dreaded to think how much that would cost and whether I had enough to cover it.  I suppose I could always get him to drop me round the corner in Orchard Road and then hire a trishaw and still catch the last bus. As we waited for the taxi to appear, a noisy group of European men came into the hotel. They turned out to be none other than Freddie and The Dreamers who were due to perform a few days later.  
When the taxi arrived, Ross told the driver to take me to Changi and we all wished one another good night and I thanked them for a wonderful evening.  The taxi turned out to be air-conditioned and it was with some trepidation that I asked the driver how much the fare was to Changi.  

"Nine dollars, sir," was the reply which produced my second silent sigh of relief that evening, and I settled down to enjoy my first, and last, air-conditioned taxi ride.  When we arrived at Changi, I thanked the driver and gave him ten dollars, including a tip. Then, with my jacket slung over my shoulder, I walked along the road to bed, pleased that I still had enough money for a coffee in the morning before I was paid.

Best wishes, 
England, U.K.

Thank you very much Allan for giving us so many of your Singapore 60's music stories for this blog.  50 years later and you're still contributing to our welfare. 

Images: Allan Thompson, Goodwood Park Hotel (for this blog only), Google. 


CYLIN said...

Happy 50 Singapore. Many more GOD's Years to you, negara kita.
Have a good, restful break, everyone.

JOEY KOH said...

Happy and Blessed Jubilee weekend.

E. Angullia said...

Happy National Day

SPYEO said...

HAPPY SG50 BIRTHDAY to You nnd Your Family too! Have a wonderful and memorable family time!

Dr A. Khoo said...

Happy National Day to you too!!!

LIM KM said...

Happy 50th Golden Jubilee of Spore to you and family. May SG continue to thrive for our children and grandchildren.

S said...

Happy 50th National Day.

ANDY AP said...

Wow! First degree murder of a stone wall classic!! Sacrilege!!!
(Fro You Tube).


Dear Andy,

Many thanks for your usual excellent interpretation of my misadventures with your well-selected illustrations. Also, congratulations to Singapore on 50 years of independence. I was due to go on leave by car to Malaysia, ending up in Penang, the day after independence was declared, but my boss urged me to go immediately so that if there were any problems at the Causeway, we were on the 'holiday side' of the border. As it turned out, there were no problems and my account of that holiday may turn up in a future tale.

Best wishes,

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Thank you all for your birthday wishes for Singaore and especially to Allan and CYLin for making this blog more readable and fun.