One man and his drag - Kamikaze Karaoke

Now I realise that this blog, coming hot on the heels of my previous one may seem a bit of a contradiction in terms, but I don’t want you all thinking that I’ve gone soft with this new era of sense and sensibility in my life.

Not so.

As a couple of weekends ago proved, there are still more than enough opportunities for me to behave like a drunken eejit and get myself into ridiculous situations, in my seemingly pathological need to embarrass myself, my family and my friends.

Luckily no family members where present on this particular occasion although quite what they’ll make of this one once news of it gets out in my back home town I’m not sure. A town where the men are men and the sheep are nervous….

A few weeks ago I, along with an English friend who for the purpose of this tale I shall call Mark, because…erm….that’s his name, decided to go visit Clair, a friend of mine living in the capital city of our most favourite boring country.

Clair is soon relocating to England, so it seemed as good a reason as any to pay her a visit - the invitation of bed and breakfast, complete with bacon sandwiches and brown sauce just swaying the decision.

Things started off calm enough for me – at one o’clock in the afternoon – as I watched two football matches in Antwerp, the first a heartening win for my other team Glasgow Rangers over their great rivals Celtic, with the second match being a rather less than impressive Liverpool win over newly promoted Sunderland.

Needless to say, as the football ebbed and flowed, so did the beers, ensuring that by the time I arrived at Mark’s place, I was a little the worse for wear, the drive to Brussels not helping me sober up much at all.
(Perhaps if I’d have driven slower it might have helped).

We met up with Clair and took the tram into Brussels town centre to one of those neighbourhoods the name of which escapes me, where we hooked up with another friend of hers, Karen.

The group of four complete, we headed off to a famous Belgian ‘brown café’, the name of which escapes me as well – a big, noisy, open spaced affair with original fixtures and fittings and an impressive selection of Belgian beers to choose from. We all went for my favourite girl - Stella Artois.

The arrangement was to meet another friend of the girls, whose mother was over visiting. The idea was that we would meet for a bite to eat in a Moroccan restaurant, although to be honest, food was not really something that any of us were too keen on and I got the feeling that we perhaps weren’t the most wonderful of dining companions on that occasion.

After the meal, we said our goodbyes because basically, we wanted to go and get pissed, paint the town red and collapse in a taxi back to Clair’s and fall asleep watching the hilarious Peter Kay on video for the umpteenth time.

Upon reflection, I would have to say that it was mission accomplished, with our pub-crawl taking us to several places, one bar sticking out because dancing on the tables was nigh on obligatory, as was the high standard of female revellers.

Then, at some stage, for some inexplicable reason, the wheels came off the wagon, leaving such carnage and wreckage that even thinking about it now brings back some horrifying memories and a nervous shiver down my spine.

One minute we were crawling around Brussels bars on a busy Saturday night, the next, I found myself on stage in a gay night club with a huge spotlight on me, microphone in hand and with a couple of hundred gay guys that I could just make out in the darkness looking up at me as if I had two heads.

As you do.

So what had happened in the brief interlude between dancing on a table in a busy bar full of members of both sexes, to being in the position that I found myself in such a short space of time later?

En route to a bar, the name of which escapes me (I really wasn’t paying attention at all that night, was I?), Clair decided she wanted to say hello to a gay friend of hers, the owner of a gay nightclub. Asking us if we were ok with it, Mark and myself – being men of the world, you understand – replied in the affirmative – of course it would be ok.

“As long as they keep their hands to themselves we’ll be fine – and if it gets too much for us we can start talking rugby, football, beer and women in loud, rough, manly voices” was the advice we gave to ourselves as we walked into the venue.

To say I was shocked is a bit of an understatement.

Kylie Minogue’s angelic voice was blasting out of the sound system and for once I had to agree with her. For I think the sight that I saw as I entered that place was something that “I Can’t Get Out of My Head” either.

All manner of men (except heterosexual of course) danced and writhed to the little Aussie pop pixie’s music. Transvestites mingled with leather clad men, middle-aged with ‘more youthful’ companions, men kissing dancing and groping.

I really didn’t know where to look but made a great scene out of making sure that I looked cool.

Which of course I failed at miserably.

As Clair went off to see her friend, I looked at Mark, whose startled face was I’m sure a perfect reflection of my own, and we decided to get the drinks in. Emergency action was required. “I’ll have a vodka and orange, Mark” thinking that a good, stiff one was just what I needed. Thank God I didn’t speak that out at the time….

Shortly after the drinks arrived, Clair introduced us to the nightclub owner.

And as I type these words now, I realise that this is where the wheels fell off the wagon - right at this precise moment:

“Do you have ‘Mack The Knife’?” I shouted, struggling to be heard over Kylie

(You can see where it’s going readers, can’t you??!)

“Do you have ‘Mack The Knife’?” I repeated.
The owner looked at me, seemingly contemplating on whether I was serious or not “No – we don’t have it” he replied, without so much as even a token look for it.
“Seriously – could you have a look for it, please?”
“We don’t have it!”
“That’s a pity – I’d like to sing it.” I explained.
“I’d like to sing it”
Once again, the owner looked at me, seemingly contemplating if I was on the level or taking the piss. It seemed that he trusted me.
“Well, we have a microphone, if you want to sing it without the music - you’re more than welcome to if you want!!”

This was my chance to bail out, pull the plug, abort mission, fold, surrender, give it up, abstain, quit while I was ahead – anything but say…. “Sure – no problem – I’ll give it a go!”

And so it came to pass, that approximately 25 seconds later, Kylie had been shut off mid-song, blokes pulled themselves off……each other!….each other!! - Godammit – where are your minds??!!! and I had walked up onto stage to a deafening silence.

The disco lights were switched off and replaced with a light which I can only assume was a searchlight in a Prisoner of War camp in a previous life, the reflection of it bouncing off the huge glitter ball above my head a thousand times.

Which is approximately the same number of deaths that I experienced during my short time on stage.

With nobody to count me in, no accompanying music to settle myself into any sort of rhythm, and with absolutely no background noise whatsoever to distract me (you really could hear a pin drop), I charged on, trying everything in my repertoire to get a reaction from the crowd

The silence was total and absolute – apart from Clair and Mark’s giggles which permeated through the darkness from a corner towards the back as they seemed to be having a gay old time (pun intended).

I sang, I danced, I even shouted out “Come on lads, sing along!” but got nothing, nada, niks, for my efforts.

I left the stage a broken man - much to the bemusement of the establishment’s clientele and returned to my friends and my Vodka and Orange - except that it wasn’t there. It turned out that as I was up there dying on stage some bastard had snuck off with my drink – presumably to test it for drugs, based on my performance…

I ask you – what is the world coming to, when you can’t even sing a capella in a gay nightclub in front of a couple of hundred total strangers and not expect your drink to remain where it was left?

The world’s gone mad, I tell ya…