Dave Jardine R.I.P.

I first met Dave in 1989 here in Jakarta.

We were both English language teachers and part of a thriving community, yet relatively small fry in a larger expat pond. Our drinking haunts were then centred around the Blok M bars, where we mingled with brawny American and Australian oil workers, geologists and other hard-drinking folk.

We had a few things in common: we were both former UK primary school teachers with responsibilty for managing our respective school’s football teams, we both supported the football clubs of our teenage years – his was Carlisle United and mine still is Charlton Athletic – through good times and bad. (These past two seasons, our clubs have languished together in the third tier of the Football League.)

Another key to our relationship was that, although I’m a Londoner, I spent a few years living in West Cumbria, a few miles south of Carlisle, where I developed a lifelong antagonism towards the nuclear power industry. We both keenly aware of the economic dependency of the region on the one remaining major industry – the Windscale Nuclear Plant. To balance this, we were also able to share reminiscences of hiking through the fells of the Lake District and the beers to be found in country pubs. (Our tipple of choice here is Bintang – there isn’t that much to choose from.)

Both of us shared a horror of Margaret Thatcher, a trait which remained close to the surface throughout the rest of his life. He would regularly send me links to articles about the various horrors and ills which he perceived throughout the imperialist camps of the UK and USA, When we met he would often have a full-blooded rant, much of which I tried to tune out because my moans and rants have generally been more focussed on the world in which I live,

Like all folk ‘exiled’ from our native lands, our perceptions bestraddle two worlds, Dave was raised as an airforce brat, regularly decamping to his father’s overseas postings. He remained peripatetic and, to my knowledge, he only once rented a semi-permanent home in all the 23 or so years he lived in Jakarta, and latterly, Bogor.

Not being a psychoanalyst, I hesitate to wonder why he never formed a lasting relationship with a soulmate. Just once he almost achieved a lasting relationship and Dave arranged to take her back to the UK to meet his family. She never turned up at the airport.

Maybe that is why he often appeared to wear an aura of alienation. To several folk who encountered Dave in recent years, he was the ‘bag man’ (because he kept his papers in a variety of plastic bags) as well as a cantankerous and opinionated old sod. He was profoundly deaf in both ears and at times it was difficult to penetrate his ramblings; perhaps he just didn’t hear our interjections,

But then, he was also our ‘Quiz Master’, displaying a profound knowledge of many topics. He was someone who could retain dates and names of so many seemingly esoteric subjects that there were few who would achieve high scores. At times the Bintang got to him and a quiz would suddenly cease because of a perceived slight, perhaps a moment of inattention as a team member wandered off to order another round, or to make room for it. There were also occasions when the quiz didn’t actually start: the Bintang had reached him before we did.

A few years ago, in 2004, he returned to the UK for an operation on a cancerous growth on the left side of his face. Knowing that his income depended on articles he wrote for a number of English language publications around town, friends organised a benefit for him so that he would have some cash in hand when he returned to try and sell, and get paid for, another article.

When I last saw Dave, just over a week ago here in Jakartass Towers, I thought he looked better than in a very long while. He was in a very positive frame of mind and, at his request, I willingly agreed to publish an ‘advertorial’ for his self-produced ‘Mutton Mutiny Scrapbooks‘.

This now won’t happen. Dave’s writing deserves a wider audience and that is why this site has been opened.

(With Dave’s passing, his self-published and highly praised book, Foreign Fields Forever, “a short, compact history of one of Britain’s forgotten ‘little’ wars, namely the conflict with the new Republic of Indonesia from 1945-1946″, is hard to find. So much so, that we hope to produce an e-book which will be available here as a download.

Many of his articles can still be found in these publications, Tempo, Jakarta Post and Socialist Worker (UK). These articles, and many published in the Garuda Inflight magazine as well as the monthly magazine JakartaJave Kini, as well as several posted on Jakartass, are being put online here as a testament to the breadth of his writing and the depths of his knowledge and ideals.)

Although I’m immeasurably sad at his passing, maybe the nature of it was kind. He was sitting in an armchair, hand on his chest, so the end was in some ways merciful. We’re all getting older – Dave was 63, not 60 as media reports have suggested.

