Life For the first time last night I sang karaoke. I'd always said that I was going to wait until I went to Tokyo to real karoke bar but for some reason (possibly because of the caffiene I was layering onto alcohol) I felt like it was something I needed to get out of my system. Do it, get it over with ready for next time I might need to do it properly. Blakes in the city centre would be the venue for this escapade. I initially tried to shout my choice across to the DJ. He order me to write it down with my name. I gave him my full name (and my general fear of authority figures probably means I would have also given him a serial number if I had one) which he then read out as my time came.

I broke the first rule of karoke and picked a song were I didn't really know the verses. Somewhat optimistically (and ironically) I chose Carly Simon's 'You're So Vain'. As I stepped up onto the tiny stage I realised that in fact this was the perfect time to do this because no one was particularly paying attention. They were too busy drinking and laughing and absorbed in a game of pool. A friend would later remark that my interpretation of the first verse was 'Shatneresque'. He wasn't wrong. I was awful. I only really found my feet in the section ... "clouds in my coffee, clouds in my coffee...and..." then into the chorus which I hammered with the resilience of Kurt Cobain's performance of 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' on Top of the Pops -- a monotone drawl only in tune in the same way that you sometimes image a pencil is when you tap it rhythmically against a desk. No beginners luck here. I stank up the place and was only too happy to leave the microphone behind. But the point was I hadn't felt the nerves I'd always expected and even in the mediocrity of the bridge I hadn't got embarassed. Was I naturally an exhibitionist or something else.

I wanted to go again. After someone worked their way through ten minutes or so of the Don McLain version of American Pie (which had the added bonus for the rest of us of actually getting to read the words for a change) and my friends had given the The Proclaimers a run for their money I stepped back up on stage and to the same indifference which had greeted my first appearance I began the meal that is Alanis Morissette's Ironic. This time I was going to do something I already knew, inside out, back to front, sideways. I knew the ticks, the grinds, even the improvisations from the live version. No reading the words this time I went at it full pelt and I knew were everything was supposed to go. Yes, I was still flat, the fluidity I thought I had in the shower totally imagined, and frankly it wasn't me but an interpretation of Alanis with my favourite bits of one of her live versions thrown in, but it was all there. I was fearless, even at the point in the song which says 'Like meeting the man of your dreams then meeting his beautiful wife'. I even did a bit of the Alanis wobbled, my eyes closed my hand closed into a fiost. This time I understood what karoke was about -- for a few brief moments, you're the star no matter how awful you are. People clapped at the end this time. Although it could have been because I was the last person to perform and they were glad it was over. I don't care.

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