Sirs - It seems only yesterday that we penned our last five-yearly missive from these climes. So much has happened here, but we shall try only to highlight for you two most enervating events. We still have five Hurley-Pughs in running order, and although licences are difficult to get for the vintage motorcycles since the Raffles Hotel incident in '63, there are many people who remember the thrumbling roar of these wonderful big singles so common in the years before the Japanese invasion and the unique historical significance of our motorcycles means pride of place in parades and New Year celebrations.
We are delighted to report that here in Singapore we have unearthed an almost perfect 1937 Gentlemen's Tropical Wildebeeste in all but perfect condition, Buried for 55 years in a cess pit filled with rose-perfumed talcum powder to hide it from the Nippon foe, the 'Beeste, after oiling and fuelling, fired up first time. It has required little more than a polish to restore and even the raffia seat and Gentleman's Weathershield oilskin umbrella and sunshield are in fine fettle. The only defect is that the paint-work has blushed, owing to the contact of the talcum. We shall be employing the services of Su Ze Wong, the Hong Kong-based restorer and kite maker, in an effort to recover the patina of the original once he has recovered from his operation.
But the joy at this discovery, which would have been making our numbers up to a round half-dozen, was overshadowed by the tragic loss of one of our founder members, General Kitchener Chang.
Born a Confucianist in the slums of Shanghai, Chang had Christianity thrashed into him at the British Mission School and then rose to youthful prominence in the army of Chiang Ki Chek. He mixed with the great and the good of every nation, sharing many common interests with Lord John Hurley, with whom he corresponded regularly on the subject of procuring Chinese maidservants for the English gentry, and received a 1939 Hurley-Pugh Excalibur Grand Tour from Sir John as a token of his assistance in this philanthropic task. Chang established himself in Chiang Mi, Shan State, after the War, where he was for many years an immovable bastion of free trade in the principle export of that region, and Western values in a sea of godless Communism. Not for nothing was he dubbed "Lord of the Golden Triangle" by both the Central Intelligence Agency and the US Drugs Enforcement Agency. He retired to Singapore in 1975, and helped found the Lodge here but sadly, riding his finely- preserved Excalibur Grand Tour in the 1994 Chinese New Year dragon parade on his 89th birthday, his ejector saddle was accidentally actuated by a stray firework, in turn igniting the touring pannier fuel tanks. He was instantly immolated, defraying the cost of a funeral but temporarily reducing our number of working machines. He will be missed. Our very best wishes to you all over there in the Old Country.
Yours exceedingly sincerely,
Gulwinder Singh, Henry Ling QC & George Guernsey-Potts (Major Retd.)
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