Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Candle 39: Yong Ai Lian (Irene)

I was delighted to hear from Yong Ai Lian (Class of 1963), a bubbly BBGSian from the 1960s who is sharing with us her precious memories and priceless stash of photos.  Ai Lian's enthusiasm is infectious as you will no doubt see when you read her story in her own words.

Hi Joanna

Allow me to introduce myself. I'm Yong Ai Lian ( surname is Young in Mandarin) It is an identity I myself hardly recognise as I have since marriage, subserviently taken on the patriarch namesake.

After discovering your blog and ploughing through all the archived posts,( for 2 days and nights) I realised that there's hardly any 60's BBGSians except for Mrs Yeoh posted. As you may guess, I only decide to google  BBGS after reading about my beloved Ms Cooke's demise.

I am not prepared for the great impact your back2bbgs blog has on my fading memory. Can you imagine this grandma yelling out to her 'old man' to listen as she croaks out the school song to the strains of the video choir.

Joanna, your fantastic blog is a wake up call. At my age, I've been told often to just live in the present and one day at a time, Suddenly this past is catching up with me and here I am sitting in front of my old cupboard, digging out my old BBGS album. I have precious photos of my classmates and I in the orignal BBGS uniforms..the alternate green and white trimmings on the pinafore. There's also photos of the three wonderful caucasian teachers doing the "twist" at our class party.

Hope to hear from you and perhaps through your blog, my old old friends may reconnect with me. Thanks for the trip back down memory lane....I have found Yong Ai Lian again!

Name: Yong Ai Lian
BBGS Primary Years: 1954 -1958 ( double promotion from Std 1 to 3)
BBGS Secondary Years: 1958 - 1963
Temporary teaching jobs: BBGS Pri Sch 2 1964 / BBBS Primary(PJ) 1965
Tertiary:  Malayan Teachers' College: 1966 -1967 (more fun than study - those were the days)


1. Negri Sembilan (got married and lost touch with all childhood friends )

2. Melaka ( busy juggling between job and raising 3 kids.)

Note: 1st few years of teaching..still could maintain the BBGS spirit.. started the Girl Guides Brigade in a rural school, actively involved in teaching folk dancing and dramas, even coaching 'gymrama'.  As the school culture and educational policies change down the years, so did my BBGS spirit..it just died a natural death.

My Three Pride and Joy
  • all my three kids managed to graduate from NUS & NTU (Spore)
  • my eldest daughter is an endodontist and she set up the first endodontic clinic in Alexander Hospital in Spore. She has emigrated to New Zealand after marriage.
  • my second daughter graduated from NTU in computer engineering, worked briefly at SIA, then set up her own business, She thought it would be easier to be self employed when her kids arrived. She was proved wrong.  Both her mom(yours truly) and she had retired from the 24/7 time consuming business and she is now actively involved her primary daughter's school committee besides being a HDB 'tai tai'.
  • my youngest son had rejected an NUS offer to study Dentistry as he couldn't imagine himself looking down into people's mouths throughout his whole life. .(hats off to his 'jieh jieh'). So now he's attached to an MNC and travelling all over the world to places his poor mom has never been in her whole lifetime.
Current Position:  Recuperating in Melaka from the "die die must do" lifestyle in Singpaore and confined to just watching K-Wave dramas

Pic 1(Form 5 class pic)

Mrs Swarfield ( hope the spelling is correct) was actually a doctor but she'd rather we call her Mrs.  Her Health Science lessons always tickled us as she gestured a lot especially at the anatomy parts. We might have lost our innocence then.

This Arts Class is the one and only class . After my LCE, I got an A for Domestic Science ( compulsory for form 1 -3), and B for Science & Math  so I was put in Form 4 Arts class. I was quite blur at that time. Later when I wanted to apply for overseas nursing I found that my lack of Maths & Science in my certificate was a handicap and I regretted my choice.  However, this Arts Class had the most warm and loving members I've ever known and for that I have no regrets.

  Mrs Hooi

My Form 4 form teacher who graduated from Singapore and specialised in History. I always scored As for her History tests and exams as she usually asked me to type the past years questions for her and I became quite good at spotting questions, We had typewriting classes back then with one Mr Mah - a Chinese Muslim. Typing was conducted with music,,,one note for letters and another note for space, My friend who had higher grade piano skills showed off by typing faster than the music rhythm and was reprimanded for that.

