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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Sibu Recreation Club

The Sibu Recreation Club is no longer in existence, physically that is. In its site is the huge Sanyan Building.

The Sibu Recreation Club featured significantly in our lives in the 50's and 60's. Lots of black and white photographs were hung on the walls . And I remember that many of them were actually of great historical value.

The Club was set up by a group of Foochow business men who were interested in having a venue for their recreation like mahjong playing, tennis, some beers and pool.

They were very successful in setting up a fund and in no time, they put up quite a reasonable double storeyed concrete building on the state land , next to the Sibu Boys' Club.

What I remember was the great noise the business men made when they played mahjong after their office hours.

Datuk Ting Ing Mien, his brother Ting Ing Ling and a few others were the frequent mahjong partners of my father. I often hanged out there as I liked to eat two or four pieces of siew mai (that was all I was allowed by my father).It was also here that I learned how to eat mustard. It had a beautiful taste.

I also watched the men playing billiard. They were very skilful actually. Two Malays were the "boys" and a Hokkien man was the bar tender. At that time I did not realise what clubbing was all about.

That was clubbing in the 1950's.

In the 1970's I played tennis in a teachers' tournament and had a peep.

All I could see were the ghosts of the days long gone. the ambience, the very essence of a post colonial club was all gone. Perhaps no one could put the spirit of the 50's clubbing back in Sibu again...

Then I remembered with great sadness the passing of a unique post colonial era.

I remember too how I would sit on the cold green cement staircase reading and memorising my nursery rhymes.

Somehow Humpty Dumpty plays a very significant role in my life....during my childhood, during my teaching life, during the upbringing of my children..and now writing about all that I knew.....in cyberspace...I like this revisit to Humpty Dumpty.....taken from Wikipedia..

Humpty Dumpty is a character in a nursery rhyme portrayed as an anthropomorphic egg. Most English-speaking children are familiar with the rhyme:

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall.
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the king's horses and all the king's men
Couldn't put Humpty together again.

The fact that Humpty Dumpty is an egg is not actually stated in the rhyme. In its first printed form, in 1810, it is a riddle, and exploits for misdirection the fact that "humpty dumpty" was 18th-Century reduplicative slang for a short, clumsy person. Whereas a clumsy person falling off a wall would not be irreparably damaged, an egg would be. The rhyme is no longer posed as a riddle, since the answer is now so well known. Similar riddles have been recorded by folklorists in other languages, such as Boule Boule in French, or Lille Trille in Swedish & Norwegian; though none is as widely known as Humpty Dumpty is in English.



Origins
Previous to the "short, clumsy person" meaning, "humpty dumpty" referred to a drink of brandy boiled with ale. There are also various theories of an original "Humpty Dumpty", who was not an egg. As some are mutually exclusive, the theories necessarily include false etymologies.

According to an insert taken from the East Anglia Tourist Board in England, Humpty Dumpty was a powerful cannon used in the Siege of Colchester during the English Civil War. It was mounted on top of the St. Mary's at the Wall Church in Colchester defending the city against siege in the summer of 1648. Although Colchester was a Royalist stronghold, it was besieged by the Roundheads for 11 weeks before finally falling. The church tower was hit by enemy cannon fire and the top of the tower was blown off, sending "Humpty" tumbling to the ground. Naturally all the King's horses and all the King's men (Royalist cavalry and infantry respectively) tried to mend "him" but in vain. Other reports have Humpty Dumpty referring to a sniper nicknamed One-Eyed Thompson, who occupied the same church tower.
Visitors to Colchester can see the reconstructed Church tower as they reach the top of Balkerne Hill on the left hand side of the road. An extended version of the rhyme gives additional verses, including the following:
In Sixteen Hundred and Forty-Eight
When England suffered the pains of state
The Roundheads lay siege to Colchester town
Where the King's men still fought for the crown
There One-Eyed Thompson stood on the wall
A gunner of deadliest aim of all
From St. Mary's Tower his cannon he fired
Humpty-Dumpty was its name...
Another version has it:

In Sixteen Hundred and Forty-Eight
When England suffered the pains of state
The Roundheads lay siege to Colchester town
Where the King's men still fought for the crown
Then One-Eyed Thompson stood on the wall
A gunner of deadliest aim
The cannon he fired from the top of the tower
Humpty-Dumpty was its name...

In another theory, Humpty Dumpty referred to King Richard III of England, the hunchbacked monarch, the "Wall" being either the name of his horse (called "White Surrey" in Shakespeare's play), or a reference to the supporters who deserted him. During the battle of Bosworth Field, he fell off his steed and was said to have been "hacked into pieces". (However, although the play depicts Richard as a hunchback, other historical evidence suggests that he was not.)

The story of Cardinal Wolsey's downfall is supposedly depicted in the children's nursery rhyme of Humpty Dumpty. At length Cawood Castle (Cawood, a village in Yorkshire, seven miles southwest of York) passed to Cardinal Wolsey, who let it fall into disrepair in the early part of his career (1514 – 1530), due to his residence at the Court, devotion to temporal affairs and his neglect of his diocesan duties. King Henry VIII sent Wolsey back home in 1523 after he failed to obtain a divorce from the Pope – a huge mistake on Wolsey’s part. Wolsey returned to the castle and began to restore it to its former grandeur. However, he was arrested for high treason in November, 1530 and ordered to London for trial. He left on 6 November, but took ill at Leicester and died in the Abbey there on 29 November.

An explanation given on a British radio programme described Humpty Dumpty as a siege tower, used by the Cavaliers (King's Men) during the English civil war. Unfortunately, as it was poorly designed, the tower often toppled over when it was full of men and broke. Hence, "All the King's could not put Humpty
Dumpty toge ther again..."

2 memories:

AlisonBuda said...

You tend to change your posting from time to time!!!

sarawakiana said...

perhaps I just like the idea of editing my own work, make certain corrections because I may have made a factual error.

You are very observant. Thanks.

 

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