On a number of occasions Dave expressed his wish that his ashes be scattered on the slopes of Gunung Salak. An expedition is already planned for the end of this month, Saturday 30th, when, with his family’s blessing. half his ashes will be cast in the breeze.

A mutual friend wrote, “It’s a cliché, but this is like the passing of an era.”

Well, not yet, as I hope this site will prove.

Go thee well, Dave.

(First published on Jakartass 12th April 2011)

Mark Moloney says:
A lovely piece about a fine character. I was reading it with a smile and a tear in me eye.

Nick Wilber says:
I have been friends, on and off, mostly on, with David for the last 19 years.
I would happily attempt a hike for Dave.
He leaves a lasting impression.

(in UK) says:
We first met Dave in the Sportsman’s Bar and knew immediately that he was a really good bloke. His Quiz Nights were always fun. Dave was an expert on most things Indonesian. Last time we saw him he had not long returned from Poland, where he had had an exciting time. I am sure that his spirit will continue to enjoy the Bogor landscape and the occasional English football match.

Hope Dave reads this.

Roy Simson (in Australia) says:
I will be unable to fly over for a wake, although I really would like to be present to celebrate David’s life because he was a great friend over many years.

I guess we are all just waiting for death, but there were times when Dave would get despondent and tell me he was looking forward to it because he lacked full-time employment. Fortunately he had a supportive family and a diverse group of friends, many of whom were happy to help him out. I heard he had moved to Bogor over a year ago and still had occasional writing jobs, so I hope he was happy out there with his books and a bit of tranquility. Whenever a bar became filled with excessively noisy patrons and/or loud music, he would yearn to be somewhere quieter.

I first laid eyes on David Jardine in 1996 when I picked up a copy of the Indonesia Times. In those days he wrote a column entitled ‘Word Smith’ (or was it Wordsmith?) which had a byline and a smiling headshot. A few weeks later I saw him in person in, off all places, the Sixth Floor on Jl Melawai. He was seated at the far end of the bar, trying to read in the poor light. I followed his example over the years, drinking and reading in many classy bars.

I was first introduced to David in the International bar on Jaksa in early 1997 and he did not immediately take to me, regarding me as a naive new arrival who had unfairly got a sub-editing job with the Indonesian Observer. Over the next few months he and I would sometimes spar verbally on Jaksa and in Blok M, but by late 1998 we had become firm friends, united by our fondness for Indonesia, Bintang and usually shared political views (especially on matters of the military and human rights).

I recall his plans to marry a lady from Kalimantan and his sadness when marriage did not eventuate. One of the earliest things he said to me (in his stentorian tone) was: “And you will never understand a thing about Indonesia until you’ve read ‘A History of Java’ by Sir Stamford Raffles.” It was a line I was to repeat many times when attempting to mimic his voice and he never seemed to mind. One of his more recent phrases that I also imitated was a comment he made to the American Mark T. Rex: “Mark, if you ever reach maturity, you’ll be a halfwit!”

David was passionate about Indonesian and international politics, with a strong sense of what was right and he always stood by his principles. I guess it’s not easy to be a happy left-wing idealist amid Indonesia’s interminable political morass. I certainly enjoyed respite from the daily drudge of bad news by relaxing amid fellow Bintang drinkers.

David achieved far more than the average pontificating drinker, channeling some of his energies into his book Foreign Fields Forever, which tells an often overlooked chapter of Indonesian history. The book deserved a better reception from the British Embassy. David’s contribution to the updated Rough Guide to Indonesia was also the sort of thing that most Bintang enthusiasts, such as myself, would not find the time or motivation to do.

I had to work on Sunday afternoons/nights during my first four years in Indonesia, so I was unable to attend David’s Sunday evening quizzes until 2001. He reveled in the role of quizmaster, keeping everyone entertained with his presentation and idiosyncrasies, often playing up to his image as a hard-of-hearing curmudgeon to give us a laugh. After Angies and then the Q Bar (nee International) shut down, he transferred his quiz nights to upstairs at D’s Place on Jl Palatehan, where there was a steady following, partly in thanks to John Patton providing a bottle of Johnny Walker Red Label for the winning team. Regardless of which team won, the bottle was invariably shared among the participants and the quizmaster.

