It is a prerequisite of being a Japanese teacher that one must appreciate the gentle art of Karaoke. It is inevitable that at some point you will find yourself expected to prove that Westerners can indeed embrace this dubious art form and do credit to our ancestors by singing on key and ideally being able to render “My Way” by Frank Sinatra with absolute mawkish sentiment.
I have sung all my life, and so has my daughter but we have never performed in public.
“So!” thinks I “Why not find a venue where our talent can wow a captive audience?”
Thankfully the “wonders of modern technology which never cease to amaze” permitted us to purchase at a surprisingly affordable price a Sony speaker which, combined with karaoke backgrounds beamed by the magic of Bluetooth from my laptop and a microphone of sufficient quality to disguise my more quavering moments gave us the impetus to put our name forward to some of the more superior retirement homes in our vicinity.
No sooner had we done so than Wearne Hostel contacted us and asked us to “entertain the oldies” as they so succinctly put it (we later discovered they would take anybody)
So, armed with a programme of hits from the thirties, forties and fifties, we embarked on our musical career.
I felt rather awkward when we arrived as the bustling “entertainment organiser” switched off the rerun of Days of our Lives being enjoyed by the three elderly persons gathered for the concert but we were there to spread sweetness and light no matter to how few, and I launched into “That’s Life”.
Slowly, as if in some peculiar version of the pied piper, there emerged from hallways and doorways ancient octogenarian residents. Some with walking frames, others in wheel chairs. Out they came until the whole room was awash with the smell of lavender and old lace.
Elderly gentlemen, no doubt beguiled by my daughter’s beauty sat transfixed as my daughter performed a sprightly version of “These Boots are Made for Walking” and I was concerned that the music (and my daughter’s beauty) might set their languid pulses racing and possibly throw their pacemakers completely out.
Anyhoo…an hour passed by and in sympathy to the audience’s bladders we drew the concert to a close.
We toddled off to smiles and wishes for our return and were particularly delighted to be told that “I am amazed that Old Jack sat through the entire concert. He never stays for an entire concert!” We took this to be a great compliment and only hoped that Old Jack had not stayed simply because he may have drifted into a coma.
So we have returned for several more concerts and do not appear to have outstayed our welcome.
That is until the last concert.
Now we find the recreation room full when we arrive and there have even been a few altercations with wheelchairs and walking frames as eager listeners vie for the choice seats.
When my daughter sings I tend to stand discreetly in a corridor leading off from the room and I heard a strange kerfuffle behind me in the midst of “Tan Shoes and Pink Shoelaces”
I turned to see a sweet little bird-like lady, immaculately dressed with her hair all done up being pushed up the hall by an attendant.
She obviously did not wish to be pushed up the hall.
She was a very nicely spoken lady who had obviously been very nicely brought up, but she was obviously not delighted to be brought up to the concert and made this abundantly clear.
“Get off me! Don’t touch me!” she said in the most well articulated manner.
“I won’t have you near me! Get away you incompetent!” she ordered.
The kind attendants seemed undaunted by this clear instruction and tried to wheel her further along the hall.
“I hate you, you vile person!” yelled the lady with great spirit.
I can appreciate that not all are music lovers and felt for the lady and looked towards her to show my sympathy.
Our eyes met.
“And you sir! How dare you stand there like a cock on a pole…CROWING!” the lady shouted witheringly.
I did what any sensible gentleman would do in the circumstances. I ran away.
I barged past my daughter, who, like a true professional, continued to sing and hid in the corner of the entertainment room.
I could still hear the lady berating the poor staff and feared that she would emerge into the room and throw everything into confusion. None of the other residents seemed to even notice and I had a horrible suspicion that the only reason they liked our singing is that they were all uniformly deaf.
I have never been so soundly insulted in all of my life, and in such beautifully polite English too! At least she called me “Sir”
The lady did not emerge and I am sure she had knocked out several of the attendants with her gold topped walking cane which she was waving about from her wheelchair and taken herself back to her room in high dudgeon.
So we are to go back again in a few weeks but I am less convinced about our talent and if I am indeed “A cock on a pole…crowing” then I had every right to play the chicken.
Who says age makes you frail? I would rather face a mob of alcohol-fueled soccer hooligans than spend two minutes alone with that elegant lady and her walking stick.