Mary Hughes talks about The White Crocodile’s Tale (with subtitles)

Mary Hughes talks about The White Crocodile’s Tale (with subtitles)


My name is Mary Hughes. I’m the eldest child of John Michael Broome Hughes (J.M.B Hughes), known as Mike to all his friends and colleagues. I was born in Kelantan and grew up in Penang, and I’m here to talk about my father’s book, “The White Crocodile’s Tale”. for whom he wrote matters. because his memoirs were written with the kind of playfulness that you would have have if you were talking with people who you’d really like after dinner and people you’d valued and trusted, and people who you’d loved a lot. Friendship was one of my father’s core values because when he felt safe with friends, he could achieve almost anything and I believe that when he started writing his memoirs, he didn’t fully appreciate this It was something he learned late in life and the memoirs meant huge value to him personally as he began to do it. The second reason why he wrote it and for whom he wrote it matters is that when he started writing, mike was looking back over the best part of one of the most tumultuous, difficult, marvelous centuries humanity has ever known, centuries humanity has ever known. and to be able to tell a story about that century meant to be able to be a supreme storyteller, and one of the gifts of a supreme storyteller is to able to join the past and the future while sitting in the present. Difficult to do. the 20th century, of course, is a challenge much written about. Dad’s scream of words joined so many other screams of words to become a river of experience and I hope that the audience that will appreciate his books is much wider, than perhaps the people who think of him sentimentally or have some memory of him I hope his words join with others and become a river of knowledge for better use of all people So: What is The White Crocodile’s Tale all about? It is the life of a middle-class British school teacher, committed to his own code of good behaviour, devoted to his wife, his family and community Another sentimental read about past times from a relatively privileged European cultural perspective? from somebody who was part of an empire Well, if you wish, yes it is, but this one writer, my father, was delighted to be the last of the British you see, i was old enough to be able to eavesdrop on his conversations He was thrilled to see the door of Merdeka, wide open and be part of that and for it to have happened in peace I stood there, out in that Padang (Field) with my parents as one flag went down and another went up i was tiny but it was one of my earliest memories I could still remember the expression on their faces No Regret No Tears just joy that their work have been done and smiles of pleasure for the people they liked so much for taking things forward The White Crocodile’s Tale, is a book my father wrote as a daughter, you’re always going to say “Oh Dad!” But, read it, and it is the Malaysians who stay with you once you put it down the casts are high-achieving, funny, bright mischievous, talented but totally wholly, honorable young people they come into the book at chapter 5 but stay till the end until they are old men and women themselves Those people in their schools The Penang Free School, The Malay College and Sultan Ismail College they take you on their journeys my father can’t help it their delight in learning, their respect for knowledge, apparently so refreshing to Dad after his more war-jaded, pessimistic British kids prompts reflections on the importance of where and when you originate from for potential to be set free and to flourish. Dont forget, this was around Merdeka, about a new country starting up. But potential has to be noticed first. I think my Father knew great potential when he saw it whether he knew it more instinctively, i’m not sure but he realised that it fed on learning which in turn feeds on experience He took boys on trips to Langkawi to experience Geology, Geography, Nature rather than just thrusting theory into their heads he knew that going out and being allowed to get things wrong to learn in safety, to make mistakes in safety to learn their own lessons meant that you can get them right when it really matters. We travelled quite widely after our Malaysian days and we went around the world, actually but no other times were ever quite like them Nor did we ever meet the extraordinary, brilliant people we met in Malaysia and Penang, and whose generosity and friendship offered to my Mother and Father, lasted right throughout their long lives and which became their treasured and most happiest gifts in life. I think of of the things that we need to remember here is, who is actually doing the learning in the White Crocodile’s Tale It’s a story by a teacher and educator but i think when you read it, and as his daughter, I feel like I can say The real pupil in this story is one J.M.B Hughes and his teacher is talented, bright, and amazing and most of them came from Penang Terima Kasih Banyak-Banyak

Randy Schultz

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1 thought on “Mary Hughes talks about The White Crocodile’s Tale (with subtitles)

  1. Areca Books says:

    For better subtitles, select "English" from the CC option, not the auto-generated version

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