Gong Gong says

This is a posthumous blog of our father's (Lim Kok Ann) life. When our father passed away on 8 March 2003, he left behind an unpublished autobiography. We'd like to celebrate his life by sharing his autobiography through this blog.


"I have dredged these anecdotes from memory just to pass the time; if they amuse my grandchildren their purpose will have been served; if they provide any instruction, it will be a happy coincidence; that they are disjointed is probably to be expected.

Aurora was the name of my grandfather’s house in Kulangsu.   Amoy, where I spent the first five or six years of my life.   I still have vivid memories of events that took place when I was barely three years old.

Lim Kok Ann
October 1996"

Sunday, September 07, 2008

2:11 Wartime Edinburgh

Our life in war-time Britain was actually quite easy. We lived in a working class area and though food was rationed, the butcher with whom we registered could not dispose of the more expensive cuts that he was allocated. Thus, we regularly got joints for roasting far in excess of our rations. Having a child in the family entitled us to free orange juice and cod-liver oil, as well as extra milk rations. Pictures of chubby Sing Po (later known as Stella) then showed that we did very well on British war-time rationing. Our land-lady Mrs. Rutherford got very fond of Sing Po and helped us by taking the baby for walks, showing her off to her friends. Mr. Rutherford, her husband was a Master Printer in Nelsons the publishers. He gave me a set of Shakespeare’s plays that he had helped to make and I read a great deal of Shakespeare that I would not have otherwise, including Titus Andronicus, a most harrowing tale. This was how I got to read all his historical plays, from King John to Henry VIII. I also got books from “Readers’ Union”, a Book of the Month Club, the most memorable of which was “Captain Hornblower” by C.S. Forrester.

Editor’s note: These small handsome volumes of Shakespeare’s plays, with purple marbled end- covers and leather back bindings, were part of my father’s library for half a century, but disintegrated ( like grandfather’s clock ) in the years after his death. 7 years after this period, my father handed me the dark-red volume of “Captain Hornblower” only 7 years after the period he describes, to share this great adventure story with me; it became a most loved book of mine and to this day I can almost recite parts of it by heart.

I passed my third year medical examinations with some difficulty. Materia Medica involved a lot of memory work on appropriate dosages and I had to take a re-examination before I got the subject sorted out. The fourth year was even more difficult, involving Pathology and Public Health which I passed after a re-examination. It could be that some of the time I spent playing bridge and billiards in the Students’ Union should have been better spent with my books. My failing Public Health disturbed Rosie no end, for it was on Public Health that her Uncle Charlie’s career as a medical student had foundered and she feared it could be my fate too. For the fifth year examinations, our Finals, I tried to pull myself together, but perhaps it was a little late in the day and I flunked all three subjects, Medicine, Surgery and Midwifery. Whereas the earlier examinations were taken at the end of the academic year and the re-examinations in the vacation before the next academic year began, the Finals and their Re-examinations were taken at six-monthly intervals. Though I burned the mid-night oil, I had too much back-log to make up and- could only pass Surgery and Midwifery in the re-examinations. To prepare myself for the re-examination in Medicine, I took a junior houseman posting in a district hospital, living in, and the additional experience probably did the trick for I completed my medical studies in June 1946.

Meanwhile, first the war in Europe ended, then the war against Japan. I was too busy with my own little affairs to pay attention to the tremendous events of the time, how the Allies invaded Normandy, and how the Americans ended the war with the atom bomb, and opened the window on Armageddon.

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