The first thing that struck me about Singapore was a Bannister knob at speed.
It hit me above my right eye.
While Singapore might not have greeted me with open arms the intensive care unit was open and in lue of any formal greeting. They simply fixed the gaping wound in my head and put me to bed next to some old fellow who, it was explained to gaggles of med students who passed through, was going through a multi-organ meltdown and was on palliative care, pre expiry.
He was an indian guy, he’d toss and moan. Background soundtrack, dieing Indian.

I’d got off the plane and 3 of us, Andrew Elliot, Dom Ferry and myself met up and were taken to Sentosa. Sentosa is an island, apart from a bridge that connects it to Singapore itself. It has a musical fountain, caged monkeys who split coconuts, a very large sculpture at it’s highest point of a “Mer-lion” [mermaids back-end, attach lions head, mystical emblem] a marketing ploy .

It also had a golf course and a tiki-bar that faced the refineries across the water and an aquarium.
I’d done some research, it used to be the graveyard for Singapore, it’s name used to be, ‘place where you bury dead people.” or something close to that in Chinese but that was thought not to be zingy enough for an amusement park and so it was changed and a mer-lion invented.

We were being employed to work it, performing for a retainer as well as being the first performers we knew of who actually had permission to busk which made the small retainer worth the risk.
These were some of the astute business choices I was making before I got my knock on the head.

We get driven from the airport and were being housed for 6 weeks in ‘Holiday Chalets’
These are actually Japanese WW2 Officers quarters with about 40 additional coats of paint.
Another factor that was to become critical was that the stairs were all different heights.
Get there 11pm, chat til 1am, I get up about 3 to go to the downstairs bathroom which was outside the air conditioned humming bedroom we were all sleeping in, stumble on the stairs, put my arm out, get my underarm hooked on the rail and careening the length of the stairs before bashing my head on the large irregular piece of hardwood knob at the bottom and then falling into the landing twitching and having and extending puddle of blood form beside my head.
So no memories but Dom had heard a noise and investigated. He’d not failed to notice I was a bleeding, twitching shadow of my former self and had rushed the 200 meters or so to the island police bungalow and summonsed an officer who walked the distance back to look at me, still bleeding, still twitching before concluding, “Yes, I think an Ambulance would be apt.”

I wake up the next day, there’s some indian next to me fretting about in a coma. I have 26 stitches in my forehead, both eyes are swollen, I look like a disgruntled Panda. When I move my head it takes split seconds for my vision to calibrate the movement. I presume this means my balance is shot and wonder about my stilt career. I wonder also where the meter is that is recording the medical expenses and who will eventually pay it.

A doctor did his rounds, surrounded by a gaggle of students. I found out the guy next to me wasn’t expected to live out the day and that I had been brought in bleeding from the ears but they couldn’t find the fracture after repeated xrays so had just stitched the hole in my head together.
Good to know.

My employers, who I would grow to hate with a brooding molten fury but at this stage were the only link I had with reality, arrived. Calming me by covering all expenses and suggesting it may have been a drink related accident. I let that slide.
I was to be let out that day, The day I was supposed to begin working.

I was in scramble mode, I’d put makeup on over facial injuries before, the swelling was going to be problematic but with whiteface and a tankhelmet and glasses I might just be able to pull off that highly fashionable, ‘deformed panto’ look.
Stilts were out, I had no idea that this faulty inner ear thing of mine, where my vision was a moment behind my eye movement, would not be permanent and I had a 6 week contract to fulfil.

It was only later I realised this first day in the intensive care unit was the happiest day in the weeks to come.

So I return to the ‘Holiday Chalets’ to rest up, I’m pretty scary to look at.

I take the next day off, my vision condition is mending.

Day three and I thought I’d be all gung ho and depart from my circus based, street based stilt show and delve into the world of the human statue. After all, how hard can it be? Contractual obligations would be met.

I did it for an hour, I will never do it again. Some little kid undid my fly. I wanted to kill him. But...I was a statue.

It was on day three also a curious misfortune beset us, The currencies of Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia took a spectacular dive. Sending Dom to his contract for us where he noticed for the first time our payment was in Singapore dollars and not the Australian he’s presumed. Only about a 70% decrease in the value of our wages, never mind.

The next day I was gratefully on stilts again, my groin high above prying fingers.

Our job, and it was obvious no-one had ever thought it through, was to entertain crowds who arrived by the busload predominantly to watch the musical fountain. An only minimally majestic piece of colorfully lit plumbing that wooshed about to classical music inside a custom built ampitheater.

The kind of thing, going off as it did on the hour, that could construe, to people living nearby with holes in their heads, cruel and unusual punishment.

What became immediately evident was that our presence on Sentosa was merely a sop to having our promo on the posters. Appearance being part of the collective hallucination that is Singapore in which appearances are created like a bow of a ship to forge through the deep waters of the society leaving reality to be formed , less importantly behind the bow, which is always shiny and overpromicing. [In my limited experience].

The glitch in the system was the finely tuned ballet involving Tourguides holding different colored flags leading efficient Asian tourists past all and any distractive temptation towards the grail that was the musical fountain.
These tour guides would simply not brook any dilly dallying.
We, who were trained and efficient at creating stages and audiences in public , were reduced to watching as meta human caterpillars wove purposefully past.
The tourguides were scary, they were like screaming sergeants let loose on elderly folk.

The next problem that eclipsed the guides, the utter lack of any engaging point was to come in the second week. We were employed to work between four and seven, pm, six evenings a week.
By week two the ‘rainy season’ kicks in. One very distinctive feature of the rainy season is the monotonous precision of the daily deluge. It starts every day five minutes either side of four pm and finishes within the same varience around seven pm.
By week two it was set to rain for those 2 hours for the rest of the contract. Just a little miffing.

On the short walk home, every day after dutifully getting ready by four and cancelling by five past, I’d pass the cages containing the monkeys who split coconuts in their spare time. I had an excuse to feel self pitiful, I had a big hole in my head and was trapped in some Kafka like hell. I can remember feeling jealous that the monkeys had a more meaningful existence than I.

Our accom was surrounded by similar converted Japanese WW2 barracks and in these were housed a regularily replaced collection of Young Singaporian Born Again Youth.
They played guitar as badly as only a certain type of christian has the gall to do and sung folk hymns til four in the morning.

At seven in the morning, given it was fall and leaves tend to fall, a squadron of leafblowing imported laborers would meander through the neighbourhood. By nine, the first of the Christians would be up and at the guitar again.

The weeks dragged on, the hole in my head got better. I abandoned the job after our first scheduled payment was delayed. I flew back to Perth a couple of days before the six weeks ended guessing they wouldn’t even notice. They didn’t.