Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover

London is the meanest ex ever.

I’ve spent the past year trying to get over our breakup, trying to convince myself that I’m happy with Singapore. Sure, this new relationship may not be as passionate or exciting or bloody-fucking-gorgeous as London was, and yeah there are still awkward silences on most of our dates even a year after we started going out, and yes it’s true that I spend most of my time and energy trying to avoid its hot sweaty hands, but at least Singapore is safe and reliable and it’s trying its best.

Who needs passion once you’re past a certain age anyway? You don’t need fire in your loins, you just need to be able to share a five room HDB flat¹ without killing each other. I can exist in Singapore. Who needs to live?

If I repeat this to myself several times a day I even begin to believe that I believe it. And then I find out that Battleship Potemkin will be shown on a huge screen tomorrow in Trafalgar Square, with a new soundtrack performed live by the Pet Shop Boys. For free.

I know London’s moved on and is having a great time without me, but this is really rubbing it in.

¹ Public housing


  1. Don’t you hate feeling like life is elsewhere, that everything’s moving on, that worlds are being formed and collapsing even while steady ol’ Singapore chugs along? London and New York, how I miss them.

  2. Awww c’mon…you make life happen yourself where ever you are.

    Sorry to throw on the ol’ cliche.

    I kinda like living in Singapore. It’s pretty under-rated.

    But that’s just me.

  3. Kelly, you’ve only been back in Singapore for a very short while, so of course there’s lots of new stuff for you to see and explore. Obviously, I don’t begrudge you any of your enjoyment, and I’ve also enjoyed hanging out with “Singapore optimist Kelly” these past few weeks. :)

    The thing is, I *am* trying to make life happen. I go out a lot, and do as many activities/events here as I can afford. But so often it still feels like I’m just marking time until I can get back to London. Watching local gigs because none of my favourite bands will ever come here. Waiting months before films I want to see will get screened. Paying money to go to the Singapore Art Museum when I used to visit some of the greatest museums in the world for free. It’s not suffering, but it still feels like a pale shadow of the life I had. Yes, I know this is whining, but I can’t ignore the fact that with every reminder of London my heart aches. Maybe I’d have been okay with leaving some other place, but not London.

    Add to this the fact that the two people who understand me better than anyone else in the world are not with me here. I have been apart from them for over a year, and it’s probable that I’ll be apart from my best friend for at least 6 more. In contrast, Kelly, you have hardly been apart from your boyfriend, and he’s coming next week. (Again, something I could not possibly begrudge you! :)

    I’m afraid I’ll be ending with a cliche too – perhaps you don’t understand because you’re not in my situation?

  4. Although Singapore is a great place in terms of having your family and friends here, sometimes, having lived in a place as exciting as London makes you compare. And sadly, it’s a stark comparison because London gives you the arts, the music and if people you love are there, the more reason to choose London over Singapore.

  5. Daryl: Yes, I know what you mean. And to take a cue from something you wrote on your blog recently, I hate feeling like the person I was in London is slowly slipping away.

    Now of course on some level it is up to me to be whatever person I like being, but how do I retain, say, the art of having fun conversations with random strangers just for the hell of it, when all I’ll get here are wary looks and monosyllables, and the jokes I crack will meet with blank looks of incomprehension? (Just one example. There are others.)

  6. Pah!

    London is nothing more than an expensive, traffic-ridden nightmare where everyone walks too fast.

    Up North is far better, where everyone breeds whippets and eats coal.

    But despite your misguided notions, this is a very nicely written post. Bravo.

  7. but i do have fun conversations with random strangers here in S’pore. *looks vaguely guilty* or then again, that might depend on your definition of fun…

    have you ever tried sitting in the backward-facing seats on a bus, and attempting to make eye contact with those facing forward? muahahahaha.

    let’s form a group called The Randomizers, or something. it might be a whole new trend. :P

  8. All your points are very valid indeed. I’d probably be far less joyful if Patrick was not coming here so soon. And that the people who know me best are mostly here in Singapore with me. Those that I have left back in America, a couple of them, I don’t feel any distance with thanks to frequent email exchanges. Those friendships weren’t based on hanging out with each other on a day to day basis anyway.

    In any case, here’s to things looking up for you with Alec being in Singapore soon…in the meantime, I hope my “optimistic Kelly” would be at least have -some- positive effects.

  9. ” I hate feeling like the person I was in London is slowly slipping away.

    Now of course on some level it is up to me to be whatever person I like being, but how do I retain, say the art of having fun conversations with random strangers just for the hell of it, when all I’ll get here are wary looks and monosyllables, and the jokes I crack will meet with blank looks of incomprehension?”

    You’re probably sick of hearing me say this, but, man, do I know what you mean.

  10. Oh yes, I forgot to add my agreement about the blank looks of incomprehension when I crack a joke…it has got me into a couple of near embarrassments. *phht*

    As to the random fun conversation, it’s to be found…only what kind you’d expect. I’ve had more than a few nice chats with the aunties at the hawker center, standing in line, etc. They are really rather a chatty friendly bunch most of the time, very funny at times too.

    And then the other type of conversations tend to be with the ang moh non-Singaporeans which are another type of fun. And there is a serious explosion in the ang moh population here. Even in the HDB heartlands where you’d never use to see an ang moh face. The heartlands turn cosmo!

  11. Kelly: True, heartland aunties/uncles and the occasional taxi driver can be quite fun to talk to. An auntie in some nameless clothing store was trying to convince me I could fit into XS jeans while I was arguing that there was no point even trying them on. “No lah Miss, your backside where got big? Like mine last time, very small! Last time I tell you I also can wear these jeans, you try lah!” (Note: Of course, the jeans were too small. Smooth-talker.)

    Grace: What number bus do you take? :) Maybe if we staged something…

  12. May I also add that you have an arcade scene to die for. There isn’t a single up to date Virtua Fighter cabinet in the whole of Europe but Singapore has regular meets and tournaments. I’d be in videogame heaven.

  13. My lunch-time conversations in the office revolve around

    (1) the thing that PS said in that meeting last week

    (2) the price of cars

    (3) the price of HDB flats

    (4) who’s having a baby next (with her husband/his wife – this *is* the civil service)

    (5) what we ought to be having for lunch instead.

    Alternative topics with selected colleagues:

    (6) how bored we are

    (7) how long it’s been since we had sex.

    Remember back in school when – in between the gossip – one could still talk about reading and writing and the last Wilco album (sorry) and the protests against the war in Iraq and the strange ease of smuggling bootleg wine back from Fez to England and all the things we meant to do once we grew up? What happened to all that?

    (Which is to say, I get what you mean, though my point of departure wouldn’t be London.)

  14. My lunch time conversations revolved around:

    1)Which employee kept nodding off in that meeting last week.

    2)The price of sandwichs locally.

    3)The cost saving of making said sandwich at home – which no one ever did.

    4)The price of flats, the unreliability of the tube, how much we think we’d be paid if we had the balls to change job.

    Alternative topics with selected colleagues:

    Pilates, yoga, diets, female hormonal behavior, the biological clock, how others in the office resembled characters from Friends.

    Most of my work colleagues were male I might add.

    Its not just Singapore. Office life sucks.

  15. I have to agree…it’s not just Singapore. Have you watched The Office?

    The worst thing is that David Brent would probably have no problem hooking up with some SPG ditz here just coz he’s white. Eeeww…

  16. ahahahahaha. i have to take bus out to bukit timah road, then change to 151. doesn’t sound remotely near yours :P

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