· travel ·

Part 3 of a series

(Read Parts 1 and 2)

We had to do it. Not just because we were in the home of karaoke, but because PD made us. She, it turned out, is a bit of a karaoke addict. I think it's fair to say that GS and I were a bit dubious about the whole thing to start with, though we were encouraged to hear that you get your own private — and more importantly, soundproof — booth. At least we would only make idiots of ourselves in front of each other, and we do that all the time anyway.

After a somewhat later than planned dinner, and a quantity of beer, we headed off. PD told us that you can take your own drinks and snacks into the karaoke places, so — to guard against the danger of being insufficiently inebriated — we bought some more beer and a pack of Pocky (the slim and elegant Japanese cousin of the chocolate finger) in a convenience store. At that point, we couldn't put it off any longer — even by laughing hysterically and taking photographs of a chocolate bar called Horn — so we took the plunge and hired a booth for an hour.

What you get is a smallish, comfortable room, a huge TV and a frightening hifi with acres of flashenblinkenlights, two microphones and a telephone directory-sized book listing the available songs. It's a simple enough procedure; you choose a song, enter the number of the song on the remote control (that might take a couple of goes if you've had a bit of beer) and sing enthusiastically.

Well, it only took a couple of songs, and we were hooked. We were surprised an hour later when the woman on the reception desk phoned our booth to ask us if we wanted to book another hour. Hell, yes. Perhaps I just have an exceptionally dull life, but it was the most fun I've had in ages. We performed an assorted medley of hits, including the obligatory ABBA number ('Dancing Queen'), 'I'm a Believer' by the Monkees, 'Honky Tonk Women' by the Stones (my Mick Jagger impression went down quite well) and several songs by the Beatles.

However, the highlights of the night for me were a particularly spirited duet of 'God Save the Queen' by the Sex Pistols performed by me and GS^1^, a 'singing at the top of the voice with innovative microphone technique' version of 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' by Nirvana and a frankly bizarre rendition of 'Bohemian Rhapsody' by Queen, which was hilarious. PD does an excellent falsetto. Hidden talents...

We rolled out after another hour into the early hours of the morning, and somehow made it back to the hotel without getting run over. Oh, and we told PD that she was right all along; karaoke is brilliant.

^1^I don't know why, but there's something intensely exhilarating about being in a foreign country and spitting out "God save the queen / The fascist regime / They made you a moron / Potential H-bomb" with all the venom you can muster. I think that there might have been a certain amount of catharsis going on, though the war in Iraq isn't the Queen's fault. "There's no future / There's no future..."