Stella Kon's blog

Sunday, February 8, 2009

I have not managed to add to this personal blog for a while, but I have quite conscientiously kept up with uploading Dad’s ”Grandfather Tales” blog every weekend as much as possible.. When it’s finished, I shall presumably have more time for personal blogging.

4 – 8 January, Luke and his family visited and stayed at my flat. Enormous fun! They did not go out much – just one visit to Night Safari – the rest of the time, very content to stay home, play games, go to food centre. It was just a wonderful restful family time. They also managed to spend a lot of time with Sing and her family, which was the main reason they came down to Singapore.

15 – 20 Jan I went by bus to KL and visited Luke’s family, staying in Amy’s flat in KL. Again, we did not go out much, just nice family time. The highlight was a day trip to Seremban for Lily’s 70th birthday lunch. (Huge Cantonese speaking clan in Seremban.).

3 – 6 Feb, I made a quickie trip to Penang. Immediate reason – laptop was in repair shop, screen got busted in last KL trip so I might as well travel while computer is down – and visit Aunty SY who is frail – and has Alzheimer’s. I stayed 2 days in CE’s house and one day at Copthorne Orchid (very favourable room Rates from Holiday Bagus agency.) Pao Yen was a wonderful hostess. Chien Cheng took us all dinner.

Other highlights of the past month – bought a pair of gold earrings and a new watch to replace lost one, at Mustapha’s. I bought a new 18.5” monitor screen and I just installed it today --– Two windows on the two screens – so nice to use when pasting from one screen to the other!

For Chinese New Year – I bought some nice flowers for the house – and spent many hours making my famous achar which I haven’t done for some time – Sing loves it!

Lots of MTL meetings and business – but I don’t have to write about that!

It feels as though the daily struggle is to find time to creatively write –the project is the Lim Boon Keng musical – I’m daily bargaining for time to concentrate on it – to the guilty exclusion of other projects. But I have been writing in a little gold-bound notebook – took it to KL on the bus, took it to Penang – the odd hour here and there, the free time while travelling. On the Penang trip – I have finally got a skeleton outline – I think it might finally be what I have been trying to find.

I have been doing watercolours too. Maybe next time I will post them to blog. It doesn’t feel like creative work so much as learning technique, how to handle the paint . Su Min says we might go painting together when he comes back.

Stopping here – got paperwork, bank statements etc to shuffle through.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Happy new 2009... on New Year's Eve I went to bed early, being exhausted from pulling an all-nighter the previous day, in completing materials for my Mini Musical "The Other Woman" .. which had to be submitted on 31 Dec.

It has been a very busy few weeks. The musical "A Christmas Wish" was on before Christmas and though I was not involved in organisation, I was there in support for a week or so; and shared the anxieties and planning before the event.. Then there was our Christmas Party, organised mostly by Audrey and me -- and we were anxious too about how it would turn out, but it was quite successful.

The next thing – deadline of 5 January to submit an Application for NAC Major Grant. Only possible with the help of David Roberts to crunch the numbers, but I have to do the rest of the collaterals, like MTL Vision statement etc. That was what I did for most of New Year’s day ..

On 2nd Jan regular life resumed with a visit to Jobina at the Esplanade. Then dinner with Des at “Bee Cafe” in Beach Road – a place famed for magnificent dessert cakes. Nicest thing that’s happened this year.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

This week we had performances of our new show A CHRISTMAS WISH.

It is going quite well, will not win rave reviews from critics, but with 20 songs in 1 hour it is bright and lively and gives the audience a satisfying feeling that they have seen a nice pleasant show. Several audience members are known to have asked their friends to come next day!

One week ago, it looked like we would have an embarrassingly messy show, played to embarrassingly empty seats. Desmond worked very hard on the outside of the house and Shaiful worked hard on the inside, the cast responded to the whips and guns, the audience soaked up the many many complimentary tix given out. In the end we have a respectable show and a respectable house. There will have to be a post-mortem to examine why it was so messy in the first place. But for this week, once more, as they say in Shakespeare in Love -- "It's a miracle, " that happens in show biz..

As the writer of the show, I am pleased to see how this format works. The tight sequence of lots of songs and scanty dialogue packs a punch. (I regret that some actors adlib seems like 40% additional dialogue from what I provided..) The mix of adults and little kids adds an irresistible charm, appealing to basic hard-wiring of human beings (well, most human beings.) The audience – comprising a lot of mums, dads, uncles and aunties and grandparents -- is pre-disposed to be kind. It was, in the end, a happy show! “It’s a miracle.”

Saturday, December 13, 2008

In late September 2008 I was invited to Bangkok to receive the ASEAN Write Award. This award has been given annually for 30 years, sponsored mainly by Mandarin Oriental Hotel. The other recipients from the other ASEAN countries were fully supported by their own country’s national literary organisation or governmental Dewan Bahasa or Book council; whereas for Singapore I seemed to be there as a private person. Our Singapore ambassador attended the presentation, but from Singapore there was no other official recognition of the event. Prof Thumboo, head of the Singapore Award Committee, later told me the hat by keeping it out of the hands of political institutions he ensured that the award in Singapore kept its pure literary nature. However I felt that as a leading member of Asean, Singapore should show a bit more institutional recognition of the event.. there should be some middle way.

