Saturday, May 2, 2009

Autobiography of a Singapore Eurasian

That’s How It Goes was published in November 2008, so it seems a little late to blog about it now; but, it’s a book that’s close to our hearts, so bear with us. That’s How It Goes is a heartwarming autobiography by Professor F.A.C. “Jock” Oehlers. In it, he brings readers with him on his life’s journey, from a carefree young boy growing up in Colonial Singapore, through the terror and hardship of the Japanese Occupation, to becoming a respected Professor of Oral Surgery and the founder and President of the Singapore Kennel Club for 19 years. Throughout this journey, he was accompanied by his wife, Ursula, his childhood sweetheart and partner in life since their marriage in 1942.

It’s a great book about the life of an honest, decent and kind man, and a moving account of the life of Singapore Eurasian. But that’s not the only reason the book is especially dear to us. Jock has been an inspiration to all of us here at Select. Born in 1921, he is 88 years old. Yet, he continues to be active, enthusiastic and helpful. He liaised personally with us over the editing of the book; he personally scanned and restored old photos for use in the book; and he replies personally to readers who have written to him. He has been an absolute pleasure to work with. We’ve never actually met him – and we would love to someday if we can find time to go to Perth, where he now resides – as everything was settled smoothly over email.

In one passage in the book, Jock mentions almost matter-of-factly and modestly how he had to intervene in a trial at the infamous Bahau Catholic Colony during the Occupation. Later, we found a reference in
Jungles Are Never Neutral: An Extraordinary Story of Exile and Survival - The Diaries of Brother Patricius O' Donovan FSC about the incident, and learnt how, in fact, Jock had displayed extraordinary courage when intervening and had helped to saved innocent lives.

The book has been selling well in Select itself as well as the major bookstores. We were helped by the excellent feature The Sunday Times had on the book, headlined “A 69-Year Romance”, with a striking photograph of Jock and Ursula on their wedding day. Most appropriate.

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