Mysteries of Singapore

Every time I’m on the MRT on the North South line, or the East West line, or the Downtown line (as popularised by the visionary Petula Clark in the 1960s) I hear a recorded message warning me that skating is prohibited in the station. (I don’t hear it when I’m on the Circle line, which may be significant, or possibly some sort of observer bias.)

I’ve never seen anyone skating on the MRT, or clutching a skateboard, or roller skates, or a pair of ice skates, or a cartilaginous fish. Either this demonstrates that the MRT admonition is highly effective as a preventative measure, or I travel at a different time to all this delinquent skaters, or somebody is not paying enough attention to what announcements they should be playing. When they’re sure they’ve stamped out the threat of skating, what’s next? Reminding people not to attempt to transport widescreen televisions with a viewable diagonal of more than 52 inches? Telling them not to reenact Tupac and Biggie’s beef from the 90s? Warning people not to download (legally or otherwise) Transformers 4 (because it’s terrible)?

First they came for the skaters, and I wasn’t a skater, so I did nothing.

Then they came for the Northern Soul enthusiasts, and I wasn’t a Northern Soul enthusiast, so I did nothing.

Then they came for the people who scrape their chairs across the floor instead of picking them up, and I said “it’s the guy upstairs”. (With apologies to Half Man Half Biscuit. Hell, apologies to everyone.)

Overzealous announcements aside, there are many other mysterious things about Singapore. Most of them seem to be related to public transport. Where, for example, are all the non-Caucasians in the adverts extolling the MRT?

I’ve got two Singaporean birth certificates (one for each of my daughters, in case you were wondering how I got to be born again twice) and the races we got to choose from were Chinese, Indian, Malay and Other. When I’m on the train, I see plenty of each of those types of people (and let’s not even get into how race is a poorly defined and mutable concept) so it’s not like there weren’t lots of Others already taking the train before the adverts appeared. Was the creative agency not briefed properly? Did they not know that other people apart from Sir Stamford Raffles live in Singapore? Or are all the depictions of Indian, Malay or Chinese people displayed at stations I don’t travel through? And who decided on that?

That’s enough mystery for tonight. I’ve been to the track to run 12 400 metre laps as fast as I can, and I can’t ponder anything else unfathomable before bedtime.

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