I came here in 1986 as Marketing Manager with Singapore Airlines. Our biggest problem was trying to get anyone to come here. Their perception was that it was all green, clean, and boring. Getting them to stay more than two nights was a nightmare.
I always thought, “What’s wrong with that?” You get here and you think “Everyone’s having a nice life. Let’s not tell too many people.”
Nowadays, you can’t get rid of people when they come to stay at your place.
I remember going to the first wine bar in Holland Village—it was called Palm’s. To go to a wine bar here back then was very adventurous.
Working for an airline, you fly first class and live in economy. When I went to work in hotels, I was living in first class and travelling in economy.
There’s a guy in my wife’s first novel—In the Shade of the Tembasu Tree. Hal Leadbitter is a bit of a desperado, who screws half the world. Even my mother asked “Surely Mark’s not Hal, is he?” I had to tell a lot of people I’m not him.
Everyone we know thinks they’re a character in the book.
If I were President, I would mandate that the government cease their active practice of forcing home tenants to vacate their premises of many years on the pretext of renovation. We have big regrets about that happening to our old house in Bukit Batok.
Now we live in a bit of a secret little place on the West Coast; it’s an old building but the apartments inside are great and it’s smack bang on the water. The strange thing is that our son now lives there on the seventh floor, our daughter’s on the tenth floor and we’re on the fourth. It’s Greedy Tower.
I remember you used to have to take a ferry to get to the Beaufort Hotel on Sentosa. A year ago, I was walking through Resorts World, looking for lunch. There was a Japanese restaurant with a set menu for $700. I looked inside: It was absolutely empty.
I don’t think I know any high rollers.
My plan one day would be to work wherever I feel like working. I don’t need to be in a particular place.
If I can just go for a surf in the morning, with all the other five o’clock people, and then go drink coffee and read the paper, that’s fantastic.
Some people come here and get a bit carried away with themselves. You can kid yourself pretty badly as an expat.
I started what became the Wanderers rugby team here. In our first season we went quite well and won a couple of games. The next year we got serious, and won the competition undefeated. I was 43 at the time. It felt great, but you can’t kid yourself that you could do that elsewhere. Try that in England and you’d be killed in about 15 seconds.
Life is creating memories. And if you have the opportunity to keep creating interesting new memories, why not? Singapore enables that to happen.
Living here has been life-altering. For the better; for us, for our children and for anyone that we’ve had anything to do with.
We’ll leave one day. And I’ll miss mixing and mingling with like-minded people, in a quality environment.
I don’t think I’ve been brainwashed too much.