Thursday, April 02, 2009

45 years of Bristol-Sibu Friendship

I was one of the bright eyed and hopeful students who joined the Journalist Club of the Methodist School because I was not tall enough to play basketball and not slim (not fast) enough to play table tennis. I had to choose from several other clubs but finally chose to write in English.The Advisor of the club was Mrs. Wiltshire the wife of the school Principal then. She taught me more than one life long living skill.

Besides being a great mentor she opened our eyes to the world and worldly issues which we as students in Sibu could never have been able to do ourselves. Many of the club members enjoyed a long lasting friendship of more than 40 years with her! Even when they returned home Mrs. Wilsthire continued to write and encouraged us.

I in particular appreciate her kindness and friendship. And as my family grew I looked up to her as my counsellor and friend. She came to visit several times and I had visited them in Singapore and in Bristol. Their home in Bristol is full of Sarawakiana memorabilia which will make any Sarawakian visiting them feel at home immediately.

She encourages me to take great interest in local social history as she herself is researching on her own family history which stretches back more than 300 years. She writes about her garden which delights my soul. And she talks about the weather and what she sees in her surroundings bringing a European window to my hot equatorial environs.

At first it was the plain and reasonsly priced aerogramme (30 cents to the UK) We continued write each other as we caught our first strands of grey hair: hers already quite grey and mine grey on black. Her daughters grew into teenagers interested in games and music and then later got engaged to great guys while mine were learning to ride their bicycles . She and her family enjoyed eating Indian food while I go in search of a nice pumpkin to make a Dayak soup or make English scrambled eggs the way she taught me one Easter so long ago in Sibu.

though we are quite different we are remarkably the same as we believe in alleviating the plight of suffering women and supporting endangered species of all kinds. We savour the good values of our ancestors and hope for the best for our future generation.

Here's her most recent mail which brings sunshine to my garden and delight to my soul as a good neighbour could:

Right now we are enjoying full on spring, except it's a bit chilly still. Mona visited for a couple of days. We just did ordinary things together, visiting the garden centre, riding our local train, enjoying each others company.
Then Pat and David came over after a family wedding down south.Grace and Pete joined us for an Indian meal out and we are still enjoying the leftovers without the bother of making them.They'll soon have both Tom and Kate home for Easter.We had also spent Monday with Grace visiting a National Trust Tudor/Restoration style house. Lots of blue and white china and elaborate wall hangingsand rather gloomy so as to protect them

P&D invited us up to the Lake District later .Just a short local train ride then a long one and they'll meet us so we are tempted but again right now K spends 3 mornings a week volunteering at the South West Green Party European Election Office.Have you heard about the film, "The Age Of Stupid"? We have seen it premiered in Bristol.Please look it up on the web.

You may have heard that 35,000 marched in London last Sat for "Jobs ,People and the Climate". We had considered joining the March tomorrow as the G20 meet but old age and wisdom prevailed as we both agreed that if we lost each other in the crowd the other one would be very worried!.

.... We are in the throes of getting some more estimates for replacing our 75 year old original guttering and "soffits", i.e under the eaves.and planning my 75th birthday in June with a garden party with family and friends for lunch and neighbours joining us for tea.
So what are you planning to do next?

Can you recognise Mr. Wiltshire- Mr. David Johnson -Mrs. David Johnson and Mrs. Pauline Wiltshire? Grace is every inch her mother. Pete (Grace's husband is next to Mrs. Johnson)

And I really hope that every generation would be able to connect with their teachers and friends in their special ways and be long lasting friends.

Comments are free
Facts are sacred
Truth will prevail.
(Charles P. Scott)

7 memories:

Just a Little Kindness said...

I think the older generation is kinder. Some of my earliest teachers were very kind to us village kids. But now I see that my kids are not privileged enough to meet teachers like these.

You and I are lucky.

bliss said...

You have a fantastic story there...This is what I call borderless education.

And thanks for such an inspiring friendship too.

Unknown said...

Sarawakiana - it is amazing that you can reach out to so many people in your life!! I am really impressed after reading your postings.

I Am Sarawakiana said...

Jalk - yes most of the older teachers in village schools gave their all to their students. But that could be a thing of the past now. Unfortunately.
i remember one great teacher in the Baram who carried tins of kerosene and diesel and other school supplies and walked one whole day from the river side to the ulu school just to get the generator going once a fortnight.

He later had a fall and died from a tumour which was left untreated. If he had been in Miri he could have been saved and be still alive.

We must remember teachers like him. These are our unsung heroes who never make it to front page news.

I Am Sarawakiana said...

Bliss - thank you for your kind words.

I Am Sarawakiana said...

Hope you can find time to read more blogs (there are some really good ones and not necessarily anti government) ......

Ann, Chen Jie Xue 陈洁雪 said...

I recognise Mr Jophnson here, and Mr. Wiltshire was the principal when I was in Form 1.

I bet my top dollar you are Chang Yi.

Ann :)

If you are, remember I emailed you before, that was before I started blogging.


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