Just one more day
"Come any day next week," he had said last Friday. Unfortunately, he was just leaving for a programme at the Town Hall, so we took a rain-check.
Instead, we went out to Douglas Webster's house up on the hull with a glorious view of the Batu Hitam beach. "I'm so sorry," he said by way of greeting, "but I'm ill."
We were beginning to think we chose the wrong day for calling on people. Then he said: "No, it will do me good to have someone to talk with. Come on up." (He should have said "talk to" instead of "talk with" because Fan Choon and I got very few words in).
He showed us around the house, which was a housekeeper's nightmare, then sat us down and proceeded to lecture and question us.
One thing about Douglas Webster: he's different. He gave me a copy of his privately-printed book, The Wobble, (under the pen name Fletcher Trenchant) and said that he hoped the book wouldn't make me so angry that he would lose my friendship. I read the first chapter tonight, then put it away; it'll be a while before I have the time to wade through the rest of it.
* The Combined Schools Sports got underway this morning with the bicycle race. I was a judge and very happy to see our Form Two boy, Choo Kuan Song, cross the line first.
That victory and one first place for B-Division shot putt were the only golds we received: Chan Chow Tong, also Form Two, was the shot putt champion.
I was a track judge for the afternoon sports - a thankless job, but not too bad as there were people like Spanish, Bob Griffith and Niuh Soon Hock sharing the work.
* I took the Sukhbir Singhs out to the Methodist beach site this morning to gather shells and to have a look. Tonight they came by the school to ask if I'd like to go with them to watch turtles.
I was too tired, though, and right in the midst of a talk with Bah Rahu about his future, so I turned the offer down.
* Bah Rahu seems so very sincere in his desire to be a minister to his own people. I told him that he must feel a call and not act on impulse, and he said: "Sometimes I feel that I must go back to my people; I must go back to serve them."
* This morning I went out to Arputham's place to say good-bye to Sukhbir and Jagjeet. I just caught them as they were getting in their car when I drove up. They didn't see a single turtle last night.
* This afternoon Pat Allen brought Kuantan's first A.F.S. student, Mona Olds, over for a visit.
Ahmad and Dee arranged the details, having heard that she was spending practically all her time with the Koh family where she's staying and at S.A.B.S., where she's attending Form Six classes.
Some of our girls were here for typing and Malay Club; they entertained her, and vice versa, and seemed to be getting alone fine. We've asked her to come back on Friday to speak to the students - or just talk with them informally, whichever she prefers.
* Fan Choon and I finally had tea with Captain Preedy, and it was quite an experience - the tea being poured from an antique silver teapot by a very informally-dressed host. We had to cut our visit short to go pick up Kasim from school; we nearly forgot him.
* I enjoyed talking to the Science Club this morning about astronomy, but was sorry to miss what was evidently a very lively discussion going on in the Form Four room.
Mona Olds gave her talk to a roomful of enthusiastic listeners, who followed up with lots of questions. It seems that they got off on the subject of the Vietnam conflict, and Ponniah and Mr Cheng were both very outspoken about how Americans should get out of Asia.
* The boys caught a monitor lizard yesterday evening, and we took it to Chang King Yong, who passed it over to a neighbour for stuffing. She turned out to be a daughter of Beserah Wong. I went to her house later in the afternoon to watch the taxidermy process - most interesting.
* The Girls' Brigade members were out in full force (and uniform) for the church service this morning, held in the M.G.S. hall. The girls assembled outside the hall and marched in, making quite a parade.
We sang the Girls' Brigade song (to the tune of Londonderry Air); not everyone could make the high notes.
Later Ponniah, Roy, Bala and I went to pick up David Chinniah, then had an interesting time of it listening to a lecture on Baha'i at the Baha'i Centre. We asked a lot of questions, and the lecturer answered them. We weren't converted, but we left with a lot of food for thought.
* We surprised everyone this morning by announcing that it would be "Clean-up Day" after the interval. Everyone pitched in beautifully, the school is now spick and span, and Sathiah is saved the job of washing the buildings during the holidays.
There was a welcome announcement from the CEO: the Agong's visit, scheduled for next Wednesday, is postponed. Hallelujah! I wonder what the C.E.O. would have thought if he had walked in this morning to find barefoot teachers, pants rolled up, water everywhere.
* The Rabbit Club picnic out at the Methodist beach started right after lunch, and it was 7 when we got back tonight.
It was a perfect day for a picnic; I spent most of the time sleeping on the sand while the boys played in the water - under Bob's supervision.
I had to make two trips to transport everyone to and fro, and the second group this evening walked out to the road to meet me.
They were shouted at by kampung people on the way, they reported, and when they got to the road, they were attacked with rotten eggs thrown from the bushes at the top of the road. It looks as if someone doesn't like our "trespassing" through the kampung, but there's no other way to reach the Methodist beach. What a situation!
* One More Day was the music I put on to wake the boys up this morning, and they were singing it most of the day. So was I.
We kept to the regular time-tables all morning, but there were several teachers showing film-strips (until the projector burned out) instead of teaching.
Dave brought Creighton Lacy out during the morning for a short visit. We always seem to get the VIPs at the end of a term.
Everyone is asking where I'm going to disappear to during the holidays. I wish I knew.
* Things came to a smooth halt today. We carried on with classes right up to the interval, then handed out report cards (which I finished typing last night) and dismissed. Monthly reports came in from the teachers on schedule, salaries were paid, and that was that.
Then began the trips to the bus station. I neglected booking tickets for the boys going to K.L. and got to the bus station only to find out that everything was sold out, even for tomorrow.
Luckily, though, I ran into Leong Fook Kin, who had a dozen tickets to sell; he had bought them for the athletes going for the Combined Schools Sports in K.L., but the sports had to be cancelled because of the teachers' strike - so we took all the tickets off his hands.
Steven's plane left at 12:45; Ahmad and Dee managed to get seats on it, too, thanks to a last-minute cancellation.
I hadn't intended to be here tonight, but several of the boys are not going home for the holidays, so maybe I'll just have a Kuantan holiday myself.
The beach is always inviting.
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