Books, especially works of non-fiction, were one of David’s greatest loves and he gave me several over the years, some for the price of a bottle of Bintang and some for free. I was amused one night in D’s Place when he attempted to sell me a book about China that I had bought from Mark T. Rex and loaned to Richard Bennett (of Tempo), who had passed it on to David! At times when I had nothing to read in the bars, David would lend me copies of Private Eye, which were a joy to read.

By coincidence, I was writing an email to David this afternoon when I received an SMS informing me of his death.

Joe Visser says:
I first met David in 1997 and he kind of guided me in my first days in Jakarta. He advised me to “spread my wings” away from Jaksa. The picture is a perfect capture of the man. I last talked to him in the Romance in April 2008, and I sensed it would be the last time I would talk to him. May he rest in peace.

John Humphries (in Thailand) says:
I have to say what a sad blow this is.

The very first time I turned up in Jakarta, in 1985, it seemed that he had to be the first person you met as you found your way around the bars, and up to the time I left, in 2004, that still seemed to be true!

A couple of years later, he suddenly turned up here in Thailand, out of the blue (as was his habit!). I treated him to a fine Thai lunch in Hat Yai and saw him off on the minibus. I shall remember that last meeting, and be thinking about him tomorrow.

But anyway, without The Master nothing down there will ever be the same.

Daniel Quinn says:
I wasn’t surprised when I heard yesterday afternoon. But after a couple of hours it really sank in. I had a look at his Mutton Mutiny Scrapbooks – collections of his excellent articles, plus articles he considered interesting that were by other people – that he used to sell to people in Ya ‘Udah and other places so he could have another beer and afford the train back to Bogor.

It is sad that despite his great journalistic talent he was continually struggling to make ends meet. He wasn’t what you would call a happy man in the time that I knew him (since early 2009) but he certainly had a keen sense of humour. I will always remember him at his ‘desk’ in Ya ‘Udah with pieces of paper strewn across the table, small change falling out of his shirt pocket, and a continual top-up of tea/coffee.

David was emotional when we spoke of the British landscape, especially in his beloved Eden Valley, partly because he probably realised he would never see it again – and he asked me to take a letter to his mother on his behalf, when I went back to the UK in January 2010. He was very interested in the Scottish Highlands and one of his most memorable articles, from my perspective, is the one about Glenmore in East Java.

His knowledge of Indonesian history was incredible and his sense of fairness and justice was very very strong and important to him. He was very happy earlier this year when – after showing me a book of disturbing photographs of Indonesia he was reviewing – I emailed him to let him know that an Ambonese woman who has been brutally set on fire by her husband had actually had an operation to improve her terrible condition. David may have been bad-tempered from time to time but underneath he was a man of great humanity.

I do think it’s a great shame he couldn’t make a huge success out of his writing because he was very talented and even in difficult circumstances still managed to produce some great work. Then again, he was a maverick and was perhaps happier being his own man rather than pandering to the whims of any single editor.

Byron Black says:

David J. was truly the quintessential British leftist intellectual campaigner and I had to admire him for standing up for what he believed in, all through those tricky and potentially dangerous orde baru years (when the wrong thing reported about you would result in a 24-hour deportation order) and afterwards. We had many discussions about the Soeharto era (concerning which I’ve had a rather large revision of my appraisal).

A very sincere, intelligent and concerned expat – a good man to share a beer and argument with, as well.

Jeremy Lindeck (in Australia) says:
I always liked Dave. He was a true idealist but unfortunately life just didn’t live up to his high standards .

I had forgotten about the times the quiz didn’t start. I remember the battle of the quizzes between Phil and Andy’s ITV version (as Dave Merrills put it) and Dave’s real deal. He was very much part of the Jakarta scene and even though I haven’t lived in Jakarta for over 10 years, I understand what is meant by the end of an era.

Anong says:
Very sad.
A  great loss in so many ways for teachers in this country

Sam Collins (in UK) says:
How very sad. Dave was an ever constant on my trips to Jakarta, and I have only good memories of him.

