Wednesday, 20 August 2008

The Drama of Days Gone By

Do any of you BBGSians remember the dramas put up by the seniors at BBGS? Along with choral speaking, food sales, group singing and classroom chores, one of my fondest memories of BBGS was its strong tradition of staging musicals and other dramas. Mrs Thanen was one of the driving forces for this.

As a primary school kid, I remember climbing up the little slope that separated the primary school from the secondary school and hanging on to the fence to watch the entertaining dramas and musical performances put up by the "big sisters" next door. The hall where most of the special events and assemblies took place, was next to the primary school and due to poor ventilation, the folding doors to the hall were usually left open. Thus, the primary kids were able to catch a glimpse of what life would be like when they went to the school next door.

When I was in Form 3, the school staged the musical, "The Boyfriend" to raise funds for charity. Needless to say, since we were an all-girls' school, we did not have boys around to play the part of the boyfriends...thus, some of the braver souls among us (myself included!) were roped in to play the male roles. It was a pretty big production, running for several days. Other schools and members of the public were also invited. I remember almost freezing from stage fright one performance when I peeked out of the curtains and saw a whole row of familiar faces - the boys from my Sunday School coming to see me play a boy! Once the curtains went up, however, it was show time and we did our best to entertain those who come to see us. Some of us "boys" even began accumulating "fans" when red roses, cards and gifts begain coming our way from secret admirers in school............

We were also encouraged to be creative in English class and I also remember Puan Rohani's class where each small group put up a little skit. My group performed a scene from Alice in Wonderland and I played a crazy old knight..... We also later did a murder mystery play and it was fun to get dressed up.

My last memory of a big BBGS drama was the play 'The Taming of the Shrew". Mrs Thanen was director and producer. As usual, I played a male role (I was typecast in BBGS!!!) - but by then, I had graduated to the lead role of Petrucchio. Here's a page from the BBGS Yearbook of 1986 of a write-up about the play.....

I would love to hear about your memories of BBGS drama activities - you can either send them to me at: or to Joanna :)

Sunday, 17 August 2008

She sat by the window

Looks like this blog has reached beyond the usual crowd of middle-aged BBGSians who miss their school. I received a lovely email from Mr. Robert Blair of Victoria, Australia who found this blog while looking for some scouting songs from the '50s and '60s. Well, since BBGS was pioneered by English missionaries with Victorian-era ideals, it's not an unusual connection. I'll let you hear from him in his own words...

Dear Joanna,

You may find this communication odd. I am not a member of your school community. I am a 60+ man from near Melbourne in Victoria Australia. I came across your web site when I goggled the above song and I found your site and no complete list of the verses of this fun song. I learned it as a kid in the scouts in the 1950s and 1960s.
Chui Yen, 5Sc4 (1993) remembered some of the verses.

In case your readers are interested most of the others are:

She sat by the window and played her guitar
He sat down beside her and smoked his cigar
He told her he loved her, but oh how he lied
She told him she loved him but she did not lie
And when they were married some cooking she tried
The onions she boiled and the taters she fried
She got indigestion and poor thing she died
He went to the funeral but just for the ride
He sat on her tombstone and laughed till he cried
He caught consumption and he also died
She went to heaven and flip flop she flied
He went to hades and frizzled and fried
She leaned out of heaven and spat in his eye
The moral of this story is don't tell a lie

Of course this sort of song lends itself to modification and additions - that's half the fun.
I have included a couple of verses that were never in our scout song books published from 1948 till 1960s. Also words were replaced with actions and non word sounds, etc.

Thanks for your time,
Robert Blair

The email he was referring to from Chui Yen, 5Sc4 (1993) is re-produced below...

Joanna, I applaud your efforts and written flair in keeping up the BBGS spirit and memories.

Going through the various list of songs, another popped into my head which goes something like this:

" ...She sat by the window and played the guitar
Played the guitar, played the guitar
She sat by the window and played the guitar
Played the guitar, played the guitar
Plaaaayyyeed the guitar hahaha.

He sat down beside her and....(missing lyrics)

He told her he loved her but oh how he lied
Oh how he lied, oh how he lied
He told her he loved her but oh how he lied
Oh how he lied, oh how he lied
Ohhhh how he lied hahaha ..."

I don't think I can remember the rest and I'm sure there was something amiss in the middle.

Best regards
Chui Yen, 5Sc4 (1993)

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Taking toilet cleanliness too far?

In my last post, I was curious to find out what BBGS values you're passing on to your kids. The votes have come in and I'm amazed! Toilet cleanliness has been mentioned in every single letter received so far.

Mae Lu has even sent us some pictures of her little boy hard at work...haiyo so cute....

Mae says...

