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Sunday, 14 April 2013

It's The Same Old Song...

Firstly, a confession.  I hate and detest karaoke.  My normal reaction, once this 'entertainment' starts is to head for the exit doors.  However, there have been occasions over the past few years, usually when I'm on holiday, when the choice has been either to stay put and suffer or go to bed early with a nice cup of cocoa.  Going to bed early is against everything that I hold dear, so I've endured the karaoke.

The problem with karaoke, as you're no doubt aware, is that it encourages those who should never sing in public, to do exactly that.  It also encourages those who have more front than Blackpool to be dragged 'unwillingly' to the microphone, so that they can then display their considerable skills, that have no doubt been honed by years of practice in their local pub.  The latter group are usually harder to shift from the microphone than anything Domestos can normally tackle.

Karaoke is, therefore, chiefly about the concept of ritual public humiliation, enlivened by occasional glimpses of real talent.  In this respect it strongly resembles such shows as Britain's Got Talent and X Factor, which are really karaoke writ large.

Over the years, I have become aware of a subtle shift in my attitude to karaoke.  Originally I just wanted to get as far away as possible, but lately I've been finding myself thinking "I really should have a go at that".  It's not that I think that I have a great singing voice or a wonderful way of interpreting lyrics, I don't have either.  No, it's more a creeping feeling of shame that all of these other people have the courage to try it, whereas time and again I creep from the bar, having done nothing other than criticise others braver than myself.  This has clearly been ruminating in what passes for my brain because, the other day, I found myself singing a song in the car (on my own, of course, I wouldn't inflict it on anyone else) and thinking "I reckon I could do that at a karaoke event".  It took my quite by surprise.  As you'll guess, this sort of self-deception is only a small step away from the ultimate tragedy of trying to put this into practice.

Last weekend we were in the Isle of Wight, my all-time favourite venue.  As we enjoyed a post -show drink,  it became apparent that karaoke was about to be inflicted upon us, from the setting up of microphones and screens.  The staff were struggling to get anyone to take part, although a couple of brave souls (comprising categories 1 and 2 above) did make the effort.  I found myself squirming in my seat in my usual tension of (as P.G Wodehouse used to say) letting "I dare not wait upon I would like the poor cat in the adage".  A lull in the proceedings caused me to gather my courage up and leap toward the stage, much to the amazement of my long-suffering wife (who had no idea of my inner turmoil).  Finding that the song I had been practising in my car (The Most Beautiful Girl in the World, if you're interested) was not available, I opted for my fall-back option, Ruby, Don't Take Your Love To Town.  The idea was that either of these would suit my rather low register.

To say that I was nervous would be an understatement.  Nevertheless, I launched into the song with gusto.  My optimism was, however, short-lived.  I managed the first couple of lines, more or less in tune.  The next two veered off into some entirely different musical landscape and I could feel the audience losing what little interest they initially had.  At times of great stress, most people's voices climb to a higher register - not mine, apparently.  As the song progressed, my voice became lower and lower, to the point where only moles and certain species of whales could really appreciate my vocal stylings.

When the song finally concluded (by which time I was frantically appealing to the audience for help, which didn't come) I made my way miserably back to my shell-shocked wife.  "Well, how was it?"  I asked with a sinking feeling.  "I don't know" she replied, honestly, "I couldn't hear a thing, your voice was so low"

I don't think my agent will be fielding calls from Simon Cowell just yet ;-)

This story, and a whole host of others,  feature in the latest compilation "A Kick at the Pantry Door", the third book in the very popular 'nostalgedy' series that also features, Steady Past Your Granny's and Crutches for Ducks.