From Swansea to Singapore

Swansea Bay, 26 Mar 2017

In a few hours, I’ll be boarding a plane back to Singapore, thereby ending one of the longest stretches that I’ve been away. I’ll be staying for three weeks, primarily to celebrate my mother’s 93rd birthday.

Living in the UK from autumn to spring (Nov 2016 till now) was quite different from my stay in the UK over the same period between 2003 and 2004. Somehow observing the changing seasons seemed more visceral this time around. Granted the present experience is more current. However, it makes a big difference living in a small city like Swansea vs. a highly urbanized, modern and fast-paced metropolis like London.

Swansea, by comparison, is slower-paced, less filled with concrete-and-glass towers and less densely packed. So Nature seems closer. I guess living in a hostel room that has a glass door opening to a balcony made me more observant of the evolving climate.

Singleton Park, Swansea, 9 Apr 2017

Some notes about Spring:

  • February was nasty weather. March was drier and sunnier. And over the last two weeks, quite bright and sunny. The switch to daylight-saving time where the clocks go forward has made the days incredibly long. It’s now bright by 6 am and doesn’t get dark until about 8 pm. So different from the short, short days of December.
  • February and especially early March was the season of daffodils. Whole battalions of them were shooting up and standing tall wherever there were cultivated spaces of gardens, parks and roadside verges, cheering on the spring. Sadly, the daffodil season is now over, brown dying heads and shrinking leaves pervade, and soon these plants will go into hiding beneath the grass until next year.
  • Dandelions and daisies are flourishing wildly on all grass patches, except the grass in the ornamental bits outside the Swansea City Bus Station. The roads around that part were being worked on over the autumn/winter and new sod was laid down circa December/January. So imagine, virgin and verdant grass un-speckled by any yellow dandy or white daisy… Well, let’s see if such pure green can be maintained by next spring, given that there must be already dandy and daisy seeds being disseminated by wind and fauna.
  • Other cultivated flowers are now taking over from the daffodils, such as crocuses, pansies, tulips, gardenias, poppies and other flowers whose names I do not know. And sadly, I will not be around for the next three weeks to enjoy their zenith.
  • Most deciduous trees have at least a shimmer of green about them as their leaves are appearing/have appeared, although some still seem rather bald. I wonder how come some trees are taking so long to break into leaf. I guess since the daylight hours are now getting longer that these late leafers will have time to do whatever catch-up growing. I wonder whether trees work on the following principle: does it mean that those with leaves out earlier will be the first in the autumn to lose their leaves?
  • One observation: Those trees and shrubs that produced white flowers first before producing any leaves tend to produce red leaves after the flowers have dropped away.

If you’ve been following my last few blog posts, you’re probably wondering how come I hardly post pictures of the buildings of Swansea itself. Apparently, the writer Dylan Thomas has called the city ‘ugly, lovely’. I agree. Some parts of the city are plain non-descript, and it doesn’t help that Swansea has been through various boom and bust periods and so parts of downtown are just boarded-up buildings (there are currently on-going efforts to revive the downtown area). So I have not been inspired to take many pictures of the built-up areas. However, after living here for some months, I think I’m starting to like the place. And who knows, maybe Swansea looks better in the summer?


I’ll blog again in May when I’m back in Swansea. In the meantime, here are some updates.

On Fri 21 Apr, 7 pm, I will be talking about and reading from my books (Spaces: People/Places, Spectre: Stories from Dark to Light, The Car and Other Plays, In the Company of Heroes, Victimology) with the moderating help of Jon Gresham at BooksActually, 9 Yong Siak Street, Singapore 168645. All are welcome!

My short story collection, Spaces: People/Places, has been reviewed in Cha: An Asian Literary Journal (Mar 2017, Issue 35).

If you wish to read some of my recent writing that have been published online as well as some online interviews of myself, here are some links:

As part of its Feed Your Imagination series, The Esplanade has commissioned Our Company to produce my play, The Car, for 4 to 7 July 2017. For more details, please click here. Most of the performances are targeted for schools, but there are a few performances open to the public. Please do book early so as not to be disappointed!


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