Miss Catherine Angus

I practically hero-worshipped her.,.she was pretty , warm and caring. My love for Shakespearean plays probably grew after her emotionally charged interpretation of a soliloquy in French by Lady Macbeth ( I think). She entranced us completely with her smooth rendition of French words that we felt we understood every word . She became my 'guardian angel' after my father ( whom I was very close to )passed away suddenly when I just entered Form 5, She dragged me to the corner of the balcony (where prayers are conducted everyday before class) and soon I was attending the Gospel Hall in PJ where I had a brief spell with Christian teachings. I have long since strayed

 Miss Isobel Albert

Another icon of BBGS - She taught us Literature and her stern blue eyes never missed a single movement during her lessons, Once she asked me whether my well written assignment was my own work (there was no internet and hardly any books to plagiarise in those days) and I was so hurt that I did not look her in her face whenever she came to class, She noticed! One day she caught me alone and started chatting.,,,and I am not sure whether she did apologise for her mistake or not....but I was soon good friends with her again,

Pic 2 (Choral Speaking)

It was the first time Choral Speaking was introduced and my Form 5 class was the proud winner of this brand new shield ( if I am not mistaken, donated by Miss Glasgow who mooted the idea before she retired) I had the honour of attending her retirement ceremony just as soon as I entered secondary. She reminded me of the Queen Mother, graceful and dignified, Miss Angus trained us but Mrs Swarfield took the honour as she 's our form teacher. No, we didn't compose our own at that time. Miss Angus chose a very simple poem , rather more of a nursery rhyme.."The Owl and the Pussy Cat went to sea...in a beautiful..". but her rendition of it was not unlike her Shakesperean performance and we happened to be excellent copy cats.

 Pic 4 ( Bon Voyage)

Mrs Pamela Brampton! What a lady! I believe she was a professional actress from UK or was it US. Her brief stint at BBGS ( halfway my form 4 till mid Form 5) brought unique experiences to our lives. She introduced a sort of modern dance to her PE class and we were made to wear short sleeveless blue tunic to dance to the tune of Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake.. We were divided into several groups - one group is the wind, one the rain, one the thunder and lightning and only one girl is the Sun. I think my group members were flowers and there were some farmers too, So the music started out soft and my group -- flowers or what,,,I just remembered having to go low then stretch up up to the sky .." reach higher higher- the sun is up- reach outwards and upwards to feel the warmth of the sun,,..stretch....!" Then when the music went louder , the thunder and lightning group had to thrash their arms forcefully around. Well, although we rocked to the music of Elvis at that time, we were still inhibited when it came to flaring out our limbs in ballet like tunics. One Malay classmate of mine came in wearing long sleeved tunic because her strict father forbade her to wear sleeveless. Mrs Brampton pulled her aside but I think later on someone must have explained the religious situation to her as my friend continued to wear her long sleeved tunic.

She also instilled the love of theatre in me. My late uncle (an engineer) used to volunteer to do the lightings in the old Town Hall for the Philharmonic Society plays and I had the opportunity to see a lot of plays ,"Merry Widow" & so forth, mainly by expatriates during the 50's & 60's. However Mrs Brampton produced a play for British Council and she introduced a new style stage (forgot the term) where the stage was in the middle of the hall and the audience sat around the stage, almost within reach of the stage players. My classmates and I were not so interested in the new style theatre as in "Mrs Brampton ..got kissing scene or not...you got kiss the hero or not...yes? yes?" Obviously, we rushed to catch the play.

Pic 4 ( The Twisters)

See what I mean.."C'mon let's do the twist.." so the normally serious teachers took to the floor and twisted their butts off to the strains of Chubby Checker's screamings. Even the new art teacher who's very quiet and reserved, seemed to take the opportunity to release the real her. The taller Chinese teacher was Mrs Ngai ( Homescience teacher) whose bark was fiercer than her bite. All the Homescience or Domestic Science (as was called then) teachers were so fierce that we nicknamed them 'Bulldogs". I was hopeless at cooking as my granny still had her 'ah mah jie" until I got married and she went back to China. So I always volunteered to do the washing up while my partner did all the hands -on stuff, cooking , baking etc as she was very fast. However, during the finals I had to stand on my own. I was to serve oven scones for tea. Unfortunately for me, they bought a new gas oven and I was privileged to be the first to use it. My scones were badly burnt even though I had rehearsed the 10 minute baking time a week ago. So I took all the scones and hid them in my apron pockets and tried to scrap off the burnt parts when the invigilator was not looking then smeared them all over with jam. Later Mrs Ngai realised that the oven heat for gas and electric ovens are different and gas heat up faster. Too late!