His name is Neil Wilson and he now looks like Santa Claus.
Neil is from Australia. I first met him in December 1993 after I was hired to write for a new Channel 5 variety show called Live On 5, which would introduce the world to Gurmit Singh.
Neil was the executive producer of the show and didn't have the beard then.
Here for a visit, Neil says he now thinks Singapore is one of the greatest cities in world ("Everything works!"), although 20 years ago, he hated it.
Every time he got frustrated at MediaCorp (or Singapore Broadcasting Corporation, as it was called then), he would listen to the song Down On The Border by the Aussie group Little River Band.
According to Neil, the song was written after the band weren't allowed to play in Singapore because of their long hair.
Here are the lyrics:
I just got back from the border
And what I saw, made me know for sure
We're out of order
I had a dream about New Orleans
At Jackson Square, I heard their prayer
Down in New Orleans
On the run, there's a life for livin'
But the people there, they just don't care
Livin' their life like a millionaire
Down on the border
You never see me in old Iran
The women there don't know who I am
In old Iran
And I never will go to Singapore
The people there will cut your hair
On their streets there's a life of plenty
Oh, but they'll never know about the freedom show
They're livin' in darkness years ago
Down on the border
They built a wall at the border
Not to keep us out but to leave no doubt
They're out of order, hey
And all the people who are trapped within
Serve to show just how far we'll go
And how dumb we've been
At the top life looks so easy
But they'll never know what they'll never know
They're much too busy countin' all their dough
From the border, from the border
This is a revelation to me. I'm a fan of LRB, but I never knew about this song, which was released in 1982.
Of course, nowadays, bands with long hair are welcomed in Singapore, although gay anthems may not be.
To paraphrase another LRB song, it's a long way there, it's a long way to where we're going.