Rare Cloud Phenomenon in Leeds, 1996

I FOUND THIS newspaper cutting dated 23rd February 1996 in my photo album recently.

23Feb96

The caption says: “IT’S IN THE AIR: The rare cloud phenomenon that turned heads in Leeds last Friday. Motorists stopped and crowds gathered to admire the spectacular display of colours which is unlikely to be repeated during our lifetime. The nacreous, or mother-of-pearl, clouds are caused by diffraction of the sun’s light through clouds of dust and ice high in the stratosphere. (Pic: Pete Cotton; Words: David Adam).

The Death of Diana

DIANA, PRINCESS OF Wales died tragically in a car crash on 31st August 1997 in Paris, France. In the October 1997 edition of Forward View magazine that I was a part of, we paid tribute to the late Princess. I also contributed the following cover story.

Forward View magazine, October 1997

Forward View magazine, October 1997

The Princess and I

There is no denying that Diana, Princess of Wales, had touched the lives of millions of people all over the world, more than she’d ever know and more than we had even imagined. For me she was “my source of inspiration” that got me through my Masters of Arts dissertation (on Media and the Monarchy) in the United Kingdom in 1996.

I admit that I, like many other teenage girls then, was firstly fascinated by her fairy tale wedding to Prince Charles, future King of England, on July 29, 1981. How could I forget the carriage procession that led her to the steps of St.   Paul’s Cathedral; her ivory silk taffeta wedding dress with its 7.7m long train as she walked down the aisle was quite a sight. And what was dubbed the “famous kiss” on the balcony of BuckinghamPalace, was as good as a seal of happy ending to any fairy tale. Some 750 million viewers had watched live the royal wedding, dubbed the “Wedding of the Century”.

My fascination with her led me to cultivate the hobby of starting a scrapbook on her. Every little picture of Diana in colour or black and white found in the papers and magazines ended up in my scrapbook. And it is through the years of “looking” at her that inspired me to take an even greater look at the people who brought her to the public – namely the journalists, photographers and those in the media industry – when the opportunity arose. Thus, the birth of my academic work (made possible under the generosity of the British High Commissioner/Chevening Award) on the British media and the monarchy, which looked at the treatment of the press towards members of the royal family, with particular attention to the Princess of Wales.

Upon her death, people were quick to point accusing fingers as to who caused her death, directly and indirectly.

The paparazzi were the first to find the noose on their necks. Seven of them were reported to be hot on Diana’s trail when the Mercedes she and her companion Dodi al-Fayed were in, crashed on that fateful day.

The media proprietors will never wash their hands off the blame either. As Diana’s brother Charles, the 9th Earl of Spencer, said in an immediate statement following the death of his sister, “It would appear that every proprietor and editor, every publication that has paid for intrusive and exploitative photographs of her, encouraging greedy and ruthless individuals to risk everything in pursuit of Diana’s image, has blood in his hands today.”

Nor was the public at large spared. An Anglican archbishop was quoted in Canberra as saying, “Who should bear the guilt – those who harass and photograph, those who print or those who read?”

Not too long ago, Diana herself was the subject of accusing fingers for the state of the royal family she married into. She was always in full glare of the cameras and at the mercy of the media. She certainly would not have made the announcement to withdraw from public life in 1993 for no reason.

Media presence and intrusion proved to be too much strain for her that Queen Elizabeth was forced to make a request to the media to allow her some space. Media coverage of the state of her marriage to Prince Charles in the late1980s was one the reasons that prompted the British government to set up a Committee on Privacy and Related Matters in 1990 to look into press self-regulation which the British media enjoys.

Although there were considerable restrain by the media over personal privacy, the intrusive lens obviously could not sit idle. In May 1992, six photographers turned “peeping tom” and took pictures of the Princess stripping off at the pool side at the British Ambassador’s residence in Cairo, which happens to be the most heavily guarded quarters in Egypt.

Despite strong threats of legislation, the media appeared unperturbed. This was obvious when the Daily Mirror published photographs taken of the Princess while she was working out in a fitness club in November 1993. One can only read in disbelief why the culprit Bruce Taylor, owner of the club, had taken the photos with a hidden camera – “all out of love for Diana”; and then sold them to the Mirror and took off with the money!

In early January 1996, four freelance photographers on high-powered motorbikes, hunted the Princess down a darkened lane in London and caused her to break down in tears. Again, the Daily Mirror bought the photos and proudly published them under the headline “Picture Exclusive: Diana Weeps” claiming the photos demonstrated that the Princess was upset over her impending divorce.