John Hargreaves says:
David was like God – if he did not exist it would be necessary to invent him. He carved himself a niche in the Jakarta expat community that no-one else could have filled. To hear his views was to see events through a new prism, with a heightened awareness of the spectrum of different colors of opinions. And his own color was always that of justice, of sympathy for those who struggled, and battled. There could not be another like him.

Leonard Leuras (in Bali) says:
30 … David Stamford Jardine … a traditional newsman’s tribute to a newsman….L.L.

Miko says:
I am shocked and of course saddened to hear of David’s passing. I think you summed up the man and his relation to the rest of us in the expat community perfectly.

David could have his moments but they were usually quickly forgotten and when he was on form his company was a real delight. We will never know why he never quite ‘clicked’ in Jakarta when he had so much obvious talent and energy and frankly it’s none of our business anyway; he lived his life according to his own wishes and in the end that is what matters.

Malcolm Johnson says:
I can only echo the sentiments so eloquently expressed above. Dave’s erudition and incisive intelligence made him delightful company, but I’ll mostly remember him for his impish, impious sense of humour, and his deep and abiding love of the English language.

He was one of the great originals.

Tim (via email, April 2012)
As someone who spent a couple of years in Jakarta (1999-2000) it is with great sadness that I’ve learned of the death of David Jardine. I was lucky to spend a few evenings in the company of David and several beers on Jaksa – he was one of those people you could just listen to for hours.

He was a lovely chap and underneath a gruff exterior was a sentimental and passionate man; he hated Thatcher with a vengeance and loved Carlise Utd and a beer or two and that’s a fine man by my reckoning. I remember him being overjoyed when Jimmy Glass scored THAT goal.

I feel very sad now as this news sinks in.


Eddy Street (in UK, via email, May 2013)
I first met Dave when we both began as students at University College of Swansea in 1967. He was the type of person that everybody seemed to meet straightaway and very quickly he seemed to know a considerable number of people, where they came from, the school they went to and the football team they supported. He had a knack of imitating the different accents of all the people that he met.

From the outset, it was evident that Dave was a committed socialist and was concerned for freedom and justice for all people. He was active in the Socialist Society and contributed many articles to its publication ‘Red Letter’. He was also active in the Movement for Colonial Freedom which later became the Anti-Apartheid Movement.

He was a very good footballer and probably could have played at a higher level than the informal college teams he turned out for, but he was not one for the regimentation of training or even having a clean kit! He was voted a vice president of the students’ union, not because of his understanding of the intricacies of student life and certainly not because of any organisational ability but simply because he knew so many people who recognised him to be a person of integrity and principle who would stand for fair play and equality for all.

Following his time at Swansea, Dave moved to the Midlands to do his teacher training and he became a primary school teacher in Walsall. As I had moved to Birmingham after university, we would often spend some time together sitting in the pubs of the Midlands and visiting the football grounds. He candidly told me that he and the headmaster of his school had agreed that he was “not God’s gift to primary school teaching” and he subsequently moved to London to take his TEFL qualification.

Following this, he had a period of moving around but eventually stayed in northern Malaysia teaching in a school for a number of years. I visited him during this period (1985) and we travel around the local area and also into Thailand; somehow wherever we went we bumped into people that Dave knew and conversations about politics and the world situation would always follow interspersed with discussions about the success and failures of particular football teams.

A few years after I visited Dave he moved to Indonesia and in his infrequent letters or e-mails he let us know that he was now trying to earn a living via his writing. He visited the UK on a few occasions stopping off to see myself and a few other old friends from Swansea. It was difficult for us to work out how he was managing to make ends meet as he rarely showed us the material he was having published. Some of us were due to attend the wedding-that-never-was which was cancelled at the last moment.

We knew that he was not well when he visited the last time as he spent most of the time with his sister. His communication became even less frequent and never referred to his own well being. We were expecting the worst but it took some while for the news of his passing away to filter through to his old college friends in the UK.

Dave was not a man who wished to discuss personal emotional issues and there were aspects of his life and experience that no one ever knew about. He was however, a gregarious warm person with a sensitivity about others and a way of validating them through his interest in where they came from and what they did. In his own way he was a committed socialist having a deeply held belief that if we dealt with each other in a straightforward principled just way then society will develop accordingly.