Dear Joanna,

Please do not be deceived by the "hardworking" look on his face. He is having fun. To my surprise, he enjoyed it more than it looks so I guess I can scratch the Toilet Washing task from my weekend chores. I just have to ensure that he continues to like it.

Mae - Class of 1996.

Friday, 8 August 2008

What do you tell your kids?

There have been so many reunions recently and one of the inevitable questions is "How many kids do you have?" Well, truth be told, I have 5 god-kids but none of my own.

So, I'm just curious to find out what BBGS values you're passing to your kids?

One girl told me that she makes her kids only speak proper English on weekends (as opposed to Mondays @ BB). Another girl tells her daughter that she must sit properly with knees together - BBGS style. Yet another has taught the school song to her children and they have family sing-a-longs :-)

What do you tell your kids? Send me your responses by posting a comment or emailing to And I'll start a new section called "Next Generation" to share your tips and photos of BBGSians' kids.

Ida from Melbourne says...

I make my son clean the toilet. Started him since he was 5 as he was tall enough to scrub the toilet bowl. Hubby thought this was harsh but stopped complaining until he realized how clean the toilets were.

I have also started to instill in him the love of reading and the respect for books.

I have not started choral speaking. I have only 2 kids at the moment. I would think I need to populate a village in order to start this project so I think I'll shelve it.

Jeanne from Perth says...

Remember the times we had to stand within the square outside the classroom while lining up? Well, I apply the same strict disciplinarian principles. When the kids are punished they have to face the wall with hands down on their side, facing the wall at all times and no movement. The time starts only when they have followed strictly to the rules.

Education wise, I encourage them to read. Hence, we have been participating in the Reading Challenge held every year in Australia during the end of year school holidays.

I constantly remind the kids that 'Without God All Is In Vain'. Encourage them to pray during mealtimes and whenever they are sad or scared. We say bedtime prayers to them as well.

Toilet-wise, I have never encouraged them to help wash but I have caught hubby and all 3 kids squashed in the bathroom/toilet when he finally took the initiative to help me wash the toilet. It sure was a disaster as the 3 yr old started bawling when he slipped and fell. Don't think hubby's main priority was to train the kids early BUT he simply was lazy and wanted more help !

On a lighter note, we bought a sandwich maker the other day as I was craving toasted sardine sandwiches from BBGS food sale days. Kept telling my kids, these sandwiches are going to be the best they have ever eaten. Sadly, my kids not being brought up on sardines, preferred toasted ham and cheese sandwiches instead.

Azween says...

Hello...I've got 5 kids. The first two are boys and they are old enough to definitely CLEAN the toilet...of course with the finishing touch of DETTOL! The other value is to sit properly and do not rock the chair.

So sad that I missed the reunion. I only discovered this group recently i.e. this morning while browsing through Facebook. Hopefully there will be another session:)

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Video montages

We've had quite a few reunions this year, and in return for free advertising on this blog, the girls have kindly agreed for me to post their slideshows for all to enjoy.

Click on the links below for the montage shown at the Class of 88 reunion. Thanks Belle!

Sunday, 3 August 2008

On the shoulders of giants

It's a rainy Sunday morning in Shanghai, and I've had to abandon plans to wander around the colourful, crowded, humid streets of Puxi and stay home in Pudong instead, to enjoy the air-conditioned comforts of a home. And I began to wonder:

Why does Puxi feel so different compared to Pudong?

While it's fun to wonder around the lively atmosperic streets of Puxi, would I really want to live there permanently?

Old Shanghai alley house vs. Modern apartments in Pudong

Many lament the loss of old shikumen (stone terrace houses) as the city modernises, and I understand their frustrations. After all, my beloved Bukit Bintang Girls' School, a beautiful century-old colonial building is now a spanking new shopping mall in Kuala Lumpur. We watched helpless as our classrooms and corridors came crashing down in 2000, to make way for commercial development.

Romantic idealism aside however, I also identify with the aspirations of many local Chinese who want to better their lives and living conditions. After all, many of these old structures are dark, damp, musty and often not very hygienic. Why wouldn't they aspire to live in a modern apartment with electricity, running water, wireless broadband and a swimming pool? Every parent works to better the lives of their children and next generation. It's the energy that fuels evolution.

The heart-wrenching transformation of the face of Jalan Bukit Bintang

As with all things however, there is a need for balance. In our rush to modernisation, we must not lose our cultural identities and links to our roots. So, let's build our comfortable new homes and shopping malls, but let's also conserve areas of historical value so that we won't forget the sacrifice of the generations past. So here's my plea to all city planners, government officials, business investors and commercial developers. Before you give orders to swing the wrecking ball, please consider the historical and aesthetic value of a site, for it may bring inspiration to your children.

After all wasn't it Sir Isaac Newton who said, "
If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants?"

Warmest regards,