My 1969 Charts – September

Changi Village

Changi Village

SEPT 1969

2nd Sept1969

Not much happening music-wise, just shuffling positions, and a second week at one for Zager And Evans, by virtue of being on an RAF DC10 heading for the Far East 1st Sept. Flights on those days were LONG. The first leg was to Bahrain (Muharraq), which was night-time when we landed and very humid and warm. I read my precious 30th Century superheroes Legion comic on the way, The Tornado Twins were the debut guest stars. Aka Super-speed descendant twins of The Flash, Barry Allen, who is getting a hot new TV series any day now.

Second Leg was to Gan, an RAF island base in the Indian Ocean, which closed in 1976 and is now part of the Maldives. It had a huge impact on me, as the first real view I had of land from the air was of this green tropical jewell in a blue sea of bright sunshine. I fell in love with palm trees, sunshine, beaches pretty much from that moment on. This wasn’t grey black and white TV UK, this was gorgeous widescreen tropical technicolour life. The RAF lads wore shorts as their uniform, we got served orange sherbet drinks in the waiting room, hot with ceiling fans spinning, and I was amazed to watch a giant fruit bat soaring through the sky. Awesome!

The final stage to RAF Changi and we landed 2nd Sept, late afternoon-ish, I think, bundled together and sitting with luggage in a very crowded small waiting room, until the RAF bus (pure white, known as Ghari’s, an Indian word) took us to the Cameron Hotel, the main stop-off for newly arrived families waiting to find lodgings. A short walk from Bedok Junction shop-shacks, and my first impression was of Chinese girls buzzing about the small hotel outside eating area. Turns out they weren’t girls, they were ladies, just shorter than I was used to seeing adults, hotel staff. we had one-room for the four of us, plus a shower-room, the first-time I’d ever seen a shower. Yes, honestly! The hotel menu was unusual, I think we had shark one day, it was a bit tough, and I would very much be against any hotel serving shark these days.

I also had my first introduction to my life-long battle with my nemesis: the mosquito. They were everywhere in Singapore, and smoking coils, electric aroma pads were only minor inconveniences to them. Being as my sweet body odour continues to be irresistible to the little buggers, in a football crowd of people I’m the one they zoom in on, and some nights I got eaten alive by any dashing in through the air vents above windows, the slatted windows during cleaning, or any door left open, sitting outside, standing at bus stops, playing in gardens. One night I woke up with 70-odd swollen bites from craftily-hidden stalking mozzies, looking like I’d been beaten up. No exaggeration the teachers thought I’d been beaten up, swollen eyes, puffy face, red arms and legs, dad took photos of it. I hate the little blood-sucking gobshites. The main armory in those days was flit. That sounds so sweet. It’s actually a now-banned toxic poison called DDT and it was liberally sprayed everywhere to kill them and the zillions of cockroaches, which were also everywhere and detestable. On a happier note, the walls of the hotel inside and out had dozens of chit-chats zipping about eating the insects: wall geckos were so cute, but had a nasty habit of leaving their tail twitching in your hand if you tried to grab one. Oops!


1 ( 1 ) IN THE YEAR 2525 Zager And Evans
2 ( 3 ) EARLY IN THE MORNING Vanity Fayre
4 ( 6 ) MY CHERIE AMOUR Stevie Wonder
5 ( 7 ) VIVA BOBBY JOE The Equals
6 ( 2 ) SAVED BY THE BELL Robin Gibb
7 ( 4 ) IN THE GHETTO Elvis Presley
8 ( 8 ) MAKE ME AN ISLAND Joe Dolan
9 ( 11 ) GOODNIGHT MIDNIGHT Clodagh Rodgers
10 ( 10 ) CONVERSATIONS Cilla Black

11 ( 12 ) HONKY TONK WOMEN The Rolling Stones
12 ( 13 ) GIVE PEACE A CHANCE Plastic Ono Band
13 ( 14 ) BAD MOON RISING Creedence Clearwater Revival
14 ( 17 ) HEATHER HONEY Tommy Roe
15 ( 9 ) SI TU DOIS PARTIR Fairport Convention
17 ( 18 ) I’M A BETTER MAN Engelbert Humperdinck

Changi Road and a white ghari (bus)

Changi Road and a white ghari (bus)

9th September 1969

3 weeks for In The Year 2525, a record I was truly mad on in a futuristic sci-fi way. Tommy Roe gets a Top 5 follow-up, based on memory more than actually hearing it, cos there was no radio and no TV so no music for me, and as we settled in to finding a house, dad still had to go to work, though we managed to avoid going to school right away. The only new entry is Bobbie Gentry, which did find it’s way onto 2-way Family Favourites, broadcast in Singapore for the forces abroad and on Radio 2. Only MOR or inoffensive pop ever found it’s way onto the show, so much of the stuff in the UK charts, like Space Oddity, Marrakesh Express and other classic future faves weren’t known to me until the mid-70’s or even early 80’s in some cases. “I’ll Never Fall In Love Again” though was a Burt Bacharach cover that was just gorgeous, I loved her husky voice, and the melody, and it became my 4th ever single purchase at an evening market record-stall, a month or two later. The concept of being able to shop in the evening was also a novelty to post-war UK which was firmly shut all over every evening and Sundays. It was fab and bustling.

