John Dicks.

RAFCA Mem. No. M0603.
Rank at Changi – Senior Aircraftsman.
Trade – Airfield Crash Fireman.

                         The Noble Art of Grass Cutting, Malay Style.

To the rear of the main Fire Section at Changi, over looking Tangmere Road, was the Fire Section Garden which was looked after by some of our Malayan Firemen. On occasion I had observed them trimming the grass, which was always kept very short and neat. This was achieved by the use of a very basic looking implement, consisting of a piece of stick with a short length of steel strip attached to one end at right angles to it, sharpened along it’s length. This “tool” was held in one hand and was swung through 360 degrees so that it came into contact with the grass at the bottom of each rotation, the length of grass being controlled by the operator (or gardener). They really made it look so easy, changing hands without any loss of rhythm, any fool could do that I thought.

One day, in a slack period, I decided to give it a go so grasping the instrument I commenced to whirl it around with gay abandon and after about ten minutes I had managed to hack my way through a couple of square yards of the “lawn” area, managing to make a not too bad a job of it. Suddenly I was aware that a few of the Malays were watching my efforts, and finding it most amusing. In the end one of them, when he had stopped laughing, came over and took the tool from my hand, explaining that I was cutting it too long. He then proceeded to show me the error of my ways by giving a master class in grass cutting and after about two minutes he had completely re-cut my area to the require length, a really professional looking job. He then invited me to continue, an offer which I decided not to accept as I felt that I was needed elsewhere, so I departed to a lot more laughter.  Needless to say I stayed away from the garden for a couple of weeks and never attempted to cut the grass again.

The Fire Section Garden Behind the Fire Tender Bays. (CH2042)

The Plaque in the Fire Section Gardens. (CH0886)