I can’t believe that it’s been two months since the last entry, but life is a little like that sometimes.
In the briefest of recaps, Paul and I returned to LA only to discover that our house was no longer our house. That’s to say that after 4 and a half months of living in a designer apartment on a canal in Amsterdam with nothing but a suitcase of clothes each, we came back to our house and wondered if this was actually our place.
It’s a very strange feeling to come home and find that it’s not home. So, we began the great purge of 2011. If you happen to find yourself round the way in Westwood, duck. Clothes, tables, benches and other mounds of assorted crap are flying out our front door at an alarming rate.
Not that we’re trying to create a Yoko Ono art project. It’s just that some kind of a page was turned while we were gone and the house is playing catch up.
While Paul and I were taking turns shotputting vases and the like over the neighbor’s fence, the phone rings. It turns out that it’s my good friend Scott.
Ah Scotty. Scott was my art director for four years in Singapore and then on to South Africa. We lived together, worked together, ate together and didn’t have sex. Which basically made us like an old married couple. We certainly could fight that way.
In fact we were so tight that when I’d introduce Scott as my partner, people often replied that we made a lovely couple and were we planning to adopt. This would usually cause us to look at each other, have a furrowed moment of silence as we both had a flash of us getting the kids ready for school… then I’d order another round of drinks and Scott would go and call his girlfriend, Emma.
Scott: G’day c*#ty (trans: ‘Hello good friend’)
Me: Hey there mate, howzit goin’?
Scott: What are you doing right now?
I watch Paul launch a sculpture into the middle of Glendon Ave with a golf club. It was a good shot.
Me: Nothing, why?
Scott: Want to come to Singapore and help out on a pitch?
Me: (stopping Paul as he throws a credenza into the nearest parked car) Babe! You want to go to Singapore for a couple of weeks?
One credenza meets Volvo. One K+P to meet Singapore.
This really is going to be a trip down memory lane. After LA, SIngapore is the city that I’ve lived the longest since I left Australia 15 years ago. I have so much history here it’s scary.
When I arrived in Singapore at the tender age of 25, there was not a lot here. There was one nightclub, you could only get a western style coffee in a hotel, forget finding scrambled eggs. The place was a jungle with a city cut into it. But it had a thriving Advertising scene and drew ambitious young creatives from all over the world who came here looking for an opportunity.
And the fact that there was nothing here, meant that you had to make all your own fun. Everyone I knew was doing an art project, DJing in a club, organising performance nights, recording with a band and so on and so on. There was a tight group of about 30 of us that roamed the island; work all day, drink all night.
From 1996 to 1998 I fell in and out of taxis in various states of inebriation as soon as the sun went down. It was just the done thing here. No drugs, lots of young people, disposable incomes and most importantly, no one watching us. Anyone reading this who was there, you know what I mean.
Drinking in bars with bamboo finishings and red light haze, peanut shells on the floor, no clothes in any store in your size, you never feel full unless you’ve eaten rice, always a sheen of city on your skin, all the food is oily, anything leather gets moldy in a week, ants in your laptop, Bali for the weekend, a wardrobe completely created from Stussy, working till 8pm was normal, 10pm even more normal, shagging tourists, learning Singlish, house parties, into the pool with all your clothes on, listening to Nirvana, smuggling chewing gum in for your friends, lots of rings, flatting with three other people, turntables in the loungeroom, wondering why you could never get a tan this close to the equator, buying your first cell phone, discovering this amazing thing called Texting.
But it was great. I loved every minute of it. And being the transient city that it is, all the people I know have blown to the winds; New York, Malta, Amsterdam, Jo’Burg, London, Tokyo, Melbourne, Sydney and Beijing.
So here we are, Singapore and I, face to face again after not seeing each other since the end of 2003.
Wow, what a difference a few years makes. The place is so grown up that I barely recognize it. Yes, it’s still sweltering hot. Yes, every room smells faintly musty and yes, the cab drivers still disappear every time it rains.
But it’s like meeting someone you used to party with ten years later and now they have a job and kids and an ex-wife. Singapore is built up, brightly lit, you can get everything you want, Australian accents everywhere, things are three times the price, I feel underdressed a lot of the time and half the people I knew seem to have moved to Shanghai.
I knew it would be different, but somehow I wanted it to still be the same.