West meets East: A story without end
From the very first moments after stepping ashore in Singapore from HMS Victorious way back on 29th March, 1961 and hearing the strains of Chinese music in the streets I became fascinated with Asian music generally and with "Chinese" music especially. I must have spent hundreds of hours over the following years watching, hearing and being fascinated by Peking Opera as performed by small troupes of street players in Singapore, Hong Kong and Macao as well as in the kampongs around Singapore and Malaya. I never understood a word (although manly efforts were made using Fifty lessons in Chinese
). After my service life in the Royal Navy finished in 1968, one could have expected that the story would have ended there with a cluster of highly scratched LPs, a few other mementoes and a lot of fond memories. But, life had other plans, ......
So, some years, indeed many years later in 1999, whilst partaking of a Chinese meal in the Chinese restaurant "Residenz Wang", Vegesack, Germany to be precise, its proprietor, Chong Xiao Wang
asked me whether I could sing at an event he was organising for the German -Chinese Association, Bremen. Naturally, I was delighted to take up the challenge. After much searching for something suitable, I finally came across Cindy Mao & Ma Baolin's Sing Chinese
which seemed to fit the bill superbly. Over the next three months I got to grips with some 25 songs listed in these pages. My accent of course, is far from perfect to put it optimistically, but I thoroughly learned and enjoyed these Chinese children's songs. I was also helped by Melissa Siew with kè rén lái
which she learned in her childhood in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Any roud up, the event fell through and I had not opportunity of showing off my new-won songs. Actually at this point, one should really have quite expected that the story would have ended here with a little disappointment at not having "sung" these songs in public. But, life had quite other plans, ......
So it came to pass that Melissa on marrying my son Andrew in September 2000 became my daughter-in-law giving me the happy prospect of one day of croaking out a few songs to a captive audience in the shape of my future grandchildren. What a story! Get on with it children!
Geoff Grainger, Bremen-Vegesack, January 2001