I am sure before enlistment no one knows what "black tape" was, unless you were some electrician, but still you will just call them "insulating tapes" since they also came in red, green, and blue, etc. I remember during my first book out NTUC RAN OUT OF black tapes - there only red and yellow left and in the end my dad have to give me one roll from his toolbox.
And Kiwi - before enlistment we all knew that it refers to the hairy juicy fruit from New Zealand... within a few days of BMT this has became a noun that means the wax, a verb that means the action of "polishing using the wax" - and later in unit it just means "cover in black".
And the green tube of insect repellant - initially I will mistake it for my camo cream when I am gan-cheong.
The three items - black tape, kiwi, and insect repellant, miraculously become the most handy stuff you need in NS.
Black tapes were just like "military version of scotch tape" - it ties loose ends of your field pack strap into a neat lump, holds together ALL broken stuff (eg, broken spectacles, cracked equipment), and when you ran out of plaster, all you need is some tissue paper and black tape and you have an instant bandage. Being black in nature, it was also used to "blacken stuff" like its brother, Kiwi. While Kiwi can only blacken surfaces like shoe, rifle sling and rifle butt, black tapes can be applied to metallic surfaces, like Arc of Fire sticks, ET stick handles, etc, where Kiwi just cannot stick.
Didn't I mention I missed my black tape when I need to tape around my badminton racket handle?
Kiwi was a miracle on its own. No matter how dirty the boots are, Kiwi returns the shine in a short time - so you are always ready for inspection in the next roll-call. I was quite amazed - I mean, after you wash some mud off your boots after chiong sua, you will still see a thin layer of dirt that is hard to wash off at the boot washing bay - it's like you have to scrub it to remove them. But applying Kiwi just so magically gets rid of the hard-core dirt that can't be removed by the hydraulic force of water.
I was always puzzled - if I kind of slice open my boots, will I see a leather-mud-kiwi-mud-kiwi-mud-kiwi layer? If not, where did all the mud go?
Kiwi has also other uses where "black is good, black is clean, and black is neat" - I initially find it so stupid to wipe the rifle sling and rifle butt with kiwi to keep it "clean". I guess the proper way will be to wash it under water to get rid of the dirt, or at least get a wet cloth and scrub to get clean the rubber rifle butt. But kiwi is just so simple and so efficient - no one cares if your uniform get some kiwi stains when you actually fire your weapon and have the rifle butt rubbing against your shoulder - the DO only checks the rifle in the armstoke!
Let's not forget our insect repellent - honestly I used the commercial version - OFF in outfield instead (You can see me putting a can of orange colour OFF in my SBO bullet pouch - but being tactical I wrap it in the dark brown combat ration bag). People are doubtful about the actual "insect repelling" ability of the SAF repellent. Just a month ago my friends and I went for a hiking trip in the Appalachian trials in New York, and my friend brought a tube of the green repellent from Beach Road - it was actually QUITE useful to repel mosquitoes... but I am not sure whether it is as good when tested against the swarm of mosquitoes in Area D.
Anyway, even if you are doubtful about its insect repelling abilities, you have to agree that it's a good white-board cleaner. SAF insect repellents came in handy especially spring cleaning in camp - somehow the hardiest stain on the white-board can be removed easily by SAF insect repellant. This applies to some hardy stains on the walls as well. Where the green colour General Purpose cleaning fluid of SAF fails, the colourless insect repellant always give you pleasant surprises.
But be careful about using the insect repellents to clean stuff - my friend was using it to clean the lens of the periscope for his Bionix to get rid of some dirt, but after rubbing it hard it smears his lens permanently - wow, the insect repellent actually corrodes the lens material. Either the repellant is too powerful or ST makes lousy Bionix periscopes. It was also known that insect repellents smears "telts - the clear plastic sheet used for overlaps (please tell me the correct spelling)" So if you want to erase permanent marker marks, our S2 Branch uses nail polish - it works surprisingly well as nail polish is a good solvent. But with a few use, the bottle of clear nail polish will turn pink (with dissolved ink) and the Int sergeant will start calling it "Bandung".