These are just a few of the many cases of intrusion, if not gross intrusion by any standard. However, in what appeared to be too many media chasing after too few news, the scramble for royalty news had reached the level of harassment.

But all those are now in the past. Again, quoting her brother Charles, “Finally the one consolation is that Diana is now in a place where no human being can ever touch her again. I pray that she rests in peace.”

(Forward View, October 1997)

Postscript:

Had Diana lived, she would have been a grandmother today! (link)

London 1993

FROM MOSCOW, WE arrived at London’s Heathrow Airport on Saturday, 24th July 1993 about 1pm local time.

After a meal at the (old) Malaysian Hall (that has moved to a new premise in Queensborough Terrace, Bayswater since 2004) and dropping off our luggage at the rented apartment, it was evening by the time we headed out and ended up at Harrods on Brompton Road, Knightsbridge.

The old Malaysian Hall near Marble Arch; we wanted at picture specifically with the Harrods sign, but whoever helped take this photo was obviously looking elsewhere, the bobby perhaps?

The old Malaysian Hall near Marble Arch; we wanted at picture specifically with the Harrods sign, but whoever helped take this photo was obviously looking elsewhere, the bobby perhaps?

Day 2, Sunday 25th July 1993: We ventured out to the suburbs of Slough to check out a Sunday market and car boot sales and went fruits-picking at a farm there. From there we moved on to Stonehenge (UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986). On our way back to the city, we stopped at Windsor Castle, the weekend home for the British royal family that survived a fire just the year before in 1992.

Stonehenge, where cold hard rocks are an attraction!

Windsor Castle; musicians providing entertainment on the lawn.

Windsor Castle; musicians providing entertainment on the lawn.

Day 3, Monday 26th July 1993: City tour of prominent London landmarks including Buckingham Palace (and caught its Changing of the Guards procession), Trafalgar Square, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Tower Bridge, among others.

Prominent sights in London including Buckingham Palace, Tower Bridge, Trafalgar Square and Big Ben.

Day 4, Tuesday 27th July 1993: Paid a courtesy visit to the Malaysian Embassy in London, before making our way to 221B Baker Street to “meet” Sherlock Holmes. Spent the evening at Covent Garden and a night out at Soho, ahem.

A female Sherlock?; With colleagues at Covent Garden.

A female Sherlock?; With colleagues at Covent Garden.

Day 5, Wednesday 28th July 1993: Spent the morning with celebrities, legends, presidents and premiers, royalties, sports figures, at Madame Tussaud’s. Entrance then was £7.40 which included Chambers of Horror and the Spirit of London ride. This ride just opened two months earlier in May and brings visitors on a journey through London’s history with vivid sights and sounds, as they travel in cars resembling London’s famous black cab.

With the Madame herself… based on a self-portrait, it was her last work before she died in 1850 at the age of 89; one Beatle for each of us :-)

With the Madame herself… based on a self-portrait, it was her last work before she died in 1850 at the age of 89; one Beatle for each of us 🙂

Hopped into the black cab for a journey through London’s history in the Spirit of London ride.

Day 6, Thursday 29th July 1993: A day out shopping, followed by a relaxing evening at Hyde Park. Then it was back to the apartment to pack for our departure the following morning.

(L) “Mom, just calling to say I had a good time and will be home tomorrow!”; (R) Outside Malaysian Hall once more awaiting departure to Heathrow Airport (30 July 1993).

(L) “Mom, just calling to say I had a good time and will be home tomorrow!”; (R) Outside Malaysian Hall once more awaiting departure to Heathrow Airport (30 July 1993).

 

Sundays in the Yorkshire Dales

ON THIS DATE in 1996, I went on a hiking trip to the Yorkshire Dales. The Dales, in Northern England, is a huge area of sprawling green valleys dotted with cliffs, caves, rivers and waterfalls; its typical landscape is distinctly limestone hills.

It was a beautiful summer day to be out, specifically in the town of Malham; enjoying the day away from the confines of my room and books.

Malham became one of the filming locations for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in 2009-2010, specifically the camping scene that was shot at Malham Cove.

Superb sceneries and a feeling of sheer solitude in the vast open space and being on a peak in Malham, Yorkshire Dales… so I was there long before Harry Potter and the film crew were :-)

Superb sceneries and a feeling of sheer solitude in the vast open space and being on a peak in Malham, Yorkshire Dales… so I was there long before Harry Potter and the film crew were 🙂

The trip was my third and sadly, my last fling at hiking too.

