How draught Tiger came to 8 Int Coy

Dave Wakelam
It goes without saying that the Ayer Rajah Road Mess was renowned for its social standing across the British community, service and civilian alike, not just in Singapore, but also throughout the Malay Peninsula.   However, things got better in 1967 once the membership outsmarted ‘Robbie’ Robertson’s efforts to replace the age-old tradition of the Duty NCO being the barman by lumbering the JNCOs, starting with the livers-in, with the duty.   The advent of Abdullah the barman meant that not only was the stock no longer under the control of 'alchies' like Tom Watson, but the bar would stay open as long as we paid Abdullah.   The downside of this was that almost every month the allocated ration of Tiger ran out well before the end of the month, necessitating the Assistant Mess Member (me) phoning round all those units which didn’t use their ration.   These units were usually those with a high proportion of Gurkhas, who drank other things, and Locally Enlisted Personnel, usually Malays, who didn’t drink at all. (Unless they were SSgt Moh'd Don!).   Once a fresh supply was located, it was a case of drawing the requisite amount of cash and heading off in a Land Rover for as many crates as we could buy.

From this complex situation was born the idea of getting draught Tiger in the Mess.   The Brewery was duly contacted, and they promised to send a rep.   The rep arrived one morning and over a brew, yours truly, on sick leave with the plastered leg described elsewhere, entered into negotiations.   The rep, who was an ex-pat retired officer started by asking a few routine questions like how busy was the Mess. Easy to answer – extremely – and that was without lying.   I gave him the full spiel about being open every night from 1800 hrs, and until 0400ish every Friday/Saturday; curry lunches, birthdays, bar mitzvahs, fancy dress parties etc.   He seemed quite impressed and then mentioned that the unit seemed quite small, and wanted to know how many people lived in.  ‘Twelve’ says I.  ‘Twelve?’ says he in amazement, ‘but I’m only here because you said you were a Company.’   ‘We are; an Intelligence Company’ I replied.   ‘The Brewery policy is for one draught pump per company, but that’s an INFANTRY company.’ the rep says.   ‘Well, if you didn’t know, the Brewery won’t, will they?’ I countered, ‘I think you should give us a chance.   If we can drink enough to justify the pump, they won’t be any the wiser.'   After a brief moment’s pause he agreed to a month’s trial and we shook hands on the deal.

The following Saturday, in time for the latest function, the pump was installed and Abdullah trained on how to use it properly so that the world famous Tiger quality wouldn’t be impaired.   The function came and went, and so did Sunday.   On Monday morning, I was forced to ring the Brewery and ask if we could have another barrel.   ‘Why?’ came the reply, ‘what’s wrong with one we sent?’   ‘It’s empty.’ I replied, to a stunned silence on the end of the line.   ‘OK, we’ll send another round straight away’ said the rep.   On Thursday I was forced to ring the Brewery again, for yet another barrel in time for the weekend.   And so it went on for the month’s trial.

At the end of the month there was a Mess meeting at which the PMC, ‘Span’ Spanholz, was to announce the result of the trial period.   ‘The first item on the agenda is the result of the draught Tiger trial' said Span solemnly, ‘The criterion for the installation of a draught Tiger pump in a Mess is one per INFANTRY company’ he went on, ‘and I don’t know whether I should be proud of this achievement or not, but you lot haven’t met the criterion for one pump, you've met the criterion for THREE pumps!’   There ensued tumultuous cheering, followed by more confirmation of our ‘Three Pump’ status.

And there you have it;  all you Dawna Watchers who came afterwards;  what we had to go through to get draught Tiger in the Mess, and without any additional drinking effort!