The adventure continues........From Chopsticks China to the Tigers territories of British Singapore & Malaya and onwards to the land of Fish & Chips,England. Non-fiction


Bien Kee -Yeow

Author / Supply Teacher

Artistes Agent / Musician



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& Chips

Bien Kee -Yeow

The Gigs Hunter


As a Musician & Artistes Agent,the Author share his experience on managing an artistes agency and provide an insight on the following :

How you can start an artistes agency on low budget.

The most effective way to secure gigs.

Performing with over 100 Musicians.

Client -Artistes-Agency relationship.

Building & growing the business.

How to ensure two gigs each week for yourself.

Managing expectations & crisis among musicians.

.........and lots more on other topics - How to get along with the native English, what is state school like, and funny expressions observed : English & Chinese.





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published 24 Dec.2015

Chopsticks,Tigers & Chips



Chopsticks,Tigers & Chips

Bien Kee-Yeow, The Gigs Hunter


In this fun- filled 238 page book,the Author shares his true experience living and working as an Expat in North West England as a SupplyTeacher in the UK State Schools,a semi -pro Musician in various bands and an accidental Artiste Agent.


Kee in his very first attempt as a writer of a non-fiction book, provides an interesting cross - cultural view of East and West.

He relates how he built up an Artistes & Entertainment Agency, from just a handful of solo singers to over a hundred, and supplying acts to more than one hundred pubs & clubs 'from my office on wheels,Henry,after knocking on over five hundred pubs & clubs over four years.'

Overcoming adversity, the Author had to battle through unknown territory to try to establish a foothold in the entertainment circuit, using according to his own words, 'a little bit of charm, wisdom and humour.'

In his adventures in the land of Hope,Glory,Milk,Honey, battered Fish & Crispy Chips,he has seen and encountered the Good,Bad,Ugly and Uglier.


The Book was written for Musicians and also for the good folks,family and relatives back home in Singapore and Malaysia and for foreign visitors to England, especially from the Far East.


The Author is constantly amused by the idiosyncrasies of the native English people and has put his observations in his writing.




'A most honest account filled with human stories'

Danielle Roper Community Radio, All FM

Freelance Journalist



' An entertaining book,that will be of use to both local musicians and foreigners who have just moved to the UK'

Martin Vengadesan,News Editor

Malaysia Star Newspaper



' Frank,forthright and funny'

Alvin Lee, Journalist - Scope AsiaTech .



@chopsticks,tigers & chips - Bien Kee -Yeow 2015



Chopsticks,Tigers & Chips by Bien Kee -Yeow


Excerpt from Chapter 1

Sugarcane Roots


'Never ever forget your roots', my father said to me in our Hokkien Chinese dialect,as he thrust a piece of sugarcane stalk into the palms of my hands.

He recalled the year 1644 that witnessed the fall of the Ming Dynasty that has ruled China for 276 years.

The victorious Manchu Army have driven the Imperial family and loyalists to the safe havens of Fujian, South of China.


As the Manchu Army pushed southwards,a large ethnic minority of the Hokkien people took refuge in the vast sugarcane plantations,to avoid being massacred by the Invaders.

They stayed hidden throughout the start of the Chinese New Year and only emerged on the ninth day of the Chinese Lunar Year.

The Manchu Army went on to Zhang Zhou,where they massacred a large number of the Hokkien Clan.


Till this day, the sugarcane is a symbol of good fortune,luck and hope and is an essential plant in our Hokkien Chinese weddings.

As a young boy of five,I have always enjoyed listening to stories about my ancestors and great grandparents from China.


It was intriguing to hear about their struggles, and how they escaped the turmoils in China, and set sail for the new horizon in the new British Colony of Singapore - as indentured labourers after 1820.

Upon arrival in the newly built port of British Singapore, some were resold to other Landowners,Contractors and sent across to Malaya.The jungles in those empire had a huge,thriving population of Malayan Tigers.


Living in a foreign land,England,has instilled in me a greater awareness of my Han Chinese Hokkien roots and customs--from Chopsticks China to Tiger inhibited British Malaya/Singapore and now in the Hope,Glory, Fish & Chips land of England.

Hence the title,Chopsticks,Tigers & Chips.


English is not my mother tongue nor first language,but I had a really excellent English Teacher back home (who used to terrify all of us by hitting us on our knucles and hands -a few got their ears twisted) if we got our spelling wrong. If you spot any spelling or grammar error,please email me and let me know. Thank you


@chopsticks,tigers & chips - Bien Kee -Yeow 2015





Chopsticks,Tigers & Chips

Bien Kee -Yeow

The Gigs Hunter




Chapter 1

Sugarcane Roots


Chapter 2

The First Three Chords


Chapter 3

First Date With My Teacher Judy


Chapter 4

Touchdown London


Chapter 5

Up North of England


Chapter 6

Oh To Be in England!