Shortly after I arrived in Leeds in September 1995, I signed up for the varsity’s Hiking Society (that organised Sunday walks in the countryside) with my Japanese coursemate Eriko. By June we were already on Semester break and that was probably why we were able to go for that trip on a Thursday.

Recently I found some old letters which I had written home (which I’d asked dad to keep) that divulged details of my first two hiking trips.

“8th October… on my second Sunday in Leeds, I went for my first hiking trip to a town called Ingleton, in the famous Yorkshire Dales, which was 1.5 hours bus journey from Leeds.

It seemed the longest walk I’ve ever done – 9 miles (14.5km) in five hours; and that’s the second SHORTEST route, the shortest being 7.5 miles (12km) and the rest above 10 miles (16km)!

We started our journey at 8:30am in two buses. Upon arrival, we broke into different groups depending on which routes we’d chosen. I went with a group of 10 led by a fellow student, experienced hiker nevertheless. We walked and walked and walked, it seemed NEVER-ending. Apart from walking on the plains, we had to climb rocks and rather steep slopes. Just when you think you’ve reached the top, you see another peak above you. We stopped at one of the peaks called Scarface, I think. During the second half of the journey, we passed a semi-forest which had a waterfall.

Completing the whole journey was an achievement, and it was a nice feeling having the strong winds blow against my face. The day was fine throughout the last day of the British summertime today. I knocked out the moment I reached home just before 8pm.”

“15th October… another Sunday hiking to a town called Hawes, also in the Yorkshire Dales. This time we were not so lucky as the weather was horrible! We were supposed to walk 17km but had to turn back barely half the journey. When we re-grouped with the others, everyone was cold and soaking wet due to the rain and wind.

However, the fun part was that I met my brother’s friend who was in Leeds in an exchange programme. A small world indeed!!!

The conversation went like this. She asked me where I was from, I told her and she said she had a few flatmates from my country. She offered the information that she was from Canada. I said I have a brother studying in McMaster University. She shrieked and exclaimed THAT was where she was studying. And before I recovered from her sudden shriek, she asked if his name was H….. Then BOTH of us shrieked attracting curious glances from the rest of the group. We continued our chat while waiting for the rest to make it back to the meeting point. This time we only got home at 9pm.”

A stark contrast between two hiking trips a week apart…(Top) The first – fantastic sunny day; (Bottom) The second – simply cold and wet, yet memorable because I met Yasmine, my brother’s flatmate in Canada.

A huge part of the Dales has been designated as a national park. Besides hiking, popular activities here are cycling, rock climbing, caving and paragliding.

Happy Teacher’s Day

TEACHER’S DAY is celebrated every 16th May in Malaysia. Here’s walking down memory lane, recalling some of the teachers who had taught me before (those I happen to have photos of).

Primary School

Mrs. Amy Koh, my Standard 1 teacher. I dropped her a note when I got married and left for Washington DC. We’ve kept in touch ever since, despite me having moved from DC to Moscow to Hong Kong. She surprised me once when she remembered my dad’s birthday! And I found out she shares the same birth date as my dad. I finally visited her at her home during CNY of 2009, more than three decades later.

(Top) Std 1 class photo with teacher, Mrs Amy Koh, and (bottom) meeting her again in 2009.

(Top) Std 1 class photo with teacher, Mrs. Amy Koh, and (bottom) meeting her again in 2009.

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(Left) Std 6 class teacher, Mrs. Ang, seen here with headmistress Ms. Woon; (Right) Bahasa teacher, Puan Hasnah.

(Left) Std 6 class teacher, Mrs. Ang, seen here with headmistress Ms. Woon; (Right) Bahasa teacher, Puan Hasnah.

(Left) Std 5 class teacher Mrs. Tan; (Centre) Visited her in school 14 years later; (Right) Dropped by my primary school with former schoolmates and also met Std 2 class teacher Mrs. Chong, besides Mrs. Tan.

(Left) Std 5 class teacher Mrs. Tan; (Centre) Visited her in school 14 years later; (Right) Dropped by my primary school with former schoolmates and also met Std 2 class teacher Mrs. Chong, besides Mrs. Tan.

Secondary School

(L-R) Form teachers… Ms. Hooi of 1A; Puan Rodziah of 2A; Mrs. Ngeu of 3A; Mrs. Tiam of 4Sc1 and again in 5Sc1.

(L-R) Form teachers… Ms. Hooi of 1A; Puan Rodziah of 2A; Mrs. Ngeu of 3A; Mrs. Tiam of 4Sc1 and again in 5Sc1.