This was the week I was introduced properly to two things: swimming, and severe sunburn, both connected. The RAF brochure to newbies stated quite firmly not to stay in the sun, cos it’s on the equator and You. Will. Burn. We must have missed that warning, cos after going to RAF Changi swimming pool with our new friends from the hotel The Marshalls and their 2 girls, we ended up horrifically sunburnt to the point where just moving was sooo painful, especially on the back, lying on the front suffering was about the size of it for a few days. Swimming was also new to me, really, apart from a few traumatic forced sessions when I was 6 or so in Chesham when I really wasn’t happy being taken out of my depth! So, 11-years-old, and a rubber ring in the baby pool. So not cool! Once everyone left me to my own devices though, essentially I taught myself to swim, at first with the help of the ring, then on my own bit by bit, ringless. I was quite proud of that. Yay for young me!

1 ( 1 ) IN THE YEAR 2525 Zager And Evans
2 ( 2 ) EARLY IN THE MORNING Vanity Fayre
4 ( 14 ) HEATHER HONEY Tommy Roe
5 ( 5 ) VIVA BOBBY JOE The Equals
6 ( 4 ) MY CHERIE AMOUR Stevie Wonder
7 ( 6 ) SAVED BY THE BELL Robin Gibb
8 ( 8 ) MAKE ME AN ISLAND Joe Dolan
9 ( 13 ) BAD MOON RISING Creedence Clearwater Revival
10 ( 9 ) GOODNIGHT MIDNIGHT Clodagh Rodgers

11 ( 10 ) CONVERSATIONS Cilla Black
12 ( 11 ) HONKY TONK WOMEN The Rolling Stones
14 ( 12 ) GIVE PEACE A CHANCE Plastic Ono Band

Changi Village buses old and new

Changi Village buses old and new

16th September 1969

4 weeks for Zager & Evans on top, Bobbie Gentry being the only real challenge for my love. A bit of music was to filter through from the British charts though, notably fave Mama Cass’ fab It’s Getting Better, as she tended to be a family friendly radio and variety show guest, especially the American variety shows which were all over the TV – Andy Williams, Dean Martin and black comic Flip Wilson were the biggest, but The Osmond Brothers and The Jackson 5 and the likes of them were regulars along with big names like Frank, Sammy and their cronies. More relevant was Hare Krishna Mantra, George Harrison-backed Radha Krishna Temple Indian chanting pop hit, which might not have been typical of the sort of Indian music widely heard on Singapore TV and radio, but it was an introduction to me of world music. The other major style of music was Chinese Mandarin-language, either modern pop-styled or more authentic. I wouldn’t say I ran out to buy either types of music, but they slowly got through in terms of hearing them regularly and having an impact on me in later years.

In Singapore for week 2, still in the hotel, still avoiding school, and getting more used to travelling by buses, all single-deckers, regularly running between Changi Village, past the infamous World War 2 Changi Prison and the RAF airport, and Singapore City. The buses were either new and cool or ricketty things from the 50‘s, which were a real pain to ride on. We went to view a brand new 4-bedroom house built on a very American-looking new housing estate called Bedokville. 42 Jalan Limau Perut, it wasn’t cheap but new friends the Marshalls were taking the house next door and we needed to get out of the hotel, so it was looking good, it was HUGE (to us) compared to every flat and house we’d ever lived in, and it had a fridge! Luxury! OK there was a smelly monsoon drain and sewerage works behind the house, but the Malay kampong (wooden house settlement) behind that was interesting. Quite a variation from the middle class houses, too. I was keen, cos it looked so much like every American suburban TV and movie film I’d seen, houses running up the short hill into the distance until the non-urban tropics popped back just over the brow of the hill. Incredibly, it’s all still there, on google map, just looking a lot more burglar-alarmed and walled, as opposed to wire fenced and open in 1969, and our house (as it became) still stands. Yes, modern technology gives good nostalgia!

