The NAAFI at Lo Wu
The Naafi as ever provided some refuge from our tents but it was always full and noisy. Here was the only radio from which the BBC could be heard, but it was mainly tuned to an American station, Radio Manilla. I do recall though standing outside in the dark and damp of an evening while on guard listening to an account of the 1950 Boat Race, that event striking me as incongruous in the circumstances. Our Naafi was home to the inevitable piano. It was also one of the few places in camp that had electric light.
One could get something to eat and a drink of beer, char, (tea) or real orangeade made by Watsons; a superb thirst quencher. Here we were introduced to what became part of our staple diet – the ‘egg Banjo’- or a fried egg on fried bread. San Miguel beer was sold (and now with an international repute), but I never acquired a taste for it finding it too sweet and perfumed. Many of the regulars did like it to excess and on pay nights, Fridays and Saturdays, the atmosphere was more like a saloon in a western film. Some regulars never even left camp preferring to spend their free time drinking whilst their money lasted. One ritual here and elsewhere was that the drinkers retained on the their tables all the empty bottles as the session progressed. By evenings end it was totally covered. I had never seen the like before.
Occasionally a mobile army film unit would brave the tracks to our location and provide some ‘entertainment’ with a film show in the mess hut. They would set up a projector and if the electricity supply allowed and attempt to show a film. They were all black and white, in appalling condition and with a sound track one could not hear. They really were not worth watching. But they were something to do of an evening, and as on ship the comic and ribald comments from the audience were the best of the entertainment.
These film shows were fairly regular, when the truck could get through, but the Major’s wife in her ‘welfare capacity’ on one occasion organized a ‘treat’ for us; a real live amateur concert party with some attractive girls, singers and the like. This was well done and well received, but it only happened the once in the whole of my service.