The idea of going to the beach on a cold, windy night apparently doesn’t find many takers among the locals. However, after having been helped to a bewildering variety of singing and listening to Sinatra, the Eagles and Queen sung in harmony (where the definition refers to the arrangement in which notes are sung together but doesn’t mention melody), the fresh, salty breeze from the English Channel seemed like a delightful prospect. A thick bank of dark clouds rose on the horizon and the white waves rolled in with a roar, quite obliterating the cries of the seagulls and the echoes of affectionately massacred music- which I thoroughly enjoyed in my own quiet way.
The point of karaoke is to shed all inhibitions and sing like there is no tomorrow. On the two occasions I’ve been at a karaoke booth, I haven’t gone even as far as the first stage. The last time I was intrepid in front of a microphone and a roomful of people was when I was five and didn’t know enough English to understand the phrase ‘stage fright’. Those were also the glory days of music- I’d just nicked my first audio cassette from some family friends and been introduced to my first English song, Radio Ga Ga. Now I come to think of it, I wasn’t old enough to listen to the other songs on that tape- Hungry like the Wolf and The Look, really?- but I understood precious little double entendre or English back then, so it didn’t matter.
My visit to the karaoke bar yesterday was entirely an exercise in watching people. I don’t know how to be frivolously happy and I regret it- but it was good fun watching the little dances and the exuberant, generally out-of-tune singing this evening. The singers came in different packages. Some sang songs of heartbreak in a tone that belied a clear undercurrent of relief and joy (much like Old Town- I’ve never understood why it sounds so lively), with much jumping to keep time with the music. Bohemian Rhapsody was accompanied by solemn obeisance and gravity fitting for an oath-taking ceremony; the chorus to Hey Jude lasted longer than the actual song. There was (unintentional) falsetto and recitation, new tunes and no tunes. There were singers who let loose at every possible opportunity, and those who could only look at the lyrics and wonder with disgruntled cynicism whether people had actually been paid to write them. We had two male leads- one versatile and unstoppable and because of whom I will never again be able to listen to My Way again with a straight face, the other brooding and picky, biding his time Heathcliff-like, breaking into song at the odd moment before lapsing back into a long silence.
Topping an interesting couple of hours with a quick run down to the beach was the best brainwave I’ve had in ages. It was a reminder of how I’ve lost my heart to Brighton, and been emboldened enough to break off my last ties with Singapore- I unsubscribed from the Singapore F1 race newsletters this morning, emails I’d been receiving ever since I bought a ticket to the event in 2009.
I’ve learnt that karaoke can be fun even if you’re the kind of person who goes almost everywhere with a book in her bag. Is it ungrateful of me then to look forward to the London Philharmonic concert?