Jamus Lim's now famous English saying (which many of us learnt during our school days) has brought some memories to surface. One of them is James Kwok who sent me the video Cockles and Mussels, a song from way back Brit times in Singapore schools. It was one of many tunes we had to learn during the colonial days. These were songs that were totally British, Irish, Scottish or Welsh using words and terms we could not understand but had to remember. It was fun.
As school boys and girls, "It warms the cockles of our hearts..." is a phrase many would be familiar with. Now the children have grown up and have become Seniors today.
But let's read what James has to say:
Back in primary school in the 1950s we had music class when we learnt to sing British songs such as Molly Malone and Sing a Song of Six Pence a Packet Full of Rye. I didn't know what's Six pence or rye, but just sang along, after my negative experience with the British national anthem.
Early in the year we were taught to sing. God Save the Queen. I remember asking music teacher Miss Lee what's happened to the queen and I was given an angry stare and told to behave myself and to shut up. Things were different then, that's Pr 1, 1954.
The famous Molly Malone with 'Cockles and Mussels', one of many songs we had to learn as a child during British colonial times in Singapore. Sung by Ruby Murray above. YouTube video by IAN ANDERSON. Thank you.
Then came self government and Majulah Singapura and in secondary school we had the Victoria School song plus other Singapore songs with subtle nation-building themes composed by Pak Zubir Said and others who inspired us with their works.
Back in my Pr 1 days, a song which I loved to sing and was considered harmless is now judged by some to be politically incorrect, even racist, so its title has been altered to BAA BAA SHEEP SHEEP. Things are different now, this being 2020.
Colonial Vocabulary Or Nouns Unlearnt:
Written by: James Kwok.
Images: A Google Mix Bag.
Music about "see hum"? No one's ever written music for this lowly bivalve, has there?
Andy, great phrase you have there. Wouldn't be wrong to say, "it warms the cockles and *muscles* of our hearts" either because the "cockles of the heart" are actually the heart's ventricles, "cochleae cordis". Heart mussels, I mean, muscles.
We were never taught this song. At least, I was never taught it, nor heard it sung. Very ignorant, moi. Confession: I've never heard this "warm the cockles of my heart" until Jamus used it. I'm sure it is a common enough phrase but I just never got to learn about it.
I have to comment as we also learnt these songs as kids. The song reflects life in Dublin, Ireland and the poor misarable life of a sea-food vendor Molly Malone. I normally play the song during St Patrick's Day with the Irish people just going wild. Yes it has a very different effect on those who are from that lifestyle. Guess growing up in Siglap and St Patrick's School we Eurasian kids had a mixture of friends and "kakis" Cheers
Yes, as explained, I learnt as a child but didn’t use it much.
In Singapore, with the weird mix of English and Mother Tongues, these phrases became lost in the milieu of language learning when our
native speakers left this lovely 😊 paradise to go home to the UK.
The terms and proverbs and English phrases left with them.
Now, our new kids on the block are stunned when they hear these terms.
It’s something new to many.
I never knew that there was a song called Cockles and Mussels.
Yes, Soo Khoon.
I guess those songs we learnt as kids disappeared later on when we had our own local Singapore legislature and government.
Thank you for your constant interest in this blog and its music.
My favourite song MOLLY MALONE when visiting Dublin, capital of Ireland.
ANDY - THANKS FOR THE FOND MEMORIES OF THAT BEAUTIFUL MOLLY MALONE STATUE WHICH I VISITED 3 YEARS AGO.
(Jimmy Yap connected the video: Molly Malone by The Dubliners, a beautiful version indeed.)
You are one of very few people who appreciate the song. I guess your background and travel all over (including Dublin) has made you what you are today, a peaceful man and definitely a worldly-wise individual.
Your love for singing is incredible.
Again thanks Mr Ambassador for your comment.
Thanks to you for triggering my memory with the HUMful char kway teow.
My wife Alice has Malaysian cousins and nephews and nieces who used to bring their own supply of cockles to a few of their favourite char kway teow stalls, hidden away, near Kuala Lumpur and Petaling Jaya, that didn't need signboards but had plenty of satisfied customers.
We used to enjoy those mouth watering moments... until a Malaysian microbiologist friend told us about the link between Malaysian cockles and their high incidence of hepatitis.
We went for our blood tests, got negative results (thank God) and avoided blood cockles. So from then on our char kway teow has always been HUMless only.
You are very generous in your ways.
But not with the HARMful cockles.
THIS POST HIT
WITHIN 8 HOURS.
IT MUST BE JAMES KWOK'S WRITING
OR JAMUS LIM'S POPULARITY QUOTE.
I am replying to CEDRIC COLLARS' comment about MOLLY MALONE and St Patrick's.
Interesting to note this celebration Cedric because it is a tradition indeed.
Yes, Siglap and Katong are wonderful places with that mix of kids.
Thanks for bringing back fond memories.
"Alive, alive, oh..."
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