He was not afraid to put his head above the parapet and say exactly what he thought about any situation and he always stood for the dignity of people and the right to live life to our own potential. In one of our conversations about politics I told Dave that I was giving up eating Yorkie bars because I understood that these were Maggie Thatcher’s favourites. I promised not to begin eating them again until she had departed this mortal coil – thankfully I have now returned to eating Yorkie bars again and it is such a shame that I can’t share that with my friend Dave. I will now always associate him with that taste of chocolate, the fortunes of Carlisle United and the struggles all over the world for peace and freedom.

He was a person I held with great respect and it is sad that he is no longer with us.


David Jardine, 63 — a respected contributor to many Indonesian media publications, reportedly passed away at Wisma Firman Pentionem on Jl. Paledang, Bogor, West Java, on April 8.

Jardine, a British national who had lived in Indonesia for about 20 years, was also an active contributor to The Jakarta Post’s Readers Forum.

We express our sincere condolences.

— Editor
The Jakarta Post| Sat, 04/16/2011

David Jardine, Penyuka Burung yang Cinta Indonesia

– David Jardine, 63 tahun, warga negara Inggris yang bekerja sebagai koresponden di beberapa media di Indonesia dikenal sebagai pribadi yang menyenangi burung, alam dan sejarah Indonesia. Kenangan itu begitu melekat bagi Yuli Ismartono, Wakil Pemimpin Redaksi Tempo Edisi Bahasa Inggris (TEBI), mengenang David yang meninggal sendirian di Bogor, Jumat pekan lalu.

“David memang pribadi yang menyenangi sejarah dan alam, khususnya burung. Ia sering membicarakan itu setiap ke kantor Tempo,” kata Yuli menceritakan pengalaman dengan pria asing yang pernah menjadi kontributor lepas untuk Tempo itu.

David, kata Yuli, juga memiliki pengetahuan yang luas dan bagus dalam menulis resensi soal buku dan restoran. Keahlian menulis resensi itulah menurut Yuli yang sering ditawarkan David kepada Tempo. Yuli sendiri mengaku terakhir kali berhubungan dengan David sekitar sebulan lalu melalui surat elektronik. Saat itu, David menawarkan buku untuk ia resensi kepada Yuli.

David yang sudah tinggal di Indonesia sejak sepuluh tahun lalu itu, menurut Yuli, sangat mencintai Indonesia. Meskipun sempat pulang ke negaranya selama dua tahun untuk melakukan operasi tumor otak, David memutuskan tetap kembali ke Indonesia. “Saya sangat suka Indonesia,” kata Yuli menirukan ucapan David saat ditanya kenapa ia tidak pulang ke Inggris.

David, terang Yuli, memang tinggal di Bogor. Namun Yuli tidak mengetahui pasti dimana alamat David di Bogor. Yuli juga mengaku tidak mengetahui penyebab meninggalnya David. Ia menduga, pria yang tinggal di Indonesia sendiri itu meniggal akibat sakit. “Yang saya baca ia memegang dada saat ditemukan meninggal, barangkali memang sakit. Saya belum dapat kabar pasti soal itu,” ujarnya.

Dalam beberapa laporan media, diberitakan David ditemukan meninggal di Wisma Firman Pentionem Bogor pada Jumat kemarin. Namun ia disebutkan berwarga negara Australia, bukan Inggris seperti asalnya.

David ditemukan pertama kali oleh salah seorang pegawai wisma pada pukul 21.00 WIB. Wisma yang berlokasi di Jalan Paledang, Kelurahan Paledang, bogor itu sendiri selama ini dikenal sebagai tempat tinggal sementara warga negara asing di Indonesia. Jenazah David kemudian dibawa ke RS Polri, Kramat Jati, Jakarta Timur.

