After Edu-Dine on Friday I walked from City Hall to Boat Quay to meet Ken and Ida for drinks at Hideout. It was a cool night, and my higher-than-usual heels were surprisingly comfortable, so I walked. Round the back of Parliament House, past The Arts House, light playing on its walls to an actually rather charming version of that “Let’s take a little trip around Singapore town on a Singapore city bus” tune. Across Cavenagh Bridge, dotted with tourists oohing and aahing at the view of the Esplanade, facing one way, and down the quays, facing the other. Two real cats among the Kucinta sculptures.
In Hideout, Colin messaged asking if I wanted to go to Phuture, but I decided my toes were too vulnerable in my dressy shoes. When we parted ways for the night, I meandered through the streets, taking an extra-long route to the not-so-nearest bus stop, simply because I was enjoying the walk. Along South Bridge Road, tourists stopped me and asked for directions. I directed people to Clarke Quay, to the Fullerton Hotel, to the War Memorial Park. I finally reached Hill Street Fire Station, which I’ve always rather liked, and waited just beyond it for the bus home.
There seemed to be a buzz and a euphoria in the air that I don’t usually sense. The tourists seemed genuinely excited by what they were seeing, and where they were, and amazingly, I was too. Singapore is beautiful by night, whether you’re looking at gleaming restored colonial buildings around the Padang, the dark quiet hulk of skyscrapers in Shenton Way, or the fluorescent town centres in the housing estates.
A year on from my return, and I could actually stand to watch the National Day Parade today. I still rolled my eyes at a lot of the commentary eg. “This lively dance truly reflects the passion of our youth for arts and sports!” but I watched the singing of the national songs happily enough.
I’m still not sure I can sing along to Home with all sincerity – if home is defined by “where my dreams wait for me” and “where my senses tell me” then I’m afraid we’re still pretty much stuck in London. I’ve also always found the line “This is where I won’t be alone” particularly meaningless, in that I am addicted to London precisely because I can be completely alone there and still completely blissful.
But progress is being made, albeit in baby steps. My Friday night walk was a taste of what’s possible for me and Singapore, even when we’re all alone.