(Left and centre) Headmistresses Mrs. Dorothy Ee and Mrs. G. Rajendran; (Right) Presenting a bouquet of flowers to Mrs. Jenny Vong on Teacher’s Day 1986.

(Left and centre) Headmistresses Mrs. Dorothy Ee and Mrs. G. Rajendran; (Right) Presenting a bouquet of flowers to Mrs. Jenny Vong on Teacher’s Day 1986.

(Left) Mrs. Irene Teoh, Senior Assistant and Prefect’s Mistress, with former school headgirl Puan Sri Tan Chee Khoon during the school’s Library Week; (Right) PE teacher Mrs. Yap (also my Godmother), English teacher Mrs. Tan and Mrs. Tiam, form teacher and chemistry teacher for two years.

(Left) Mrs. Irene Teoh, Senior Assistant and Prefect’s Mistress, with former school headgirl Puan Sri Tan Chee Khoon during the school’s Library Week; (Right) PE teacher Mrs. Yap (also my Godmother), English teacher Mrs. Tan and Mrs. Tiam, form teacher and chemistry teacher for two years.

The school celebrated its Diamond Jubilee on 27th January 1989. Former headgirls were invited to the launching ceremony and we had a group photo taken. The others included Puan Sri Tan Chee Khoon who was the school headgirl in 1939 (seated far left); and sisters Lee Chii Yuan (1970, seated second from right) and Lee Chii Shy (1973, standing far right).

The school celebrated its Diamond Jubilee on 27th January 1989. Former headgirls were invited to the launching ceremony and we had a group photo taken. The others included Puan Sri Tan Chee Khoon who was the school headgirl in 1939 (seated far left); and sisters Lee Chii Yuan (1970, seated second from right) and Lee Chii Shy (1973, standing far right).

Incidentally, Ms. Lee Chii Shy had taught me briefly in primary school and I was fond of her. I was glad to see her again during the Diamond Jubilee celebrations. Her other sister Ms. Lee CN also taught me in secondary school and was also our Library Mistress.

Ms. Lee CN was our Library Mistress and she used to give me little cards/notes of hopes and encouragement.

Ms. Lee CN was our Library Mistress and she used to give me little cards/notes of hopes and encouragement.

Among my Form 6 teachers, I recall fondly Puan Jamaliah who taught us Bahasa Malaysia. I enjoyed her lessons especially in Kesusasteraan Melayu. Thanks to her, I scored an A in my BM paper in the STPM examinations.

(R-L) Puan Jamaliah (BM); Puan Sabariah (Statistics); Mr. Siva (Maths); Puan Nor Ilmah (Form teacher); Puan Norzie (Economics).

(R-L) Puan Jamaliah (BM); Puan Sabariah (Statistics); Mr. Siva (Maths); Puan Nor Ilmah (Form teacher); Puan Norzie (Economics).

University

Top (L-R): En. Abdul Manaf Saad (lecturer of Publishing Management and Biography Writing); the late Prof. Madya Abdullah Tahir (lecturer of Fiction Writing); Bottom (L-R): Puan Hamidah Abdulhamid @ Kak Anis (lecturer of Rhetorics and Logic & Philosophy); En. A. Samad Ismail @ Pak Samad (guest lecturer of Journalism & Feature Writing); Prof. Madya Abdul Latiff Abu Bakar (lecturer of Article Writing and also Head of Writing Department); Prof. Omar Farouk (Master of Kolej Zaba).

Top (L-R): En. Abdul Manaf Saad (lecturer of Publishing Management and Biography Writing); the late Prof. Madya Abdullah Tahir (lecturer of Fiction Writing); Bottom (L-R): Puan Hamidah Abdulhamid @ Kak Anis (lecturer of Rhetorics and Logic & Philosophy); En. A. Samad Ismail @ Pak Samad (guest lecturer of Journalism & Feature Writing); Prof. Madya Abdul Latiff Abu Bakar (lecturer of Article Writing and also Head of Writing Department); Prof. Omar Farouk (Master of Kolej Zaba).

Postgraduate

(Back row) Dr. Phil Taylor, lecturer of International Communications and (second row) Dr. Robin Brown, lecturer of Political Communication.

(Back row) Dr. Phil Taylor, lecturer of International Communications and (second row) Dr. Robin Brown, lecturer of Political Communication.

(Left) Ms. Judith Stamper was the supervisor for my MA thesis; (Right) In Dr. Taylor’s class (I just learnt online that he passed away on 6th December 2010).

(Left) Ms. Judith Stamper was the supervisor for my MA thesis; (Right) In Dr. Taylor’s class (I just learnt online that he passed away on 6th December 2010).