Chapter 7

Another Brick in The Wall


Chapter 8

Have Guitar Will Travel


Chapter 9

Wonderful World Wide Web


Chapter 10

Going Gigs Hunting


Chapter 11

Smile,You Are A CCTV Star!


Chapter 12

Happy Together


Chapter 13

Shout Out Loud!


Chapter 14

We Can Work It Out


Chapter 15

Best Things in Life Are Free


Chapter 16

Getting It Going


Chapter 17

How To Speak English, Chinese Style


Chapter 18

Wok & Roll

How To Speak Chinese,English Style


Chapter 19

Allreet Now & Jolly Good


Chapter 20

Not So Nice Words Used by Native English



Chapter 21

Mix & Match

'Getting along with over 100 British Musicians'


Chapter 22

Keep On Running


Chapter 23

Speaking Words Of Wisdom


Chapter 24

Not On My Wedding Day


Gigs Gallery


List of Artistes of Spectrum - Ktbg


Top Ten List

Musician Quotes,Musician Jokes,Icons, and Historic pubs etc.


International Buskers


Only The English Could Have Invented The Language


Con Te Partiro



The Rhythm Jets

  1. An early 1819 visual of the British Colony of Singapore - coastal village with coconut trees.


  1. This would have been the view of Singapore and its surrounding sights- as would have been seen by my forefather and all on board, as their ship approached the island in 1826.


3. Singapore River bustling with trade activities post 1900..

4. Malayan Tigers in Zoo post 1900 British Malaya / Singapore.


Excerpt from Chapter 12

Happy Together


There is nothing more disheartening than a singer or band playing to an empty room. Performers feed off the applause of the audience.

It’s the feeling of being recognized and being appreciated as Musicians.

Patrons of any pubs like being given due respect too by the performers.

They want to feel that they are getting good value for their money,and they want to feel that they have had a really good evening and entertained.

All the musicians I have worked with know that I often extend a song, especially if there are people just coming up to dance,- just as the band is playing the last number.

It is really quite disappointing if a band were to stop as we were going to finish for the evening,when the guests are just starting to dance and asking for more.

I often encouraged patrons (those sober enough) to come up to join in the singing at some point in the set.

I remember the not so stable gentleman who was zigzagging towards the band, blurring out a song and shouting out incoherently, ‘Let me sing, let me sing!’

The poor chap fell down before he could reach the mike stand! It was hilarious!

My bandmates,GrahamHammond and Brian Roper witnessed this funny episode.

Audience participation is fun and this generally will create a singalong and would often lead to a group of dancers taking to the floor in a round of merrymaking!


Excerpt from Chapter 19

Alreet Now & Jolly Good


For the benefit of Visitors who plan to visit the North of England, a knowledge of the following slang words and phrases spoken by the Northerners and their meaning can be helpful.

Though it is not comprehensive it will give an idea on how these words and certain expressions are used in daily conversation.

In North England,they call men’ blokes’ and women ‘birds’

Some local phrases by the North Native English,I have come across:

Aw......sounds like ‘Or’

The British say this to empathise, say with a sad story or they see something cute, they go ‘ aw ! aw!

You Alreett? - Are you well? –a very common daily greetings.

Summat to eat - Getting something to eat -said mainly in Lancashire.

Put wood in hole - lock the door (a very old English saying in Lancashire)

My Mate or Me Mate - My Friend.

Don’t like Gum - Don’t Like them (nothing to do with chewing gum)

Sound - good

It's sound mate – used by Liverpool people to mean 'its good, my friend.

I am well chuffed - I am happy or pleased.



Cross -Cultural excerpts from Chopsticks,Tigers & Chips


To eat is to prosper !

To chinese,eating is a serious business and we focus on the food more than the people sitting around the table. In western society,conversation plays an important part and the eating is seen to be secondary (my personal view) or complimentary to it.

The first greetings we Chinese do when we meet each other is to ask ‘Have you eaten?’ as opposed to the English weather conversation topic.


8 is great & 4 is dead !

As a passing mention,it is a no go for a chinese to buy any car number plate with the number 4.The number sound like death in cantonese,hokkien and chinese dialects.The number 8 is the most preferred number as it means prosperity and 3 is also favoured as it is a reference to being very much alive and well.

No Shoes in the house - we are Chinese !

In almost all chinese homes, shoes are left at the entrance of the house.Quite a huge number of English wear their shoes in their homes.

We believe, dirt is best left outside and not brought into the house and also may bring not so good luck.

