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In June 1988, Noel Barber´s “Tanamera” was filmed at the Raffles
Somerset Maugham once remarked, "Raffles stands for all the fables of the exotic East!", and ever since this saying can be found wherever the logo of Singapore's Raffles Hotel appears.
Maugham fell in love with the Grand Old Lady when he arrived for the first time in March 1921. He used to sit under the frangipani tree in the Palm Court. There he worked every morning until lunch. There and in what is today the spacious Somerset Maugham Suite, he corrected the galleys of his short story collection "The Trembling of a Leaf" and worked on a play called "East of Suez". When he returned to the hotel in 1925, he was writing some stories for "The Casuarina Tree", a rare compilation of indiscretions which helped multiply the anger against him that already escalated in the colonies.
I stayed at the Raffles on a number of occasions - and on two occasions in the Hermann Hesse and the Somerset Maugham Suite - but, unlike Maugham, I never worked before lunch because it took me all morning to recover from the night before. However, once I had gorged myself on Raffles' famous tiffin, it was back and forth between Beach Road and the port of Sembawang to keep an eye on my employer's trans-shipment of tens of thousands of tons of sorghum and barley which came into Singapore in bulk to be bagged into 50kg-bags and reloaded onto one of our ships returning to the Middle East - click here.
With the value of our cargoes running into the millions, flying into Singapore in the pointy end of the plane and putting up in the town's best hostelry was little more than a rounding error. Those were the days, my friends; I thought they'd never end - but they did because in a fit of misdiagnosed homesickness I resigned, leaving me with no more than one last look at the legendary Raffles.