The author, and friend, in the rainforest of Sarawak during a 25km endurance run with the Miri Hash House Harriers
Born in Stockton-on-Tees, North East England in 1961 to a typical Middle England family, Paul received a state education. Two occurrences during Paul’s schooldays are recalled with ironic warmth. During a geography class, aged eight, Paul was made to point out Malaya on the roll down Map of The Empire above the blackboard, and identify its capital, Kuala Lumpur. Ironic indeed as Paul would eventually spend over half of his adult life to date living in KL. The second fond recollection comes from English literature where, as fourteen year olds, the class read Neville Shute’s alluring novel A Town Like Alice. Set largely in wartime Malaya, this wonderful book centred Paul’s interest in South East Asian history.
Leaving school at sixteen, Paul took up an engineering apprenticeship in the chemical industries that were the region’s industrial behemoth during those times. More than merely learning the technicalities of his trade, the people who Paul met and worked with during that time, as a boy becomes a man, influenced Paul’s whole outlook on life. Men who had served in the British Army during the Malayan Emergency held Paul entranced as they told of trains being derailed by communist terrorists, of watching The Dance of the Flaming Arseholes in Singapore’s hot and lustful Bugis Street. By the time Paul was leaving his teenage years, wanderlust had bitten.
Completing his apprenticeship on a Friday in August 1981, Paul started work on South Africa’s Transvaal on the following Monday. Since then Paul’s career as a Chartered Instrumentation and Controls Engineer has taken him to Denmark, Holland, Saudi Arabia, France, Germany, the United States of America, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Australia and Malaysia.
Twice during his career Paul has returned to full time education. At twenty-five years old Paul studied for an HND in Coventry, winning the Rolls Royce Prize for Best Engineering Student. At thirty-six years old Paul returned to the University of Teesside where he gained an Upper Second Class Honours Degree in Instrumentation and Control.
An outgoing soul, with an attraction to the more physical pastimes on offer, Paul was a keen soccer player and motorcycle trials rider – finishing both the gruelling Scott Trial in North Yorkshire and the world-renowned Scottish Six Days Trial at Fort William. Since his arrival in Malaysia Paul’s primary pastime has been running the Hash; a cross-country run through, rubber plantations, palm oil estates and jungle.
Paul, atop Table Mountain, during a recent holiday to Cape Town, South Africa.
Recently taking up cycling, through Malaysia’s wonderful jungle lanes, Paul cycled sixteen hundred kilometres from Kuching in Sarawak to Kota Kinabalu in Sabah following Borneo’s northern coastline.
Life in Malaysia has been rewarding in many ways for Paul. A combination of wonderful friends, marvellous experiences and Richter scale social life in this country of warm, embracing people all conspire to make Paul realise that he is living a very, very special life.