1 ( 1 ) IN THE YEAR 2525 Zager And Evans
3 ( 2 ) EARLY IN THE MORNING Vanity Fayre
4 ( 15 ) I’LL NEVER FALL IN LOVE AGAIN Bobbie Gentry
5 ( 4 ) HEATHER HONEY Tommy Roe
6 ( 9 ) BAD MOON RISING Creedence Clearwater Revival
7 ( 6 ) MY CHERIE AMOUR Stevie Wonder
9 ( 7 ) SAVED BY THE BELL Robin Gibb
10 ( 8 ) MAKE ME AN ISLAND Joe Dolan

11 ( 5 ) VIVA BOBBY JOE The Equals
12 ( 10 ) GOODNIGHT MIDNIGHT Clodagh Rodgers
13 ( NEW ) HARE KRISHNA MANTRA Radha Krishna Temple
15 ( 12 ) HONKY TONK WOMEN The Rolling Stones

RAF Changi swimming pool with the Marshalls

RAF Changi swimming pool with the Marshalls

23rd September 1969

5 weeks for Zager And Evans, and a late surge by Robin Gibb to signify mum buying Saved By The Bell (once our basic record player/radio arrived from the UK in a crate of clothes and stuff sent over – dad bought it in Aden when he was sent on a year’s unaccompanied service in 1966, and we lived in a Liverpool slum flat with mice scuttling about the place, and fleas). Good Morning Starshine hits the top 5, I adored that melody. New in? Johnny Cash’s San Quentin prison-track, an album we borrowed eventually, and a sort of novelty hit, A Boy Named Sue. I was about the right age, and was glad I hadn’t been named Sue, being a sweet (wet) boy and all. Bob Dylan also sneaks in with a record that had once-in-a-blue-moon radio plays, but for Dylan, at that time, it was more pop-friendly (if naughty).

In the Cameron Hotel, named for the Cameron Highlands in Malaya, I think, an upland holidaying cooller area for Europeans seeking some heat-relief, we were in the process of moving out. Into our new luxury home. Me and my brother dashed upstairs to claim a bedroom each, the first time we’d had our own, he grabbed the first one he went into, I got the bigger front one I think, next to mum and dad’s, it had a balcony over the front garden. The back ones looked over the Kampong and sewerage works. I say garden – as it was a new house it was basically a lawn (not grass as the UK knows it, a sort of wide-leaved variation) plus a few random flowering weeds on the driveway up to the covered verandah/car port. I was fascinated by the teeny tiny titchy lil’ butterflies fluttering round these flowers. So tiny! In contrast to the effing huge spiders on the wall. Massive! I mean, REALLY big, they virtually stared at you. The little ones were just as bad, cos they had a nasty habit which my brother found out about when he started tormenting one – it jumped right at him. He jumped pretty well himself, then. Funny.

We also had a cleaner. She was very nice, a slim older Chinese lady called Tan, and the whole concept of having someone else do the housework was really a leftover from the Stiff Upper Lip colonial days, which were very much in their closing days. British women were too frail to do housework in the humid heat (it was thought in the olden days, and it sort of hung over into the 60’s) and local labour wasn’t that expensive relative to increased income (for being posted abroad). I really never felt at ease Tan doing the work as an Amah (as they called it), so I tended to feel sorry for all the workers and be nice to them and help. I’m sure the extra cash was helpful, but that’s besides the point, I was and am working class from a poor background. This was luxury! We had a fridge with a freezebox and we could make ice-lollies! It was sunny! It was hot! It was exotic…

On the downside, a school bus picked kids up on the corner outside, a white Ghari and there was no getting away from heading for my first secondary (Big) school at RAF Seletar (on the other side of the island), and my brother to his junior school at RAF Changi….

1 ( 1 ) IN THE YEAR 2525 Zager And Evans
2 ( 9 ) SAVED BY THE BELL Robin Gibb
3 ( 4 ) I’LL NEVER FALL IN LOVE AGAIN Bobbie Gentry
6 ( 6 ) BAD MOON RISING Creedence Clearwater Revival
7 ( 13 ) HARE KRISHNA MANTRA Radha Krishna Temple
8 ( 7 ) MY CHERIE AMOUR Stevie Wonder
9 ( 10 ) MAKE ME AN ISLAND Joe Dolan
10 ( 14 ) IT’S GETTING BETTER Mama Cass

11 ( 5 ) HEATHER HONEY Tommy Roe
12 ( 11 ) VIVA BOBBY JOE The Equals
13 ( 15 ) HONKY TONK WOMEN The Rolling Stones
14 ( NEW ) LAY LADY LAY Bob Dylan
15 ( NEW ) A BOY NAMED SUE Johnny Cash

Bruv, school uniform and our new house

Bruv, school uniform and our new house