Book Extract….

Extract: Ch 22, page 252.

This was a memorable visit to Singapore because one evening whilst ashore, paying my usual call at the Cellar Bar (yes to check the notice board!), I ran into a very interesting character. He just so happened to be sitting next to me on a stool at the bar and introduced himself in a casual sort of way. He was a slightlyrotund American with drawling accent, thinning sandy colored hair, mild ruddy complexion and at a guess in his mid to late 40s. He went by the name of Sandy Stimson and was allegedly an old China hand having spent many years as a nomad wandering throughout the Far East, in particular Indo China and the Philippines. His home was wherever he was at any given time, being of no fixed abode, although he alleged to have originally heralded from Amarillo, Texas. He was conspicuous by the solid gold Rolex watch and heavy gold ID bracelet he wore.He appeared a shady, complex cove and was definitely a man of many faces. Sandy claimed to be working as a flight Captain flying C-46s and C-47s for some nondescript airline operating out of Taiwan and was in Singapore on RnR. We sat drinking beer for a while during which time he drifted into a litany of stories and yarns of his past flying experiences. Initially I took this with a pinch of salt, considering it to be just bar talk; until he dropped a few names that were known to me from within Hong Kong’s aviation circles, which made me take a little more notice. After about an hour he departed and went on hisway.I quizzed the barman as to who he really was because he most certainly came across as a truly colorful character. The bar tender informed me that Sandy regularly visited the bar when in Singapore, and he had overheard him being referred to as “China Sandy” by some of his closer acquaintances that had visited thepub with him on earlier occasions. He was supposedly based somewhere in Indo China at the time and was undoubtedly the aviator’s equivalent to a sailor with a girl in every port; totally adventurous, a romantic with wonderful charisma and gift of the gab; one of those types that remained fixed in your memory.The barman pointed me to a spot on the wall upon which was posted numerous photos. Sure enough therewas a few of “China Sandy” with his C-46 together with several other dubious looking characters sporting shoulder holsters. I never did find out what actual airline he worked for but as the Indo-China conflict was rapidly developing in retrospect one could be excused for suspecting that somehow he was linked with clandestine activities in Vietnam or Laos. Our paths did not cross again but for some inexplicable reason the image of this guy remains with me. Perhaps this is because he was so deliberately evasive about most things when questioned. I often wonder what happened to him because although giving the impression of being a “China Bum” I believe he was well read and somewhat more intelligent than he cared to divulge. I am sure there was considerably more to this mysterious character than initially met the eye and his country bumpkin façade may have just been little more than a cover for other activities.

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