Sex education for teenagers

We have a keyring in the shape of a sperm at home.

My 14-year-old son came back from school a few weeks ago after a day’s sex education and drug education. The sperm keyring was a freebie to all children.

During the sex education, all boys and girls (aged 13 and 14) were each given a real condom in a sealed package. They learnt together in the same class, learnt how to tear off the sealed package gently, hold the condom the right way, and put it on a realistic erect penis model.

The teenagers also learnt about STDs (Sexually Transmitted Diseases). They were shown graphic images of the effects of the diseases such as chlamydia. Teenagers were also told to make choices in life about whether they think they are ready for sex, and try not to succumb to peer pressure. Continue reading

The fading Chinese New Year memories

Last Thursday (19th February 2015), Chinese people around the world celebrated The Year of the Sheep. Traditionally Chinese New Year is a period of 15 days, so it is still a time of celebration today.

However I live in England, and Chinese New Year seems to have lost its charm on me. Many of my English calendars don’t even mark Chinese New Year as an event. I must admit in the past I sometimes forgot that new year had arrived until I was asked, “Er, is this the year of the…?” Continue reading

Now England has become my home

Today I changed the header of this blog. My new tagline is: Now England has become my home.

It is important that people who visit this site are clear about what they may find, therefore I tried to be descriptive.

The tagline I used before was “From the south of England”. This old tagline was a bit vague, as some people might be disappointed to find that I did not feature sun, sea, and beach huts from Plymouth or Brighton on this site.

Creating a relevant tagline

When I was considering a new tagline, I had an idea of “From a kampung to an England’s suburb”. However, most overseas readers may find it difficult to comprehend the concept of a kampung in Malaysia. A kampung is a typical Malaysian village or enclosure, characterised by lots of greenery, such as coconut trees, papaya trees, and sugar cane. Continue reading

2015: My new writing focus and challenge

I have been absent for over a year from this site. I had only planned to be away for a few weeks.

Thank you for some of you who regularly checked on me.

Thank you for those of you who continued to write and inspire me.

I’m still reading some blogs, especially ShimonZ through his blog the human picture. In ShimonZ’s writing and through his lenses, I see Jerusalem, the everyday life of the people and animals, and ponder over some terribly sad episodes over the last year.

It’s wonderful to know Tilly still enjoys writing and reciting poems. She cried over her son leaving home, watched her son performing, and even decorated her room, in her blog dedicated to sharing the laughter: The Laughing Housewife.

I’m so proud that Nicki Chen successfully published her gripping novel, Tiger Tail Soup. I’ve read the book and would highly recommend it to you. In the past year, Nicki’s blog Behind the Story never fails to entertain (lots of food), and carry me with her on her fascinating recollections of the past, from the East to the West. Continue reading

Happy Christmas to you

I have only just finished my last teaching session a week ago. Now I’m just about to rest, hand deliver my last-minute Christmas cards and welcome Christmas.

My son has been doing the countdown to Christmas. “Today is the Christmas eve’s eve’s eve….” The joy of Christmas is infectious.

I wish all my friends and readers a very blessed Christmas and the New Year filled with joy and happiness.

My friend’s daughter recently sang in a school choir, and their songs  “Do You Hear What I Hear?” and Pie Jesu are absolutely beautiful.

I am dedicated these songs to you and I look forward to blogging and sharing again, and also visiting you again after the New Year.

(Note: I have turned off the comment for this post.)

Letters from China

The unbreakable family ties

I was shocked to see the state of my mother’s ancestral home in China. By today’s modern standard, her ancestral house still looks shabby. However, the house used to be unsafe, dilapidated, and it could not withstand strong wind and rain.

This is the very house that nurtured 4 children, who are now grandparents. These are also my cousins that I have never met. Continue reading

Letters from China

An emotional return to ancestral home in China

A few months ago, I shared with you some touching letters from China to my mother. These letters built the bridge between my mother and her remaining brother in China, both were separated by war, politics and poverty for 40 years.

During their separation, my mother never ceased to support her brother’s family in the Fujian province of China even though we had very little ourselves. We lived in Malaysia and Singapore then and my mother would squeeze any money that she could find and then sent money and medicine (such as ginseng) to China, for example, to help fix a leaking roof, and to help pay for the bride price so that her three nephews could get a wife in their poor village. My mother also enabled her elderly sister in law (now 96 years old) to visit Singapore in 1992 to fulfill her once-in-a-lifetime dream. Continue reading

Pilgrimage of a son: How Changi Cross made history

Fifty five years after the the Changi Cross (St. George’s Cross) was crafted at the Changi prisoner of war camp in 1942, the world finally discovered the full identity of the maker of the symbolic Changi Cross: British Staff Sergeant Harry Stogden. He made the Changi Cross with a 4.5 Howitzer shell and strips of brass. Sadly Sergeant Stogden never made it home, leaving three orphans in Britain. He died at sea aged 38 in 1945 after spending 3 years as a Japanese prisoner of war in Singapore and Japan.

In 2001, The Singapore Tourist Board invited the son of Sergeant Harry Stogden and his family to visit Singapore to mark the end of the 59th anniversary of the Fall of Singapore. Changi Cross was a symbol of hope and strength to hundreds of POWs at Changi. The creation of the Cross also marks the resourcefulness of the POWs incarcerated in Singapore during the Japanese Occupation. Continue reading

The Incredible Journey Of Harry Stogden’s Changi Cross In Singapore

When Padre Eric Cordingly was imprisoned at the Changi prisoners of war camp in Singapore in 1942, he kept a diary with fascinating details. For example, he mentioned how ambitious the POWs were in making their own wine from raisins for communion. When Padre Cordingly suffered from “Tummy trouble” (dysentery) before the Holy Week in 1942, he was treated with Bismuth and chloroform. His wonderful comrades also surprised him with the precious gift of two packets of cigarettes. Now I know from his newly-published diary that cigarettes got occasionally smuggled into the Changi POW camp and they cost ten dollars for fifty, about twenty-five shillings.

Eric Cordingly’s book Down to Bedrock: The Diary and Secret Notes of a Far East Prisoner of War Chaplain 1942 – 1945 is full of heart-warming details of camaraderie amongst the POWs. One day he was offered “several mugs of real tea with a really generous dose of tinned milk and sugar in it” and for him, it was pure happiness. Continue reading

Eric Cordingly – Diary of the Changi POW Chaplain in Singapore

Eric Cordingly was an army chaplain. He was a prisoner of war at the Changi POW camps in Singapore. The year was 1942.

Eric Cordingly was a chaplain with a territorial battalion of the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers during the Second World War. On 4 February 1942, Cordingly’s unit arrived in Singapore. Two weeks later, British forces lost the Battle of Singapore and surrendered to Japan.

My mother lived through the Japanese occupation in Singapore. She told me that when the Japanese invaded Singapore on the Chinese New Year day on the 15th of February in 1942, it ruined everyone’s dinner. My mother and her family ran away to a safer place and they were taken in by some Malay family for a few days. Continue reading