Being curious, I did find out by a show of hands in class,and also by asking fellow musicians that.Over 80 per cent of English, wear their shoes in their living room and some even sleep in them ! as one student told me ..... '' yeah I did,after I had summit to eat - can't be bothered to take of me shoes and me mum went bloody mad...them were new sheets as well on them bed ! ''


@chopsticks,tigers & chips - Bien Kee-Yeow 2015

Sugarcane plants

Excerpt from Chapter 2

First Three Chords


Sitting under the coconut palm trees shading all five of us from the very hot tropical Malayan Sun,I was totally mesmerized and transfixed with Zaccheus Choo’s guitar playing.

His four fingers moved with lightning speed as he changed from one chord to the next-smiling as he did so effortlessly.

He taught us how to sing Amazing Grace and told us some of the background stories of a couple of gospel songs and played some instrumentals from the British band, The Shadows and a selection of jazz numbers.

We were a group of five good close friends,all thirteen years of age,very easy to please, all very wide eyed and hero worshippers. Guru Zak was our idol and hero.

I vowed to learn to play the guitar as I listened to Zack 's playing of the big instrumental hit 'Apache' by the Shadows.After many years later,I could play Apache with my eyes closed.



Excerpt from Chapter 7

Another Brick In The Wall


On my first assignment as a Supply Teacher in a British Secondary State School in a tough housing estate in Manchester,I found myself in a very noisy classroom full of excited and boisterous pupils.

There was a pandemonium scene as I walked into the room.

It was every school Teacher’s nightmare. Pupils running around and things were being throw about-paper planes, books went flying pass me like a far reaching pershing rocket.

There were many such incidents like this played out in a few more schools.


As a rookie Supply Teacher and being from a different culture and background to all the English Kids, I was like a novelty and a subject of curiosity and at times a target.

There have been times when they practiced target shooting staples in my direction and have thrown objects when my back is turned to them. Hence, I always walked backwards facing them.

This unusual walking style led one to ask me ‘Sir, is that how you walk, back home?



A recent press report in January 2014 indicated that British School Children are way behind their Far East counterparts internationally in reading and writing.

In mathematics Britain is 27th in World League as reported in 2014.

I was shocked to know at first - hand that Teachers in England have been advised not to mark in red ink as this may upset the child.

Many State Schools are failing their pupils as there is a sizeable number of pupils leaving schools without being able to read or write properly.



@chopsticks,tigers & chips

bien kee-yeow

Over the fence

Excerpt from Chapter 10 Going Gigs Hunting

Somewhere over the fence

On one of my pub cold calling rounds after school, I found this particular pub closed.

Going round the back of the pub,I heard the loud sound of a lawnmover but could not see anyone due to the high wooden fencing.

Not deterred, I knocked 3 times on the wooden panels and shouted ‘hello’ and this Gentleman came peering over the fence.

As I was trying to shoot a cloud image of a horse in the sky above,I captured the moment he appeared in my apple mobile photo frame !

( hello there ! Is it me you are looking for ? )

After explaining the reason for my calling,the kind chap let me in to see the Landlady- and,bless him, I got a booking for the band.

What a kind of a Guy - kind & helpful !

You never know who will open the door to your next opportunity.



Excerpt from Chapter 6

Oh To Be In England !

It’s Bonkers ! Flipping Heck !, Cor Blimey !

In England,different classes of people use different words and different variety of expressions.

When I first arrived in London, I was greeted by a lovely looking lady at the airport with a ‘how nice of you to come to England’ after asking her for direction, and months later whilst visiting Liverpool I was met with, ‘eee... what the bloody hell are you doing here lad?’ by a Liverpool man.

In Bradford, I was embraced by a gentleman by these warm and welcoming words ‘Welcome to Bradford, so when are you going back?’ Cor blimey,the British are a friendly lot; they don’t like to take themselves too seriously and do have a good sense of humour.




Chopsticks,Tigers & Chips

Click below to order:


Written by Bien Kee -Yeow

The Gigs Hunter


An Expat true - life adventures in the land of hope,glory,milk,honey,fish & crispy chips,England.


In his many roles as a Supply Teacher, Musician & an Accidental Artistes Agent,

the Author shares the experience of his encounters with the local natives.

There are some useful tips for Musicians -how to look for new venues more effectively, how to prepare for stage performance and ways to gain more gigs.


He touched on the english way of life and their idiosyncrasies,different regional accents,habits,class consciousness and,in the course of research for this book, rediscovered his ancient chinese roots in this cross-cultural journey of discovery.



Chopsticks,Tigers & Chips written by Bien Kee -Yeow

Available for order on:

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ISBN 13-978-0-993071898

published 24 December 2015