Nestled between the baying mobs- largely of workers plucked straight from the Strongbow advert – lined up to get their leg over South- East Asia, you will find a small and organized queue of pensioners aiming their over-sized arses in a similar direction. Despite the fact that these aforementioned accessories have undergone intensive Morrison’s sponsored training to ensure they act as a charming and buoyant ambassador between their owners and the airplane seats, they also represent the target tourist market for their destination. Singapore.
A city that pays homage to the Victorian novel ‘Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’ by emulating the protagonist’s tempestuous nature on its remarkably litter free streets.
Here is a place where you can be caned by the iron fist of the law or, if it’s your cup of tea, by the velvet glove of the many prostitutes who frequent the city at night. Whilst these blemishes serve to add a bit of spice to the city’s underbelly, the spice is, unfortunately, Tesco’s value and does little to change the overall taste of a city that seems to have been presided over by a congregation of the Stepford wives.
That ‘s not say it doesn’t taste good, there’s nothing wrong with low crime and unemployment but the measures to achieve this have come at the cost of depriving the city of its own persona. Or, in other words, it’s a healthy looking enough baby but its creation in a test tube has removed any worldly imperfections.
Imperfections like the ones pulsing through Paris in the 1930s or San Francisco in the 60s. Sure these cities were breeding grounds for moral destitution, but the conditions materialized into the perfect mid-wives to enable the birth of some of the century’s most creative literary talents like Jack Kerouac and Henry Miller.
Whilst Miller’s work won’t be used as the manifesto for a Feminine Alliance group any time soon, it is a trophy for what individuals can achieve in these unique surroundings. In comparison, Singapore’s sterilized surroundings have produced few avant-gardes or rockers of the global boat.
This is not through lack of intelligence, but rather because controversial thinking has become something of an inconvenience for a population so embroiled in government red tape. But far from being uncomfortable, this red tape caters to every Singaporean need and keeps them on the golden road of government-approved lifestyles. Whilst also ensuring they don’t stray too far from it.
Beyond this, the Herculean effort of government intervention boils down to one main problem. For all its manufactured charm and beauty, Singapore possesses no venerable vice that gives the city a personality and distinguishes it from an award winning design on Sim City.
At a dinner party, Singapore is not the grandfather whose farts smell of sulphur and harbors the enviable ability of clearing a busy room with one lift of his corduroy clad thigh. Nor is he the tinsel-mustached uncle, who has decided to exercise his weekly permitted risk in the form of a bowtie with mice on it, and ends up getting pissed up on sherry and chasing the Latino housemaid round the garden with a belt.
No, Singapore will have an agreeable time, maybe have a cheeky second glass of wine but at all times maintaining his pocket breathalyzer within arm’s reach to ensure that alcohol content remains at a sustainable level. He may even dance, if prompted, to the token Beach Boys’ number, reverting to his younger days of Top of the Pops for inspiration beyond the awkward ass wiggle that looks as if he is trying to dislodge a particularly stringy shit from his anus.
But, at the end of the night Singapore will return home having boosted fun levels to a record 67% and in prime form to catch up with the latest Dancing on Ice on Sky Plus. He has avoided any pregnancy scares with underage Polish sales assistants and late night hospital calls remain a plotline for E.R.
Whether you see this as a blessing or bore determines whether you should be booking a stay in Singapore or its unruly neighbor, Bangkok.