Rabu, 13 April 2011
Arie Firdaus TEMPO Interaktif, Jakarta

Dave Jardine Memorial Walk

A hike in memory of David Jardine took place on Saturday 30th April at Gunung Salak. For a year prior to his death Dave had been resident in a Bogor guesthouse, where he enjoyed a fine view over the town rooftops, the Cisadane river and on to the cone of Gunung Salak. His expressed wish for his ashes to be scattered on the volcano fitted his love of nature generally, of the fells of his native Cumbria, and of the mountain landscapes of his adopted home.

On advice from Dan, our gunungbagging expert, our team opted not to carry the ashes up to the summit, a grueling whole day expedition suitable only for the young and fit. Instead we followed an attractive trail through montane forest to the Salak crater, some 800 meters below the summit. This path starts from the road adjacent to Javana Spa, a health resort with beautifully tended gardens and, germanely for us, a spacious car park.

Despite worries that a large vehicle might struggle on the narrow turns up to the start point, the Elf that Chris had hired for our eleven-person group turned out to do just fine along the narrow village tracks, past the clusters of warung on the way up to the forest and the gates of Javana Spa. For those who might want to do this hike themselves, access is from the Ciawi-Sukabumi road; just after crossing the railroad track there is a large Javana Spa sign indicating the turn-off to the right, with a further 12km up to Javana Spa. The hiking trail starts about 200m before the Spa entry at a small ranger hut with an iron gate and some steps leading into the forest.

Our hike started with an effort to find a shortcut from the Javana Spa car park directly onto the crater trail. This did not actually lead us where we wanted, but did give us a chance to view a large nursery of saplings donated by dozens of generous spa guests (including a few celebrities!). After contemplating the hope for reforestation we eventually backtracked down the road to the ranger hut and made our start from the “official” gate, which is also the starting point for the most popular Salak summit hike.

Our original plan was to walk the whole 5 km to the crater together for the scattering of the ashes. However it soon became apparent that our team – now twelve people with Byron having ridden up his trail bike to join bus-borne Terry, Lily, Jesse, Tim, Chris, Mark, Vonny, John (me), Iin, Simon and Dan –  were of such widely differing ages and speeds that a more sensible alternative was for only the fitter members to press on to the crater while the rest of us enjoyed just the first couple of kilometers along the forest trails. This is a beautiful lower montane forest, lush, green and cool, leaves dripping with moisture and birds twittering constantly from the undergrowth.

No wonder it is a popular destination. We met half a dozen groups heading up and down to camp or hike. One intrepid gang were even wheeling bikes up the trail. That, I suspect, was a misjudgment. Although the trail involves only a small overall ascent, it rises and falls over frequent small ravines of slippery rocks, where cycling up would be impossible and cycling down would be a kamikaze mission.

Besides a number of Indonesian hikers, we also met a fast-moving fellow Englishman, on an urgent mission to get ahead in a hurry. “I’ve got to catch up with some mates,” he explained breathlessly as he steamed past. “You mean, the guys taking David Jardine’s ashes up the mountain?” we surmised. “Yeah, that’s right!”

This, in fact, was Will, a late addition to our party who had struck out boldly from Jakarta by train to Bogor and then by ojek up to the start point, all the while receiving cellphone updates from Simon about how to find the route and whether he had any realistic chance of catching up with us before we were already back at the car park resting our legs.

As it turned out he was well in time for the actual scattering of the ashes, which we divided into two phases, one at the crater itself, and one at the wooden bridge closer down toward the spa. This setting certainly inspired us with a sense of wonder and brought David back at one with the nature for which he had such feeling. As we Jakartans eye up the mountains on those haze-free days, Mount Salak will continue to impose itself on our senses, just as David’s memory will live on in our minds.

Bye Dave

As a reminder that Indonesia can sometimes be a most frustrating place, as well as a most inspiring one, we spent six hours stuck in traffic on the road back to Jakarta, specifically Jalan Jaksa, where we recovered with a much-needed meal and drank to his memory.

What would Dave himself have had to say about our little jungle jaunt in homage to him?

I don’t know. But I think he would have had a twinkle in his eye.
Contributed by John Hargreaves.
Frances says:

As David’s sister I would like to say how much I appreciated this description of the walk. David was lucky to have such good friends.

I agree he would have had a twinkle in his eye and would have approved very much of your efforts.

Many thanks.
May 10, 2011

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