Sunday, 1 June 2008

The Pilau Bukom "Officer's" Club

I wonder if there are any old sailors out there who remember this venerable institution? It was located on an artificial island off the coast of Singapore.

The island was an oil refinery and the Club was essential to tankermen who had only a few hours in which to drink themselves insensible before their ship sailed.
The Club was staffed by “Servants” (they called themselves that) who fondly remembered the British Raj. Many had left in disgust when independence was granted to the sub-continent and swore that their lives had been ruined by Ghandi, Nehru and such “upstarts”. Mostly they were fierce turbaned Sikhs, former Indian Army NCOs complete with curled moustachios and swagger canes.
The only beer on offer was Tiger Beer, which invariably gave me the "ring of fire", so that I was never off the toilet for a couple of days after each visit. It never occurred to me, of course, not to drink the stuff – “Jack Ashore” must have his beer!

The photo shows myself (with the whiskers) and Chunky Marshall in deep contemplation, possibly watching some fool throwing himself fully-clothed into the pool to cool off. This was a regular occurrence and generally led to the offender being ejected by the Servants.
Another “entertainment” was provided by bogus "veterans" who would produce long testimonials, signed by their erstwhile “Commanding Officer”, declaring them to have been a true and loyal servant to the Crown etc etc etc.

We usually gave them a couple of Singapore dollars to get them to bugger off before the Servants caught them and gave them a savage whopping with their swagger sticks.
Occasionally, when the ship was delayed for some reason or other, we would have time to go into Singapore itself and visit the Anson Road, in pursuit of more dubious pleasures.
We used to go to the aptly-named Paradise Bar. When I die, I hope to go there again.

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