An Age now gone, to join the list of Empires lost and won,
So few are left with tales to tell of jungle, heat and sun.
Their fading hair, and sun-browned knees, the symbols of the strain,
Of crawling home on hands and knees, along a monsoon drain.

“Oh yes”, say they who never came, ‘you’d nothing much to do”.
“In Cyprus we had sunburn, in England we had ‘flu”.
“All you had was sun and sea, and beer and clear blue skies” -
They never sat in Bugis Street with one hand on their flies!

The modern ’Toms’ it, seems to me, spend all their time in sand,
And go to war in APC’s with EFI close on hand.
What would they make of jungle trails, mosquitoes, and the rest.
Of wearing cardboard shorts and shirts - never mind the vest!

Those years have left their mark on all who ventured far away,
Who found themselves in foreign climes on very little pay.
Who’ve eaten Zam Zam’s finest, then filled with Tiger beer,
Have ended up in Bugis Street - much the worse for wear.

Where are they now, those callow youths?
So white, so young, so ‘green’.
That wandered far to distant lands that few had ever seen.
Those days of old when ‘Empire ruled’, just south of Mandalay,
Where Paludrine and Tiger beer began and closed the day.

I know where they can be found, and where the tales are told.
Where memories are fresh and young, although the teller’s old.
Although they’ve gone their separate ways they can’t resist the call
To gather every second year just to relive it all.

The beer flows fast, and jokes are told and laughter then abounds,
They talk of who did what, to whom and toast those not around.
The pace is slow - they’re not as young, but then stories start . . .
And memories come flooding back to stir their nether parts!

Now of course the wives come too - to supervise the bunch,
They sit and hang on every word - at least ’till after lunch!
Then it’s shops and clothes and things, preparing for the night
Hoping that their ‘better halves’ will choose to sing, not fight!

If you’ve seen dawn from Bugis Street and lost to “Dum Dum’s “ gang.
If you can tell a Catamite by ‘just the way it hangs’,
If Tiger makes you shiver and curry makes you sweat
Then you’re qualified for membership of this amazing set.

‘Dawn Watchers’ is the name they use, they’ll tell you so with pride.
A chapter of the Int Corps past, that’s very much alive.
No fees, no cards, no axe to grind, just honest friends and mates
The next time there’s a jungle war - I bet you they’ll be late!

[Nik Collett. February 2006]