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Good Deeds on R&C

A Cautionary Tale for Young Gunners
from Rod Simpson
Singapore, 1970

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I often feel surprised and saddened at reading 'Last Post', especially when I recognize the names. Fortunately, I seem to still enjoy good health, so I was very surprised recently when I saw that Kerry Wallace had died. I told myself at the time that I would write a little story in which Kerry was indirectly involved, so while I'm a little late, and the story includes a bit of 'writers licence', here it is anyway.

During the Vietnam War, Kerry was a surveyor and I was on radios, so naturally we shared quite a few shifts when at Nui Dat, and as we were of the same 'era' we got to know each other quite well.

Late in my tour I visited Singapore on a brief R&C. I had been in town about two days and done all the usual things (you know, Arab Street, Bugi Street, and so on ...) and one afternoon while out taking in a little culture I went into Raffles Hotel to put my feet up and have a drink. I was sitting there quietly, rum'n coke in hand, taking in the atmosphere, (and trying to create a master strategy for winning the Vietnam War) when I looked up and there She was.

Now for the sake of the story I will call her Suzi (remember, Suzi Wong and all that), and while she wasn't exactly beautiful, at the time she looked so, after all, Bugi Street was losing its novelty and heck, I needed the company. Suzi'e English was excellent and it wasn't long before we were engrossed in conversation and I was counting my luck, at meeting such a nice girl, with still a few more days of my holiday left.

"Would I like her to show me the sights?" or "Could she show me where to get a good buy?" Nothing seemed too much trouble for Suzi, and before long I was paying for the taxi to take us across town to meet Mum and Dad. Now the Family lived about 10 storeys up in one of thoses numerous blocks of flats, easily identified by the many poles carrying the family washing protrudung from the balcony. Although there seemed to be about seven children living in this two room flat I was an instant novelty and before long was feeling like one of the Family.

Soon it was time for dinner and Suzi suggested we should eat out, so I didn't object when half the Family piled into the taxi with us and we pulled up outside a restaurant the likes of which I had never seen. It was at the complete opposite end of the spectrum from the street vendors trolley that I had been used to eating at. A Sikh porter fussed around the taxi, opening the appropriate door for the Family to step out, but the finer points of decorum escaped me and I leapt from the other side narrowly missing being flattened by the next speeding car.

The bill was paid for by a large wad of my travelers cheques, but hey, Suzi was a nice girl, and besides she had invited me home to stay the night with the Family, and being a Gunner, I foresaw a new opportunity presenting itself. Mum and Dad did the right thing and gave Suzi and me the only bed in the house, but no sooner had the lights gone out, leaving me contemplating my next move, than the door inched open and four children crept into the room and joined us by sleeping at the base of the bed.

The next morning the Family were all smiles, and after a breakfast of boiled rice it was suggested that we should visit the Zoo. It wasn't until the taxi arrived that I realised once again the whole Family was joining us, and between the zebras, the elephants and the cafeteria, the days outing quickly absorbed another chunk of my valuable savings. That night the routine was the same except I noticed that a Brother or Sister would get up at regular intervals to go to the toilet, probably to remind me that any 'monkey business' was defiantly out of the question .... ('monkey business' ... the Zoo ... get it !!)

My memory of the next day eludes me, but Suzi .... (such a nice girl!) ensured that I caught my flight that evening, flat broke, and somehow relieved of just about everything except the clothes I had arrived in five days earlier.

Nui Dat was a welcome relief after the rigours of Singapore and I quickly found myself relating to Kerry yhe story of this 'nice girl' I had met at Raffles Hotel. I noticed Kerry started to nod somewhat knowingly. "Her name wasn't Suzi, was it ?" he asked. I was surprised, "Yes, how do you know that?" I replied ... "Did the family enjoy the zoo?" he said, a smile slowly breaking across his face .....

Now the purpose of this story is twofold. Firstly, if any other Gunner met 'Suzi from Raffles' please let me know, and secondly, Rest In Peace Kerry, and remember, one day in another place, we'll both meet Suzi again, so keep busy, start planning revenge!

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