The award prize included 6 days at Oriental Hotel, for me and a guest, with all meals provided. It was a dream! I brought two guests – serially – my friend Rebecca for 3 days, and my sister Sing for 3 days. We lived in the lap of luxury, the room supplied with fruit and flowers and chocolate elephant, and that Thai service (“It is my pleasure to be allowed to kneel at your feet”) that makes me feel like Queen for a day. We had unlimited buffet meals at the beautiful terrace dining room, next to the great Menam river flowing by. When we left the hotel we did so by boat, to take us up the river or across, beating the traffic. So very romantic!
There was a schedule of historical and cultural sight-seeing, but my shopoholic companions managed to take my shopping twice. My best buy was a cute stuffed elephant.
The award ceremony itself was the most formal dinner I have ever attended. To receive the award from the Princess, we had to rehearse beforehand .. bow to princess, step forward, bow again, receive award, step back, bow …

Back to Singapore after 6 days, and luckily the Bangkok airport take over had not yet happened! Oh yes .. the award also included return flight on Thai Airways Business Class! It all added up to a tremendous experience.

I flew back to Singapore on 1 October and on the same day flew on to Sydney to spend ten days with Luke’s family in Australia. Since returning from Sydney, have been so busy with the latest MTL musical revue .. A Christmas Wish.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

I am gradually getting accustomed to this blogger thing... here it is Saturday, and it seems nice to record what I'm doing today.

Today I feel more relaxed than usual, because I was at MTL office yesterday and with the efficient Shaiful and invaluable Audrey, addressed all outstanding issues. There are one or two more issues -- which can be shelved till Monday. So I feel free to loaf a bit , I had a leisurely morning and

* finished reading a book by newly-discovered author Tami Hoag.
* wrote cheque for IRAS, cleared the paperwork on my desk, down to the bare wood! sure feels good!
* phoned Sydney and spoke to Luke and Sebastian, haven't done that in a long while.
* now doing the two blogs which are self-impoised week-end duty
* might go down to the market soon to eat taufu goreng for high tea
* tonight I might even try to go see Das Experiment, which I do intend to catch sometime. But maybe I would be better to relax at home.

Today is a happy day. Partly because no-stress, loaf around reading story books. Partly because 2 days ago I embarked on a new creative project: the Mini-musical The Other Woman of Emerald Hill. This is a project which will be more fun than other recent projects which were just like "jobs to be done" and much less stressful than the on-going attempt to write Lim Boon Keng. Ultimately, this is what makes me happy... writing is the core activity which defines who I am. One day I may be unable to write, and will have to accept another definition of myself.. as Peter Pan said (of imminent death) "That will be a great adventure!"

Saturday, November 8, 2008

In the past week things have been a little less hectic.. I went to Nat library and borrowed new SM Stirling book, and this afternoon I happily lapped it up.

Yesterday, I went to "Symposium on Singapore Literature" at Nat Library, it was almost like a family gathering as all the old familiar faces were there. After the symposium, our chaps from Georgette were engaged to come and give a little musical performance, before they go off to Manila. They did well. The audience was scanty -- many people had gone home by 6 pm, for it had been a long day -- but it was good for our chaps to have a little public showing of their songs, good for their morale. And MTL was paid for it.

Once more, my pre-occupation is with the musical for Lim Boon Keng. Whenever I feel I can spare the time, I turn my thoughts to it. Is it like an obession with me? after so many attempts, so many pages written in vain? At least 15 versions, and 8 different plot lines? Is it obsession or ego? why don't I give up on it?

I still believe it is a worth while project. The subject matter is worth while. It is very practical -- funding can be found -- it would be a waste not to use this opportunity. Especially as next year is big anniversary of both China Socierty and Singapore Chinese Girls' School.

I don't think it would cost me much, in terms of ego, to say "It is too difficult, I can't do it." But I just feel, I am stubborn, I don't like to give in. Maybe the same stubbornness that kept Lim fighting a lost cause in Amoy for 16 years.

What I want to do -- not to make a statement, not to prove a thesis, not even to say "He was a great man." What I want to do is move people, inspire them, bring tears to their eyes .. with the story of a great man fighting his fate -- almost lost to us in the mists of history.

During the past week Su Min and I had lunch with Dr Yan from FUkian, who has been commissioned to write a Chinese bio of LBK for Amoy University. I have the impression that he too, and other historians, feel that they cannot get to grips with LBK -- that there are not enough facts, no materials survive, he slips away and remains an enigma.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Long time no log in... In the last few years I totally lost the urge to scribble and EXPRESS myself. The various songs and assignements for creat8ve work take care of that. Once I used to do the Artists' Journal thing: half an hour of writing every morning, to exercise the facility of talking, of creative writing. After a few years of this I was so sick of the sound of my own voice -- prefer to seek silence.

Now starting a blog because I guess it is nice to try to develop an on-line medium of expression. Maybe will give a new creative impetus.

What I really like to blog about -- is some artifacts around my home, mostly from Oberon. I will take some photos and upload..

Meanwhile, juast to note that since last entry on Sept 6 I went to Thailand to receive SEA Write award; spent a fabulous week in the lap of luxury at Mandarin Oriental, with Rebecca and Sing. Then went 2 weeks to Australia, spending time with grandchildren. As always -- I find the transitions painful. The transition from Singapore- consciousness to family-consciousness; the transition required to re-establish warm relationships with chauildren. The transition period takes about one week which is rather ubncomfortable; and then it's time to come home. Must try to spend a little longer. And perhaps, plan some Ice-breaker event or activity, to speed up the insertion process.

Before I went away, I was having singing lessons and tennis lessons twice a week each -- which was really too time-consuming. Since coming back, they have decreased to once a week each -- for various reasons -- but I am glad to say that I seem to have reached a little plateau for both, and I am actually having fun with the lessons. Shall be glad to continue at this level of intensity for the future. So now I have a little more free time -- Now I am going to go and try to put together my own web-page, which I been meaning to do for ages.